A number of Leyland’s newest councillors have landed roles on South Ribble’s decision-making committees after a post-election shake-up – and some experienced members have secured prestigious spots on the top cabinet committee.
An extra post has been created on the cabinet following last month’s election results, which saw the Conservative authority retain control of South Ribble.
“Our new cabinet members are young, and we felt it was a right fit”Council leader, Coun Margaret Smith
The previous portfolios of ‘regeneration, leisure and healthy communities’, and of ‘strategic planning and housing’ have been split up to create a new post called ‘housing and healthy communities’.
The changes mean there are now seven cabinet members rather than six, including the council’s leader Margaret Smith.
Coun Smith said: “We have got some big plans for the future, and a lot of that vision centres around the City Deal, regeneration, leisure and healthy communities, and improving people’s quality of life.
“We intend to start putting those plans into place now, and we feel that we need extra capacity in our cabinet to do that.
“I don’t think people always understand how much work the cabinet members put in – it’s not just about council meetings, there’s a lot which goes on unseen.
“I feel that we’re asking a lot of our cabinet with our programme, especially with the momentum of the City Deal, and we want to push ahead with it all.”
She added: “Our new cabinet members are young, and we felt it was a right fit.
“It’s not that we’re running out of steam, we just want them to have more input.”
Moss Side’s Michael Green has been chosen to take on the new ‘housing and healthy communities’ role, while Coun Phil Smith and Coun Cliff Hughes will keep the ‘regeneration and leisure’, and the ‘strategic planning’ portfolios respectively.
Coun Green said: “This is a very important role for the residents and the council, and there will be a lot of work involved with other agencies, such as the police.
“There are key links between housing and healthy communities.
“And as a council, we have got to be at the table to influence the strategies of other partners which affect our residents.
“It’ is an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into it and moving the policies forward.”
Buckshaw and Worden’s Caroline Moon has been chosen to take on the shared services and corporate support portfolio, which was held by Phil Hamman of Leyland St Mary’s before he resigned.
She said: “I came to the council five years ago with a legal background, and brought my professional skills and experience with me.
“Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about how the council works and I understand what it does for the residents, so taking on the cabinet role seemed like the natural next step.
“I’m very pleased to get more involved, and my portfolio is very much about customer service, with the Gateway service.
“There’s no denying that the feedback from residents has been good, this is a very good authority, and it’s nice to be in a position to take forward more of what the residents want.”
She added: “In the new cabinet, there is a perfect mix of experience and consistency, but with younger members to make sure we keep moving forward.
“It’s definitely a very strong cabinet and we’re in a very strong position. It’s all for the taking now in South Ribble.”
Coun Warren Bennett, who represents Coupe Green and Gregson Lane, has taken over from retired finance and resources cabinet member Stephen Robinson, and is also the new deputy leader, which used to be Coun Peter Mullineaux’s role.
Coun Bennett said: “I’ve been with the authority for four years and I’m very interested in helping Margaret move the council forward.
“It’s a very fast moving business, and it’s an exciting time in South Ribble.”
Coun Mullineaux is still cabinet member for neighbourhoods and street scene.
Meanwhile, new Farington councillors Karen Walton and Paul Wharton, both Conservative, will join the scrutiny committee.
Coun Wharton is also on the licensing act and the general licensing committees, and Coun Walton, the former mayoress, has also joined the governance committee.
Labour’s Claire Hamilton, the new representative for Leyland Central, has been appointed on to the planning committee, which Coun Moon has left.
Coun Jane Bell will still be the chair of the Leyland My Neighbourhood Forum, and Coun Graham Walton is the chair of the central area forum, which covers Farington.