Paul Canal paid tribute to his predecessor after being elected the new leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group following the resignation of Keith Prince.

The Bridge ward councillor was voted in on Saturday, with Robert Cole of Clayhall ward elected as his deputy.

Cllr Canal will lead the opposition after Labour took power from the Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition at last week's election.

He said: “It will be a privilege to lead this group of new and experienced Conservative councillors. I am confident that in May 2018 we will restore the borough to Conservative control. 

“I congratulate Cllr Athwal on his victory. Whilst the margin of success in several wards was only a handful of votes, he has secured a working majority."  

Cllr Prince will continue in his role as councillor for the Barkingside ward, but said he had no wish to be head the opposition after leading the council. 

Cllr Canal is a school governor at Ray Lodge Primary School, in Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green, and says he has a particular interest in the Woodford Bridge conservation area, neighbourhood watches and combating crime.

He said:  “I also pay tribute to my predecessor Cllr Keith Prince, one of our longest serving leaders, who has stood down.  He was selfless, committed and worked very hard for this Borough. We owe him a debt of gratitude.” 

"We will vigorously and constructively hold the new administration to account and do all we can to protect this Borough from the untrammelled socialism that has ruined Waltham Forest and Barking & Dagenham.”

Also at the meeting, Church End Cllr Tom McLaren was elected as chief whip, and Cllr Colin Cronin was elected as group treasurer, while Cllr Joyce Ryan was re-elected as group secretary.

Deputy leader of Redbridge Labour, Wes Streeting, also paid tribute to Cllr Prince.

He said: "Despite our political disagreements over the last four years he is a decent and committed public servant. 

"Keith is remaining as councillor and we look forward to working with him in that capacity, and Labour need to work with other parties to make this council work.

"I wish Paul all the best in his role as opposition leader."