Deputy council leader to step down

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DEPUTY council leader Florence Anderson is retiring as number two in a shake-up of Sunderland’s top team of councillors.

Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson has chosen his ruling cabinet of 10 who will oversee the running of the city, after last week’s council elections.

Coun Anderson, who led the Eppleton Area Miners’ Wives Support Group during the 84/85 strike, is stepping down and will instead chair one of the council’s watchdog scrutiny committees.

The grandmother made national headlines last year, after she made controversial remarks about ill former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on her Facebook page.

She was later cleared of breaching the code of conduct for councillors.

Coun Watson said: “The Labour Group presented Florence with a bunch of flowers and we paid tribute to the way she handled being deputy leader, and the way she helped the group through difficult times.”

Coun Anderson was not available for comment. The Echo understands the Hetton councillor had decided to retire before last week’s election, where she defended her seat.

The cabinet has also lost former Castle ward councillor Denny Wilson, who held the Safer City and Culture brief.

An internal row saw regional Labour officials ban him from standing again for the party as a councillor in the elections.

Washington North Coun John Kelly, and St Anne’s Coun Tom Wright, will join the cabinet.

Coun Watson said: “I think people will remember the fantastic job Denny did with the Christmas lights and other projects over the last year, such as the battle re-enactment at Hylton Castle and his support for improvements at the castle.

“But we’re looking forward to John and Tom joining the cabinet.

“John has been a strong committee councillor and has done a lot in Washington.

“Tom has a background in accountancy and vast experience. We’re looking forward to having their expertise in the cabinet.”

The 10 will have to wait to find out what their exact titles and responsibilities will be. Changes to the council’s structure and departments mean executive roles have changed.

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