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Derek Vaughan was born in Merthyr Tydfil on 2nd May 1961.  He lived in Aberfan for most of his early life, moving to Neath in 1984.

He was educated at Afon Taf High School and later at Swansea University, where he gained an Honours Degree in Politics and History.

Derek became an engineering apprentice at Hoover Limited in Merthyr Tydfil after leaving school.  From there he went on to work in the Valuation Office Agency.  He took three years sabbatical from work to undertake his degree at Swansea University.  After completing his degree he went back to the Valuation Office Agency for a short time before working full time for the PCS Trade Union.  He worked in this job until being elected Leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. 
Derek was elected as Labour Party Member of the European Parliament for Wales in June 2009.

Derek has been a member of the Labour Party for 29 years.  In that time he has held a number of positions in his Ward and Constituency Party. In the mid-1980’s he was elected to Neath Town Council and became Mayor of the Town Council.  In 1995 he was elected to the shadow Neath Port Talbot Council as the Member for Neath North.

As a Councillor on Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council he has held a number of positions, including Cabinet Member for Economic Development.  Following the elections in June 2004 he became Leader of the Council. In 2005 he became Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and since the 2008 election Deputy Leader.

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