LABOUR councillors in Basildon have elected Gavin Callaghan as their leader tonight. 

Councillor Adele Brown, who had served in the role, made the difficult decision to step down as leader of the Labour Group due to health reasons. 

Mr Callaghan served as policy and resources chairman - de facto council leader - until May.

He stepped down from his Labour leadership role after the local elections.

However, at a meeting tonight he was again elected Labour Group Leader.

Ms Brown said she would continue to serve as Labour councillor for Fryerns in Basildon.

She added: "As many people across the council are aware I have had significant health concerns over the last 12 months. I now want to focus on my recovery and continue to serve my residents from the back-benches.”

Mr Callaghan said it was a privilege to have the "unanimous trust and support" of Labour councillors.

He added: "Labour is determined to call time on this lacklustre and out of touch Conservative Administration that prioritises Billericay over the rest of the borough. 
"From the local plan to balancing the budget, we will be forensic in our opposition and work with colleagues to set out an alternative agenda for the borough that the public can support at the ballot box in May. 
"I thank Adele for her service. She has been selfless in putting her constituents and party interests before her own and I know she will be back before long.”