Posted: Sun 25th Jun 2023

Council Leader says year was “probably one of the most challenging we have faced” /
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jun 25th, 2023

“PULLING together” to face another challenging year is the message to Blaenau Gwent councillors and residents from council leader, Cllr Steve Thomas.
There were no real surprises at this year’s Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council annual meeting on Thursday, May 25, as councillors were confirmed in their roles for the forthcoming civic year.
Labour’s Cllr Steve Thomas received unanimous backing to continue as council leader, with deputy leader, Cllr Helen Cunningham also receiving a seal of approval.
Their cabinet colleagues, Cllrs Haydn Trollope, Sue Edmunds and John C Morgan, will also continue in their roles with no change of responsibilities.
On the opposition benches, Cllr Joanna Wilkins continues as Independent group leader, with Cllr Wayne Hodgins as deputy.
Cllr Steve Thomas said: “Firstly and most importantly I want to thank members, officers and staff during an extremely challenging year for us all in Blaenau Gwent.
“Probably one of the most challenging we have faced.
“I know that you all recognise the uncertainties we face this year, whether it’s resourcing vital council services as budgets decrease in real terms or building on the excellent work and recognising improvements in education.”
Cllr Thomas stressed that the authority needed to maintain its standards in social care and social services and continue to “improve our local environment” by responding to the climate change crisis.
Earlier this month the county borough’s largest private sector employer, Tillery Valley Foods in Abertillery, announced its closure with the loss of 250 jobs.
Cllr Thomas said that this had “brought into sharp focus” the need to have a local economy with “sustainable jobs and opportunities for all.”
Cllr Thomas said: “None of these are easy and some are fraught with danger in the current financial crisis such as social services.
“We can only meet these challenges by finding complex solutions to complex problems and it may be that the future landscape will look very different to what our experience of local government has traditionally been.
“I believe the best way to meet the numerous challenges we face as a council and community is to by pulling together and harnessing resources.
“I look forward to working with you all to do the absolute best for our community.”
Presiding member, Cllr Chris Smith who chairs full council meetings and represents the council in civic events, also continues in the role for 2023/2024, with Cllr David Wilkshire approved as his deputy.
The council created the position of presiding member last year.
Cllr Smith saw a year which included celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee marking 70 years on the throne, followed by her death in September and the accession of King Charles III and his coronation earlier this month.
Cllr Chris Smith said: “Thank you for re-electing me again, I don’t know where that year has gone, it’s been absolutely amazing, a whirlwind.”
Cabinet members are:
Council leader and cabinet member for corporate and performance – Cllr Steve Thomas (Labour);
Deputy council leader and environment portfolio holder – Cllr Helen Cunningham (Labour);
Social services – Cllr Haydn Trollope (Labour);
Education – Cllr Sue Edmunds (Labour);
Regeneration – Cllr John C Morgan (Labour).
Committee chairmen and chairwomen for 2023/2024 are:
Place scrutiny committee.
Chairman – Cllr Malcolm Cross (Labour);
Vice-chairman – Cllr Ross Leadbeater (Labour).
People scrutiny committee.
Chairman – Cllr Tommy Smith – (Labour);
Vice-chairwoman – Cllr Jen Morgan (Labour).
Partnerships Scrutiny committee.
Chairman – Cllr Wayne Hodgins (Independent);
Vice-chairman – Cllr Derrick Bevan (Labour).
Corporate and Performance scrutiny committee.
Chairwoman – Cllr Joanne Wilkins (Independent);
Vice-chairwoman – Cllr Jacqui Thomas (Labour).
Democratic Services committee.
Chairman – Cllr John Hill (Independent);
Vice-chairwoman – Cllr Ellen Jones (Labour).
Governance and Audit committee.
Chaired by lay member.
Vice-chairwoman – Sonia Behr (Labour). ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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