Redbridge Conservatives have elected a female leader for the first time.

Cllr Linda Huggett, mayor of Redbridge, was unanimously elected to take the reigns from Cllr Paul Canal, who had led the party since 2014.

The Conservative group lost almost half of their seats during this month’s local elections; going from 25 seats to just 12.

Labour made huge gains across the borough, increasing their majority to 51 seats.

Cllr Paul Canal, former group leader, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve elected our first woman leader.

“Linda is an experienced councillor, former cabinet member and former mayor.

“I have no doubt she has the skills and drive to hold the Labour administration to account and to improve our takings in the next local elections.

“I will now spend the next year focusing on London, I am deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in London, and I will continue to support the party locally.”

Ms Huggett, who has represented Monkhams ward since 1998, was elected at the Conservative group’s annual general meeting on Monday May 14.

Following her appointment, Ms Huggett said: “It is a great honour to be elected as Conservative Group Leader and I am grateful to my colleagues for electing me unanimously. I wish to thank Cllr Paul Canal for all his hard work and dedication these past four years.

“I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone in Redbridge who voted Conservative on 3rd May.  We have an exceptionally strong and dynamic team of councillors who will work constructively and tirelessly for residents.  We look forward to strengthening the voice of local people in the Council Chamber and across Redbridge.”

Howard Berlin, newly elected to Fairlop ward, has appointed as the group’s deputy leader at the same meeting.