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Anti-poverty champion councillor hopes full council vote to keep champion roles

Powys County Council

A MEMBER champion is sad that a committee has recommended that Powys County Council scraps the roles and hopes that councillors vote against the move at a future full council meeting.

On Monday, April 22 the council’s Democratic Services committee decided on the casting vote of its chairman, Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Elwyn Vaughan to recommend to full council that they scrap the role.

The review into the roles was called for back in 2021 and member champions exists to provide a voice for traditionally under-represented groups, or issues which the council’s work touches.

The champion is supposed be able to advise on developing council policy and decision and how they would impact their respective sphere.

But they have no budget or staff to help them with the role.

Across Wales there are several local authorities that have 20 or more member champions, while others have none.

Cllr Joy Jones has been the Anti-Poverty champion for the council since 2014 and had told the committee what she did in the role.

She is now crossing her fingers that the full council decides to go against the recommendation of the committee and vote to keep the champions.

Cllr Jones said:  “It is sad that some on the committee voted against having someone with a specific role to raise the issues of poverty and deprivation that is so badly affecting our county.

“They have also voted to remove the disability champion and armed forces champions.”

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“I have loved this role.

“I have done my best to always represent the people’s voice, to stand up and have worked to fight for people and look into different ways that the council can support and understand families and people’s needs.”

She stressed that the role doesn’t come with any extra pay on top of a councillor’s basic salary.

Cllr Joy Jones 2022 (Pic: Powys County Council)

The council’s disability champion Cllr Ange Williams added: “This has been a devastating blow, not just for me but for all the people we stand for in the county.”

Cllr Jones has received an outpouring of support on social media following the vote.

On Facebook one person said that they were “disgusted” that the committee had voted to recommend scrapping the roles that help vulnerable groups.

In recent years, the importance of the role in Powys seems to have waned and there are now only three champions when there had been 10 just four years ago.

In 2020 the council had 10 member champions with four held by cabinet members- these were

  • Older People
  • Dementia
  • Children
  • Welsh Language
  • Diversity
  • Armed Forces
  • Anti-Poverty
  • Disability
  • Anti-Slavery