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Mayor Rees re-appoints key positions amid calls for rainbow cabinet

After the Greens more than doubled their number of councillors, there has been speculation about whether the newly re-elected Labour mayor will appoint councillors from other parties to his cabinet.

Local Elections 2021
Photo: John Myers / Bristol Live

Marvin Rees named four members of his next ruling administration as he was sworn in for his second term as Bristol mayor yesterday.

Rees, who won last week’s mayoral elections, announced he had re-appointed both former deputies, Craig Cheney and Asher Craig, and two former cabinet members, Helen Holland and Helen Godwin, to the nine-strong ruling group of councillors.

There has been speculation around whether he will revert to a rainbow cabinet of cross-party councillors, which he axed during his first term in office.

Rees has ruled Bristol City Council for the best part of the last five years with a majority of Labour councillors and a Labour-only cabinet.

But a ‘Green surge’ in voting at this year’s local elections saw the Labour group lose overall control of the council, as the Greens more than doubled their seats.

Both groups now have 24 councillors in the chamber. The Conservatives have 14 and the Liberal Democrats have eight.

The results have put pressure on the Labour mayor to appoint cabinet members from the opposition benches.

Sandy Hore-Ruthven after his speech on Saturday night. Photo: David Griffiths

Sandy Hore-Ruthven, the Green Party candidate who came second in the mayoral race, has said the Labour mayor should pick a rainbow cabinet.

Lockleaze councillor Heather Mack, who is among the new crop of Green councillors on the council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she thought Rees should appoint at least two Green members to the ruling group.

The appointment of councillors Cheney, Craig, Holland, and Godwin, who all keep their portfolios from the previous administration, leaves five places to be filled. Rees said he would announce the rest of the cabinet “in due course”.

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig after being re-elected in her council seat of St George West. Photo: Priyanka Raval

His first cabinet, in 2016, contained six Labour members and one from each of the main parties. That came to an end in November 2017, after the mayor said the cross-party arrangement was no longer working for him.

Speaking yesterday after being sworn in as mayor, Rees paid tribute to cabinet members Afzal Shah and Kye Dudd, who lost their seats in the election. Dudd held the cabinet position for transport and energy, while Shah had been recently appointed as responsible for climate.

The mayor also paid tribute to Marg Hickman and Anna Keen, who did not seek re-election, and spoke about the importance of cross-party working.

Rees said he would work with the leaders of the local authorities in South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, and Bath & North East Somerset for the “betterment of life in Bristol and the wider Bristol area” through the West of England Combined Authority, under the leadership of the new metro mayor, Labour’s Dan Norris.

“There is a common good that transcends all of us, that transcends party and transcends geography, and it’s our responsibility to work together for that common good,” he said.

“We’ll also be visiting how we work within this organisation, in the chamber and cross party. Our door is always open to people who turn up with solutions.”

Restating his ambitions for Bristol, and his commitment to inclusion, tackling poverty, decarbonisation and being pro-nature, Rees said he was “humbled” to be re-elected.

“It’s an endorsement of what we’ve done in the city over the last five years,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work with our city partners, we’re going to continue with the scale of ambition, and we’re going to make sure that the city we build, we can make it a city of hope.”

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  • The poor turnout can only be addressed by compulsory voting. As long as an option of “none of the above” is included on the ballot paper. Marvin has a mandate with a minority percentage. That cannot be right in principle.


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