SHOTS have been fired between Dudley’s political leaders just a day after the first council meeting since local elections.

The council met on May 16 and after the ceremonial election of the new mayor, Cllr Hilary Bills, councillors turned their attention to forming a new administration.

As expected Conservative Cllr Patrick Harley was elected as leader and a new cabinet was approved with a line-up that has attracted criticism from the opposition.

Dudley’s Labour leader Pete Lowe attacked the make-up of the 10-member cabinet, which  contains a solitary woman and no councillors from ethnic minorities.

Cllr Lowe said: “I’m proud that my shadow cabinet has 50 percent women, is culturally diverse and reflects clearly the diversity and talent of our borough.

“Compare this with a Tory cabinet which is so clearly predominantly male and stale.

“I think the picture says more than 1,000 words and is more reflective of how society was in 1824 rather than 2024.”

Cllr Harley said: “If Pete Lowe wants to pack his front row to tick a box he is welcome to do so.

“I have given people opportunities based on their ability to do the job not just to tick a box and watch them struggle, this cabinet has a strong mix of youth and experience.

“I am proud of the diversity within the Conservative group at the moment, we have come a long way since I became leader in 2013.”

Cllr Harley retained control of the council despite leading a minority administration after the elections, both the Conservatives and Labour have 34 councillors, the Lib Dems have three and there is one independent.

At the meeting he was quizzed about the removal of the council’s climate change committee despite the council declaring a climate emergency.

Cllr Cathryn Bayton, shadow cabinet member for climate change and environment, said: “I’m interested to understand the rationale behind the removal of that committee and how we are going to ensure we are absolutely focused on reaching our 2030 goals.”

Cllr Harley said because the authority is facing tough financial challenges the design and implementation of a new total operating model must take precedence over everything.

He added: “That doesn’t mean that climate change takes a back seat, all the things that we were looking at there will be absorbed by the deputy leader and others on the front bench.

“It’s not about saying we are not going to do it any more – we are but it has to be done in a more structured way and we all have to share that responsibility and the workload.”

Dudley’s Cabinet in full  

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council

Councillor Paul Bradley, deputy Leader (Communities, Climate Change and Economic Delivery)

Councillor Andrea Goddard, cabinet member for adult social care

Councillor David Stanley, cabinet member for children’s services and education

Councillor Phil Atkins, cabinet member for corporate strategy

Councillor Steve Clark, cabinet member for finance, legal and human resources

Councillor Damian Corfield, cabinet member for highways and environmental services

Councillor Ian Bevan, cabinet member for housing and communities

Councillor James Clinton, cabinet member for public health

Councillor Simon Phipps cabinet member without portfolio

Dudley’s shadow cabinet

Councillor Pete Lowe, leader

Councillor Judy Foster, deputy leader (Human Resources, EDI and Legal)

Councillor Shaukat Ali, finance and digital

Councillor Adam Aston, health and wellbeing

Councillor Sue Ridney, children’s services, young people and families

Councillor Cathy Bayton, climate change and environment

Councillor Jackie Cowell, housing, communities and leisure

Councillor Keiran Casey, highways and street scene

Councillor Shaneila Mughal, commercialisation, procurement and audit

Councillor Parmjit Sahota, regeneration, skills and employment