TOBY Savage has been elected as the new leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

Having been unanimously selected to take over as leader of the Conservative Group on the council during their AGM yesterday, the former deputy leader takes over from Cllr Matthew Riddle who confirmed this afternoon he would not be seeking re-election for the leadership.

Cllr Riddle, who represents the Severn ward, said he wanted the move to encourage “fresh new leadership” in the run-up to next May’s local election, but it is expected that he will still re-run for his council seat.

The promotion will most likely see Cllr Savage, a former Marlwood pupil who has represented Longwell Green since 2015, retain his cabinet post for schools, skills and employment, also taking over his predecessor's portfolio for the local economy and devolution.

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Cllrs Toby Savage and Matthew Riddle in Thornbury during the 2015 General Election

Following his appointment, Cllr Savage said; “I am truly humbled to have been elected to this role, and delighted to have been supported unanimously by my group, which allows us to press onward with the same energy and unity we have always had.

“We have an exceptionally strong and dynamic team of Conservative councillors within our group, and there is strong talent within it to campaign vigorously to elect even more Conservative councillors in 2019 to represent local people and get the best deal for them.

“The administration that I will lead, supported by colleagues, will place delivering for our communities and residents at its heart, building upon our strong record, but taking a fresh approach to the challenges we face.

“We already have plans to take the fight in improving schools, and our standards, continue to deliver value for money for local taxpayers, and ensure that despite the financial constraints that we place a renewed and greater focus in working with, and alongside our communities in shaping our shared futures.”

Also elected as group’s deputy leaders were Cllrs Jon Hunt and Erica Williams, with Cllr Brian Allinson being proposed for vice chairman, to accompany Cllr Rachael Hunt, who is set to become chairman of council.

The MPs for Thornbury and Yate and for Kingswood, Luke Hall and Chris Skidmore welcomed the appointment, and said they were looking forward to "continuing to work side by side" with the council's new leader.

In a joint statement, they said: “Matthew has been an outstanding council leader who has always put our local communities front and centre of his work, and we thank him for his tireless dedication.

“We look forward to and are very committed to continuing to support the fresh administration, and their new approach to deliver for our communities as we head to May 2019 elections.”