Doncaster Council’s new leadership team took shape last week when I announced two new Cabinet members following the local election results.
Coun Chris McGuinness, who represents the Armthorpe ward, is taking on the new role of Cabinet Member for Communities and the Voluntary Sector, whilst Conisbrough Coun Sandra Holland becomes Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment.
I am delighted Chris and Sandra have agreed to join my Cabinet team and I know they will work tirelessly on behalf of the people of Doncaster.
We still have some difficult challenges ahead of us, but we have made great strides forward over the last two years, bringing the council out of government intervention and putting it back on an even keel.
There have also been significant successes, such as securing the new National College for High Speed Rail and £56m in funding for major infrastructure projects. We have created hundreds of new apprenticeships and we are seeing new jobs created across the borough.
We must now build on these firm foundations to deliver more improvements for local people, businesses and visitors to the town. Chris and Sandra will play a key part in driving forward these developments.
Top of Coun Holland’s ‘in tray’ are the borough’s new waste management contract and ensuring that Doncaster has the number, type and quality of houses needed to meet people’s needs in the coming years.
Coun McGuinness will be responsible for areas including community safety and neighbourhood management. He will also spearhead improvements in the way the council supports community groups and voluntary sector organisations.
New ward boundaries have been introduced across the borough and the council has reduced in size, with Labour taking 41 of the 55 seats now available. I was very pleased with the results locally and I would like to welcome all of the new councillors.
Reflecting on the national results, I was obviously disappointed that Labour did not win the General Election. It is clear to me that continued cuts to council budgets are simply not sustainable without seeing a further erosion of public services and an impact on local communities.
I therefore urge the government to take stock and carefully consider the impact of further cuts on local communities. Doncaster Council had its government grant cut from £270m per year to £148m per year during the last parliament. We have done our best to shield the public from these government cuts, but if there is any further reduction, vital services would struggle to continue at current levels.