The three leading men shaping Sunderland’s future

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A THREE-PRONGED leadership will strive to push Wearside forward in the coming months.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson has drawn-up his top cabinet team to make the decisions that matter in the city.

Washington West councillor Harry Trueman replaces Florence Anderson as deputy leader, and former “Healthy City” councillor Mel Speding steps into the new role of cabinet secretary.

Coun Watson, Trueman and Speding will together form a three-pronged leadership responsible for three core areas – the people, the place and the economy of Sunderland.

Coun Watson said: “I think we have a strong set up with the leader, deputy leader and cabinet secretary – two deputies almost.

“It’s good to have the cabinet secretary, somebody co-ordinating things, keeping all the reins together and being the first point of contact.”

He added: “Mel will be looking after people, Harry will look at place and I will be looking and the economy and finance.

“They’re very loose briefs, so we’ve got the flexibility we need.”

Coun Watson said the new cabinet line-up presented a strong team to get the city through difficult times in the face of spending cuts.

He said there would be a good deal of cross-over between different areas, and the cabinet would be working closely together to get the best results for Sunderland.

Coun Trueman was made deputy leader after Coun Anderson decided to retire from the post.

It came after the Hetton councillor made national headlines for making controversial remarks about ill former PM Margaret Thatcher on Facebook.

Coun Trueman said: “Florence did a very good job and she will be a difficult act to live up to. She did a lot for the city.”

Coun Speding said he was looking forward to becoming Sunderland’s first cabinet secretary.

“The constitution only allows for one deputy leader, so I’m going to be cabinet secretary,” he said.

“We’re not quite a triumvirate, but we’ll be working closely together on the three key areas – people, place and economy.”

The cabinet has also lost Castle ward councillor Denny Wilson. He was banned from standing for re-election this year by regional Labour authorities.

St Anne’s councillor Tom Wright takes over Coun Trueman’s “Sustainable Communities” portfolio.

Washington North councillor John Kelly takes over Coun Wilson’s “Safer City” brief.

The cabinet in full:

Leader: Paul Watson (Pallion).

Deputy Leader: Harry Trueman (Washington West).

Cabinet Secretary: Mel Speding (Shiney Row).

Portfolio holders

Children and Learning City: Pat Smith (Silksworth).

Prosperous City: Bryan Charlton (Red Hill).

Health and Wellbeing: Dave Allan (Sandhill).

Safer City and Culture: John Kelly (Washington North).

Attractive and Inclusive City: James Blackburn (Hetton).

Sustainable Communities: Tom Wright (St Anne’s).

Responsive Services and Customer Care: Cecilia Gofton (Pallion).