THE new leader of Wyre Forest District Council said his predecessor’s resignation was a “personal decision” and he hoped to continue his “excellent legacy”.

Conservative councillor Marcus Hart spoke to The Shuttle after being elected leader by fellow councillors at a meeting earlier this month at Wyre Forest House and received 24 votes for, six against and eight abstentions, with four members absent.

The new leader said he would “continue the excellent legacy” of former leader Conservative John Campion – who stepped down last month – adding it was a “great honour” to be chosen.

Mr Hart immediately announced fellow Tory councillor Nathan Desmond as deputy leader. The two will also be cabinet members for environmental services (Mr Hart) and resources and transformation (Mr Desmond) within those roles.

Mr Campion will return to the cabinet as member for economic prosperity, with the other positions remaining the same – Conservatives Anne Hingley and Ian Hardiman responsible for place-shaping and well-being respectively.

Before the vote took place Independent Community and Health Concern leader Graham Ballinger said someone with a strong financial background should have been put forward and Labour councillor Nigel Knowles said he would not vote because the public had not been given an explanation as to why Mr Campion resigned.

Mr Knowles told the meeting: “We come back to the public’s right to know and understand. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Why did Councillor Campion resign as leader? We have had no explanation at all.”

Responding after the meeting, Mr Hart said: “It was a personal decision. He has been an outstanding leader and was fully entitled to step aside. What happens in the Conservative group is a matter for the Conservative group and not Councillor Knowles.”

Mr Hart told The Shuttle: “I am going to continue the excellent legacy John has left, keeping tax as low as possible, ensuring the economic prosperity of the district as a whole, and providing good value for taxpayers’ money.”

He also said his administration would try to work with parties across the council chamber.

Mr Hart is not up for election this May so his premiership will likely continue until at least next year.