Sunderland’s new council leader has committed to build on the city’s success, setting out a vision in which no one and no community will be left behind.

Councillor Michael Mordey, who has been officially installed as leader of Sunderland City Council at a meeting this evening [20 May], has set out plans to support the most vulnerable in society, while building on a vast programme of regeneration – amounting to over £2billion across the city.

The Hendon born councillor, who was made leader of the Labour Group on May 8, has refocused the council’s leadership team, with a cabinet that has new areas of focus that Cllr Mordey believes better align to the needs of the city and its residents. New titles include a cabinet member for communities, culture and tourism, another for health, wellbeing and safer communities as well as allocating specific cabinet-level responsibility for equalities and child poverty.

Cllr Mordey said: “I am really proud to lead the city I love.  A city I was born in.  One I have spent my whole working life supporting.  And a place I proudly call home.

“There has been much progress made in the city over recent years, with huge investment and regeneration across all corners of the city. But years of austerity, on the watch of a Government that cares little for working families in this country, means that many of our residents feel more vulnerable than ever and they’re looking to us for support.

“We are focused on ensuring that nobody is left behind. But equally, we have to be laser focused on uplifting the whole city through positive and proactive regeneration and investment decisions. This is about building bridges that connect our residents to the opportunities we are creating for them. It’s about building a stronger city by recognising that a high tide raises all ships – we have to create conditions in which every single person in this city can realise their potential.”

Cllr Mordey has appointed a cabinet of members with a deep understanding of their portfolio. Cllr Kelly Chequer will be deputy leader and cabinet member for health, wellbeing and safer communities. She is a trained nurse. Cllr Kevin Johnston remains as cabinet member for housing, regeneration and business, a role he has held for three years.

Cllr Michael Butler, who is a Southwick Ward councillor, is cabinet member for children’s services, child poverty and skills and works as a clinical lead in public health. Cllr Lindsey Leonard will take up a role as cabinet member for environment, transport and net zero. She has specific experience in working in regulatory services, knowledge she will bring to her new role.

Other appointments include Cllr Beth Jones who has experience of the cultural sector within the city and will take up the role of cabinet member for communities, culture and tourism; and Cllr Alison Smith who is a retired former Human Resources officer and will take up a new role as cabinet member for corporate services and equalities.

Cllr Mordey adds: “This is a leadership team with specific expertise in the areas they are responsible for. It is a team who understand not only the opportunities that this city has ahead of it, but the challenges we must meet to realise our potential.

“We have specific ambitions that we will be working flat out, day-in-and-day-out on delivering. These include tackling child poverty, which is an absolute blight on this Government’s record. We have to ensure that our families and young people are not held back by the disgraceful levels of deprivation created by the Conservatives. I have personal experience of growing up in a single parent family where times were often tough, so can relate to the challenges faced by many families across the who are struggling during the conservative cost-of-living crisis.

“We want to connect communities through better transport links too – this is key if we are to open up more and better opportunities for people in Sunderland.

“And we also want the city to throw open its doors to tourism. We have an incredible coastline, peppered with eateries that could compete with anywhere in the UK. It’s time we shout about what we have to offer, and I am keen to drive that in tandem with the transformation of our city. Not least the arrival of a film studios that will reinvent Sunderland’s economy.”

Cllr Mordey has committed to work in partnership with the newly elected Mayor, Labour’s Kim McGuinness, to ensure that Sunderland realises maximum benefit from devolution, as more power is released from Westminster to the region.

He added: “Devolution promises to give us greater control over the destiny of the North East, and we have a job to do in Sunderland to ensure that we secure support that delivers on our local priorities. I will be working with our elected Mayor to achieve this.

“We’re all working as hard as we can to elect a new Labour Government later this year, that will be a strong partner with Sunderland and the wider North East.

“For the first time ever, we could potentially have a Labour Government, Labour North East Mayor and Labour MPs all working as one and throwing their collective weight behind our Labour-run City Council, all working in tandem to deliver for the people of Sunderland.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time for this city I am proud to call home and am privileged to lead.”