Manchester Town Hall is set to see its biggest shake-up at the top since its new council leader took over from Sir Richard Leese at the end of last year. The ruling Labor group – which at 92 members is the largest in the country – has now chosen the councilors who will sign off the most important decisions.
The first part of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which took place last night (May 12) saw close contests with only one vote separating some candidates. It comes six months after Bev Craig became the first new council leader in Manchester for a quarter of a century, taking over from Sir Richard Leese.
Labor group secretary Pat Karney, who together with the rest of the local party leadership team was returned unanimously to his role unchallenged, said the mood of the meeting which lasted three hours was ‘incredibly positive’. He said: “It is an absolute privilege and we are proud to represent Manchester.
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“We will always focus on residents rather than internal stuff at the town hall. Our focus on residents is our absolute priority. We’re very proud to serve our city.”
Coun Craig and her two deputies Joanna Midgley and Luthfur Rahman were reselected to continue serving in their roles – but they all stood uncontested. Rusholme councilor Rabnawaz Akbar, who was the executive member for Neighbourhoods, was elected to the resurrected Finance and Resources role, beating Resources and Governance scrutiny chair Sarah Russell by one vote.
In another tight race, Hulme councilor Lee-Ann Igbon also beat Levenshulme councilor Dzidra Noor to the Vibrant Neighborhoods portfolio by one vote. Chorlton councillor John Hacking was elected as the executive member for Skills, Employment and Leisure, beating Cheetham councillor Shazia Butt.
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And Clayton and Openshaw councilor Thomas Robinson beat Gorton and Abbey Hey councilor to the Healthy Manchester and Adult Social Care job. Old Moat councilor Garry Bridges retained his Early Years, Children and Young People portfolio having already completed the usual four-year term in the role.
His fellow ward councilor Gavin White continues in Housing and Development while Baguley councilor Tracey Rawlins keeps Environment and Transport. Moston councillor Yasmine Dar was selected as deputy mayor and will take over from Clayton and Openshaw councillor Donna Ludford as mayor in 2023.
Assistant executive positions were also chosen for each portfolio:
- Early Years, Children and Young People: Shazia Butt
- Finance and Resources: Greg Stanton
- Healthy Manchester and Adult Social Care: Sandra Collins
- Environment and Transport: Linda Foley*
- Housing and Development: Sam Lynch*
- Skills, Employment and Leisure: Adele Douglas
- Vibrant Neighborhoods: Ahmed Ali*
Councilors Linda Foley, Sam Lynch and Ahmed Ali beat their colleagues Chris Wills, Julia Baker-Smith and John Flanagan to the contested elected positions. Every councilor is entitled to a basic allowance, but those selected for senior roles also receive a special responsibility allowance which can double their pay.
A review of members’ allowances will be discussed at the annual council meeting on Wednesday (May 18) after those in new roles are appointed. Committee chairs will be chosen at a second AGM on Monday (May 16).
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.