New face to join mayor’s cabinet

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HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond has welcomed a new addition to his cabinet committee as part of a shake-up.

Labour councillor Chris Simmons is to join the cabinet as portfolio holder for children’s services.

Mayor Drummond has described his new recruit as “very capable” and the move brings the total number of members to nine.

Coun Simmons’ arrival is part of a shake-up which has seen five of the current members given new roles.

Mayor Drummond said: “It has always been at the back of my mind to strengthen the cabinet.

“I have been very impressed with Coun Simmons, especially his work with the children’s services scrutiny forum.

“Coun Simmons will fit into the cabinet very well and with great ease considering his level of experience.”

Mayor Drummond added that he thought it was important to give cabinet members new challenges.

He added: “It is healthy to keep things fresh and to give people new challenges.

“It keeps people focused and it also gives them new skills which are useful when it comes to making decisions.”

Coun Simmons will join current members Peter Jackson, Jonathan Brash, Ged Hall, Robbie Payne, Pamela Hargreaves, Hilary Thompson, Cath Hill on the cabinet.

Cabinet members receive a special responsibility allowance (SRA) of £5,767 on top of their basic allowance of £5,767.

Coun Simmons is currently the chair of children’s services scrutiny forum and will have to give up that role after joining the cabinet.

He is also the leader of the Labour Group, for which he receives the SRA of £5,767.

Councillors can only receive one SRA so there is no cost to him joining the cabinet committee.

Coun Simmons said: “I am delighted to be joining the committee.

“I hope that I will be able to make a big contribution and will do my very best to ensure that I do.”

Coun Hill was responsible for children’s services but the independent councillor will now take the portfolio for culture, leisure and tourism.

Coun Thompson, an independent councillor, used to hold that portfolio but is now responsible for performance.

Meanwhile, Coun Brash will take the new housing and transition portfolio, which will include responsibility for changes to the way the council works.

The Labour councillor used to have the portfolio for performance.

Coun Jackson is the new regeneration, economic development and skills portfolio and Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves will take the transport and neighbourhoods portfolio.

Coun Jackson, a Labour councillor, had been a cabinet member without portfolio due to work commitments but Mayor Drummond says he is now in a position to take on a portfolio again.

Labour councillors Ged Hall will continue with the adult services and public health portfolio and Robbie Payne will remain portfolio holder for finance and procurement.

Mayor Drummond will continue to be responsible for community safety and planning.

l SEE the Mayor on Wednesday on page 14.