A SECOND county councillor has thrown their hat into the ring to challenge David Davies for the Monmouthshire seat at the general election. 

The Welsh Secretary has represented Monmouth, for the Conservatives, since 2005 but will be challenged by Labour county councillor for Monmouth town ward Catherine Fookes in the seat that now mirrors the county boundaries. 

Green Party councillor Ian Chandler has now been announced as its candidate for Monmouthshire at the general election that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday confirmed will be held on July 4. 

Cllr Chandler currently sits alongside Labour councillors on Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet – having been brought into the ruling administration as part of a coalition deal last year to shore up the minority Labour administration at County Hall. 

Cllr Chandler, who was attending a council cabinet meeting as Mr Sunak stood in the rain in Downing Street to announce the election, said they’d been selected by a vote of party members. 

“It was held earlier in the year but we held back on announcing it, it would probably have been a little more planned but it did take us by surprise a little bit yesterday,” said the councillor first elected in the Llantilio Crossenny ward in May 2022. 

The councillor, who spoke in a council meeting about their non-binary identity last year, said they aren’t discouraged by the view the seat will be a contest between the Conservatives and Labour who last won Monmouth when Tony Blair secured a second term in 2001.

“I’m standing because I’d like to win,” said Cllr Chandler: “I think I could be a strong voice for Monmouth in Westminster and whoever forms the next government, which is most likely to be Keir Starmer, I’d hold them to account, and more than that, hold their feet to the fire and make them bolder on tackling some of those big crisis such as the climate and cost of living. 

“If I don’t get elected I at least want to give people the opportunity to vote for somebody who stands for what they believe in and says what they believe and isn’t just full of spin and says different things to different people.”

The councillor said they expext to collect votes from “disillusioned” Conservative and Labour voters and said they could be a “safe vote” for those wanting to “vote with their conscience” with, they said, polls suggesting Labour will also win the Monmouthshire constituency. 

Boundary changes that see Caldicot and other areas in the south of Monmouthshire currently in Labour held Newport East into the constituency also benefit Labour, claimed Cllr Chandler. 

The senior councillor also confirmed the council’s Labour leader Mary Ann Brocklesby had been aware of their selection as the Green candidate and said “we recognise that presents some challenges”. 

Asked if they expect any of the seven Labour cabinet members to vote for them, Cllr Chandler said: “I haven’t asked them, it’s a matter for them but I suspect they will probably be voting for Catherine Fookes.”