James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Derbyshire County Councillor

It was the family tradition of involvement in politics that led John to stand for the county council vacancy created at Melbourne in 1967, which he won. That year all the opposition parties combined to end Labour control and enable the Conservatives to take over. He represented Melbourne on Derbyshire County Council for 32 years; he served on all the Council committees. He was Policy Finance and General Purposes Committee Chair from 1977 to 1981 and the Vice Chair of Planning between 1970 and 1974. He very much appreciated the civilised way in which council business was transacted due he felt not just to the fact that councillors dressed smartly for meetings - suits for the men and hats for the ladies – but that each member was allocated a seat, regardless of their party. This reduced whispering and whipping, resulting in more constructive and less bigoted discussion.

The plight of Derbyshire’s economy was highlighted in a House of Lords debate in January 1995 and Lord Varley’s address to the House on the matter highlight the spirit of cooperation that John so much appreciated in Derbyshire County Council: Two weeks ago, the Minister of State for Local Government, Mr. David Curry, met a delegation from the Derbyshire County Council which was led by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Martin Doughty and the Conservative Leader of the Opposition, Councillor John Morgan-Owen. They were accompanied by representatives of business interests, chambers of commerce and the Diocesan Council for Social Responsibility in Derbyshire. I emphasise the composition of the delegation to show that it was not special pleading from the Labour Party but a genuine and sincere attempt to look again at some of the fearsome problems with which the county council is faced. ….. I am pleased to hear that as a result of that deputation, a review is to be carried out about the area cost adjustment methodology and that that review will be for discussion with the local authority associations. The evidence that money is being disproportionately allocated to the South-East and at the expense of the East Midlands has become extremely clear.

Like his grandfather John was asked to stand for Parliament several times but refused on the grounds that he could achieve more at a local level. Just prior to his death he had become Chairman of Melbourne Conservative Association - he was already Leader of the council's opposition Conservative group. He organised many lively and colourful events to raise funds for the Association.