After weeks of speculation it’s now been confirmed that Cllr Jeffrey James MBE (Conservative Rhoose) is to retire from the Vale of Glamorgan Council where he’s the leader of the Conservative Group on the council .
Cllr James (72) will not be standing for re-election in the local government elections to be held on May 4th this year.
He was first elected to the Vale of Glamorgan Council in 1979 and was the Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan in 1990/91 – and during the previous Conservative administration in the Vale was chairman of the planning committee.
Although a Conservative, Cllr James on some occasions sided with the Labour Party – notably on the contentious scheme to lay a tarmac roadway along the Railway Path Nature Walk in Penarth . It was Cllr James who on September 5th 2013 actually moved the motion to approve the unpopular Labour scheme – despite the fact that it had been the subject of protests by Penarth residents and a vote against the scheme held in a public meeting convened by Penarth Town Council in the Paget Rooms.
Cllr James said afterwards “The reason I did it is that I realised that nearly all the Penarth members [ i.e,. Penarth Labour councillors at the subsequent Vale Planning committee meeting] who were present probably had mixed feelings about the application for this cycle path . I recognised that there would be difficulties in Penarth members moving it – that they’d be reluctant to do that – so in a pragmatic way I thought ‘OK, somebody’s got to move it, I’ll move it’.”
At other times under his leadership the Conservative Group on the Vale Council has performed what appear to be spectacular changes of policy. A PDN source says Cllr James’s group was originally set to vote in favour of the much-criticised Northcliff Lodge development in Penarth – but performed a last-minute volte-face and supported the Labour councillors opposed to the scheme when it appeared opinion was turning against the plan – thus ensuring the planning application was refused.
However Cllr James had also been a severe critic of the Labour Party in the Vale – alleging that Labour has “gerrymandered” the Vale Council’s Local Development Plan for its own political purposes and asserting it was Labour’s intention – in its LDP – to ” move development from the areas they [ i.e. Labour] represent, to areas that they don’t represent”.