THE newly-elected deputy leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council has vowed to continue to be out and about in the community – despite the extra responsibilities with his new role.

Cllr James Pritchard was elected to the role earlier this month following the resignation of predecessor Cllr Sean Morgan, who had come under fire for travelling to Spain, which was an amber list country at the time.

The 35-year-old, who represents Morgan Jones ward, promised to be "hands-on, out and about in the community, working with staff and speaking directly with residents.”

Cllr Pritchard said he first became interested in politics when confronted with working conditions in a previous job at a steelworks.

“Like many other people in my community, I was mainly in receipt of free school meals in my early years," he said. "Throughout my life I’ve experienced unemployment and poverty, so I have a sense of what it feels like to struggle on low income.

“From age 12 to 16, I put my efforts into athletics and on three occasions I represented Wales in a range of disciplines, competing in Scotland each time.

“I left school with very few qualifications, so I enrolled at Crosskeys College in 2002 to do a 1st Diploma in Sport.

“I began my employment at BRC, Newport at the age of 18. I worked the permanent night shift which could sometimes be a very unforgiving environment in the cold winters. I began to become more politically aware when confronted with working conditions at the steelworks. Rain was pouring through a leaking roof onto the machinery the workers were expected to be using.


“The excuse given for not fixing the roof was due to the ‘imminent’ relocation of the site to the other side of the city. This wasn’t acceptable to me, so I challenged the management by writing a letter to the boss, speaking of the clear breach of health and safety regulations. This ended with a surprise 2am meeting with the boss who came down to the site during the night shift.

“The union rep wanted to be present in the meeting and I welcomed his involvement. We had a full exchange of views and at the end of the meeting, we shook hands and respect was gained on both sides.

“From this day on I’ve never been afraid to challenge when I see and injustice, and this is something that made me think about standing to fight for residents.”

He decided to leave BRC and went back to education in June 2007, enrolling on a Political Studies Access Course at the University of Newport’s Caerleon Campus. After graduation the following year, he enrolled onto the degree course for Social Welfare at the university, graduating in 2011.

In May the following year, he was elected to represent the Morgan Jones Ward.

“From the outset, I knew there was no chance of me retaining the seat unless I worked it from day one,” he said.

“Over the term I knocked doors regularly, held public meetings and made myself available the best way I could. At the 2017 election I was returned top of the poll with 1059 votes (up from 732 in 2012) and the largest increate in votes of any returning councillor in the Caerphilly borough.”

Cllr Pritchard continues to hold the seat as well as continuing his policy of knocking on doors and earlier this year was elected to be the new deputy leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council.

He said he also wants to see more working-class people in politics.

"Politics should not be the preserve of the rich and powerful," he said. "Power should be concentrated in the hands of the many, not the select few.

"For me, the battle is to work night and day to reduce inequalities in our society wherever they are. The gap between the rich and poor is massive and has always existed under every government. As a socialist, I cannot accept that poverty is inevitable. The fight against injustice is what drives me”.

Cllr Pritchard wants residents of the borough to know where he stands on particular policies that matter to him:


“It’s a scourge that our society is so riven with inequality. Inequality bedevils many local authorities, and Caerphilly Borough is far from alone in this respect.

"Healthy life expectancy can be up to 12 or 13 years lower in some part of the borough than it is in some of our most prosperous wards. How can this be right? I don’t think there’s anybody of any political persuasion that would be happy with this, so what do we do about it?

"This trend will not be reversed without fundamental change, not tinkering at the edges.

"This means UK, Welsh and local government committing meaningfully to redirecting opportunities, particularly to areas which have suffered through deindustrialisation.

"I make no apology in saying we need to pursue policy that rebalances opportunities towards the areas that have suffered most.”

A Rebalanced and Green Housing Policy

“We’ve been impacted over recent years with excessive housebuilding in in the Caerphilly Basin and parts of Islwyn.

"Dominating a relatively small geographical area of the county borough with often unpopular and unaffordable housing not only reduces the amount of space available to those communities, it does nothing for the many parts of our borough that desperately require additional housing and better business opportunities.

"I believe there needs to be an emphasis on Brownfield development, especially given our environmental commitments following the declaration of a Climate Emergency in June 2019.

"The planning system can be incredibly frustrating when it comes to providing suitable levels of affordable housing.

"We do now have an opportunity to build new council homes, so I strongly believe we should be taking matters more into our own hands by building good quality council housing in suitable locations.

"Shelter Cymru have recently published a press release that shows over a million adults and children in Wales are living in unsafe or unaffordable housing. We cannot accept this, so we need strong action.”

Economic Development and Tourism

“The county borough has a lot to offer. It is rich with tourist appeal and has opportunities to attract investment.

"I’ve played an active role supporting businesses through the pandemic by regularly holding meetings with the business community and by working with the cabinet to provide information on business grants, often through social media channels in a fast – moving environment.

"I believe some of the barriers to creating a more thriving private sector is often due to systemic inequality brought about by de – industrialisation, lack of housing and de – population.

"As deputy leader I will take the proactive stance when it comes to levelling the playing field across the borough.”

Public Transport

“Many people will remember when local authorities ran public transport.

"The Welsh Government's Programme for Government contains a pledge to lift the ban on local authorities setting up municipal bus companies. As deputy leader I want to work with Welsh Government to bring public transport back into public ownership and rid us of privatisation. Public transport should be that. Publicly owned.”