THE first ever female Leader of Powys County Council was voted in last Thursday, announcing an executive coalition between the Independent Group and the Conservatives.

Councillor Rosemarie Harris represents Llangynidr Ward and received a vote of 49 for, one against, 20 abstentions and one spoilt vote.

Cllr Harris is a member of the Independent Group and was the only nomination for the position.

Taking up the post on Thursday, she said: “I recognise the challenges that we all face, we have had to take a lot of money out of the budget over the past few years and austerity is still with us so there will be more to take.”

In the chair as leader for the first time, Cllr Harris also announced what parties will form the cabinet as the election established no outright majority.

She said: “We have worked quite closely over the past few days with the Conservatives. We have spoken today and we have decided we can work in collaboration.”

There are 30 Independent councillors and 19 Conservatives, and Cllr Harris explained that the cabinet will consist of six Independent councillors and four Conservatives.

Cllr Harris also expressed her thanks for being elected: “Thank you very much. I cannot quite believe that I was the only nomination. I am very grateful.

“Congratulations to the new councillors and those who have been re-elected.”

Cllr Harris was part of the last cabinet on which she was portfolio holder for property, buildings and housing.

With her experience, she intends to open the council to commercial opportunities.

She added: “We have started to go down a commercial road. I think we gave got to continue down that road because we have got to look after ourselves.

“We have been at the bottom of the pile in terms of Government funding for quite some time.”