The new coalition which will run the York Council, for the next few years has announced the appointments that it will make to its new “Executive” committee. The “Executive” replaces Labours pretentiously titled “Cabinet”.
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The new body will be able to rely on some experienced Councillors with Andrew Waller, Ian Gillies and Carol Runciman all getting portfolios. The latter picks up the social care responsibility which proved to be beyond the capabilities of several Labour members who have preceded her in recent years.
Others with several years of experience include Nigel Ayre, Jenny Brooks and Keith Aspden
Tory Chris Steward becomes the second Council Leader, after James Alexander, to take up the role with less than 4 years experience under his belt. The short-lived Alexander regime was famous for impulsive, somewhat shallow, decision making – let’s hope we don’t see a repetition.
Biggest surprise is the appointment of David Carr to the Council Housing portfolio. Little known outside Copmanthorpe, David Carr has only been a member of the Council for 2 weeks. He will take over a Housing department which has recently been heavily criticised for stopping skip visits to several estates, delaying the installation of new windows at an elderly persons sheltered housing site and refusing to allow tenants to spend improvement monies on facilities which have enjoyed support for many years.
Many estates are now in need of major regeneration works. It remains to be seen whether a rookie Councillor will be able to get a grip on a Department which has run up a budget surplus of £15 million
All the Executive posts have been regarded as full time by successive independent remuneration panels. This presents a major sacrifice for the three Councillors who currently hold down full time the jobs outside the Council (Steward, Aspden and Ayre). Giving up a secure job to take up, what may prove to be, a temporary post is a major step and one that the last Council Leader – Williams – was not prepared to take (with some foresight as it turned out).
The decision is made more difficult by the new coalition’s decision to reduce individual Executive “pay” from £21,892 a year to £18,217 to stay within the existing budget. Whether they will be able to do this without reference to an independent review panel remains to be seen.
It seems that the pay grades of Leader (£31,712 and Deputy Leader (£24,704) will remain the same.
Still the major interest for residents will be the new structures which we are promised will give everyone access to more information and the opportunity to influence decisions. We expect proposals to be tabled within the next few days.
A copy of the Executive portfolio responsibilities can be downloaded by clicking here