Durham County Council will be run by a Liberal Democrat, Conservative and independent coalition following last month’s elections and have elected their first ever female Leader.
Councillor Amanda Hopgood was voted into the post at the council’s annual meeting, as the cross-party ‘Joint Administration’ took over the authority’s political control from Labour.
It is the first time in over 100 years that Labour have not be in control of the council, having lost their majority to no overall control at this month’s elections.
Leadership of the council will rotate between the partnership, while Cabinet positions have been shared between the parties.
Born and raised in Durham City, Councillor Hopgood has represented the Framwellgate and Newton Hall division of the council since 2008.
As the new Leader of the council, her priorities include:
- The county's ongoing recovery from the pandemic
- Ensuring its continued economic growth and prosperity
- Representing the county at a national level
- Health and social care
- Tackling climate change
Commenting, Councillor Hopgood said: "As someone who was born and brought up in County Durham, I feel honoured and privileged to have been elected as Leader of Durham County Council.
"County Durham is a fantastic place, not just for those of us who live here, but also those who choose to work, visit and invest in the area.
“I am looking forward to working in partnership with my colleagues from other groups to achieve our common goal of ensuring our county is able to prosper.
"During my time as a county councillor, I have worked hard to improve the lives of residents in my ward and promote the city at a national level.
“Becoming Leader gives me the opportunity to carry that work forward and to do so on a countywide basis.
"Over the coming weeks and months, I will be setting out my plans to address our community priorities, promote economic regeneration and improve health and social care, especially the provision of mental health services.
“I want to ensure all our young people have access to better and fairer education and make a serious impact on our climate change emergency.
"However, our ongoing recovery from the pandemic has to be our first priority and I will be working to ensure that we get a fair deal when it comes to funding and opportunities.
"We have much to be proud of in County Durham, but it is vital that we push to ensure that we are not left behind and that we instead lead the way.
The government's levelling up agenda is key to this and I will be working with my colleagues to ensure we have a voice at that national level.
"I look forward to the challenges ahead."