HALTON Borough Council has selected its new leader.

Mike Wharton is the new man at the helm of the authority.

The former deputy leader takes over the role from Rob Polhill, who has stepped down after 11 years in charge.

The new deputy council leader is Dave Thompson, who represents the Halton Lea ward in Runcorn.

Cllr Wharton was first elected to the Council in 2002, representing Hale Village, and last week won re-election to the newly created council ward of Ditton, Hale Village and Halebank.

He has been deputy leader for 11 years, and has held the resources portfolio for the past 15 years, with responsibility for the council’s budget.

Outside the council, he has spent much of his working life in finance in the retail sector.

Having been selected as leader by the Labour group of Halton councillors, his appointment will have to be rubber-stamped by the council’s ruling executive board and then by a meeting of full council, but that process is expected to be a formality.

Cllr Wharton said: “I am delighted and honoured that my colleagues in the Labour group have entrusted me to lead the council.

“I recognise that there are many challenges ahead but I am extremely optimistic that the borough has a great future.”

He said the recent elections had been ‘disappointing’ for the Labour party nationally, but that people had backed the party locally because they were happy with the job the council was doing.

He added:  “Despite the pandemic, the council has managed to protect our most vulnerable citizens, and we will continue to support our residents and businesses as we come out of lockdown.

“We will look to take the borough forward, ensuring we take advantage of the many opportunities available to us and build on Halton’s successes.”

Rob Polhill had announced his decision to step down as leader before the May 6 elections, but said he would be staying on as ward councillor for Halton View.