THE Labour shadow cabinet in Swindon now has a majority of women members.

Party leader Jim Grant unveiled his new line-up this week. His deputy is now Emma Bushell, who has moved from the housing job, replacing veteran councillor Steve Allsopp.

Janine Howarth and Claire Crilly join as members for communities and transport respectively.

Other new faces are Paul Dixon, who becomes the lead on housing, and ex-mayor Junab Ali, who takes responsibility for town centre and economic development. Jane Milner-Barry takes on a new job of lead on climate change and sustainability – matching the newly-created cabinet role held by Tory Keith Williams.

Coun Grant said: “The new-look shadow cabinet reflects the priorities for the Labour group as we look to rebuild Swindon’s economy and services following the Covid-19 crisis.

"We believe that sustainability and climate change mitigation must be at the heart of everything the council does to achieve these goals."

Coun Bushell said bringing in more women will add a new perspective, but added that what was really important is a wide range of experiences and perspectives.

She said: “I think Jim has created a dynamic team with lots of drive, ability and enthusiasm.

"The majority of women on the shadow cabinet will, I think, give a slightly different, and progressive, perspective on the issues facing Swindon.

“What’s needed is the diversity of background, whether it’s gender, or people from different ethnic communities, people from different economic backgrounds.

“We also need people at different stages of their working career and lives involved in making decisions – someone who has been working for 20 years will see things differently for someone who is retired and differently from someone just starting work.”

Caring for elderly and vulnerable adults and children takes up 80 per cent of the borough council’s £140m annual budget.

Coun Bushell said: “We need to reflect the reality that the majority of care given to the elderly, or children or people with disabilities and special needs is done by women.

"But it’s important not to make it just a women’s issue – it’s the biggest job the council faces and it must be a priority for everyone in the council and everyone in Swindon."

Councillors Kevin Small, Ray Ballman and Carol Shelley retain their roles leading on finance, adult social care, and children’s services respectively.

The former member for economic development Jim Robbins is now the chairman of the scrutiny committee.