HAMPSHIRE County Council leader Roy Perry has been re-elected as Conservative leader for a sixth term.

Party members unanimously voted in the the stalwart Romsey Rural councillor, who has been a county councillor since 2005.

Cllr Keith Mans, who represents Brockenhurst, was also unanimously re-elected as deputy group leader.

Currently, the controlling conservative group holds 56 of the 78 seats on the county council. Closest opposition the Liberal Democrats have 19 seats.

Thanking members for the confidence they have shown in him, Cllr Perry said: “To be council leader of such a great county is a real honour, but also daunting.

“We all know the financial challenges facing local government. The ageing of the population alone is putting more and more pressures on our social services.

“As the government, at a national level, faces up to funding pressures for the health service, defence, pensions – let alone the costs of Brexit – we know local government is going to be low down their list of spending priorities. This means we have to find our own solutions by economies and efficiencies and new ways of raising funds.

“Fortunately the size and scale of Hampshire, the quality of its officers over many years, and its resources, means it is a better placed than most councils to deal with these pressures.

“It is a matter of pride to me that Hampshire has the second-lowest council tax of any county in the country. This is one of the reasons Hampshire County Council resists those who seek to split Hampshire up. The quality of Hampshire’s environment is also high on my list of priorities.”

Cllr Perry has been a councillor since 1970 when he was elected as Chandlers Ford member on Eastleigh Borough Council. He went on to serve on Test Valley Borough Council from 1979 to 1995 and was leader between 1985 and 1994. He was MEP for Wight and Hampshire South from 1994 to 2004.

His daughter Caroline Nokes is MP for Romsey and Southampton North and Minister of State at the Home Office.