A NEW Independent alliance has been ushered in to take control of West Somerset Council.

As predicted in last week's County Gazette, Keith Ross, who retained his seat in Dulverton and Brushford for the Independents at the local election earlier this month, has taken over as leader of the former Conservative-controlled council.

Labour Cllr Simon Stokes, who represents Alcombe East, and who has aligned with the Independents, has been appointed deputy, and has also been given political responsibility for internal resources.

Cllr Jenny Hill, who represents Watchet, has been appointed chairman, with the post of vice chairman going to Cllr John Walker, Minehead South.

Cllr Ross told the County Gazette: "I am looking forward to serving the communities of West Somerset, and will take heed of their wishes.

"We will continue with the capital programme although there will be a review of projects and some elements of the Corporate Plan to ensure that the projects we deliver are of high quality and meet the needs of local people and businesses.

"I am looking forward to working with the other 30 members of the council, and value the contribution that all councillors can make to achieving the best for West Somerset.

"We aim to bring improvements that will benefit the social and economic well-being of local people, and increase business opportunities for prosperity and growth wherever possible."

Cllr Hill said: "Over half of the council is newly elected and we are looking forward to training so that we are up to speed with the systems, and ready to move issues forward."

Cabinet portfolio holders have been appointed as follows: Housing, health and welfare, Cllr Peter Humber; finance, Cllr Doug Ross; economic development and tourism, Cllr Mike Downes; leisure, culture and recreation, Cllr Neil Parbrook; environment, Cllr Jon Freeman; youth and community, Cllr Eddie May; internal resources, Cllr Simon Stokes.

Chairmen and vice chairmen of the council's committees are as follows: performance, Cllr Tim Taylor, Cllr David Sanders; policy, Cllr Terry Venner, Cllr Roger Webber; planning, Cllr Bryan Leaker, Cllr Tony Knight; licensin, Cllr Angela Palmer, Cllr Nicky Messarra; performance Cllr Terry Venner, Cllr David Sanders; audit, Cllr Christopher White, Cllr Dave Westcott; local development panel, Cllr Roger Webber, Cllr Christopher White.

Standards committee representatives are Cllr Hugh Davies, Cllr Jon Freeman and Cllr Dave Westcott.