NEW Leader of the Forest Council Mark Topping has now appointed his all-Green cabinet following the party's agreement to form an administration last week.
Cllr Topping (Lydney West and Aylburton) was voted in as Leader at the council’s annual general meeting last Thursday (May 25) following the Green Party’s success in last month’s local elections, in which they secured 15 seats.
He will serve as Cabinet Member for Overall Strategy.
His appointments mark a return to cabinet for Green councillors Chris McFarling and Sid Phelps, who were removed from their roles in the previous administration due to a fallout with then-leader Tim Gwilliam about the district’s Local Plan, which sets out where thousands of homes will be built in the district to 2041.
The fallout occurred due to criticism from the Forest Green Party of the cabinet’s second preferred option to build the 7,440 government-allocated homes across existing settlements, after the first option, to build a brand new settlement near Churcham, was parked following consultation.
The Greens argued the creation of a new settlement was the most economic and sustainable option.
Incidentally Cllr Phelps (Lydbrook), who was previously Cabinet Member for Environment, will now serve as Cabinet Member for Local Plan in the new administration.
The council said a draft Local Plan is due in mid 2023, after which further consultation will follow.
Elsewhere, former Green parliamentary candidate Cllr Chris McFarling (St Briavels) has been reinstated to his former position as portfolio holder for Climate Emergency.
Co-Deputy Leaders of the Council, Cllrs Andy Moore (Newnham) and Jackie Fraser (Mitcheldean, Drybrook and Ruardean), will serve as cabinet members for Finance and Environment respectively.
And the two newly-elected councillors in the Tidenham ward, Adrian Birch and Jonathon Lane, have been appointed cabinet members for Communities and Economy respectively.
Cllr Topping said his new cabinet will work “tirelessly” to address the issues that matter most to Forest residents over the next four years.
He said: “Thank you to everyone who turned out to vote in the local elections last month. I am honoured to lead this new administration.
“Our new Cabinet brings to the job a wealth of knowledge and a wide range of experience of our local area and beyond.
"This new Council has been formed at a time when many of our residents are experiencing real hardship from the cost-of-living crisis. Many, too, are anxious about the climate and nature crisis. We will work tirelessly with our partners across the Council and across the district to address these challenges for the benefit of us all.
“I’m excited and privileged to work with Cabinet Members, Councillors and people across the district to rise to the challenges we face and deliver on our ambitious plans to build thriving, sustainable communities throughout this wonderful Forest of Dean.”