A LONG-SERVING councillor has taken the reins as leader of the opposing Slough Conservatives after the former chief announced he is stepping down.

The Tory group have announced today (Tuesday, January 11) councillor Wayne Strutton (Haymill & Lynch Hill) has bowed out with immediate effect from being the leader of the Conservatives and of the opposition to the council leader.

Slough Observer: Former leader of the Conservatives Wayne StruttonFormer leader of the Conservatives Wayne Strutton

He steps down as new governance arrangements are being introduced into the local authority by the government-appointed commissioners, who are here to sort out the crisis-hit council’s financial mess.

Cllr Strutton, who was re-elected as a councillor in May 2021, has held the leadership reins since 2017.

Slough Observer: The Conservatives new leader, Cllr Dexter Smith. Pictures: Mike SwiftThe Conservatives new leader, Cllr Dexter Smith. Pictures: Mike Swift

In his stead, the Slough Tory group have elected long-serving councillor Dexter Smith as leader and of the opposition to the council leader.

Cllr Smith, who represents Colnbrook with Poyle ward, is a retired college lecturer who has led the Slough Conservative councillor group before, between 2004 and 2008.

The new leader says he has a twin objective – the Conservatives gaining control of Slough Borough Council (SBC) and transforming it from crisis-hit into a “good-performing” local authority.

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Cllr Smith said: “The last time I became SBC Conservative group leader in 2004, I pledged to make SBC a “Good” council.

“The Conservatives were entering a coalition running the council with the Liberals, Lib Dems and Independents – by 2007 the audit commission finally judged that SBC was a “Good” Council.

“Now, as leader of the opposition, I will be one of five on SBC’s new Improvement and Recovery Board – a member-officer steering group set up by the government-appointed commissioners to lead SBC out of its current crisis, which Ministers describe as the worst they have encountered.

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“I have no doubt the remedy will be painful, but with the right treatment SBC can be made good again.”

Cllr Paul Kelly (Haymill & Lynch Hill) remains as the deputy leader of the Conservative councillor group.