Difficult decisions may lie ahead, but Newport council’s new leader has vowed that she will listen to residents. Cllr Jane Mudd was elected the new leader of Newport City Council last month, replacing Debbie Wilcox, who is now a member of the House of Lords. She spoke to Argus Local Democracy Reporter Saul Cooke-Black about her aspirations for the city, the challenges ahead and why kindness will be at the heart of her leadership.


BORN and brought up in Malpas, Cllr Mudd’s great-grandparents founded a former church in Maindee – the Maindee Cottage Gospel Mission.

After attending Malpas Court Primary School, she went to Queens Comprehensive School in Newport – where she says she was “every bit as rebellious as teenagers like to think they can be.”

But it was her late father, Terry Francis, who she says had one of the biggest influences on the person she is today.


After being elected leader, Cllr Mudd used one of her first speeches to pay tribute to her “kind and generous” dad who died last year.

“I really do believe that kindness is very important and for me going forward, I genuinely think that is the way I would see my leadership,” she said.

“We will have difficult decisions to make, there are challenges, and sometimes there will be people who will be unhappy with the decisions that we make.

“But just because we are in that position does not mean that we have to be unkind to each other.”

Perhaps one of the first challenges ahead will be setting next year’s budget.

Plans have yet to be revealed – with the Welsh Government still to announce how much funding each council will receive – but Cllr Mudd says there is “not going be an easy solution” to the pressures facing local authorities.

Asked what type of budget can be expected, she said: “It is too early to say at the moment.

“Obviously we have got a range of savings which are put forward, as they always are, but there are some savings we would rather not make and it depends upon the level of the settlement.

“Every local authority is in that position.”

But she has vowed to listen to residents.

“I will listen,” the 51-year-old said.

“I understand, and I am sure every other citizen understands, that I will not always be able to act on what people say, that I will sometimes have constraints, but that does not mean that I will not be listening.”

While challenges are ahead, Cllr Mudd also believes the city is “moving towards a new phase of prosperity that will benefit the citizens of Newport.”

Several major projects are reaching completion, such as the new Chartist Tower development, and the city’s digital economy is growing.

Helping to facilitate economic growth and support residents to develop skills, so that “people don’t feel they need to move away for well paid jobs” is a priority for the new leader.

“This city has got such potential,” she said.


“The level of investment that we are receiving is increasing all the time, the level of interest from investors, the opportunities – they are tremendous – our cultural heritage is fantastic, and look at this creative community and what they are doing now – they are absolutely amazing.”

The mum-of-two is also aware of challenges facing the city, and says issues such as rough sleeping and empty city centre shops will be tackled with the support of Welsh Government.

But she intends to view the situation as a whole with “the glass half full”, keeping hold of the positives to “move the city forward.”

“It’s not just about economic wealth, our wealth is in our people as well,” she added.

Away from the council chamber, Cllr Mudd is a devoted Newport County AFC fan, with a season ticket on the terraces at Rodney Parade.

“I enjoy everything about that,” she says.

“Even sometimes the football.”

She also enjoys spending time with her family, including her two adult children and baby granddaughter, and travelling.