Reshuffle Sees Long-Standing Councillors Leave Merton's Cabinet

Andrew Judge is "disappointed" to be leaving

A reshuffle of Merton Council’s Cabinet has seen long-standing Councillors Andrew Judge and Judy Saunders depart.

A statement from Merton Labour Group says the reshuffle sees “a number of young Labour Councillors promoted”.

But South Wimbledon Councillor Judge, a former council leader and Labour candidate for Westminster, said he was “disappointed not to be able to continue my work as Merton’s Cabinet member for Environmental Sustainability and Regeneration”.

The reshuffle sees Councillor Katy Neep replace Councillor Maxi Martin, who recently died, as Cabinet Member for Children’s Services. Councillor Neep, who represents Abbey ward in South Wimbledon, has been Chair of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel, where she has been at the forefront of moves to modernise the service the council provides young people.

She said: “Maxi will be a hard act to follow but I’m determined to continue her work in making sure we look after those children who need our help, and offer all the young people of Merton the best start in life.”

Councillor Tobin Byers, who represents Cannon Hill ward in Morden, will take over as Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health with a remit to ensure we work closely with the voluntary sector to focus our resources on our most vulnerable residents. Ccouncillor Byers said “Looking after our older and disabled people is a key priority for the council and I intend to do everything I can to make our services the best in London.”

Councillor Ross Garrod, who represents Lavender ward in Mitcham, takes on responsibility for environmental cleanliness and parking and will lead on looking at whether wheelie bins could offer an affordable way of cutting down on litter. Cllr Garrod said: “As someone who has grown up in Merton I’m passionate about keeping our streets clean and I want to make sure we find ways of doing this despite cuts to our funding from central government.”

Councillor Stephen Alambrits, Leader of Merton Council, said: “I’m a businessman so I think it’s important to encourage talent in order to improve the services we offer to residents. That’s why I’m excited that Katy, Tobin and Ross, three outstanding young Councillors with new ideas and fresh ways of doing things, have joined the cabinet. I look forward to working with them.
“Judy, Andrew and Maxi have made a massive contribution to Merton but Andrew and Judy will continue to draw on their vast experience in standing up for residents, so that Merton continues to be a great place to live, work and grow up.”

There have also been changes to the portfolios of some existing cabinet Members as follows:
Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, who was previously responsible for Adult Social Care and Health, where she led on the council’s dementia strategy and opened the new Dementia Hub, will take on the Education portfolio.

Her new role will include responsibility for the delivery of a new secondary school in the borough, and opposing the government's controversial academisation policy, while supporting other schools and existing academies.

Councillor Martin Whelton moves from Education, where he oversaw the borough’s successful school expansion programme and delivered 40,000 extra primary places, to taking on responsibility for regeneration, environment and housing. Councillor Nick Draper continues to be responsible for leisure and libraries, and will now take on responsibility for parks and greenspaces and adult education.

In a statement saying he had a "record to be proud of". Abbey ward Councillor Judge added: "In my 21 years as a councillor, including 12 in Cabinet and 5 as Council Leader, I have always done my best to serve local residents.

"I am confident that my record stands up and cannot be criticised in terms of performance, achievement or integrity. I have dedicated a large part of my life to making a difference to improve people’s lives: always trying to get on top of issues and making sure that I understand people’s aspirations and concerns."

The changes will take effect from the Annual Council meeting on May 18.

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April 21, 2016

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