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Tackling climate change, closing the gender pay gap, and regenerating the city centre are all priorities for the leader and her deputy at Newport City Council.

Councillor Jane Mudd has been the leader of the council since 2019, and was reinstated last month. She will now work alongside the newly-elected deputy leader, Cllr Deb Davies.

Both Labour councillors were first elected in 2012. Cllr Davies said she hopes that having two women at the helm, in addition to a female chief executive, will bring “a new dimension” to the council.

Cllr Mudd, who represents Malpas, said: “We have worked collaboratively for a number of years, and we have a really strong relationship that will be beneficial going forward.”

At the council’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May, it was revealed that on average men earn 2% more than women at the council. Therefore, the median hourly rate for women is £12.69 and the median hourly rate for men is £12.95.

The leader said she was committed to continuing to close the gender pay gap and was pleased with the council’s progress.

Cllr Davies, who represents Beechwood, said hybrid working has allowed more people to become a councillor – such as those with children or caring responsibilities.

She added: “People can join from home and they can engage. We want people to see that they can do the job and their contribution is valued.”

Cllr Mudd said: “I believe we should reflect the community we serve and Newport’s diversity should be shown in the Chamber.”

During the council elections, Labour made a number of commitments and the leader said the party is now eager to implement the promises made.

Update on the pledges made

City centre

The council is currently recruiting for the new city centre manager role that was proposed in Labour’s manifesto.

The position is expected to be filled by October and will aim to better liaise with local businesses in the city.

Cllr Mudd said: “We have had feedback that it can be confusing with who to contact with issues about the city centre – the person in this role will contact the council for businesses, and keep people aware of what’s going on.

“We think as a Cabinet and as a council, we need to make those connections – we all want growth and prosperity for Newport.”

Pocket parks

Placing pocket parks across the city was another commitment that was mentioned in the successful party’s manifesto.

Cllr Mudd said that residents of Newport will be consulted before decisions are made on where the parks should go.

Cllr Davies said Maindee Primary School was an example of an impressive green space, she added: “They have put vegetables there and are encouraging residents to use them to cook – many of the Muslim community used them during Ramadan.”

Climate Crisis

With Newport’s first Green Party councillor gaining a seat at the council elections, the focus on the climate crisis is increasing.

Cllr Mudd said: “We have got a new focus on the Cabinet, we have a strategy and a plan and now we need to implement it.

“Much of the actions we would take would align with the Green Party. Our three strategy process is: What can we do as a local authority, what can we do as businesses, and what we can do as residents.”

Cllr Mudd said the first thing she did as Leader in 2019 was create the position of Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development – which was filled by Cllr Davies.

Cllr Davies said she believed the Labour council could “deliver way beyond” the target of being carbon neutral as a city by 2030.

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