Cllr Paul Stewart covers both the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Secretary roles
Cllr Paul Stewart covers both the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Secretary roles
City Council Cabinet
Cllr Graeme Miller - Leader of the Council

I have lived in Washington since 1992, and have had the privilege of being a Councillor for Washington South since 2006 representing the residents of Ayton, Lambton, Oxclose and Rickleton.

I do a weekly ward walkabout every Sunday, if you see me on my ’rounds’ please say hello.

If you want to know more about the vision myself and my cabinet have for our city take a look at my message to residents.


Leading the council doesn't stop me from getting stuck in around my ward

Getting to know Graeme

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it for the first time again?

Watching Deadpool at the cinema, so rude and so, so funny. I was crying with laughter.

Who is your favourite comedian?

Peter Kay, his sketch on family and friends at a wedding is pure genius, the Dad dance!!!

What one thing do you really want to do but can’t afford yet?

Go into space and visit another planetary body, that would be amazing.

What misconception do people have about councillors that you wish you could change?

That Councillors are in it for themselves. This is grossly unfair, Councillors work hard for their communities for very little in return financially, the basic allowance is just over £8300 per annum and you have to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for residents.

What is special about the place you grew up?

Leith was a tough place, you learned to front up and stand your ground. No rose-tinted glasses about life there, that, and strong loving family has always stood me in good stead.

What is the most impressive thing you know how to do?

Every day I keep my wife happy and after 33 years together I think that is some achievement!

Cllr Paul Stewart - Deputy Leader and Cabinet Secretary

Initially born in Southwick I was educated at St. Thomas Aquinas and later St. Aidan’s Schools before going to University where I received a BA (Hons) degree in Public Administration. Over the years I have not been able to dispel the education bug, attending university to obtain a post graduate qualification in Human Resources as well as an MA in Equal Opportunities.

Eventually I settled down in Redhouse, married, had two children and more recently two Grandsons.  As for work, this has predominantly been in Education and I currently support schools working in partnership with North Tyneside Council.

I was first elected onto the Council in May 1990 and currently have the responsibility of Deputy Leader within cabinet, overseeing the council finances, Corporate Services and deputising for the Council Leader when required. Prior to being appointed to Cabinet I served 10 years as chair of Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee.

Getting to know Paul

Name of your childhood pet?

Hazel, the bantam hen.

What is your favourite song/artist?

Abba (don’t laugh!)

What car do you drive?

Vauxhall Mokka

Do you have any regrets as a councillor?

Yes, you need to recognise that you cannot change the world overnight!

Red, white or Rose?

Red, preferably Malbec

How do you relax after a hard day of work?

See above!

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?

My vaccine appointment…

Cllr Rebecca Atkinson - Cabinet Member for Dynamic City
Cllr Dr Geoffrey Walker - Cabinet Member for Healthy City

I currently reside in Penshaw in the house where I was raised as a child.  I am an Information Systems Analyst by profession and have achieved a MSc and PhD in this area.  I worked for almost 20 years as a Systems Analyst in local government and for more than 10 years as a lecturer in Further and Higher Education.

My personal passion is travelling and I have travelled widely in Europe, America and Africa.

I am the cabinet member for Healthy City which covers public health and adult social care and I am also the Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Board.

There have been truly heroic efforts from everyone to ensure a co-ordinated response to the Covid19 crisis and to maximise the safety and health and wellbeing of everyone we serve and those who work in all aspects of social services. But I truly sense we are rebuilding and resetting the health and social care agenda.

We are indeed ‘building back better’:

• In local pandemic responses, the partnership between public services and communities has become stronger;

• Digital technology is bringing public services and communities closer together;

• Sector lines have become blurred, in a positive way, with local businesses stepping up to help public services and fellow members of the community;

• Community activism has gone viral presenting a real opportunity for public services and communities to unlock community power.

Getting to know Geoff

Sweet food or Savoury?

Savoury: Udon Noodles with Miso Soup

What is your favourite song/artist? 

Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

Achievement you are most proud of inside and outside of council 

Being actively involved in improving the health and well-being of the City

What car do you drive?

I can’t drive!

Who is your favourite comedian?

Sean Hughes

Cllr Linda Williams - Cabinet Member for Vibrant City

I have lived in Washington all my life and attended High Usworth Infant and Junior Schools (now George Washington Primary) and Usworth Comprehensive. I have vivid memories of writing practice in junior school being the names of the villages, when most of them were just words; now we have communities around the words. I have three grown up children and four grandchildren.

I have been a school governor since 1991 and decided to become a Councillor because I believe in helping people to make their lives and environment better. My general interests are around families and ensuring that everyone gets the best opportunities they can, regardless of age. In my spare time I enjoy being creative, making cards, textiles projects and cake decorating.

My Cabinet portfolio, Vibrant City, is wide ranging and covers areas like libraries, community resilience such as the voluntary sector, area arrangements such as area committees, sport, leisure, culture and events across the city.

Getting to know Linda

How do you relax after a hard day of work?

Watch the soaps on the telly.

Why did you decide to stand for election and become a Councillor?

To try and provide support to people to get through the sometimes complex processes the Council and other agencies have. To try to help people get what they want in terms of council services and make sure they understand why if it isn’t possible.

What is the most impressive thing you know how to do?

Repressurise the boiler.

What achievement are you most proud of outside of being a Councillor?

I won a Teaching Award for Governor of the Year across the whole of the North East and Cumbria in 2006.

What is your favourite song/artist?

Any Motown music!

What car do you drive?

Nissan Micra

Cllr Louise Farthing - Cabinet Member for Children, Learning and Skills

I am married with two adult daughters and have five grandchildren. I am a retired Civil Servant, a former Income Tax Inspector. I started my career and finished my career in Washington at Weardale House. I have represented Washington south since 2012.

I was chosen to sit in the Cabinet of Sunderland Council in 2016 with the portfolio of Children Education and Skills , which I continue to hold. In this role I have overseen the improvement in children’s social care in Sunderland with the development of support for families and kinship carers being one of my main aims. I am extremely concerned about the disruption caused to the education of our children and young people by the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns. I will ensure that all resources available are employed to allow children and young people to catch up on the learning they have missed.

I sit on the Board of Sunderland College, which provides training opportunities to prepare people for todays developing industries. An example of this is the work with Sunderland Council to create a classroom in the development of the future types house building in Sunderland Riverside which will be featured in the Sunderland Expo 2023. and the digital hub to be created in Bede Campus

Getting to know Louise

What is the most impressive thing you know how to do?

I can crochet and I taught myself

What car do you drive?

7 year old VW Golf

What website do you visit most often?


Why did you decide to become a councillor?

I have had an interest in politics right back to when I was in school. I joined the Labour Party following my involvement with Trade Unionism at work. I started out as a health and safety rep and then moved to becoming a local secretary of my union.

How do you relax after a hard day of work?

Watching TV or playing a game called Okey on my ipad

If you could pick between being invisible and being able to fly, which would it be and why?

Being able to fly; I grew up through a time when women were invisible and discounted so I have experienced that

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?

Getting out of lockdown and being able to see and hug my family

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