Grunewald: I will fight for our town

New council leader Barrie Grunewald
New council leader Barrie Grunewald

NEW council leader Barrie Grunewald has paid tribute to his predecessor Marie Rimmer after his surprise election victory.

Coun Rimmer was replaced as council leader by her former deputy, Coun Grunewald, was elected at the local Labour group’s annual general meeting on Tuesday night.

Coun Barrie Grunewald said: “I am grateful to my colleagues in the Labour Group for their trust and support in electing me to lead the council during what is an extremely challenging time for our town.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the work my predecessor Coun Rimmer has done as leader of the council.

“Since 2010, St Helens has lost £50m from its budget because of government funding cuts - equivalent of £284 for every person in the borough. We now have one in four children in the town growing up in poverty and the council has been forced to shed more than 1,000 jobs.

“I am determined that our town will not slide backwards and that the hard-fought for improvements we have seen over the last decade will not be lost.”

Coun Rimmer was forced to step down following Tuesday night’s vote.

It is believed she had expected her being voted back into office to be a formality.

But a majority of members instead threw their weight behind Coun Grunewald, who has been Coun Rimmer’s deputy since the party won back full control of the council in 2009.