New Labour Caerphilly Council leader and cabinet elected
Caerphilly County Borough Council has elected a new leader in the form of veteran Labour councillor Harry Andrews.
Cllr Andrews, a previous leader of the council between 2004 and 2008, was appointed for his second stint in the leader’s chair by councillors at the council’s Annual General Meeting held on Thursday.
The appointment comes after Labour’s victory in the local elections on May 3 when it won 50 seats against Plaid Cymru’s 20.
Plaid had previously been in control of the council with the support of independent councillors.
Labour has increased the council’s cabinet from nine councillors to ten – a move criticised by Plaid Cymru. The Labour group said it found the money for the extra cabinet post by reducing the number of extra payment posts for councillors.
Cllr Andrews said: “We have been given a great responsibility by the people of Caerphilly County Borough to deliver the right services and make a real difference to their lives.
“The cabinet portfolios have been restructured, to meet the demands of business today. We have reduced the special responsibility payments from 22 to 18 and in doing so we have created a new cabinet post.
“We believe this is the best use of the resources available as earlier this year we received an unequivocal mandate from our council house tenants; to spend over £173 million refurbishing the 11,000 properties in the county borough. We need to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standards over the next thirty years. This requires due diligence and the deputy leader Gerald Jones has been given this responsibility, I believe he has the necessary credentials to successfully steer this major project.”
Joining Cllr Jones as a deputy leader is Cllr Keith Reynolds, who also takes on the portfolio for corporate services.
The other members of the cabinet are:
- Cllr Dave Poole – cabinet member for community and leisure services holds an extensive service portfolio covering a range of frontline community services – from Community Safety to Trading Standards, Environmental Health to Refuse Collection.
- Cllr Christine Forehead has responsibility for HR and Governance and is the cabinet’s business manager.
- Cllr David Hardacre – cabinet member for performance and asset management will look after the council’s extensive property portfolio.
- Cllr. Ken James becomes the cabinet member for regeneration, planning and sustainable development.
- Cllr Rhianon Passmore takes on the role of cabinet member for education and lifelong learning.
- Cllr Tom Williams is cabinet member for highways, transportation and engineering.
- Cllr Robin Woodyatt is cabinet member for social services.
Plaid Cymru has criticised the Labour group for increasing the size of the Caerphilly Council’s cabinet after calling for the number to be cut while in opposition.
Plaid group leader Colin Mann said: “Just 12 months ago Labour councillors in opposition wanted to cut the number of cabinet posts to seven. In fact, one Labour councillor even suggested that Caerphilly should have just five cabinet posts, the same as in Merthyr Tydfil, which has less than one third of the population of Caerphilly.
“But now Labour have won power they have lost no time in increasing the number to ten, which smacks just a little of hypocrisy. It seems a strange way to behave, particularly when the authority has to make a massive £20 million in savings over the next few years. What message does that send to the public when you increase the number of councillors receiving the highest level of special responsibility allowance?
“The Labour group has made changes to the committee structure but the end result is that there are more councillors on the highest rate of allowance. Plaid had agreed to look at the number of cabinet posts in the light of the economic situation. We were in fact examining ways of reducing the number of cabinet posts to eight had we retained control of the council. I am concerned that this is the sort of behaviour that makes the public very cynical of politics.”
Speaking at the meeting on Thursday, Labour’s Keith Reynolds hit back at the criticism and said: “Sixty-three percent of tenants across the borough decided they wanted this council to look after their interests for the foreseeable future.
“We will be committing £173m over the next five to six years and that is the reason behind the rationale for Gerald Jones to be given the portfolio for housing.”Follow @CaerphillyObsvr