A SENIOR Labour councillor is giving up her job as a teacher to take charge of education at Newport City Council in a cabinet re-shuffle.

Gaer councillor Debbie Wilcox, who is the head of performing arts at Hawthorn High School in Pontypridd, is set to become cabinet member for education.

She replaces Cllr Bob Poole, who will become cabinet member for licensing and statutory services and who told the Argus that the move was a relief and that he’s had a horrendous year.

No new cabinet members were brought in from the backbenches in the reshuffle, announced by Labour council leader Bob Bright.

The Gaer’s Cllr Mark Whitcutt will take Cllr Wilcox’s current role as cabinet member leisure and culture, swapping with Cllr Gail Giles who will be responsible for Cllr Whitcutt’s portfolio of human resources and assets.

The size of the cabinet, due to be confirmed at the council’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, remains the same at ten members with Cllr Bright and deputy leader Ray Truman included.

Cllr Wilcox said she was delighted at her appointment and confirmed she will be taking leave from her full time teaching job this summer.

She added: “It comes to a point that I can’t do it all. I think its time now to do things full-time in politics.”

She said she would like to pay tribute to Cllr Poole, particularly over his handling of the Gaer schools amalgamation:.

“He did the absolute best to get the process right,” she said.

Shaftesbury councillor Bob Poole admitted the re-shuffle was a relief.

“I have been in education for a long time – 10 years – and I think it’s time I have an alternative cabinet post,” he said.

“It’s been a horrendous year... It’s a huge relief as far as I am concerned,” he said.

He said he has faced difficulties both personally and in the portfolio.

Among the significant education decisions taken over the last two years was to merge the Gaer Junior and Infant schools, taken in March 2013 and later given the go ahead by education minister Huw Lewis.

Cllr Poole was later involved in a public spat with Cllr Miqdad Al-Nuaimi over the issue.

Other cabinet member posts remain the same.

It will see Cllr Ken Critchley continue to oversee infrastructure, Cllr John Richards keeping hold of regeneration and development, Cllr Deb Davies staying in the skills and work portfolio and Cllr Paul Cockeram remaining social care and wellbeing cabinet member.

Announcing the re-shuffle, Labour business manager Cllr Debbie Davies said: “The proposed changes are welcomed by the cabinet and the leader [Bob Bright] as they are seen to further strengthen the strategic management of the council.”