Cirencester teenager Joe Harris, who became the country’s youngest district councillor last year, has advanced his political career with a place in the Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet on Cotswold District Council.
Cllr Harris, now 19, will lead opposition group policy on housing and communities in the new body set up by opposition group leader, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson.
The eight-strong strong shadow cabinet has received formal recognition from the council and will mirror the posts of the controlling Conservative Cabinet.
Cllr Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) said recent criticism of CDC had prompted the move. He explained: “’The Council’s administration has become disconnected from many residents in the Cotswolds.
“People have told me they want a professional opposition which holds the administration to account, questions and challenges where we feel their money isn’t being spent wisely.
“That is precisely what we have been doing and now we have formalised this by launching a Shadow Cabinet which is recognised by the Council. We will support where it is right to do so, but will be robust in pointing out where we feel the administration has got it wrong.”
Cllr Hodgkinson added: “I’m delighted that 7 of my colleagues are joining me in our alternative Cabinet which reflects the diversity of the district – the youngest is 19 and the oldest 78. We have a businessman, a student, a working mum and an anti-corruption campaigner. It can only do the Council good.”
Cllr Esmond Jenkins (Water Park), who has campaigned for more transparency over wrongdoing in the Cotswold Water Park, has now had that position formalised with special responsibility for the park.
Cllr Hodgkinson assumes the role of Shadow Leader while the deputy group leader, Cllr Deryck Nash, takes over responsibility for corporate resources.
Other shadow roles include: Cllr Lee Searles, Planning and Forward Planning plus car parking enforcement; Cllr Jenny Hincks, Customer Services – Leisure/Arts, Museums, Front of House, Sport/Enterprise; Cllr John Hughes, Environment; Cllr Juliet Layton, Support Services.
Cllr Harris said: “I am delighted that the opposition leader has put his faith in my abilities and I intend to go on working hard for the people of the Cotswolds who have suffered for too long from poor housing policy and a lack of affordable homes.
“We will be putting forward proposals over the next few months to help working families in the district which we hope will be taken seriously by the controlling group.”