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DESPITE CALLS: Wrexham Council appoints two new executive board members

DESPITE CALLS: Wrexham Council appoints two new executive board members

Wrexham Council building, Image: Google Maps

Wrexham Council has appointed two new executive board members despite calls for the number of senior roles to be reduced.

It follows the resignation of two portfolio holders in recent months after their actions were called into question.

Conservative Andrew Atkinson, lead member for children’s services, stepped down from his role last month after he was criticised for working remotely from Panama.

Independent Joan Lowe left her post as lead member for health and social care in June citing health reasons shortly after she was accused of using inappropriate language at a meeting.

A vote was held yesterday (Wednesday, September 29) to confirm the appointment of Cllrs Beverley Parry-Jones (Cons) and Sonia Benbow-Jones (Ind) to replace them.

Sonia Benbow Jones

Cllr Sonia Benbow Jones, Image: Wrexham Council

The move was ratified at a full council meeting despite the opposition of Plaid Cymru councillors, who asked for the size of the executive board to be cut.

Speaking at the virtual meeting, group leader Marc Jones said: “The reason for our group voting against this proposal is not a reflection on the individuals concerned.

“I also welcome the fact that we are getting a slightly more balanced executive board in terms of gender.

“But as a group, we’ve been consistent in calling for a reduction in numbers of executive board members, and it would be remiss of us to vote to increase the numbers.

“The reduction to eight happened by accident due to resignations, and the sky didn’t fall in.

“I think this is a missed opportunity to maintain that number going into the next election.”

Labour group leader Dana Davies said her party would be supporting the appointments.

Cllr Beverley Parry-Jones

Cllr Beverley Parry-Jones, Image: Wrexham Council

However, she said Labour members were also concerned about the effectiveness of some portfolios.

In response, council leader Mark Pritchard (Ind) said he would back a wider review of all committees in the future but not before next year’s local elections.

He said: “There’s an election next year and then if whoever is sitting and running the council wants to reconsider the executive board numbers then they need to do so.

“But what I would say is that it isn’t just about the executive board and the efficiency.

“If you’re going to do a review, you need to do a review across the council, and that would cover the executive board members, chairs, scrutiny, etc. I think it needs to be balanced and fair.”

The appointment of Cllrs Parry-Jones and Benbow-Jones was approved by a majority at the end of the meeting, with only Plaid Cymru councillors voting against.

 

Words: Liam Randall, Local Demcoracy Reporter


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