Ruling group shakes up its top table leadership

Lord Smith
Lord Smith

Council leader Lord Smith has shuffled his leadership team in response to “changing pressures” on the cash-strapped local authority.

With no town hall elections this year in the borough, the ruling cabinet will remain as an eight member body although portfolio responsibilities have changed.

Meanwhile, three councillors have been promoted to “lead members” who will operate alongside the cabinet on areas of political priority.

The reshuffle suggests the ruling Labour Party is confident Coun Jo Platt will win the race to become Leigh MP as she has not been named on the list of cabinet members.

Coun Jenny Bullen, who joined the executive body earlier this year in place of Coun Paul Kenny, will assume Coun Platt’s children’s services portfolio.

Coun Carl Sweeney, who represents Abram ward, has been promoted to the cabinet and will oversee a new resources and reform portfolio.

Couns Joanne Marshall, Jim Moodie and Nazia Rehman are trio to be designated “lead members” with responsibility for Greener Wigan, Leisure and Public Health and Community and Family Safety, respectively.

Lord Smith told the Wigan Post: “I have reconsidered the roles of cabinet members to reflect both the changing pressures on the council and the need to reflect political priorities.

“This has led to new roles for a number of cabinet members and the introduction of a new role of Lead members to help deliver what the borough requires going forward.”

With responsibility for Wigan and Leigh Homes returning to the town hall, experienced cabinet member Coun Terry Halliwell will now oversee a housing and welfare remit.

Coun Kevin Anderson, who maintains his responsibility for environment services, will be expected to “give his full attention” to the changes to the bin collection rota when it is implemented in September, the leader added.

He said: “I have taken the opportunity to allocate a couple of key political priorities – community safety and green issues - to new lead members.

“This should ensure these important areas receive the full attention of an elected member and I hope we can go further to start to address the figures for domestic violence which are far too high in Wigan borough.

“Finally, I have also brought together the work of Public Health and Leisure Services. There is an obvious link in raising participation in physical activity even moderately at any age as it improves people’s health.”

and wellbeing.