Councillor Afzal Shah has joined Bristol City Council’s Cabinet, with Mayor Marvin Rees also announcing changes to responsibility for some of the city’s highest profile portfolios.
Cllr Shah, the Labour member for Easton, takes up a new role as Member for Climate, Ecology and Sustainable Growth, joining his nine other colleagues and leading the council’s response to the climate and ecological emergencies.
Recognising the relationship of social and environmental justice, Cllr Shah’s portfolio will include being a specific lead for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals overseeing markets, high streets, retail centres, and the enterprise zone and driving Bristol’s economy to be more sustainable.
His appointment follows the announcement that Cllr Paul Smith, the Cabinet member for Homes and Homelessness and Labour member for Central, is stepping down at the end of this month.
Councillor Smith will leave the authority to take up a new role as Chief Executive Officer at Elim Housing Group.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “I’m delighted that Afzal has accepted our invitation to join the Cabinet and I welcome the many years of experience he brings with him as a dedicated ward councillor.
“His knowledge of the local business sector and the people who have played such a pivotal role in driving our successful local economy will be vital as we put Bristol on the road to recovery, post COVID-19.
“His new role will continue providing a Cabinet-level focus on the environment and ensure our commitments to responding to the global climate and ecological emergencies remain prime factors across all of our work.”
The Mayor will continue his leading role in delivering housing for the city by taking on the Cabinet responsibilities vacated by Cllr Smith when he departs, as well as leading on the responsibility for leisure centres. Management of the council’s landlord function, housing options and private sector housing services will be passed to Cllr Helen Godwin, who already holds the Women, Children and Families (Young People) and Children’s Services portfolios.
Mayor Rees added: “From a standing start we have taken a hold of the city’s housing crisis and are delivering on our promise to build new homes. This includes being one of the very few councils in the country to build new council homes, almost 150 so far.
“Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the construction sector, with over 1,500 affordable homes currently in our housing pipeline, Paul leaves us with much already achieved and the foundation to achieve even more.
“I would like to thank Paul for his years of dedicated and effective leadership in the sector. His drive and expertise has been central to transforming the city’s house building sector and putting us on the front foot in the fight to overcome our local housing crisis.
“I congratulate him on his new role and look forward to continuing to work with him as a city partner to tackle our local challenges.”
Cllr Afzal Shah, member for Easton, said: “I’m grateful to the Mayor for this opportunity to support his vision of delivering inclusive and sustainable growth across all communities in Bristol.
“We face a challenging future as we seek to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic whilst continuing to support people and businesses to thrive. I look forward to working with Cabinet colleagues on delivering our ambitions for the city and continuing to serve my community.
“Under Marvin, Bristol became the first council to declare a Climate Emergency and we continue to work hard as one city towards our ambition of net zero carbon emissions by 2030. I am committed to continuing our engagement with all our communities to ensure that tackling the environmental crisis does not disproportionately burden the most disadvantaged in society.”
In further changes to Cabinet roles which come into effect from today, the Mayor will add leisure centres to his sport and physical activity portfolio, Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport, takes on responsibility for the council’s Clean Air Zone planning, and Cllr Nicola Beech, the member for Spatial Planning and City Design takes on Flood Strategy. Management of the Housing Revenue Account budget moves to Councillor Craig Cheney and Events to Cllr Asher Craig.
The vacant seat left by Cllr Smith’s departure will not be subject to a by-election due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19 legislation.