City council's first Sikh woman Cabinet member named
A councillor has become the first woman Sikh cabinet member in a city's history.
Jasbir Jaspal has been named as Wolverhampton Council's public health and wellbeing boss under new Labour leader Ian Brookfield.
The Heath Town councillor, who has previously chaired the authority's health scrutiny panel, says she wants to prioritise violent crime during her time in the Cabinet.
"This is a big step up for me and I am ready for the challenge, having done health scrutiny for three years," said Mrs Jaspal, who has been a councillor since 2012.
"It is a proud moment for the Sikh community to have a female member of the Cabinet. It is probably long overdue, considering the high Sikh population in the city.
"I hope to be able to represent all of the communities in Wolverhampton.
"There are issues with violent crime in the city – particularly knives and guns. It simply has to be a priority, and I am keen to reach out to everyone to see what the council can do to deal with these problems."
Mrs Jaspal has urged community groups with concerns to contact her directly to discuss issues surrounding violent crime.
Mr Brookfield, who has succeeded Roger Lawrence as the council's new leader, has now finalised his top table.
Deputy leader Pete Bilson will stay on as city assets lead, while Steve Evans will keep his city environment role.
John Reynolds, who was narrowly defeated by Mr Brookfield is the recent Labour group leadership election, has moved across to take over the children and young people brief.
His city economy portfolio has been handed to East Park councillor Harman Banger, and Sandra Samuels – another past leadership contender – has taken over governance.
Long serving Park councillor Mike Hardacre – a former headteacher – will run education and skills, with Bilston North councillor Linda Leach brought in to handle the adults portfolio.
Councillor Louise Miles has kept her post as resources lead.
Mr Lawrence stood down as council leader after 15 years at the helm. He is continuing as a councillor for the St Peter's ward until his term expires in May 2020.