A GAME of musical chairs has taken place in Swindon Council’s cabinet.

Details of a reshuffle released yesterday see leisure head Justin Tomlinson leave the cabinet, financial supremo Nick Martin moved to a new role, and relative newcomer Mark Edwards taking the financial mantle.

The other members remain in their place but those with shiny new titles include Brian Mattock, Peter Greenhalgh and Phil Young.

Leader of the council, Rod Bluh, said: “I have a reshuffle every January but this year there is the possibility to move it forward. I think what we have achieved is quite radical.”

He said he felt that Coun Martin’s new role as cabinet member for property, leisure and recreation was ideally suited to his skills.

He said: “Nick has been doing this role for the last four years and still wants to be very much involved in fronting next year’s budget, working closely with Mark. I felt that given the challenges we face in this economic climate we needed to use Nick more intelligently.

“I‘m very pleased that Mark is coming in – he is the chair of our procurement committee and I have every faith in him.

“Justin has done a great job in the cabinet but as we don’t know when the general election is going to come he feels it is time to step down and concentrate on his parliamentary role.

“I also felt that the connecting people, connecting places initiative, which will be so vital to what we are doing in the near future needed a dedicated cabinet member – and I am delighted that Brian Mattock will take that role.”

Labour leader, Kevin Small said: “I was very surprised that the lead member for resources was changed just at the point when the budget is being discussed. I have no problem with new people coming into the cabinet but for such an important role at such an important time to be given to someone who hasn’t been a councillor for very long is surprising.

“It begs the question – is there division within the ranks of the Conservative group?

“In some respects I am pleased to see Justin Tomlinson leave the cabinet because I do not believe he has been a very effective cabinet member.

“But it is worrying to see Nick Martin, who has presided over a policy of council property disposal, being put in charge of leisure facilities. Does this mean leisure services will go the same way?”

The reshuffle changes will come into effect from next Friday.