A new leader of the Conservative group at North Herts Council has been elected, following last month's local elections.

Cllr David Levett stood against Cllr Claire Strong for the leadership position, and won in a secret ballot of Conservative councillors.

This is the second time that Cllr Levett has served as leader of the group - he was previously elected in 2019, before being replaced by Cllr Strong in 2021.

Cllr Levett, who represents Letchworth South East, has been a councillor since 2006 and was chairman of the council in 2010-11.

Speaking after his election as group leader, Cllr Levett said: "I was very pleased to have been recently elected as the new leader of the North Herts Council Conservative group and have to thank the previous group leader Claire Strong for all her hard work over the last couple of years.

"The Conservative group has been criticised during council meetings for being an ineffective opposition to the Labour-Liberal Democrat alliance that forms the current administration.

"With all out elections next year, with new ward boundaries and a move to elections once every four years, I want the Conservative group to be an effective opposition that will take back control of the council in 2024. 

"There may now only be 15 Conservatives on the council but with a different style of leadership and those remaining members support we can make our voice heard.

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"With constructive criticism and also by working with the other parties where there is common ground we will show that we are truly working to do the best for those communities we represent locally.

"Local councils and their councillors should be precisely that, a local voice for local people and accessible to all."

Responding to this story, Cllr Strong said: "I wouldn't normally comment on the change of leadership as this is an internal group decision, however, leading the opposition has responsibilities to hold the administration to account and needs all the group supporting each other in this.

"The overview and scrutiny committee has to be effective in questioning cabinet members and their decisions, and I welcome the new chairman [of the committee, Conservative Cllr Adam Compton] to this role to overcome any criticism of our opposition."

The Conservatives lost four council seats in last month's local elections, meaning they now hold 15 of the 49 seats on the council.