Express & Star

Leader vows to 'get the basics right' as Tories take over Wyre Forest in rare council gain

A Conservative leader says a focus on local issues won the day after taking control of Wyre Forest District Council.

The Conservatives have taken over Wyre Forest District Council.

The council was one of only two gained by the Tories in the whole country after a disastrous performance nationally in the local elections.

And Conservative group leader Marcus Hart, who held his seat in Wyre Forest Rural, said they were ready to "put pride" back into the district.

The Tories won 20 of the 33 available seats and will form a majority administration, taking over from the Progressive Alliance, a coalition of Labour, Green and independent councillors which has been in control for the past four years.

Councillor Hart said his group had benefitted by being the only party to field a full slate of 33 candidates. He said "sheer hard work" had helped them overcome the party's national troubles.

"We worked tirelessly across the district, talking to residents about the issues that concerned them and basing our campaign around those issues," he told the Star.

"People are worried about basic stuff, like making sure the streets are kept clean and tidy, bins are emptied and the grass is cut. We feel that the Progressive Alliance over the last four years has got the basics wrong.

"You can never take the electorate for granted and we put everything into these elections We have shown that if you are a local person and you work hard for your community, you can buck the national trend and people will vote for you over the national party.

"Voters decided to back us to carry on our work locally and now we want to put pride back into Wyre Forest."

Councillor Hart pledged that all Tory councillors will be "visible and open to the public" and that addressing key issues including street cleansing and community cohesion would be at the top of the in-tray.

Having previously led the council for five years until 2019, he is expected to be re-elected as group leader at a meeting on May 9. He will officially take over as leader of the authority at a full council meeting the following week.

The Conservatives now have a majority of seven after taking 20 seats. Six independent councillors were elected, including current leader Helen Dyke, and there are four Labour, two Lib Dem and one Green councillor.