BRADFORD Council’s Conservative opposition party has a new leader after members voted for a change at the top.

Bingley Councillor John Pennington has led the opposition party for two years, but on Monday night party members voted for a new leader - Worth Valley Councillor and former deputy leader Rebecca Poulsen.

Baildon Councillor Debbie Davies will be the new deputy leader of the Conservatives.

Cllr Pennington has said his time at the top in politics had been a “huge and sometimes shocking learning curve often devoid of common sense.”

Cllr Poulsen, whose ward includes her home of Haworth, has served on Bradford Council since 2011.

After being voted in as party leader she said: “I’m delighted and honoured to have been elected by my colleagues to lead our group and lead the opposition on Labour run Bradford Council.

“I will ensure that by listening and working across all of the Bradford District we will fight for the local interests of all residents.

“I look forward to the hard work ahead.

Covered shopping streets among host of ideas put forward by Cllr John Pennington

Cllr Poulsen’s appointment now means that the three largest political parties in Bradford Council are headed by women.

The leading Labour party is headed by Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, while the Liberal Democrats is led by Councillor Jeanette Sunderland.

There are currently 22 Conservatives sitting on the 90 Councillor strong Bradford Council.

Although the second biggest party in the authority, they are still far behind the Labour party - which has 53 seats.

To achieve a majority on the Council a party needs to have at least 46 seats.

Cllr Poulsen will lead the party into next year’s Council elections, currently scheduled for May with the hope that the party picks up more seats.

Cllr Pennington, who lives in Riddlesden, is the former owner of events venues including Pennington’s Octagon in Sandbeds and Penningtons on Manningham Lane (the former Town and Country).

He also owned the Midland Hotel in Bradford city centre for several years.

He became leader of the Conservatives in May 2018 after then leader Simon Cooke stood down after 24 years as a Councillor.

Cllr Pennington recently caused a stir by describing Keighley as a “dying town” during a Council Executive meeting.

After the party vote on Monday Councillor Pennington said: “The world is different today and not just because of Covid, there is something else we all have to accept, that of girl power.

“Lib Dem’s Jeanette Sunderland and Labour’s Susan Hinchcliffe reign supreme in their Parties joined now by new leader Rebecca Poulsen for the Conservatives along with Cllr. Debbie Davies (Baildon) as her deputy.”

He added: “Coming from a Bradford business background life at the top in politics has been a huge and sometimes shocking learning curve often devoid of common sense.

“I feel better qualified and have unencumbered freedom to represent people by actually saying what they think.”