Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has announced its key cabinet, portfolio and committee appointments since gaining control of Uttlesford District Council in the May 2019 local elections. The new administration includes 4 new portfolios that focus on key issues identified by local residents.
“We are stuck with the existing cabinet system until we can replace it with something more democratic. But we’ve made some significant changes. We have designed a larger, wider cabinet structure with less hierarchy. This is more democratic as it will reduce the control that the leader previously had by giving many more people a voice at the table. It will not cost any more because we have cut cabinet allowances.”
The new cabinet and committee members were elected in at the first full council meeting on 21st May. L-R: New UDC Council Leader John Lodge (R4U), with chief executive Dawn French, council chair Richard Freeman (R4U) and vice-chair Martin Foley (Lib Dem).
R4U’s John Lodge continued “There are now 15 portfolios held by 10 cabinet member councillors. The new portfolios reflect the things that residents have told us are important. Anthony Gerard will lead the new Resident and Community Partnerships portfolio. A key goal for him is to drive change at UDC to make sure the resident is always listened to and at the centre of everything the council does. A lack of infrastructure investment is a long-standing issue. Deryk Eke has the big task of leading the new Infrastructure, Transport and Airport portfolio. Residents told us they want action on climate change, so Louise Pepper will head up the new ‘Environment and Green Issues’ portfolio. She is also picking up the new Equalities portfolio. Our first subtle action in that area is that the council will now use the neutral term ‘chair’ in preference to the outdated ‘chairman’ – a very small but important change.”
“We are committed to cross-party working. We understand and respect the Lib-Dem’s decision to decline our offer to join the cabinet. However we are delighted that they’ve accepted the position as Vice Chair of the Council for Martin Foley. We look forward to working with their entire team. Scrutiny of the council is important and it is best practice if it is not done by the majority party. We are delighted that Independent councillor Neil Gregory has accepted the role of chair of the Scrutiny Committee, and that Conservative Edward Oliver will chair the Governance & Audit Committee.”
Cllr Lodge concluded “With everything in place, the team is excited to get started. We have some big issues to deal with right away, such as the Local Plan and Stansted Airport. While there will undoubtedly be bumps along the way, our team is energised, focused and excited to start work with chief exec Dawn and her staff.”
Cabinet portfolio holder appointments (R4U unless stated):
- Council Leader: John Lodge
- Deputy Leader: Petrina Lees
- Business, Economy, Jobs & Strategy: Paul Fairhurst
- Council and Public Service Delivery: Heather Asker
- Culture, Heritage & Tourism: Barbara Light:
- Education & Libraries: Barbara Light
- Environment and Green Issues: Louise Pepper
- Equalities: Louise Pepper
- Finance & Budget: Neil Hargreaves
- Health & Wellbeing: Petrina Lees
- Housing: Petrina Lees
- Infrastructure, Transport and Stansted Airport: Deryk Eke
- Planning and the Local Plan: John Lodge
- Police and Emergency Services: Anthony Gerard
- Residents and Community Partnerships: Anthony Gerard
- Sports & Leisure: Alex Armstrong
- Youth Services: Paul Fairhurst
Council chair appointments:
- Council Chair: Richard Freeman
- Council Vice Chair: Martin Foley (Lib Dem)
Committee chair appointments:
- Governance, Audit And Performance: Edward Oliver (Cons)
- Licensing And Environmental Health: Patrick Lavelle
- Planning: Sandi Merifield
- Scrutiny: Neil Gregory (Ind):
- Standards: Neil Reeve
About Residents for Uttlesford
Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.
R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.
R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.
Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.