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Deputy leader declines nomination for leader role at Torfaen Council

AN attempt to replace Torfaen Council’s leader with his deputy at the council’s annual meeting failed – and he declined the nomination.

Councillor Richard Clark, who is the deputy leader of Torfaen County Borough Council, was put forward for the top job by an opposition councillor when the full council met at the Civic Centre in Pontypool on Tuesday, May 16.

But the Croesyceiliog member declined and with Labour holding 29 of the council’s 40 seats there was little danger of the plan succeeding.

After Cllr Clark declined the nomination only leader Anthony Hunt’s name was put forward and the Panteg councillor received the support of his Labour group and some opposition councillors though members of the four strong Independent Group voted against his re-election.

After his leadership of the council was confirmed for a further 12 months Cllr Hunt thanked councillors “for their support” and said: “I look forward to working with you on the challenges facing us as a society and a council.”

He said those were delivering council services while keeping bills down, addressing climate change, “building” on the council’s work to improve educational standards with the council’s education department having received a critical inspection report last year, and improving the environment “and maximising the opportunities to get out in it.”

He added: “I want to make Torfaen a better place to live and work and help secure better jobs closer to home.”

The leader said addressing the issues facing the borough wouldn’t be “easy” or achieved by “shouty slogans and populism” but “working together at all levels of government”.

Following Cllr Hunt’s appointment as leader the council also approved Cllr Richard Clark’s position as deputy leader.

Cllr Clark also keeps hold of his cabinet responsibility for education though the title is now “children, families and education” after the full council last month approved a shakeup of cabinet titles.

The cabinet which has been in place for the past 12 months was reappointed and that sees Peter Jones take responsibility for corporate governance and performance, Jo Gauden is the member for economy, skills and regeneration, Sue Morgan has the resources brief which includes finance, Fiona Cross is responsible for communities and David Daniels has the adult services and housing role.

As the cabinet member for environment Mandy Owen will lead efforts to up the council’s recycling rate to avoid bringing back dropped plans to reduce the frequency of rubbish collections.

Also at the meeting the council’s presiding member Rose Seabourne was re-elected to her position to chair the full council meetings. The Fairwater Labour councillor thanked her colleagues “for the confidence shown in me”.

Pontnewydd Labour member Stuart Ashley was re-elected as her deputy and he also thanked members for their confidence and said: “I only spoke for five minutes as a deputy and I hope that is the case this year as well, the presiding member does a brilliant job.”

Other appointments made at the meeting included the chairs of the council’s committees.

The Cleaner Communities Overview and Scrutiny committee will be chaired by David Williams, Education Overview and Scrutiny by Rose Seabourne, Cross-cutting Resources and Business Overview and Scrutiny by Stuart Ashley, Planning by Norma Parish, Licensing by Steven Evans and the pensions Committee by Nathan Yeowell, who are all Labour councillors.

The committee chairs held by opposition councillors are Healthier Communities Overview and Scrutiny by Janet Jones, Prosperous Communities Overview and Scrutiny by Mark Jones while Ron Burnett will chair the Democratic Services Committee and he is also the council’s champion for member training and development.

The champions are appointed to speak for underepresented groups and to ensure related issues are at the forefront of the council’s agenda and ara appointed by the leader from across the political divide.

Torfaen appoints its cabinet members as champions for their areas related to their roles such as the “age friendly” champion and young person’s champion while Cllr Hunt is the anti-poverty champion.

Champions from outside the cabinet, along with Cllr Burnett, are armed forces champion Gaynor James, sustainability Stuart Ashley, world heritage Janet Jones while Giles Davies will be the Motor Neuron Disease (MND) champion.


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Deputy leader declines nomination for leader role at Torfaen Council

the civic centre in pontypool
The Civic Centre in Pontypool Credit: LDRS