“SOUTHAMPTON is already one of the top cities in the UK, but I want to take it to the next level.”

That’s the ambition of Southampton’s soon-to-be city council boss, Chris Hammond.

The former environment head was announced as Southampton Labour group’s new chief on Friday, a week after former council leader Simon Letts lost his seat in the local government elections.

It means that Cllr Hammond, 30, is due to be elected as the overall leader of the council at a meeting on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, he said: “I want Southampton to be a city where everyone can fulfill their potential.

“We want a city where people can feel proud to live and proud to be from.

“We have got that at the moment but there is much more we can do.

“We are already one of the best cities in the county but I want to take it to the next level.

“We can be one of the cities people think of when they are coming to visit the UK.”

Councillor Hammond said his four key ambitions would be formed from his party’s manifesto. They included extra money for street cleaning, improving the city’s roads and improving Southampton’s air quality.

However, councillor Hammond said his number one priority would be increasing the number of affordable homes in the city.

He added that the party’s ambition for the council to create its own house building factory could help to reduce the current affordable housing shortfall.

Cllr Hammond’s rise to the leadership position comes just five years after he was first elected, winning a Woolston seat in 2013.

In 2015, Cllr Hammond joined the cabinet, taking the transformation portfolio, which later became sustainable living.

His main project to-date was to prepare the city for the introduction of a clean air zone in 2019.

At 30 he becomes one of the youngest council leaders in the country. But Cllr Hammond has quickly dismissed questions over his experience.

He said: “There’s an old phrase, if you are good enough you are old enough and I think I am. I’ve been in the cabinet for three years and I’ve got experience delivering big projects.”

Conservatives were set to elect their new leader last night, with councillor Dan Fitzhenry the front runner.

Who is Chris Hammond?

CHRIS Hammond was born in Dagenham, East London, in 1987.

His mother worked for a social care charity and his father in a factory.

In 2005 Chris went to the Bournemouth University – the first member of his family to do so – and studied television production.

It was during his time at university he met his partner, with whom he has been for the last 11 years.

After university, he went into the banking industry, working for building society, Nationwide.

His most recent role involved working as a project manager at the company’s head office in Bournemouth.

Chris has also spent time working for anti-racism charity, the Dorset Race Equality Council.

He was first elected to the council in 2013, winning a seat in Woolston in a by-election and was re-elected in 2016 and most recently in May.

Outside of the council, he enjoys running and fitness – and has twice run the Southampton 10K.