THE council’s biggest political group has a new leader following last week’s elections.

Cllr Louise Gittins has been named as Labour’s new group leader on Cheshire West and Chester Council – replacing former council leader Cllr Samantha Dixon.

It comes after CWAC slipped into no overall control, with Labour finishing one member short of having an overall majority.

Cllr Gittins said: “Samantha Dixon has been a fantastic leader of the council since 2015. Her lasting legacy remains the decision to put respect back into the heart of the council and this has been one of the core values that she has driven forward over the last four years.

“Under Sam’s leadership the council has been transformed, winning numerous awards including 'Council of the Year' from the Association of Public Service Excellence in 2018. I am proud that in spite of ongoing government cuts, we have balanced the budget every year and continue to protect the most vulnerable local residents.

“Sam will be a hard act to follow, but I’m up for the challenge. We will continue to be a council that empowers local communities, working together to create services based on local need and social value, not just financial value.”

Cllr Gittins, member for Little Neston, had served as cabinet member for communities and wellbeing in the last administration.

She was also deputy leader of the council before her new appointment.

Cllr Gittins added: “Following a challenging set of election results across the country, in Cheshire West Labour won the most seats and therefore we remain the largest party.

“We have a four-year plan to build stronger communities in this borough and we are open to working together with all elected councillors so that we can continue to get the things done that matter to the residents we have all been elected to represent."

Cllr Dixon is now set to serve as a backbench councillor for the Chester City and Garden Quarter ward.

She said: “I am delighted to hand over the reins of leadership to Cllr Gittins who has served as the deputy leader of the council alongside me for the past four years.

“She will be an excellent leader who will represent CWAC residents and deliver on Labour's ambitious plans to build stronger communities in our borough.

“Cheshire West Labour is an amazing team and I'm glad to continue to be part of it. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as the leader of CWAC for the past four years, but I have found it very demanding serving the whole borough as well as the very busy Chester City Ward.

“I now intend to return to the back benches to join my colleagues councillors Martyn Delaney and Bob Rudd in giving the very best representation to the residents of the newly formed Chester City and Garden Quarter ward.”

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Councillors will vote on May 21 for who will serve as CWAC leader, with Cllr Gittins set to be Labour’s candidate.

She will only have to win one extra vote from either the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Conservatives or independent councillors to take on the role.

The change comes after Cllr Margaret Parker replaced Cllr Lynn Riley as Conservative group leader yesterday.