THE new leader of Monmouthshire council has said tackling inequalities in the county will be among the priorities as Labour took charge of the local authority.

Cllr Mary Ann Brocklesby was elected leader of Monmouthshire council on Thursday, becoming the first woman to head up the local authority.

Although the council has no overall control, Labour is the largest group following the local elections and will lead the council as a minority administration.

Speaking after her election as leader, Cllr Brocklesby said the Labour group will now look to implement its manifesto pledges, working in collaboration with other parties on the council.

“We must stick to those pledges and we will work around those pledges to make change,” she said.

“Our priorities are to start to tackle the inequalities in Monmouthshire.

“It’s the most unequal county in Wales and those inequalities show themselves in housing.

“There are 3,000 people waiting for a home.”

Raising education standards and closing the gap between children on free school meals and those who are not is also a key priority.

“We know the council as it is now is very committed to doing that, so we know we can work together around those issues,” she added.

Cllr Brocklesby, who was elected for the ward of Llanelly Hill, said the Labour group will work with others to implement their priorities.

“We are working as a minority administration and we are working in the spirit of collaboration and co-operation,” she said.

As well as working with other parties, Cllr Brocklesby said she is keen to work with the wider community, such as businesses, charities and voluntary groups, to find solutions in an “inclusive way”.

“It’s absolutely important that the voices of of everybody – and I mean everybody, whoever they are, wherever they live – is heard, recognised and that they feel they have a sense of being part of decision-making,” she added.

She said she is also “hugely proud” to be the first female leader of Monmouthshire council.

“I would also like to say I am here on merit,” she added.

“I’m here on merit, but I am a female and I do believe we do business differently.”