THE founder of a charity supporting refugees has been chosen to lead the new Somerset West and Taunton Council.

Cllr Federica Smith is believed to be the first woman to head a district council in the area the recently formed authority covers.

She narrowly defeated Cllr Simon Coles when LibDem councillors who won seats in yesterday's election sat down to choose a leader.

Mr Coles, who is also a county councillor, had led the LibDem opposition on Taunton Deane Borough Council before its merger with West Somerset Council last month.

Ms Smith, who is married with three children and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University, served on the Deane for a number of years leading up to this week's election.

She founded the charity #RAFT in 2015 to provide clothing and food to refugees globally.

In the lead up to the poll she said she believes in "helping people and not political point scoring".

ELECTIONS 2019: Follow the results and reaction LIVE

She also wants to "encourage wider interaction with residents and representation so that everyone feels that they have a voice".

Ms Smith says she has helped tackle local issues such as anti-social behaviour, housing problems, traveller encampments and street cleanliness.

She is know for taking one of her three children to council meetings to encourage members to think about the impact their decisions will have not only on the present, but also the future of our district.

She represents the Halcon and Lane ward in Taunton.

Her mother, Fran Smith, is also on the new council, representing the neighbouring Blackbrook and Holway ward.