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Councillors take up new positions after several resignations

Coun Michelle Collins
Coun Michelle Collins

Three councillors have taken new positions with Wakefield Council following several resignations.

Councillors George Ayre, Michelle Collins and Jack Hemingway all quit their roles as cabinet assistants in protest over Peter Box’s position as leader of the council.

Coun Jack Hemingway.

Coun Jack Hemingway.

READ: Labour rebel tells council leader Peter Box to resign
Coun Box, who has been at the helm of the Labour Party-led council since 1998, was the subject of a motion put forward by the party’s councillors last month in a bid to pass vote of ‘no confidence’.

He scraped through by a small margin of votes but is coming under increasing pressure to quit in the wake of the damning revelations about Wakefield’s children’s services.

The services were rated ‘inadequate’ across all areas by Ofsted in July after a catalogue of failures were found, despite being warned in 2016 about major concerns.

READ: “Next question”: Peter Box ducks query over future as council leader
The replacement cabinet assistants are Coun Faith Heptinstall, who is now the deputy cabinet member for adults and health, Coun Richard Taylor has taken up the post of deputy cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport and Coun Martyn Ward has joined the team as the deputy cabinet member for the environment and communities.

Coun George Ayre.

Coun George Ayre.

Coun Peter Box said: “I would like to welcome the three new members joining the team.

“I am confident that these councillors have the knowledge, enthusiasm, experience and dedication needed to serve the district well.”

READ: Wakefield Council leader Peter Box survives ‘no confidence’ vote
Meanwhile, a commissioner appointed by the Department for Education is busy compiling a report into the council’s children’s services.

Running in tandem with the council’s own plan for improvements, it could decide to remove control of the services from Wakefield Council, at least for a short period of time.