Sad news that Cllr George Edwards, Labour councillor for Hengoed ward which occupies the coastal strip between Llanelli and Burry Port, has died.
Hengoed is a two-member ward, the other councillor being Siân Caiach.
In the 2012 election, when Cllr Edwards was returned for the first time, the result was close with just 85 votes separating the first five candidates. Plaid Cymru took third and fourth place, with Martin Davies for Plaid just 23 votes behind George Edwards.
This will mean another by-election in the New Year, first up being the by-election in Trelech on 11 December where Labour's "Independent" coalition partners are defending a seat.
Prior to this, Labour and the Independents were on level pegging at 22 councillors each out of a total of 74. Compounding the coalition's difficulties is the long-term absence on health grounds of Cllr Keri Thomas (Lab) in Tyisha ward and the fragile health of several other elderly councillors.
With two and a half years to go before the next scheduled council elections, the electoral maths may become very tight indeed.
The Hengoed by-election when it is called could be quite significant and have an impact across the county.
It is possible that if the independents hold Trelech and Labour lose Hengoed we will find Labour as the junior partner in the ruling group on Carmarthenshire County Council. Will this mean a new leader for the council and will Labour be prepared to act as second fiddle?
This by-election will also be a huge test for Sian Ciach and People First. This is her home patch. Sian was one vote behind the winning Labour candidate and 22 votes ahead of the leading Plaid candidate in May 2012 giving her the second seat. The other People First candidate polled nearly 80 votes less than Ms Ciach. This suggests to me that without Sian's name on the ballot paper People First could struggle. Are we looking at a Carmarthenshire version of Dick Taverne and Lincoln in the 1970s?
The second Labour candidate was exactly 80 votes behind the winning Labour candidate which implies that both the winning Labour and People First candidates had a significant personal following in this ward.
This points to a close by-election with People First and Labour having a lot riding on the final result.
The other complication could be a UKIP intervention which will give some indication as to which direction the wind is blowing in the Llanelli parliamentary race which will be played out in full next May. It will be interesting to see if some of the statements made recently by Mr Farage such as he regards himself as 'poor' with an official salary of £79,000 and allowances of £42,600 cut any ice in Llanelli.
I don't think the Indies will hold Trelech - it would be a travesty if they did.
Hengoed is much harder to predict. But if Labour lose it, the parties will be back on level pegging again until the next by-election, of which there could be several more before we all head back to the polls.
The odds on Kevin Madge seeing out his time as leader are getting tighter.
Sad to hear about the passing of Cllr George Edwards. Heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.
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