INDEPENDENT Wigton councillor Marion Fitzgerald is the new leader of Allerdale council in the aftermath of a political sea change.

The authority’s administration was previously Labour-led but the party slumped to third place while the Independents surged at the ballot box in a local election dominated by national politics.

But speaking at Wednesday night’s meeting of the full council, coun Fitzgerald urged councillors to “stop bickering” over party politics and focus on the job at hand.

The meeting saw Conservative leader Mark Jenkinson voted in as the council’s new deputy, the role previously held by Labour’s Mark Fryer.

Coun Fitzgerald said: “The result of the local election on May 2 tells us that people want change.

“Independent candidates polled the highest numbers although it is fair to say that they represent a range of views.

“As the overall result of the election was very divided, the fairest way to reflect the voting pattern would be an Independent leadership and shared administration.

“It is no secret that I have offered to negotiate with the Labour Group but this was refused.

“Nevertheless, we still do have a shared administration (Conservatives and Independents) and I am very optimistic that we can all work well together to benefit every community in Allerdale.

“We have a real opportunity here. Let’s grasp it together. This is a time for settling all past differences, treating each other with respect and providing and indeed celebrating new ways of working together.”

She also reiterated comments she made at a meeting in March, urging councillors to “stop bickering about party politics so that we can all get back to the business of looking after this council and the people within this borough.”

“I want to lead an administration that’s inclusive open and fair and I would like every member to feel that they are valued and their work appreciated,” she said.

Joining her is an all-new seven-strong executive with Allerdale’s new deputy leader coun Jenkinson also becoming brief-holder for economic growth and tourism.

Mike Johnson, Conservative councillor for Allhallows and Waverton, is the Portfolio holder for corporate resources, finance and property.

Stephen Stoddart, Independent councillor for Moorclose, is the portfolio-holder for housing, health and wellbeing.

Maryport Independent George Kemp is responsible for Environment; the portfolio-holder for Governance and People Resources is John Cook, Conservative councillor for Silloth and Solway Coast; and Independent councillor for Workington Paul Scott is the portfolio-holder for Transformation.

Hilary Harrington, Independent councillor for Harrington, said she was “delighted” to be voted in as the new Mayor of Allerdale.

Outgoing mayor John Crouch, who had over 200 appointments during his time in office, described serving in the civic role as a “privilege”