KEITH Pearson has been elected the new leader of the Conservative group on Stroud District Council.

Cllr Pearson, who represents the Upton St Leonards ward, was elected by fellow Tory district councillors at a behind-closed doors session on Monday, November 19.

The retired oil industry worker defeated the only other candidate in the running Cllr Dorcas Binns (Minchinhampton).

First elected to the council in 2007, Cllr Pearson takes over as leader from Cllr Frances Roden (Painswick) who opted to stand down after the Conservative group lost control of the council in May's local elections.

Speaking to the SNJ on Monday, Cllr Pearson said his foremost priority would be to retake the council from the rainbow alliance.

"I need to get my feet under the table and start to build the team so that we can once again become the administration of Stroud District Council," he said.

"We have not got the opportunity to do that until 2014 so in the mean time we will work to ensure that we are an effective opposition to the current alliance and that they are providing the best possible services for the district's residents."

He added: "We are still the largest represented party on the council so we do have a voice and we do have something to say.

"It will be our job to ensure that the public know what we stand for and that we can continue to do a good job for them."

Cllr Pearson's first full council meeting as leader will take place on Thursday November 29, where he will lead Conservative calls for the rainbow alliance to scrap its plans to move from an executive model of governance to a committee system.