Redbridge Conservatives choose new leader

Cllr Paul Canal at Caterham's EU debate

Cllr Paul Canal - Credit: Steve Poston

Paul Canal has become the new leader of Redbridge Conservatives.

Cllr Canal, who was previously the group's leader from 2014 to 2018, was elected to head the Tories again by the group’s remaining five councillors.

He has taken over from Linda Huggett, who resigned after being “devastated” by the loss of six council seats to Labour.

Cllr Canal told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “Linda worked hard for four years to protect the interests of the residents of Redbridge and hold the Labour administration to account.

“She has been an outstanding ambassador for our party and our borough, and I am delighted that she will remain front and centre on our front bench as we continue to fight to protect our residents’ interests.“

The Conservatives have also picked newly-elected Monkhams councillor Joel Herga, 31, as their deputy leader.

Cllr Herga is an associate director at public relations firm FleishmanHillard Fishburn from “the Woodford area”.

Cllr Canal joined the council in 2010, when the Conservatives ran Redbridge in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He was leader of the Conservative opposition for four years after Labour won the 2014 election.

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Cllr Canal told the LDRS he had not planned to become leader again until his colleagues intervened.

He added: “I was persuaded by my four colleagues that it was the right thing to do for the party and borough. 

“I’ve also received comments from former and current members saying they’re pleased I’m taking on this role. Sometimes we do what we have to do, not what we want to do.

“We are determined to be effective in the chamber and in scrutiny committees over the next four years, holding this council to account." 

The Conservatives only won five seats of the 60 being voted for at this month's local elections.

Three more councillors will be elected for Mayfield ward next week.

Explaining her departure, Ms Huggett said: “I thought about it very carefully, I felt it was time. It was a terrible result, I was very upset and decided I needed a break. It’s the best thing to do for me and the party.”