Defeated Labour party gets new leader

Paul Foster, the new leader of South Ribble's Labour group
Paul Foster, the new leader of South Ribble's Labour group

A new leader has been appointed to take South Ribble’s Labour party forward.

Bamber Bridge councillor Paul Foster, who spent 15 years in the British Army serving in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the first Gulf conflicts, will take over from Leyland councillor Matthew Tomlinson.

“I want the Labour group to make a difference in South Ribble, even though we’re not in control”

South Ribble’s new Labour leader, Coun Paul Foster

Following the election, Coun Tomlinson has been prevented from standing as leader because he is also a cabinet member at Lancashire County Council, and Labour party protocol states that the fact he holds this position at county level prohibits him from holding the leading position at borough level.

Coun Foster, who has been on the council for eight years and has been the opposition group’s deputy leader, has big plans for taking the party forward.

“It’s a big task to take on,” he said. “But I believe it’s a great opportunity, regardless of the fact we’re still in opposition.

“I want the Labour group to make a difference in South Ribble, even though we’re not in control.

“Even if it means us working with the authority, if it’s beneficial to the borough, then that’s how we’ve got to be.

“I’m very much about progressive politics, and we’re not going to oppose things just for the sake of it.

“There will be things which we’re against, but I want to be able to work with the council’s Conservative leader to see if we can find some common ground and work together on implementing some of the Labour group’s manifesto and our alternative budget plans.

“We will still hold the council to account – that’s what we’re there for, but I think we can work differently.”

He added that the party owes a ‘great gratitude’ to Coun Tomlinson, who helped increase the group’s numbers from eight members eight years ago, to 19 today.

Coun Tomlinson said: “We’ve been talking about this change for a while.

“I’ve loved every minute of being leader, but maybe after eight years, it’s time for a new emphasis. I’ll still be very much apart of the group, and will be very active in Leyland.”