THE Vale of Glamorgan council leader has blamed “career politicans” for his ousting as he confirmed he will resign.

Councillor John Thomas has confirmed he will step down after Vale council’s Conservative group elected Councillor Vincent Bailey as its new leader on April 29.

Cllr Thomas’ departure comes as two senior cabinet members have resigned from the Conservative group during a day of political drama in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Cllr Thomas, who has been leader since May 2017, has said his departure is “unfair” and that he’s been a victim of political game playing.

But he says he will not fight a no confidence motion and will resign this month.

His departure is likely to fall on the council’s annual general meeting, which has to be held in May.

Cllr Thomas, who has represented the St Athan ward since 1999, said: “I think it’s unfair. We have been doing a reasonably good job. The council for the previous three years has been the best performing council in Wales and under my leadership it had performed better than it had before.

“We were under difficult circumstances. It’s not easy to do the things that are always popular. I think there’s no real place for party politics within local government.

“I think the challenge has come from career politicians. I think they are going to struggle to deliver with the kind of messages they are sending out now.”

Councillor Bob Penrose, the council’s cabinet member for learning and culture, has resigned from the Conservative group and the ruling body with immediate effect. He will now be an independent councillor in opposition.

“I have known John Thomas for a while and I felt the new regime wouldn’t be on the same lines of thinking,” he said.

“I had spent two years as a cabinet member and I couldn’t see the future being with the new regime.

“The division that we’ve seen (in the Conservative group) I felt got in the way of getting on and doing what was necessary.”

Councillor Jonathan Bird, the regeneration and planning chief, has also resigned from the party but remains in the cabinet as an independent.

But Cllr Thomas says he cannot see any of his cabinet members serving the council’s ruling body under Cllr Bailey.

His cabinet’s decision to “close” Llancarfan Primary School and move it to Rhoose is understood to be a key reason why Cllr Thomas was ousted.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service is also aware of “serious discontent” from several of Cllr Thomas’ backbenchers over a number of “PR blunders”, including proposed car parking charges throughout the Vale.

But Cllr Thomas says his authority had to make tough decisions in the light of budget cuts and said he would “stand by” most of the controversial measures his administration put forward.

Cllr Bailey has already said he would “revisit” these proposals.

Cllr Thomas said: “The intention was I would be leader for five years and we would have a chance to do what we wanted to do. I would have liked to have seen it through, but that’s politics and I have to accept that.

“All I want is the best for the Vale of Glamorgan.”

Cllr Thomas said he would not resign as a councillor in this current council term, but said he does not know whether he will remain a Conservative member or who he would support.

The Conservatives had run the Vale of Glamorgan as a minority administration with the help of Cllr Penrose, but now two of those members have resigned.

“With the numbers it was always a precarious situation politically,” Cllr Thomas said. “The council can run as a minority administration but there’s only so much you can do as a minority administration.”

A spokesperson for the Vale of Glamorgan Council said: “Councillor John Thomas continues to be leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

“There has been one change to the council’s political executive. Councillor Bob Penrose has resigned from his position as cabinet member for learning and culture. This post is currently vacant. The council’s cabinet remains otherwise unchanged.

“The meeting of full council on May 1, 2019 will go ahead as planned.

“However, the resignation of two members of the Conservative group has caused the postponement of the council’s annual general meeting scheduled for May 8.

“At the AGM there is a discussion around the allocation of committee seats and chairmanships of committees. There is currently uncertainty as to how committee seats will be allocated.

“It is therefore appropriate to postpone the AGM so that the council can properly plan for that meeting and so that decisions can be made based on up-to-date political calculations.”