A NEW leader was voted in to power at Southend Council, bringing to an end 14 years of Tory rule.

Ron Woodley, Independent councillor for Thorpe, was voted in as the council’s new leader as a joint administration made up of Independents, Labour and Lib Dem members seized power.

Mr Woodley has previously said the partnership signalled a new beginning for the borough and controversial plans for a seawall in Shoebury, to shut libraries and close care homes could be overturned.

Speaking as the new leader last night, Mr Woodley said: “I want to be as inclusive as possible and would welcome the input from all councillors from all groups, to ensure we have a balanced view of what residents require.

“I would like to thank all councillors who voted for me and showed me their support and confidence.

“I hope we become a residents’- based council and are open, transparent and honest in all the decisions we make – that is key for local democracy.

“Councillors Terry, Longley and Gilbert have all worked together for this agreement and I have a fantastic cabinet that Southend residents will be proud of.”

The borough had been governed by a Tory administration for 14 years, but they lost control in last month’s elections.

The Tories are still the largest party on the council with 19 seats, but are seven short of an overall majority.

Ian Gilbert is leader of the Labour group, and now deputy leader of the council, Mr Gilbert beat Conservative nomination John Lamb by 31 votes to 18.

Mr Lamb said: “We had more people vote for us during the election, so support is still there, but we have to work and be better at listening to people – which we are doing.

“You have to do what you believe to be right and this new administration has to do that too, to move the town forward.”