The ruling Conservative group on Melton Borough Council has elected a new leader who is set to become the authority’s first female leader.
Councillor Pam Posnett succeeds councillor Byron Rhodes who is due remain leader of the council until its annual meeting on May 17.
Mrs Posnett, a borough and county councillor, was elected at a Conservative Group meeting on Monday night after councillors cast their votes in a secret ballot, with a two-horse race for the leadership.
She said: “I’m delighted and honoured to have been elected leader of the council and I’m delighted my fellow councillors had faith in me.
“I’ve really enjoyed serving as Byron’s deputy leader of the council for the last five years, gaining valuable experience, and that’s really why I decided to stand for the leadership.”
A Melton Council spokeswoman said: “Having checked the leader board in the council chamber and checked with one of our directors, as far as we can recall we have never had a female leader.”
It’s understood Mrs Posnett will also become the only female borough/district council leader in Leicestershire.
In her speech to fellow Conservatives Mrs Posnett said: “We know the future of local government is changing. Our funding from Government is being reduced and we need to change and adapt to our surroundings.
“Above all we need to innovate, to change how we do things and deliver our services as we seek to achieve the best outcomes for people we serve.
“We’ve achieved so much but we can and must do much better. We need a strong and experienced hand at the helm and that’s why I’m standing for election.”
She added: “As your leader I will set out a clear plan, building upon our current successes, such as Me and My Learning, and working more closely with our strategic partners. I also want Melton to be part of a successful and ambitious combined authority.
“We must keep a tight rein on the finances and I want to keep our council debt free. To achieve this we must make priorities. Our budget assumes we’ll have a financial gap of £876,000 by 2019/20. This is heavily dependant upon our ability to deliver new homes and the Government continuing to make this funding available.
“At the same time I want to keep council taxes as low as possible and I want to encourage businesses to grow and develop in our area.”
Speaking to the Melton Times after her election Mrs Posnett said she was proud to become the first female Melton Borough Council leader.
She added some of her other top priorities as leader would include the delivery of the new Melton Local Plan and continuing to push for a much needed relief road, and the delivery of other projects including the Cattle Market site regeneration, Melton Food Enterprise Zone and Melton Sports and Leisure Village.
She added: “I think being a councillor in Melton at the moment is one of the most exciting and challenging times. There’s so much happening and I truly believe Melton is the best place to live, raise a family and do business.”
Mrs Posnett, who was first elected onto the council in May 2003, is also a governor at Brownlow School and Brooksby Melton College and chairwoman of both Melton Mencap and the board of Melton Learning Hub.
She’s lived in the borough for 43 years and was employed as a nurse by Mars UK, formerly Pedigree Petfoods.
She is also a Leicestershire county councillor for Melton North and a member of County Hall’s ruling Cabinet.
She said: “I’ve already been selected to stand in the next county council elections.
“I feel it’s far better to have someone like me at the centre of things on the county council, putting Melton’s case forward and its interests at the forefront, rather than it being an after thought.”
l Councillor Leigh Higgins was elected deputy leader of the Conservative Group on Monday night after a closely contested three-horse race.
He said: “I’m very honoured to be the upcoming deputy leader and to support our new leader Pam Posnett. One element I’ll be working closely with her on is looking at new commercial revenue streams for the council. There are many challenges ahead and I’m looking forward to working hard with Pam to ensure the council meets them.”
The Melton Mayor-Elect for 2016/17 is councillor David Wright, with councillor Tejpal Bains becoming Deputy Mayor-Elect.