Steve Charmley (Whittington) stepped down from Shropshire Council’s cabinet today. He had been in the cabinet since the unitary council was founded and deputy leader for six years. Steve has withdrawn for health reasons but will remain councillor for Whittington. We wish him well. He has also told BBC Radio Shropshire that the pressure on social media was becoming intolerable.
Ed Potter (Loton) replaces Charmley, taking with him his portfolio for economic growth, regeneration and planning.
Dean Carrol (Battlefield) picks up Charmley’s infrastructure portfolio, that’s mostly roads. He will be challenged on sustainable transport and active travel which have fared badly in council meetings this week.
Simon Jones (Shawbury) gets the portfolio for Adult Social Care and Public Health.
The reshuffle was announced immediately the today’s council finished after a five hour meeting. Steve Charmley was on form throughout his last performance at the high table. He pushed back against motions that tried to increase sustainable transport and voted against those urged the council to tackle the climate emergency more quickly. In Ludlow, he has never shaken off his reputation for closing the Coder Road waste and recycling centre, despite two consultations in which all residents said we wanted to retain it. He has been a huge champion for Oswestry, securing millions for roads and infrastructure.
Will Charmley’s retirement from the political front line mean that at last the council can progress on green issues? I doubt it. Charmley drove the infrastructure portfolio. For Shropshire Council, infrastructure has meant little more than roads, roads and roads. Just one per cent of its highways budget goes into active travel, walking and cycling.
Charmley has been replaced by Dean Carroll, who one held the climate change portfolio along with adult social care and health. Carrol made it clear at one council meeting that he did not believe that the aim was to reduce the number of vehicles, just how they are powered. He is a huge supporter of the North West Relief Road. He once voted to extend the M54 to Shrewsbury. Although younger than many members of the cabinet, he is an old school Tory, often adopting a sneering tone when addrssing the opposition. He is a bad choice for a council that needs to modernise. From his perspective, his latest appointement is perhaps another step on his apparent ambitions to become leader of the council.
Ed Potter steps up to become Deputy Leader, Economic Growth, Regeneration and Planning. We need to see how he shapes out. He already had the economic growth and planning portfolio but we have not seen a great deal of what he is delivering.
Simon Jones gets the portfolio for Adult Social Care and Public Health, once held by Dean Carrol.
The rest of the cabinet remains the same.