AT its Annual General Meeting on May 13, Monmouthshire County Council appointed its new Leader, Councillor Richard John. He has taken over from Councillor Peter Fox, who has stepped down from the role following his appointment as Member of Parliament for Monmouth at the Senedd in the recent election.
At 38 years old, Former Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Richard has become the youngest council leader in Wales and has already appointed Monmouthshire’s first gender-balanced cabinet. Councillor Sara Jones has become Deputy Leader, alongside the current Deputy Leader Councillor Bob Greenland.
“It is a real privilege to have been elected to lead Monmouthshire County Council at this critical point in the county’s recovery from the pandemic,” said Cllr. John. “This has been the most challenging year for so many of our residents and our immediate priority is to ensure the wellbeing of our communities and enable our residents to get back to living their lives. This means helping our businesses, including those in retail and hospitality, to get back on their feet, offering children and young people the best possible start in life, enabling more opportunities for good physical and mental health and ensuring dignity and independence for older people.”
Richard John was elected to Monmouthshire County Council in the Mitchel Troy ward in May 2017 and has served as Cabinet Member for Education and Leisure since that time. During his tenure, Cllr. John opened two brand new schools in Caldicot and Monmouth, set in motion plans for a new school in Abergavenny, and led major changes to school catchment areas to enable more Monmouthshire pupils to attend Monmouthshire schools. He has successfully federated leaderships across several schools, paved the way to upgrade the county’s leisure centres and has overseen many improvements in school standards.
“I am truly humbled by the faith that colleagues have placed in me and I will do everything I can to make Monmouthshire an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” said the father of two.
As Ward Councillor for Mitchel Troy, Richard has organised litter picks and community clean-up sessions. He has also served as a school governor and a scout leader and is also a trained chef.
“I’m looking forward to working with councillors of all political colours and of none, and our county’s partners, together with the Welsh and UK Governments to deliver for the people of Monmouthshire,” said Cllr. John, who has a background in languages, with a degree in French and Spanish.
Commenting on the new council cabinet, Cllr. John said: “I have appointed a dynamic and progressive top team, from a wide range of professional backgrounds, and we’re all united by a sense of urgency to get things done and make a difference for our communities.
Outgoing Leader, Councillor Peter Fox OBE said:
“Over the past four years Richard has been an outstanding Cabinet Member, he has earned the trust and respect of residents and councillors alike. He’s forged strong relationships across Wales representing the county, especially important right now as we emerge from the pandemic. I am more than confident that he will be an outstanding Leader.”
Cllr. Fox has been a Monmouthshire County Councillor for over 20 years, and the Leader for 13 years. He was awarded the OBE for Services to the Cardiff Capital Region in 2017 and has recently been elected as the Monmouth constituency representative at the Senedd. Peter will remain in Monmouthshire, where he lives with his family and four grown-up children on the livestock farm he runs in the south of the county.
Councillor John’s first act as Leader was to pay tribute to Cllr. Fox:
“The way in which Peter Fox has led this authority for 13 years has been exemplary and has brought plaudits from so many people across the county. Peter is a great collaborator – he played a key role in securing the Cardiff Capital Region deal, amongst so many other achievements. A more humble, genuine and inspiring man you could not hope to find. Peter has inspired so many of us to believe in ourselves, to strive for the best for our county. The impact he has made to our local authority has been beyond measure, I am sure I speak for everyone in Monmouthshire when we thank him for all his hard work.”