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Newport Council’s new leader ‘elected to the best job in Wales’

Cllr Dimitri Batrouni (Pic: NCC)

NEWPORT Council’s new leader believes he has been “elected to the best job in Wales”.

Labour councillor Dimitri Batrouni was chosen to take the top job after winning his party’s leadership contest to replace Jane Mudd.

At the city council’s annual general meeting on Tuesday (May 21), Cllr Batrouni praised his predecessor and said he will “strive to do [his] best for the people of Newport”.

“The potential of this city is enormous”, he told a packed council chamber.

Cllr Batrouni switched to Newport from Monmouthshire in 2022, winning a seat in the city’s Gaer ward.

Speaking on Tuesday after his election, he praised Newport citizens for being “forthright, no nonsense [and who] tell it how it is”.

Those qualities, he added, meant residents would have “high expectations” from the local authority.

Cllr Batrouni spent nine years leading Monmouthshire’s Labour group in opposition, and missed out on the chance to run the county council in 2022, having already left by the time his party took control at that May’s elections.

Reflecting on those nine years, he told Newport councillors from other parties that he would “welcome strong opposition” and noted it was “not an easy job”.

The last census showed Newport had the fastest growing population in Wales, and Cllr Batrouni told colleagues “we have the next generation of Wales growing up in Newport, and they face a very uncertain future”.

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Citing economic and environmental problems, Cllr Batrouni said he hopes “to build a consensus” and work with Newport’s business owners and volunteers, who he described as the “social fabric of this city”.

He turned to his predecessor, Cllr Mudd, who was recently voted Gwent’s new police and crime commissioner, and thanked her for her “steadfast” leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Mudd will continue to represent the Malpas ward, and told the council chamber she had aimed to lead the local authority with “integrity and kindness”.

She paid tribute to colleagues and family members for their support and encouragement, and to councillors who “pulled together” to keep public services running during the pandemic.

Perhaps showing a sign of her aims in her new police and crime commissioner role, Cllr Mudd also condemned “misogyny, bullying and racism” and said citizens would be “let down” if institutions failed to act on reports.

“If you see this, if you observe it and you do not call it out, then you are complicit with it,” she warned. “A lesson to all of us in public life.”

Following the speeches, Cllr Batrouni appointed cabinet members for his new administration.

Writing on X, he said: “Today I announced the most diverse cabinet in Newport council’s history: the youngest average age, majority women and two BME (black and minority ethnic) councillors. All with the skills to deliver for Newport.”

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