A new Cabinet and Chairman have been appointed at the region’s largest local authority following the recent local elections.
Cllr Simon Henig confirmed the membership of his Cabinet after being re-elected as Leader of Durham County Council.
Cllr Alan Napier retains the post of Deputy Leader with additional responsibility for finance, legal and democratic services and risk management.
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cllr Carl Marshall and Cllr Kevin Shaw are new additions to the Cabinet. Cllr Gunn takes on the portfolio for Children and Young People’s Services, covering education up to the age of 19, specialist and safeguarding services, youth services, children’s centres and adult learning.
Cllr Marshall is the new Cabinet member for economic regeneration, taking responsibility for economic development, town centres, development control, strategic transport and spatial planning, including the County Durham Plan.
And Cllr Shaw becomes the new Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, with a portfolio covering housing strategy, homelessness, private sector housing issues, fuel poverty and energy efficiency, land and property assets and the authority’s travellers’ liaison service.
Cllr Joy Allen takes up the new post of Cabinet member for Transformation. Her remit will include the council’s transformation programme as well as ICT, customer services, libraries, emergency planning, equality and diversity and the Humanitarian Support Partnership.
Cllr Ossie Johnson also takes on a new portfolio. As Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, he will oversee tourism, arts and culture as well as events, leisure services, parks and allotments. He is also the council’s rural champion.
Cllr Jane Brown retains responsibility for human resources under her new role as Cabinet member for social inclusion but also takes on poverty and welfare reform, welfare rights and carers.
Cllr Lucy Hovvels continues in her role as Cabinet member for adult and health services, dealing with adult safeguarding, social care and commissioning, health and wellbeing, public health, community safety and links with Durham Police. She will also serve as the authority’s champion for veterans and mental health.
And Cllr Brian Stephens retains his portfolio for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, a wide-ranging role that covers Area Action Partnerships, relationships with town and parish councils, community development, streetscene, highways, waste management, bereavement services and environment, health and consumer protection.
The Annual General Meeting of the council also saw the election of Cllr Bill Kellett as its new Chairman.
Cllr Kellett, who represents the Sherburn ward, attended Houghton Grammar School but left without any qualifications to start work in the building yard at Lyons Colliery, Easington Lane. Having an interest in cars, he then took up a job at a local garage and whilst there passed his driving test, enabling him to become a driver for a bakery.
Realising the importance of qualifications, Cllr Kellett attended evening classes at Durham Technical College and achieved several GCE O levels and three A levels.
There followed a career in nursing at the former Dryburn Hospital in Durham where Cllr Kellett met his wife-to-be Elizabeth Ann, also a nurse, while attending a hospital dance.
In 1960, Bill became SRN registered and moved to Durham County Orthopaedic Hospital, before taking up charge nurse positions in Wigan and Middlesbrough. He then returned to Dryburn Hospital to become a nurse tutor.
Cllr Kellett gained an honours degree in economics at Durham Technical College and followed it up with an MA in economics for which he had his thesis published. He went on to teach economics at Seaham Comprehensive School and Peterlee Tertiary College as well as becoming an A level examiner.
He has been married to Elizabeth Ann for almost 52 years and they have three children, Beverley, Edward and Margaret Jean, and three grandchildren, Darius, Maddy and Katie.
The 77-year-old’s chosen charity is the Great North East Air Ambulance for which he has a special affinity.
“My youngest daughter suffered a serious horse riding accident a few years ago that could have proved fatal without the intervention of the air ambulance,” he said. “My family and I will always be indebted to this great charity.”
Cllr John Lethbridge, who represents the Woodhouse Close ward in Bishop Auckland, was elected as Vice Chairman. The 70-year-old is a former geography teacher who taught at Sedgefield Secondary Modern School.