The new Conservative leader of Herefordshire Council has set out where his new administration aims to take the county following his party’s surprise election win last month.

Councillor Jonathan Lester had this to say:

On taking control of the council: “I spent a lot of time on the doorstep campaigning. People were consistent in what they thought was important – the potholes, but they were also critical of the previous administration's focus and certain projects. Even in a rural constituency like mine they wanted a [city] bypass.”

On decision-making within a minority administration: “Every councillor wants what’s the best for the county, why wouldn't you? I am keen to work with all councillors to ensure we get things right.”


On the county’s finances: “We were in a good financial position [under the previous Tory administration] until 2019. We are now formulating our spending plans, which we will consult on. Ensuring finances are spent wisely is a massive focus for me.”

On the city bypass: “A lot of work was done on this in our previous administration that now has to be realigned with the local plan for the county, which we are currently reviewing.”

On potholes: “I'm not sure what priority this was for the previous administration; I think the electorate would say it wasn’t high enough. But it’s a high priority for us.”

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On children’s services: “Fixing this will de-escalate costs. We need to continue the improvements and restore confidence in the service.”

On the new city library and museum: “There are organisations no longer going in there [to the Maylord shopping centre] so we now have to ask, is that the best place for the library, in what is a key location for retail. We're pausing to consider whether it's the right place.


“But we absolutely want a first-class museum an art gallery [in Broad Street, home to the current library]. The benefits will be huge, it’s a very exciting project.”

On transport: “We have to strike a balance between different modes of transport. We will be assessing this as a package that gives people options, those who want to cycle and those who can’t.”

On the Wye: “The river and the wider environment are of critical importance to us as a council, but there isn't one solution. A lot of things are happening, including moving phosphate out of the county and the wetland schemes, involving many organisations. We need to coordinate that.

“The Secretary of State showed this month when she visited Hereford that the issue had her full attention.”