After weeks of campaigning, the local government elections finally came to a head last week - in the Vale of Glamorgan Labour had a great night and claimed the most seats but not enough to take overall control.
Labour increased their share of seats from 14 in the 2017 elections to 25 this year. The Conservatives saw the biggest loss of seats since the last local elections, with their share of councillors going from 23 to 13. Eight Plaid Cymru candidates were elected to Vale of Glamorgan Council, followed by four independents and the same number of Llantwit First candidates.
On top of that, Labour will need to choose a successor to former group leader, Neil Moore, who decided not to run for re-election this year. So, what next for the council?
What does no overall control mean?
Similarly to the idea of a hung parliament, no overall control at a council means that there is no one party that has overall control of the council. In the case of Vale of Glamorgan Council, Labour have not won enough seats to take control of a majority council and will most likely form a coalition in order to run an administration. Forming a coalition also helps the administration in charge of the council to carry out decisions effectively.
Sometimes, the party with the most seats can form a minority administration if there is no overall control. This can only be done if it is unlikely that other parties will band together and form a strong opposition.
Labour's Lis Burnett was deputy leader of Vale of Glamorgan Council before the elections. "We are the largest group by a long way, but in terms of delivering what we have promised with our manifesto, then it requires a stable administration. To be working with a minority administration we possibly wouldn't be able to deliver that. As we said before the election, we will talk to anybody that shares our aims and we have worked in coalitions [before]. We will have those conversations."
Who could Labour form a coalition with?
Vale of Glamorgan Council has swung between Conservative and Labour-led coalitions in the past. More recently it was a Labour-led coalition that took over from the Conservatives following a split in the administration in 2019.
With 25 out of 54 seats on Vale of Glamorgan Council occupied by Labour councillors, only a few more would be needed to form a majority group. The Llantwit First independents have enough to tip the scales in favour of a Labour coalition. However, Cllr Burnett did not rule out others.
She said: "I think most people know we have worked in each coalition very constructively with Llantwit First independents. I think it goes without saying that my first conversation would be with that group, but in terms of where that would go at the moment I can't say because we are, at the end of the day, two independent groups of councillors and so we have to decide whether or not we can go forward together on that basis."
When asked about the potential difficulties and disagreements a coalition administration could throw up, Cllr Burnett added: "If what underpins that coalition is a collective desire to deliver for the Vale of Glamorgan and it is not based on anyone's personal gain or ambitions then it doesn't become a problem."
Who will be the next council leader?
Before the council leader and cabinet members are officially declared, the party with the most seats has to decide who it will choose as its group leader. In the case of Labour in Vale of Glamorgan they will need to choose a successor to former group leader, Neil Moore, who decided not to run for re-election this year.
According to Cllr Burnett, who was re-elected to the electoral ward of Stanwell last week, these discussions will take place at the group's annual general meeting (AGM).
Cllr Burnett said it isn't just known yet. "Within our own party, when you get a new Labour group [of councillors] we have an AGM and the leadership of that group is agreed by the members. Later this week, we will have a meeting and the group will decide who the leader and deputy leader are as well as some other appointments."
At the council's annual meeting on May 23, the leader and cabinet members will be officially declared. It is also at this meeting that council committees, their members and chairs will be decided. Want the latest news from the Vale of Glamorgan straight to your inbox? Sign up for free here.