Shropshire's Lib Dems replace leader in surprise move

The leader of Shropshire Council's opposition has been replaced by his predecessor in a surprise move.

Councillor Roger Evans at the 2021 Shropshire Council count
Councillor Roger Evans at the 2021 Shropshire Council count

The Shropshire Liberal Democrats voted to replace their leader, Councillor David Vasmer, with the group's former leader, Councillor Roger Evans, at their annual meeting.

Mr Vasmer, who represents Underdale in Shrewsbury, was only elected to the position in June last year.

It came after Mr Evans had stepped down following the May 2021 elections, where the Liberal Democrats had enjoyed their most successful performance to date.

They had secured 14 seats and become the main opposition party on the council. The Conservatives, with 43 seats, run the administration.

Mr Evans, who represents Longden, had been in the role for eight years before deciding to step down.

Mr Evans said he was looking forward to returning to the post and "holding the authority to account".

He said: "I enjoyed being leader and after the elections in May 2021 I thought it was time to step away, reassess, look at things and re-energize, and now I am back."

Mr Evans said he would be setting out to put more scrutiny on the authority – particularly over controversial issues such as the North West Relief Road, and the future of Shrewsbury's shopping centres, which have plummeted in value since the council bought them for £51m.

He said: "I will be holding the executive to account. I want a different, better scrutiny process put in place to actually look at what the council is doing and how it can be improved."

Mr Vasmer said he would be focussing on campaigning, with the aim of taking more seats at the next local elections in 2025.

He said: "I want to concentrate on campaigning and that is the way the group wants it so that is fine by me, I really enjoy campaigning.

"I think we can take control away from the Tories in 2025 and that is what I am about. The key thing for us is to win those seat in 2025."

He added: "We are organised, particularly in Shrewsbury and North Shropshire, we have got candidates in place and campaigns going now.

"I know with the right organisation and the right people we can defeat a lot of those Conservative councillors and that is what I am really interested in."

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