THE new leader of Southampton City Council has said the authority is facing a 'challenging' time  - but said it will remain 'ambitious'.

An extraordinary full council was held on Wednesday night with new leader Councillor Lorna Fielker voted in.

Labour councillors, who hold the majority at the authority, voted unanimously for the election of the new leader.

All nine Tory opposition councillors voted against Cllr Fielker being made leader.

The leadership change comes two weeks after the previous leader Councillor Satvir Kaur resigned to focus her efforts on her parliamentary candidacy.

She is the Labour candidate for Southampton Test at the next general election as current Labour MP Alan Whitehead is leaving.

Cllr Fielker, who represents the Swaythling ward, spoke to the council about her predecessor’s ‘unwavering dedication’.

She said: “I must commend her for standing down from a job she loved because she knew it was in the best interest of the city at this time that we demonstrate stability in our leadership that she can’t provide as a parliamentary candidate.”

The new leader, who is also a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton, went on to talk about the financial difficulties the authority is currently facing.

She said: “Local government is in a financially difficult place right now.

"We are not alone and it is not our political ideology that is the cause.

“We only need to look to Conservative-led Hampshire whose leader has stated their budgets are close to breaking point – and Lib Dem-run Eastleigh which has had a best-value notice issued by Government due to significant debt.”

Cllr Fielker went on to speak of her plans as the new city head.

“I don’t underestimate the task before me as leader, the cabinet members and for the rest of the administration.

“This is a challenging time and we are leaning into that challenge.

“(We are) fully focused on what we can do differently and delivering plans that will deliver a sustainable and modern council with (the) reduced budgets that we have.”

She said her priorities for the council are:

  • Being a ‘leading cultural, maritime and economic destination’
  • Growing the economy in a way that ‘benefits local people and businesses’
  • ‘Access to housing’
  • As well as education, access to employment and delivering ‘much-needed homes’

The new leader said the council will ‘remain ambitious’.

The council's cabinet has also changed. Cllr Marie Finn is the cabinet member for adult social care.

Cllr Andy Frampton is cabinet member for housing stock and the private renters’ sector, a new post.

Cllr John Savage is a deputy cabinet member for the green city.

Cllr Simon Letts, cabinet member for finance, will take Cllr Fielker’s old role of deputy leader.