A permanent replacement has been announced to take over as Merton's education policy chief, after his predecessor was controversially sacked last month.

Councillor Martin Whelton will be announced as Merton’s new cabinet member for education tonight, subject to approval from tonight’s annual council meeting at the Civic Centre in Morden.

Coun Whelton, previously the cabinet member for communities and culture, takes over from Coun Peter Walker, who was sacked last month for “wholly unacceptable” conduct.

Coun Whelton said: "I intend to build on the Labour administration’s work to date. We have a strong policy of ensuring all our children have a place at a good local school.

“I will continue to work to expand the best performing schools so all our children have a good start in life."

Coun Walker, who was sacked for ripping down a posters for a community event while jogging in Dundonald Recreation Ground, was temporarily replaced by Coun Maxi Martin, the cabinet member for children’s services.

The ‘mini-reshuffle’ of the Labour administration also means Councillor Nick Draper (Colliers Wood ward) is set to become the new cabinet member for community and culture, which means he is responsible for policy on libraries, housing and culture.

Coun Draper said: “I’m a volunteer at my local library in Colliers Wood so I know how important libraries are to local people.

“New technology has helped Merton Labour to keep all our libraries open and in fact we have increased opening hours overall.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to ensure we have one of the best library services in the country, while also ensuring our leisure services are accessible to all our residents.”

Unlike the previous Conservative administration, the council leader, Stephen Alambritis, has chosen to not to appoint assistant cabinet members.

Coun Alambritis said: "Martin Whelton has done great work as the cabinet member in charge of libraries. Despite deep cuts from this government he has managed to keep all our libraries open and has even increased opening hours.

“As the new cabinet member for education I know he will tackle the challenges we face in expanding our best schools to create places for the increasing number of school age children in the borough.”

“I’m also delighted that Nick Draper will be cabinet member for community and culture.

“He is a big supporter of his local library in Colliers Wood so I know he will do everything he can to make our libraries even more efficient."

The new Merton Council cabinet:

  • Leader: Coun Stephen Alambritis
  • Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Implementation: Coun Mark Betteridge
  • Finance: Coun Mark Allison
  • Community Safety, Engagement and Equalities: Coun Edith Macauley
  • Children’s Services: Coun Maxi Martin
  • Education: Coun Martin Whelton
  • Community and Culture: Coun Nick Draper
  • Adult Social Care and Health: Coun Linda Kirby
  • Environmental Sustainability and Regeneration: Coun Andrew Judge

Tonight's meeting will also see the creation of a new mayor of Merton, held for a year by a councillor who leads ceremonial events in a non-political role.

Outgoing mayor Councillor Gilli Lewis-Lavender - who yesterday got to meet the Queen during her visit to Mitcham - will tonight be replaced by former council leader, Coun David Williams.