Council leader in health scare

Lord Smith
Lord Smith

CONCERNS have been raised for the health of Wigan Council’s under-pressure leader after he was admitted to hospital.

Lord Smith, 65, has been forced to hand over the local authority reins to his deputy, just as it is going through one of the biggest funding crises and cuts programmes in its history.

Details of the father-of-one’s illness or condition have not been disclosed.

A brief council statement issued last night read: “Lord Peter Smith, leader of Wigan Council, is indisposed at present because of illness.

“Deputy leader, Coun David Molyneux, will be acting in his place or making arrangements to cover his duties.

“Coun Smith has asked for his privacy to be respected and for any correspondence to be addressed to the town hall.”

Former university politics and economics lecturer Lord Smith has a packed schedule at the best of times, his council workload augmented by his responsibilities as a peer in the House of Lords, and his involvement in other bodies including the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, of which he is the chairman.

As local authority leader, he has been faced with huge central government grant cuts.

He has been heavily involved in the cabinet decisions to reduce services drastically and cut jobs so far by more than 1,000 – and had the grim duty of announcing them.