THE Conservative councillor for Downton has emerged as one of the favourites to be the new leader of Wiltshire Council.

It comes as cllr Philip Whitehead, who has only been in the role since July 2019, announced on Saturday that he was to step down.

After cllr Clewer was re-elected in Downton & Ebble Valley in the Wiltshire Council elections, he confirmed his intention to put himself forward to be the next leader.

So who is cllr Clewer, and does he have the support of his fellow Conservative cllrs?

Deputy Leader

Cllr Clewer has been a Wiltshire Councillor since the creation of Wiltshire Council in 2009 and was a Salisbury District Councillor before that.

Until last week, he was the Deputy Leader of Wiltshire Council and had cabinet responsibility for Housing, Communities, Climate Change, Arts, Heritage, Tourism and Corporate Services.

His role as deputy leader is what makes him one of the favourites to take up the role.

Locally, he is the councillor for the Downton and Ebble Valley Division, and he also sits on the New Forest National Park Authority.

Richard and his wife, Zoe - who is also a Wiltshire cllr (Redlynch and Landford) - run a wargames figure manufacturing company based at the top of Lode Hill in Redlynch.

Richard was also previously a Salisbury city councillor, in the St Paul's ward.

Zoë Clewer

Zoë Clewer


Richard's degree is in military history (War Studies, from King’s London).

Before that, he worked in London as a marketing/management consultant.

He moved out of London to help his parents run their school, Sherborne House Prep School in Chandlers Ford as Bursar.

After they sold the school, he says he didn’t fancy moving back to London so started a business importing and manufacturing wargames figures (basically toy soldiers for adults).

Before university, he took a gap year serving with the 17/21st Lancers on a Short Service Limited Commission based at Tidworth. It was during that time he decided that the Wiltshire/Hampshire border, particularly around Salisbury was where he wanted to settle.


Mark McClelland, Wiltshire councillor for St Francis and Stratford, has already said he will be backing cllr Clewer for leader of the Conservative Group and Wiltshire Council.

He said: "[Richard is] Well respected, experienced, hard working and someone who understands the importance of properly consulting and listening to people."

Rich Rogers, the newly elected councillor for Winterslow and Upper Bourne Valley, has also thrown his support behind cllr Clewer.

He said: "I have known Richard for a number of years, and have been impressed by his handling of many challenges and issues on Wiltshire Council.

"He has been outstanding in the roles he has had responsibility for, and definitely the right person to take Wiltshire Council forward."

Cllr Nabil Najjar, cllr for Fovant & Chalke Valley, said cllr Clewer would make "an outstanding leader".

It is expected that a new leader of the Wiltshire Conservatives will be decided on Tuesday (May 11).