KEITH Reynolds has been elected the new leader of Caerphilly council at the authority’s annual meeting.

It follows the surprise decision by Harry Andrews to stand down as the authority’s leader and to retire last month, paving the way for his deputy Cllr Reynolds, whose role as cabinet member for corporate services is handed over to cllr Barbara Jones.

At the council’s headquarters in Ystrad Mynach tonight, outgoing leader Cllr Andrews received high praise from several councillors across the political spectrum before finally relinquishing his roles to cllr Reynolds.

Incoming leader cllr Reynolds, who represents the Aberbargoed ward, said: “It’s with great pride I address members tonight as leader. It’s a true honour.

“Harry will be a hard act to follow, but I have learned from the best.”

Apart from the promotion of cllr Jones to member for corporate services, Cllr Reynolds announced an otherwise unchanged cabinet of 10 members.

Bargoed cllr David Carter was unanimously elected as Mayor of the county borough after cllr Michael Gray’s one year term came to an end. Cllr Leon Gardiner, who represents the Argoed ward, was also voted in as his deputy. Cllr Carter’s chosen charities for the forthcoming year are the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and Caerphilly Homestart.

Cllr Carter said: “It is a real honour to be selected as the new Mayor, and I greatly look forward to the opportunities and challenges that my year in office will bring. Having lived in the county borough all my life, I am passionate about representing the people of Caerphilly county borough, and am really looking forward to meeting many new people over the coming year.”

It has been a turbulent 18 months for the authority, which has had to make savings of £14.53m in the 2014/15 financial year as a result of the UK Government’s austerity measures, with further additional savings of £6.54m for 2015/16 and £7.06m for 2016/17, amounting to £28.13m having to be made over the next three years.

In addition, three senior officers at the authority, including the chief executive, are facing criminal charges of misconduct.

Michael Anthony O'Sullivan, 55, of Merthyr Tydfil, Nigel Barnett, 51, of Aberbargoed, and Daniel Perkins, 48, of Brynmawr, are each charged with misconduct in public office between June 1, 2012 and October, 10, 2012.

The case, heard at Bristol Magistrates Court last month, was sent to crown court and the three, who are charged with preventing proper scrutiny of the senior officer pay award, were granted bail until their next appearance later this month.