TORIES have taken over the leadership of Southend Council following the resignation of labour’s Stephen George who led the former joint administration.

Tony Cox and his Conservative group won a leadership vote, gaining 25 votes to beat Labour’s Daniel Cowan and Lib Dem Paul Collins Mr Cox said Conservatives will deliver on promises made during the May elections including providing some free High Street parking and rescuing the Jazz Centre UK which had been under threat of eviction from the council owned Beecroft Gallery.

Speaking after the new leadership swept in following tonight’s vote at Southend Council,  Mr Cox said: “There are some areas that we are committed to be doing and that we did go to the electorate with. We will be abolishing the 6pm to 9pm parking charges and the transaction fee. We will not be progressing any further with the Seaway development and we will be putting more car parking spaces in and around the central seafront area.

“What we will also be doing is reviving the policy we had to put in free car parking spaces in the roads of the High Street to give a boost to our ailing High Street.”

Mr Cox added: “We will under no circumstances be blocking off Hamlet Court Road with planters. We will not be blocking any roads off under the guise of 15-minute neighbourhoods and we will also not be taking one breeze block out of Queensway underpass.

“The notice for the jazz centre to vacate by August will be ripped up.”

Conservatives take over the reins of a new administration following local elections which left them the largest group with 22 members.

Mr Cox’s minority administration will be backed by some Independents who were previously part of the joint administration with the Lib Dems. It follows the ousting of former Labour leader Stephen George in favour of Daniel Cowan.

The new look council will also include a new portfolio. As part of his leadership responsibilities, Mr Cox will take on a portfolio dedicated to special education needs and disability.  Meg Davidson has become deputy leader and will take on the environment portfolio while Daniel Nelson will be responsible for economic growth and inward investment.

Veteran councillor John Lamb will be in charge of buildings, assets and regulatory services and Kevin Buck takes over transport.

James Courtenay has the community safety portfolio and David Garston heads up planning and housing. Helen Boyd has the portfolio for education and learning and Derick Jarvis takes over heritage, arts and culture.