Agenda item

Election of the Leader of the Council

Following the current Leader of the Council’s decision to step down from the role, and in accordance with the governance arrangements which were adopted by Council at its meeting on 18 November 2010, the Mayor will call for nominations for the Office of Leader of the Council for a four year term, (or until the Leader’s Term of Office as a Councillor expires).


The Mayor will then ask the Council to vote on the nomination(s).


The Leader of Council will notify Council of the name of his/her Deputy and the reminder of the Members appointed to the Executive, outlining the scope of their respective portfolios, the terms of delegation to them and Officers if applicable.  (To be tabled)


The Leader of Council/Executive Members will be allowed to speak for up to 10 minutes in total.  The Leader of the Opposition will be allowed to speak for up to 5 minutes.


Following the current Leader of the Council’s decision to step down from the role, and in accordance with the governance arrangements which were adopted by Council at its meeting on 18 November 2010, the Mayor called for nominations for the Office of Leader of the Council for a four year term (or until the Leader’s Term of Office as a Councillor expired).


It was proposed by David Lee and seconded by Stuart Munro that Charlotte Haitham Taylor be elected Leader of the Council for a four year term.


David Lee commented that Charlotte Haitham Taylor had gained great experience of the Council, including as part of her previous role as Executive Member for Children’s Services.  She would drive the Council forward.


There being no other nominations, the Mayor declared that Charlotte Haitham Taylor had been elected as Leader of the Council for a four year term.


RESOLVED: That Charlotte Haitham Taylor be elected Leader of the Council for a four year term.


Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Leader of the Council made the following statement:

Before laying out my new Executive tonight, I would like to say a few words about Andy Couldrick, our Chief Executive.  As many of you will now be aware, Andy was approached by the Department for Education to go and be the Chief Executive of Birmingham’s first Children’s Trust.  Andy came to Wokingham in 2009 to turn our Children’s Services around which he did with aplomb, with skill, and tenacity that this has earnt him recognition.  Andy then moved up to the role of Chief Executive under the then Leader of the Council, Councillor David Lee.  Andy has been an outstanding Chief Executive and with his background in social work has been of the greatest help in building relationships with our partners and keeping this Council focused on what are the really, really critical elements in keeping our most vulnerable elements safe and our community prospering as a whole.  I am sorry that in my new role I will only have a few months to work with you Andy, and in leading the Council, but I am excited that you are going back to your roots and to your vocation.  I know that you will bring about the vital changes that are needed for the children and young people in Birmingham, in your new and very challenging role.  I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Council to wish you the very best of luck in your new job and put on record my sincerest thanks for your dedication and commitment to all of our residents, here in this Borough, and especially for our children.


I would like to pay especial tribute also to Councillor Baker tonight for his three years as Leader of this Authority.  He is the architect of the 21st Century Council, the merger of Optalis with our neighbours in the Royal Borough, and he started a number of huge capital programmes and projects, investing in new leisure facilities, roads and affordable homes.  He always showed tremendous devotion to this role and commitment to getting the best for our Borough. 


I would most humbly like to thank my colleagues here tonight for electing me to lead this Council.  I am sincerely grateful for all your support and the confidence you have placed in me.  I will endeavour to serve this Borough to the very greatest of my abilities.


Now, I would like to take you through my Executive.  Councillor Julian McGhee-Sumner will be Executive Member for Adults’ Services, Health, Wellbeing and Housing, and deputising for him will be Councillor Richard Dolinski.  Julian is continuing with his responsibilities from last year and I am pleased that Richard will be bringing his knowledge from Children’s Services into his new role, where I am certain he will make a great impact.  Councillor Mark Ashwell, Executive Member for Children’s Services, and deputising for him will be Alison Swaddle.  These Executive titles remain the same from last year.  Both Mark and Alison have served before in the Executive and Deputy Executive roles respectively and have already wasted no time in getting stuck in.  Councillor Norman Jorgensen will be the Executive Member for Environment, Sports, Leisure and Libraries, and deputising for him will be Councillor Michael Firmager.  Both of these Members bring a great wealth of experience to these roles having served for numerous years in this Council, in many different positions.  Councillor Stuart Munro, Executive Member for Business and Economic Development and Regeneration, and deputising for him will be Councillor Philip Mirfin.  This portfolio creates a new focus on the aspects of business and economic development, aspects of the old Finance role.  Going forward I strongly believe that this Council needs to look for innovative ways to be self sufficient and having a dedicated Member to engage with our thriving business community will be crucial to our success in the next few years.  Councillor Whittle will be the Executive Member for Finance, 21st Century Council, Internal Services and Human Resources, and deputising for him will be Charles Margetts.  Both of these two Members bring an abundance of skills from business and from finance from their careers, together with fresh insight to take this Council through the exciting but challenging times.  Councillor Simon Weeks will be the Executive Member for Planning and Enforcement, and I am delighted that Simon will be returning to the Executive.  I know that his experience from his years in chairing the Planning Committee mean he will be an asset to my team.  Councillor Chris Bowring will be the Executive Member for Highways and for Transport.  With his many years on the Planning Committee too and his Deputy Executive Member experience, he will be able to use his knowledge of highways to bring sensible solutions to the issues we all face day to day in getting about the Borough.  Councillor David Lee will be the Executive Member for Strategic Highways and Planning and Deputy Leader.  I am pleased that this Council will have David at the table when we embark on creating our new Local Plan.  This is a new role in the Executive because of the sheer enormity and importance placed on getting this right, for not only our existing residents, but for those who will be our residents in the years to come.  David, as someone who has been Leader himself will make a very able Deputy and it is a great honour to have him on my Executive, especially as he took a great leap of faith in 2012 when he put me on his team.  Councillor Pauline Jorgensen will be the Deputy Executive Member for Communications.  With her expertise in this field and the significant scale of changes that 21st Century Council will bring, we will need to ensure that our communications are a two way street.  Our residents must be able to tell us effectively what they need and we must be able to successfully communicate to them in real time across all media channels.


I am sure that it cannot have escaped your notice that we are in the middle of a General Election campaign.  Purdah rules mean that we cannot be overly political tonight and I am not going to talk about what is happening in the hustings.  Instead, I want to speak to you about one of my key priorities as Leader.  My job is to act in the interest of all residents across the whole of the Borough, but there are many of those who need particular attention and focus.  I want to use the privilege afforded to my new role to focus on raising awareness of domestic abuse, which I know affects many families in our area, who are often too afraid to come forward for help because of the perceived social stigma.  I want to use this time as Leader to make it clear that support is available to help our families find a way out of difficult and complex situations.  I want to be a Leader who will tackle these challenges in our community, head on.  There can be no doubt; together as a Council, we are facing great adversity which this Borough has not faced before, but I believe that no difficulty that we might find on our path will be insurmountable.  My Executive, my colleagues and I, have the drive to take this Authority forward for our residents, to make the Council self-sufficient, address funding and housing issues and ensure that our Borough remains a great place to live and to do business.


Lindsay Ferris, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group made the following statement:

I should like to congratulate Charlotte on her new role as Leader of the Council and wish Andy Couldrick all the best when he takes up his role as head of the newly formed Children’s Body in Birmingham, I believe next August.  I should also like to congratulate the outgoing Mayor for his work last year and I hope that the Mayor has a good year. 


Over the past months, I have regularly been asked by residents “and what would you do if you ran the Council?”  So here are a few measures that we would introduce, and I have tried to be careful with my wording. 


We would initiate a moratorium on the whole of the Town Centre Regeneration project.  We know some areas have already been contracted, but where they have not, we will review, and in particular, we would stop any building on the green spaces of Elms Field and would install services for events on the field. 


Two; the level of Council debt forecast is worryingly high and we have doubts about whether they are achievable.  A thorough review of this debt would be instigated.  It would be totally unacceptable if any of this projected debt were to fall on the residents.


We would immediately accept recommendation three as proposed by the Independent Remuneration Panel last Autumn.  No councillor should be allowed to receive more than one paid Special Responsibility Allowance and this includes the NEDs and outside bodies.


We would reduce the budget associated with temporary staff by £600,000 per annum.  We feel that it is totally unacceptable to have temporary staff paid up to £891 per day, irrespective of whether the Council receives some back, at a time of severe cutbacks.  We would use the £600,000 to fund front line services; in particular we would reintroduce the school patrol services, previously cut, and we would save those school patrols that are still under threat.  The safety of our children is paramount.