The new Leader of the Labour group on the York Council is also likely to become the new Leader of the City, albeit only for about 4 months.
The York electorate will have had no say in the making of this appointment. Hopefully Labour Councillors will belatedly offer some transparency in the process.
It would, therefore, be good to see potential candidates tell York residents what they think that they could bring to the job of Council Leader?
The Leadership of the City is important and under new regulations it is the Leader who makes all the Cabinet appointments.
The Council needs a Leader with experience. To hit the ground running you probably need to have been a member of the Council for 10 years, with another 10 years having been spent in business, education or administration. This should provide the minimum necessary range of knowledge and skills.
The Press have given their view on the runners and riders.
Several of the Councillors listed have less than 4 years service on the Council – meaning they have only ever won one election. Even the late incumbent, whose inexperience led to his eventual downfall, had served for over 4 years when he took up the post.
- Williams likewise but he may claim five years on the Plymouth Council gives him an edge, or at least some geographical flexibility. He is less tainted than many by the Alexander years having currently a low profile portfolio role on finance and internal management. Poor transparency, inadequate management information and sometimes chaotic customer service interfaces suggest that he has made little positive impact at West Offices. He does however have some work experience and indeed tries to juggle working in PR while drawing a Cabinet members salary. Has recently announced that he is leaving the Westfield Ward in search of a safer seat on the east of fhe City.
Some others have failed even more spectacularly with their portfolios.
- TSL presided over indecision on Social Care resulting in projects like the Lowfields care village running 3 years behind schedule and with an auditors report published which criticised a huge budget deficit in care services. The number of affordable housing units built actually fell during her tenure. Her only recent “proper” job was running a coffee stall on the market albeit she now has a lot of experience on the Council. Likely to be more popular with the party activists than the City generally.
- Dave Merrett, although more able than some would give credit for, failed as the Council Leader in 2002/3, suffering a heavy election defeat in May 2003 and is now tainted by the Lendal bridge scandal and the dogmatic, unnecessary and costly introduction of 20 mph zones. Many other transport projects ran behind schedule during the days of his regime. Has held an engineering job in the rail industry for many years and is the most experienced of the likely contenders.
- Sonia Crisp is credited with putting the word vanity in “vanity projects”. Self publicity is no substitute for competence and she has still to explain the “Grand Departy” debacle. No relevant work experience.
- Which leaves Julie Gunnell, last years Lord Mayor? Some might say that she jumped ship from the Alexander Cabinet in 2012 because she could see the way things were going. She remained publicly loyal to the old regime even when her father (Ken King) resigned from the Labour Group and became Leader of a rival “Independent Labour Group”. Julie Gunnell does have some administrative experience, has better interpersonal skills than most Councillors but is not the world’s most convincing public speaker. Still she improved during her year as Lord Mayor and may be someone who could calm a warring Council chamber for a few months. No doubt being named as dark horse on this web site will scupper her chances. Shame as one family holding the leaderships of two Groups on the Council would be another first for the City.
Cunningham Cross & Levene 5/1