LIBERAL Democrats in South Gloucestershire have a new leader with the group electing Cllr Claire Young.

Cllr Young, who represents Westerleigh on South Gloucestershire Council and ran as the party's parliamentary candidate in the 2017 General Election, was voted in by her fellow councillors at a meeting in Yate and will lead the party in the local elections next year.

As well as the vote on new leadership, the Lib Dems voted in Thornbury South and Alveston representative Cllr Maggie Tyrrell as deputy leader and a new shadow cabinet for the council.

Cllr Young was appointed shadow executive member for the local economy and devolution, with Cllr Tyrrell given the shadow portfolio for adult care.

“I am grateful to have the chance to lead South Gloucestershire’s largest opposition group at a crucial time for our area,” said Cllr Young following her appointment.

“Nationally and locally the Conservatives are cutting services to the bone. Council tax continues to go up and up, but the state of our roads and services gets worse and worse.

“In next May’s crucial local elections, local people have a chance to elect a Lib Dem-lead Council and send the Conservatives a message that they can’t take South Gloucestershire for granted anymore.”

Paying tribute to her predecessor Cllr Ruth Davis, who has led the group for the past 13 years, Cllr Young said she “has always been a terrific champion for local people and community causes” and that she was honoured to follow in the footsteps of “a great mentor and friend”.

Cllr Davis said she was “delighted” Cllr Young had been chosen as her successor.

“I have every confidence that she is the best person to lead the fight for better public services in next May’s elections,” she said.

“Although I am stepping down as group leader, I am not going anywhere. I hope to be re-elected as councillor for Yate Central in 2019, so I can continue to stand up for local residents.”

The other members of the new shadow cabinet include Cllr John O’Neill (Charfield), who was appointed housing delivery and public health and Yate's Cllr Mike Drew (Yate North) was appointed corporate resources.

Meanwhile, portfolios for planning transport and strategic environment went to Cllr Pat Hockey (Frampton Cotterell), communities and tourism went to Cllr Tony Davis (Dodington) and children and young people, schools, skills and employment was appointed to Cllr Ian Blair (Yate North).

The changes to the group will come into effect at the council’s annual general meeting on May 16.