AN Alcester councillor is hoping to take the reigns of Stratford-on-Avon District Council s the Liberal Democrats take sole charge for the first time. 

Councillor Susan Juned (Lib Dem, Alcester East), who led the opposition in the last council, is hopeful of taking the hot seat when her party’s councillors meet to choose a leader and cabinet members on Saturday, May 13.

It's the first time any party other than the Conservatives has had enough seats to enjoy complete control in the district with the Liberal Democrats gaining a whopping 15 seats.

That means a whole new team of councillors, whose roles will then be ratified at the first meeting of the new council on Wednesday, May 24, taking charge of key services. 

Cllr Juned said “multiple” local and national elements had played parts in the historic result and while she had been “quietly confident” of gaining or getting close to outright control – 21 seats – that returning 25 councillors had “exceeded my expectations”.

“On the doorstep we heard people were upset about some of the national shenanigans – changes in prime minister, the problems that arose in the economy from the Truss budget, the cost of living crisis,” she said.

“Then we heard dissatisfaction over the local MP (Nadim Zahawi), that came up a number of times, and a general dissatisfaction with the Conservative party as a whole. 

“They wanted a change to people who were more locally based and would be prepared to listen.

“As the election got closer, I got more convinced that we would take control because we could see on the doorsteps how it was building, people said we had to get change.”

She highlighted a focus on greater communication, affordable housing, the impacts of climate change and energy bills and efficiency.

“Every place in this district is different and different communities have different expectations but we will do our utmost to deliver good quality, value-for-money services that people will appreciate,” she added.

“We will also try to engage communities in a way that we haven’t done before.”

One of her first jobs will be to run the rule over the finances – at a time when local authorities are finding it increasingly challenging to balance the books, just how easy will it be for the new administration to live up to expectations? 

“All local councils across the country – bar none – have had their budgets cut consistently for the past 10 years or so,” said Cllr Juned.

“I think Stratford is in a better position than most and I have asked for a budget briefing to make sure I completely understand exactly what position the district is in.

“We do need to make the case to government on quite a few things and government needs to listen to local government, the bodies that deal with things on the ground.

“So many good ideas can come from local government when it is given the ability to do things but government will have to listen.”