Wales politics

Cardiff council's Rodney Berman toppled in cull of leaders

The former Liberal Democrat leader of Cardiff council has lost his seat as the Welsh capital fell to Labour control.

Rodney Berman was defeated in the Plasnewydd ward following two recounts.

He is the seventh council leader to lose his seat at the local elections in Wales.

In an otherwise good night for Labour, the party did lose its leader in Rhondda Cynon Taf Russell Roberts despite retaining control.

Together with Swansea, Cardiff was one of two highly-prized councils in south Wales that Labour won from the Lib Dems.

Losing the leadership of both cities is a big blow for the Welsh Lib Dems.

As the leader of Wales' biggest council, Mr Berman was one of the most high-profile figures in Welsh government. He loses a salary of £52,700.

Party leader Kirsty Williams said Welsh voters had sent the UK government a message.

The party tried to fight local battles and concentrate on its record in places where it was in charge, but Mrs Williams said attention had remained focused on the Westminster coalition.

"I think it's clear that our colleagues in Westminster are taking some tough decisions and the benefits of those tough decisions are yet to be felt," she said.

Mr Berman went after a second recount in the Plasnewydd ward on Friday afternoon. Tellers were sent home in the early hours.

He told BBC Wales after his defeat: "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."

Mr Berman, who had already lost the council leadership after his party's overnight losses in Cardiff, lost his second recount to Labour by 51 votes. The first count had given a margin of just 12 votes, and the first recount by 14.

Mr Roberts was ousted in Rhondda Cynon Taf despite the party keeping control of the council.

The other leaders to lose at the polls are Allan Pritchard from Plaid Cymru in Caerphilly, Independents Keith Evans in Ceredigion and Jeff Edwards in Merthyr, Conservative Gordon Kemp in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Lib Dem Ron Davies in Wrexham.

Mr Kemp, who lost his seat to an Independent said that his party's Westminster coalition government with the Liberal Democrats was taking some "difficult decisions", but was struggling to get its message across.

"It's the issue of presentation from Westminster that's the problem," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"Not explaining issues, not getting the message across to the public."

Former Labour Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, now a Plaid member, lost his seat on Caerphilly council.

"Our returns were pretty good on the doorstep but it's obviously a backlash against the party as a whole," he said.

"I think some of the decisions that have been made and some of the poor handling of situations over the last couple of months, in particularly."

When asked if those problems were post-budget, Mr Davies said: "Yes."

The Independent leader of Ceredigion council Mr Evans lost his seat to Plaid, but Plaid fell short of an overall majority in the council.

He said: "I think it was a huge concerted effort by Plaid, they've been targeting many seats, as you've indicated in your programme, and they've been successful in that targeting."

All the latest election results are available at bbc.co.uk/vote2012

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