New Chairman and Cabinet changes

A new Chairman, greater scrutiny for Children’s Services and new cabinet member responsibilities were set out at Somerset’s Full Council meeting yesterday.

Council Leader John Osman formally announced the creation of a new Scrutiny Committee – Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families. Chaired by Cllr Leigh Redman, it will provide dedicated oversight and challenge for improvement work in Children’s Services.

A new Cabinet post for Corporate Improvement was also confirmed and will be held by Cllr Christopher Le Hardy. This role will take responsibility for improvement work across the authority, with an initial focus on Children’s Services and Adult Social Care.

The meeting also saw the election of a new Chairman of the County Council when Cllr David Fothergill stepped down after two years in post. He will take on Cabinet responsibility for Highways, with Cllr Harvey Siggs moving to the Resources brief.

During his time as Chairman, Cllr Fothergill raised £38,000 for his chosen Chairman’s charities – National Autistic Society and Somerset Trust for Arts and Recreation (STAR). He used the meeting to give thanks to everyone who has helped with fund-raising and received glowing cross-party appreciation for his work as Chairman.

Cllr Fothergill said: “I was always keen to use the privilege of Chairmanship to help others far less fortunate than myself. In some small way I hope I have left a legacy to that end.”

Cllr Christine Lawrence, County Councillor for Dunster, was elected to be the Council’s new Chairman. “I’m greatly honoured and will do my upmost to continue the excellent work of the past two years,” she said. “I am totally committed to celebrating the good works and achievements of Somerset.”

In formally nominating Cllr Lawrence for the role of Chairman, Cllr John Osman said: “I know that she will be a wonderful Chairman. She is thorough, fair and approachable and will always put the county and its residents first.”

Mendip West County Councillor, Graham Noel, was elected as Vice Chairman.

To reflect the new Children’s Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday’s Full Council Meeting also saw the People’s Scrutiny Committee retitled to become the Scrutiny for Policies, Adults and Health Committee. Councillor Ann Bown was also made Chair of the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board, a position previously held by Cllr Lawrence.

Following yesterday’s announcements, the Somerset County Council’s Cabinet arrangements are as follows:

  • Cabinet Member for Corporate Improvement – Cllr Christopher Le Hardy (new post)
  • Cabinet Member for Highways – Cllr David Fothergill (change)
  • Cabinet Member for Resources – Cllr Harvey Siggs (change)
  • Cabinet Member for HR, Health and Transformation – Cllr Anna Groskop (expanded responsibilities – Health added).
  • Cabinet Member for Economic Development – Cllr David Hall
  • Leader of Council and Cabinet Member for Customers and Communities – Cllr John Osman
  • Cabinet Member Children and Families – Cllr Frances Nicholson
  • Cabinet member for Adult Social Care – Cllr William Wallace