TORY councillors in the Forest have welcomed the appointment of new group leader Councillor Harry Ives, having secured several key positions which will enable them to “effectively” scrutinise the Coleford administration.

Cllr Ives (Lydney North) was “delighted” to announce he had become the Leader of the Conservative group at the council last week, with several of his fellow Tory councillors also being elected to senior positions.

In addition to Cllr Ives’ appointment, Cllr Nick Evans (Tidenham) has taken on the position of Chair of the “influential” Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee, with Cllr Richard Boyles (Newnham) serving as Vice Chair.

Cllr Ives has also retained his position as Chair of the Audit committee, responsible for scrutinising the financial affairs of the council, and Cllr Alan Preest (Lydney East) was elected Vice Chair of the Licensing committee. 

The positions were secured following the district council’s Annual meeting last Thursday (May 19). 

Cllr Ives said of the appointments: “This is excellent news for residents.

“Securing such senior positions is a recognition from fellow councillors that only the Conservatives can effectively challenge the current administration.

“We will work tirelessly to drive up efficiency, improve effectiveness and secure value for taxpayers’ money.

“The Conservatives have a positive, alternative vision for the Forest of Dean and we’ll be making this case all year round.

“I am thankful for the hard work of my predecessor Cllr Alan Preest, and look forward to working with him over the coming year.”

Outgoing group leader, Cllr Alan Preest, has given his full support to Cllr Ives.

The “veteran” councillor is stepping back from the role having been re-elected as Chairman of Gloucestershire County Council last week.

Cllr Preest said: “I wish Cllr Harry Ives all the very best in stepping up to lead the Group, I’m sure that Harry will do an absolutely tremendous job and I wish him the best. 

“Following my recent re-election as Chairman of Gloucestershire County Council for Civic Year 2022/2023 and with Covid restrictions diminishing, I anticipate a significant increase in Chairman duties for this coming year.

“To ensure that I do not spread myself too thin, I am stepping back from the Conservative Leader role at Forest of Dean District Council (FoDDC) , however I will remain as Deputy Leader.” 

Cllr Evans’ appointment was welcomed on social media by Council Leader Tim Gwilliam (Progressive independents: Berry Hill), who described him as a credit to the council, and added in a tweet, “I trust he will be a critical friend.”