The Democratic Body is made up of eleven tenant representatives, eight employee representatives and two local authority representatives. The Democratic Body are there to represent the Members and make key decisions on vital services, such as:

  • Supporting the development of the business plan
  • The approval of the Corporate Strategy (this is the values and plan that Merthyr Valleys Homes will work to)
  • Reviewing vital services that tenants receive
  • Getting involved in reviewing future rent setting
  • Approving future appointments of Non-Executive Directors and the Chief Executive

Democratic Body Representatives

Tenant RepresentativesEmployee Representatives
Nigel Phillips-Gunter Marcus Powell (Chair)
Gaynor Bradley Julie McCarthy (Vice Chair)
Marlene Burns  
Beryl Evans Shaun Chappell
Annette Longbottom Natalie Warner
Tracey Powell Nicholas Lyons
Mark Williams Stephen Puddy
Joan Marshall
Bernadette Batson
Rachel Thomas



Chris Bolton

Chris is the Good Practice Exchange Manager at the Wales Audit Office (WAO), and is responsible for the development and implementation of the Wales Audit Office approach to sharing good practice across public services. This led to a significant shift in the role of the WAO and has been recognised as effective and innovative by stakeholders and peers in addition to independent reviews. In 2018 Chris was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to study large scale cooperatives in the Basque Country (NE Spain) and New England (USA). Chris truly believes that the future of Wales lies in economic activity that is rooted in, and democratically controlled by its communities, cooperatives and mutuals.

Chris is a Trustee Board Member of Cartrefi Cooperative, which supports people to live good lives in the community, and is also a member of the Co-production Network for Wales Advisory Panel.

Chris was born in Nelson, and has been connected with Merthyr Tydfil all of his life.


Carol James

Carol has been a HR professional for over 30 years having worked in various sectors (not for profit; NHS, education and commercial) and is a Fellow of the CIPD. She brings a wide range of skills and experience to the role of board member which she has gained by working in the UK, Australia, USA, Argentina, Netherlands, Switzerland and Singapore.

Carol was born in Cardiff and lived in Wiltshire for a short time, but returned to Cardiff to finish her school education locally. Carol then moved to Australia for 7 years before returning to Wales. She returned to Australia on two more occasions to live and work but finally settled in Cardiff when she had her daughter. Carol is married and now blessed with a grandson and a granddaughter.

Carol also has a long history with the Scout Association having been a Cub Scout Leader, Assistant Area Commissioner for Leader Training and a District Commissioner. She is currently the Chair of the Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Scout Council Appointments Committee and a trainer covering aspects of leadership and working with adults.

Rachel Honey-Jones

Rachel has worked across the Housing sector, starting her career with the Vale of Glamorgan Council where she worked on the Housing Stock Transfer programme after graduating with a Masters from Cardiff University. Rachel then joined the Chartered Institute of Housing where she held the position of i2i Coordinator for South Wales and Powys delivering support for community benefits and tenant engagement across her region of work. Rachel then joined Tai Tarian Community Regeneration Team, focusing on the added benefits the housing investment can make to communities. She is now the Head of Community Regeneration at Newydd Housing Association.

Rachel also sits on the Cwm Taf Regional Partnership Board as one of two Housing representatives after being elected by Cwm Taf Housing Chief Executives, and sits on the Cwm Taf Community Safety Partnership Board as the Third Sector representative. 
Outside of her day job Rachel is a Board Member of HACT - a solutions agency committed to promoting ideas and innovation across the housing sector. Previously Rachel held the role Vice Chair of Family Housing Association Board and was also a finalist in 24 Housing’s Young Leader competition on 2015.
Rachel is originally from Swansea, and currently lives in Margam with her husband and daughter.

Calvin Jones

Calvin Jones is a Professor of Economics and Deputy Dean at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University where he helms the School's unique Public Value strategy. Calvin has been employed at the University since 1998 and holds a PhD in the Economics of Tourism and Major Sports Events. Calvin specialises in the analysis of the Welsh economy, and his interest in the Valleys means that he has an excellent contextual knowledge of how Wales ‘works’ and the particular issues that drive or hinder success in Valleys communities.
Calvin’s recent research work includes membership of the Foundational Economy Network in Wales, and a related project looking at RSL procurement in Torfaen; work with the Commissioner for Future Generations around future skills, and on understanding progress towards the seven ‘goal’ areas; the impact of superfast broadband in Wales; and work with the Wales Audit Office, Wales Coop Centre and others looking at how both procurement and social business models can be levered to help improve Wales’ socio-economic (and environmental) outcomes.
Calvin is a failed rock star and novelist, but winner of the Moss Madden Medal in Regional Science. In 2012 he authored the black comedy short ‘A Million Years of Sunshine’.

Jonathan Tumelty

Jon has worked solely within the fields of community safety and housing and has a strong belief that society should protect the vulnerable (wherever possible). This belief continues to drive him and his interest in community safety has grown stronger since obtaining an MSc in the subject along the way. Jon started his career in community safety at the 2006 launch of the 101 contact centre in Cardiff and subsequently worked for Cardiff Council, Newport City Homes and Trivallis. In 2019, he moved to Monmouthshire Housing Association as Head of Neighbourhoods.

Some of Jon’s key achievements include the implementation of a UK first information sharing pilot with South Wales Police (winning ‘Innovation of the Year’ 2018 at the Chartered Institute of Housing UK Housing Awards); development and successful implementation of case management software with a Cardiff based company (now being trialled by the NHS for UK rollout); and helping to shape the ‘Review Together’ pilot looking and trauma informed approaches to housing.

Jon lives in Cardiff. He is married, and is a proud dad to two children. He has represented Wales and Great Britain in Fullbore target rifle, and spends his ‘spare time’ training for the occasional marathon or obstacle course race, and most recently has become a committed road cyclist and downhill mountain biker.

Gemma Watkins

Gemma has worked in the housing sector for over 15 years both within a local authority setting and at a senior level within a community based housing association. Gemma has a degree in Housing Studies, and graduated with a Masters in Public Sector Leadership and Management. She is a qualified project manager and has been an organisational lead for “Lean thinking and Lean reviews” to drive continuous improvement.
Gemma has been a CIH mentor for junior housing staff and first time line managers and has a keen interest in organisational growth projects, community investment and is passionate about equality issues, tenancy sustainability and delivering resident centred services.
Gemma is currently the Director of Housing & Communities at Aelwyd Housing Association. Gemma was born in Jamaica but has lived and worked in Wales her whole adult life. She currently resides in Cardiff with her husband and young family.


The Democratic Body is a group of 11 tenants, 8 employees and 2 representatives from Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. The tenant members elect the tenants, and the employees elect the employees, the council tell MVH every year who the council representatives will be.

Yes, all tenants and employees must be a Member to serve on the Democratic Body. You also need to be a Member to be able to vote others on to the Democratic Body. To find more about Membership and how to join all the information can be found on Membership.

When MVH changed over to a housing mutual (May 2016) the Democratic Body was created to give tenants and employees more control over the running of the organisation. The Democratic Body work with the Board and the Executive Management Team and are there to represent the Members of MVH by influencing decisions that affect both tenants and employees and setting our strategic goals.  They also interview and appoint Board Members to deliver the Gyda’n Gilydd strategy.

The group have interviewed and appointed our Chief Executive, Board members and our new Board Chair, been involved in setting tenants’ rent, influenced our capital program, exploring what energy efficiency measures can be added to our homes, written our corporate strategy called ‘Gyda’n Gilydd’, and developed the Brighter Futures Programmes allowing tenants across the Borough to access skills  and training opportunities that relate to employment, DIY or other skills of interest which also have a social aspect. They are also involved in reviewing budgets and interviewing Senior Manager Positions, including recruitment of Executive Team members.

There are some business items that go onto a rolling agenda which sets out the topics being discussed at each meeting over a 12 month period.  These include items such as discussing the rent increases each April and budget setting for the business.  However, Democratic Body still have the power to add additional items for discussion onto the agenda and also have use of 3 days of our Internal Auditors time to look into matters further on your behalf.  The Brighter Futures programme came into existence after Democratic Body requested it be established and we are pleased to see it being accessed by tenants across the Borough.  Democratic Body are also involved on working groups including the Complaints Appeals Panel so have a good oversight of any services that may need scrutiny or improvement.

The term of office for all representatives is 3 years. So, we have spaces from those whose term is up, as well as spaces for others who have had to step down for other reasons.

As a tenant or employee of MVH you already have a wealth of knowledge and experience of our services.  We want representatives to feel conformable and confidence to participate in the meeting, so yes, all members on the Democratic Body are offered training in various areas, for example, housing management, IT, and finance. You’ll also have the option of attending conferences and networking events to help you gain more experience. You will also have the option to ‘buddy up’ with another Democratic Body Representative so they can support you and provide insight into past decisions.

The meetings take place normally every six to eight weeks and last for about two hours; currently the meetings are held on a Thursday morning at 10.30am (this may change in the future). You’ll be given notice in advance for all meetings.

All employees who are on the Democratic Body get their time accredited.

Yes, we can arrange for you to observe a meeting of Democratic Body so that you can get a feel for the meetings and discussion topics before you put yourself forward for election.  We can also arrange for you to chat informally to some of our Democratic Body representatives.

We’ll strive to support you throughout your time on the Democratic Body, but if for whatever reason you found yourself unable to continue just talk to the team who are here to help you. If you just need a short break away from the Democratic Body then we can offer you a special leave of absence, which will allow you to step down for a little while but keep your seat.  If however you wish to resign, you will need to notify us in writing, and your position will either go to the next person with the highest votes or go back out to an election.

We hope this information has answered any questions you may have had, if however, you still have any questions here is how to get in touch contact Zoe your Membership Involvement Officer on 01685 727786 for all matters related to membership and Democratic Body or Rachel Thomas for Brighter Futures on 01685 727896.