Long-serving City Council finance chief Cllr Rob Middleton has announced he is standing down from his cabinet role at the end of November after nine and half years in charge of the authority’s budgets.
The Wolverton councillor has decided to take a step back from his role due to family reasons.
Rob has been in charge of the council finances since 2014 during the most difficult period of public spending cuts ever, with the council having to make £200m in cuts.
Rob is currently the longest serving Cabinet Member.
Cllr Middleton will be replaced as Cabinet Member for Finance by Cllr Lauren Townsend, who is currently in charge of Public Realm and has overseen the successful roll out of the new wheelie bin contract and a huge reduction in fly-tipping. She will have the job of having to balance next year’s council budget and finding around £12m in savings. Dozens of other councils nationally have signalled they face bankruptcy.
Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew will take on Cllr Townsend’s former role.
Rising-star Cllr Shanika Mahendran will join the Cabinet as portfolio holder for Climate, Sustainability and Innovation. Shanika is the first ever female Asian-heritage cabinet member and is currently Chair of the Planning Committee.
Cllr Rob Middleton said: “It has been an honour to serve the people of Milton Keynes in the role for so long. However, the time has come for me to step back. I have a young family and the time commitment and constant intensity of the job means I just need a rest. I’ll continue to be an active ward councillor in Wolverton and will give my full support to the Progressive Alliance as we continue to do the best we can in ever increasingly difficult circumstances.”
Cllr Lauren Townsend said: “I’m proud to be taking on the Finance portfolio although I’m under no illusion how difficult the council’s financial position is. My first job will be to balance the budget for next year in the face of even more cuts from government, rising demand and the promise of further austerity in the years to come.”
Cllr Shanika Mahendran said: “Tackling climate change and championing our city’s reputation as the home of innovation, as someone who was born and has grown up in Milton Keynes, is a massive challenge and I’m very excited to be joining the Milton Keynes City Council cabinet.”
Cllr Peter Marland said: “I want to pay a massive tribute to Cllr Middleton for all the work he has done over the past decade. Milton Keynes City Council has gone from being a financial basket case to one of the best run councils in the country under his watch. He has done the hardest job for a long time and has done it well. The city has been very lucky to have benefited from his service, which he has always done in a quiet and modest way despite being so good at his job. I am proud to call him my friend and he deserves some time off to recharge.
“I’m pleased to welcome Cllr Shanika Mahendran to the cabinet and I know she will bring her razor sharp intelligence and passion to her new role.
“I’d also like to congratulate both Cllr Townsend and Cllr Wilson-Marklew on their promotions and I know they’ll do an amazing job with their new portfolio.
“In almost 14 years on the Council, I have never seen such a depth in talent as we have now that will continue to take this city forward.”
Milton Keynes City Council is run by an alliance of the Labour Group and Liberal Democrats.