The new multi-party leadership of Torridge District Council has promised a fresh direction and new way of working.

At the council's AGM on Monday, May 13, independent group leader Anna Dart was elected to take the helm as leader of the council.

Independent Councillor Ken James, who has sat on the council since 2005, was voted to sit as deputy leader.

Labour councillor David Brenton, who has sat on the district council for 32 years, was elected chairman.

He said: "I'm really looking forward to chairing this council and think we're in for a very exciting four years. I look forward to you all supporting that direction."

New council leader Anna Dart and deputy leader Ken James. Picture: Sarah HowellsNew council leader Anna Dart and deputy leader Ken James. Picture: Sarah Howells

Green and fellow Bideford councillor Peter Christie, who has sat on Torridge since 1991, was unanimously voted in as vice chairman.

The new leadership is a stark change from the exclusively Conservative team of the previous four years.

For 18 of the 36 faces, it was the first time in the council chamber, and it was clear to see the new independent-led majority wants to see a change.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dart, who represents Hartland and has sat on the council since 2011, promised a new direction for the council.

She told the Gazette: "There is a lot of expertise in this council and we need to tap into that and all work together.

"That way we can seriously have a fully cooperative council.

"We have a lot of independents which means we will be representing the community rather than a political party.

"There have been problems in the past which have been brought up by various members, and we will be tackling them."

During the meeting the independent councillors made it very clear they will be fighting for a more transparent council.

Councillors voted to abolish the Programme Board previously used by the council, made up of the leader, deputy leader, and several committee chairmen - all of which on the last council were Conservative members.

Cllr Peter Christie said he felt this was not transparent and proposed to reinstate the Asset Management Group which had a member from each party instead.

Councillors also asked for outdated delegations schemes to be looked out, but voiced concerns that no money should be spent without it coming back to members beforehand.