St Helens Labour create new roles to tackle 'important issues'

Moss Bank councillor Paul Lynch has been tasked with supporting the council Improving mental health and suicide prevention
Moss Bank councillor Paul Lynch has been tasked with supporting the council Improving mental health and suicide prevention

Several new roles have been created by St Helens Labour to help tackle some of the major issues affecting the borough, including suicide and homelessness.

Six key issues have been identified by the leader of St Helens Council – fighting poverty, climate change, mental health, homelessness, women and equalities and workers’ rights.

A Labour councillor has been appointed to each key priority and will support cabinet members and council officers in developing policies for the borough and the council.

They will also look at what other councils are doing to ensure St Helens learns from the experiences of others and works collaboratively with other areas where possible.

Coun David Baines, leader of St Helens Council, said: “I am delighted to announce these new roles.

“These represent extremely important issues for St Helens borough, and under my leadership they are extremely important for the council too.”

Former deputy council leader Andy Bowden has been appointed as the Labour group spokesman for fighting poverty.

Coun Bowden said the council must do what it can to “mitigate” the impact of poverty.

He added that the council must encourage growth and the creation of jobs and help children and families when they need support.

Another issue that has been highlighted for additional work is the rising levels of homelessness.

Coun Paul Pritchard, group spokesperson for homelessness, said: “Homelessness is a major issue, visible in the number of rough sleepers on the streets but also hidden in the number of sofa surfers and families in insecure accommodation.

“The council has a clear role to play in tackling this situation, including by continuing to work with the voluntary sector to provide support for homeless people.”

Improving mental health and suicide prevention is another key priority for the council, with St Helens having the highest rate of suicide in the country.

Moss Bank councillor Paul Lynch has been tasked with supporting the council with this crucial issue.

He said mental health is a “hugely important issue,” and said the Labour council is “committed” to taking it seriously and working with partner agencies to prevent suicide.

Elsewhere, Coun Michelle Sweeney has been appointed as group spokesman for women and equalities.

Coun Sweeney said: “As a disabled woman I recognise the barriers those from minority groups can face in access to services and employment.

“Labour is committed to helping people overcome those barriers and fulfil their potential.”

Mancyia Uddin, group spokesman for climate change, said St Helens Council must play its part and do “what is right for the environment, not what is easy”.

Lastly, recently-appointed Earlestown councillor Pam Howard has been appointed as Labour group spokesman for industrial relations and workers’ rights.

Coun Howard said: “Labour knows the value of good industrial relations and equitable and fair rights at work for all employees.