A NEW political party launched in the Royal Borough last September has elected Tory rebel Claire Stretton as its leader.

The Borough first (tBf) party includes two other former members of Windsor and Maidenhead's ruling Conservative majority - councillors Charles Hollingsworth and Geoffrey Hill - among its members. It was formed as part of a growing backlash against the council's current leadership, a backlash that saw an unsuccessful vote of no confidence moved against council leader Simon Dudley at the start of the year.

Cllr Stretton, who represents Boyn Hill on the Royal Borough, was elected leader of the new party at its first annual meeting held at the SportsAble centre in Braywick Road, Maidenhead on Tuesday.

Cllr Hollingsworth - who represents Pinkneys Green - was elected nominating officer and non-councillor Richard Hemmings treasurer.

The meeting was attended by several of the candidates who will be standing in May's local elections this year under the tBf banner.

Just how relevant the new party is likely to be in opposition will be made clear by how well they do - particularly the three former members of the ruling administration who are expected to see their seats on the council challenged as officially approved Conservative candidates try to oust them.

Cllr Stretton says the new party's candidates are ready for the challenge and she hopes more will come forward to stand.

She said: "They are already showing a degree of commitment to debate and collaboration which has been sadly lacking in recent years. I would encourage anyone who is interested in standing for the election to get in touch as soon as possible."