Councillor Ann James has become the first female leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
The Great Chell and Packmoor councillor was appointed to the role at the authority’s annual council meeting today (Thursday). She takes over from Councillor Dave Conway, who has stood down as leader on health grounds, due to his deteriorating eyesight.
Councillor James has vowed to continue to provide stable leadership and support investment in the city. Her appointment comes in the year of the hundredth anniversary of women gaining the vote.
Councillor James, who was first elected in 1999 and has always represented the same area as an independent councillor, said: “This is a great honour for me. I’d like to pay tribute to councillor Conway, it is very saddening about his ill health.
“It is a particular honour to become the authority’s first female leader. I have always believed in hard work and getting to where you are in life based on merit. I worked for many years prior to becoming a councillor in the city’s ceramics industry, and supported the rights of workers.
“I will work to continue to bring stable leadership to the council and to build on the good progress being made in the city. My message to businesses and developers is that Stoke-on-Trent remains open for business and there will be no change in the council’s drive and work to help the city to grow.”
Councillor James will be supported in her role as leader by Sneyd Green Councillor Joanne Powell-Beckett, who had worked closely to support Councillor Conway in his time as leader. Councillor James will continue to be the council’s cabinet lead for health and social care.
It means the composition of the council’s cabinet is:
- Councillor Ann James – leader of the council and cabinet member for health and social care
- Councillor Abi Brown – deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and partnerships
- Councillor Janine Bridges – cabinet member for education and economy
- Councillor Randolph Conteh – cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city
- Councillor Daniel Jellyman – cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage
- Councillor Anthony Munday – cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure
Councillor James has been the authority’s cabinet lead for health and social care since 2015. She previously held a cabinet position in 2002 for social care, and has chaired the council’s social services committee.
She was appointed at a meeting of all city councillors, at the authority’s annual council meeting. Records indicate that Stoke-on-Trent City Council has not had a female council leader before.
Councillor Conway will remain a ward councillor, representing Little Chell and Stanfield.
The new leader was appointed in accordance with the council’ constitution, following Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 legislation.
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