At the City Council’s Annual Council on Thursday (26/05), Executive Councillors were confirmed for the year ahead.
Alongside the current Executive Councillors (Cllr Mike Davey, Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Cllr Rosy Moore and Cllr Alex Collis), Cllr Mairead Healy, Cllr Alice Gilderdale and Cllr Gerri Bird joined the Executive team. Cllr Collis remains statutory deputy leader and Cllr Davey was appointed as non-statutory deputy leader alongside some changes to previous Executive portfolios.
Tributes were also paid to the previous executive councillors, Cllr Mike Todd-Jones, Cllr Martin Smart and Cllr Lewis Herbert who were each thanked for all their hard work, record of achievements in their portfolio area and their dedication to their roles.
Cllr Healy has taken on the new portfolio of Equalities, Anti-Poverty and Wellbeing. In the Annual Council meeting on Thursday, she spoke out on one of her key objectives for the following year, supporting and promoting the rights of GRT communities in Cambridge:
“I’m absolutely committed to supporting GRT communities in the city, particularly as a result of our concerns with the government’s policing bill. Not only do I want to support these communities, but today I want to very clearly commit to delivering on a site for Cambridge. Whilst I’m the Executive Cllr, I will work tirelessly to deliver on that site.”
Alongside her work on GRT communities and the council’s equalities work, she will be taking an active lead on the council’s anti-poverty strategy and addressing the Cost-of-Living Crisis, as well as focusing on how the council can engage more effectively with residents across the city.
Cllr Bird has moved into the Housing portfolio, which she has been actively engaged in throughout her time on the city council. She has sat on the Cambridge Housing Society board for many years and before taking on her Executive role, was Chair of the City’s Housing Scrutiny Committee.
Working as a disability activist before becoming a councillor, she is committed to ensuring the council’s housing stock is accessible to people in wheelchairs and less mobile residents. Additionally, she has emphasised her commitment on private rented housing in the city, stating
“the private rented sector is in an awful situation nationally. It is sadly still the case that too many private tenants are paying huge rents yet the conditions and state of their housing are below standard. Many residents also find it tricky to navigate reporting systems, have been ignored by their landlords or are concerned about being evicted for complaining. I’m committed to working to improve the functioning of this system, to stand up for all tenants in the city, and to continue our work building council housing which means people can live in high quality homes with secure tenure.”
On top of this, she will take over work on homelessness in the city, where work is being coordinated between the City and County Council under the new ‘Streets to Home Service’. In her role as Housing Executive Councillor, she is passionate about homelessness support not just offering accommodation but also ensuring a smooth transition for all homeless people back into the community.
Cllr Gilderdale has joined the team in the new Executive role, titled ‘Recovery, Employment and Community Safety’. Growing up in Cambridge and graduating from Cambridge University in 2020, she has been a strong and vocal advocate for young residents, particularly young private renters in the city. While she’s taking over ongoing projects, the youngest Executive (24 years old), is also passionate about bringing new exciting ideas into the work of the council, working to fight gender-based violence and harassment, and continuing work to promote the Real Living Wage across the city.
Employment, one of the key areas of her portfolio, is particularly important to her. She commented:
“As a new Executive Cllr, I want to make sure the Council is doing all it can to support all workers in the city to ensure they have fair pay and fair working conditions. The pandemic and the cost of living crisis have highlighted how essential fair pay is for all workers in the city-one of the most unequal cities in the UK. Alongside this, the council can work in partnership with local businesses and institutions to promote community values, through programmes such as community wealth building and doughnut economic principles.”
During the AGM, the new Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Mark Ashton was also appointed alongside the new Deputy Mayor Cllr Jenny Gawthrope Wood.