LEADER Lord Smith has expanded and re-shuffled Wigan’s Labour Council Cabinet.
Existing Cabinet member Coun Terry Halliwell moves to a newly created position of Transformation Champion while Coun Paul Kenny (Winstanley) joins the previously seven-strong ruling group with responsibilities for Housing and Leisure.
The position carries a Special Responsibilities Allowance of £15,792.38.
And the Leader of the Opposition on the council agreed that the Cabinet may need re-inforcing because of the workload it would soon face due to even more draconian Government cuts heading the borough’s way in the future.
Husband of Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, Coun Kenny said that he was pleased to serve the council and the people of the borough through being a member of the ruling cabinet, reprising a role he had on Warrington Borough Council before Labour lost control.
Although a newly elected councillor in Wigan, Coun Kenny has an established record of local government service in Warrington between 1995 - 2010.
He was chair of the Golden Gates Leisure Board (akin to Wigan Culture and Leisure Trust) between 1997 and 2000 and Warrington MBC’s Cabinet member for finance between 2001 - 2004 before Labour lost overall control of the council, pushing him onto the opposition benches.
Husband of Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue and a former civil servant, his political interests led him to apply for a staff post serving then Makerfield and Wigan MPs Ian McCartney and Neil Turner, plus sitting Leigh MP Andy Burnham.
Leader of the council Lord Smith said that although the new cabinet role would now leave it with eight members, it would remain one of the smallest, as most metropolitan borough authorities have 10 members.
He said: “If we are to meet the Government’s funding cuts we must ensure that we are well equipped to do so.
“With cuts of £110 million it is absolutely vital that we have the right people in place to make those tough decisions, which will lead us through this economically turbulent time.
“A recent review of Wigan Council’s performance by The Local Government Association Peer Challenge highlighted the need for increased capacity and continued transformation.
“We must push forward with our plans to transform services across the council for local people, to find ways of providing a better, more efficient service for Wigan Borough residents.
“The new cabinet role has been created to focus specifically on achieving that aspiration and Coun Coun Terry Halliwell is very experienced in this area and will hold this new, very important portfolio.”
He added that he had appointed Coun Paul Kenny to the resources role previously held by Coun Halliwell - which includes the finance, legal, staffing and buildings - because of his previous experience in the Cabinet of Warrington MBC.
He said: “I am delighted that Coun Kenny will be joining the cabinet team.
“His experience of undertaking the same role at Warrington some years ago will put him in a strong position to take us forward.”
“He has already been to his first meetings and is getting to grips with his new role.”
Leader of the opposition Coun Gary Wilkes said that while the Cabinet was “swelling its ranks” by another Labour member, he believes that Wigan’s Cabinet was “small” compared to other local authorities of a similar size.
Coun Wilkes said: “The council needs the right people in position to make tough decisions.
“In the next few years the council will see huge cuts in public funding which will have a negative effect of public services,
“Wigan Independent Network will be work hard to ensure the residents of Wigan and Leigh are getting value for money.”