The Green Party's Deborah Saw has taken over the leadership of Babergh Council as part of a coalition agreement signed last year.

That means three of Suffolk's five districts now have Green Party leaders - although Babergh will continue to be run by a coalition of Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors.

In the coalition agreement signed after last year's election, it was agreed that the Greens would take over the leadership for the second year and this was finalised at Monday's annual meeting of the council.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Greens became the largest party on Babergh council in last year's election.The Greens became the largest party on Babergh council in last year's election. (Image: Deborah Saw)

Ms Saw said: “It’s a privilege to become Babergh’s first Green council leader.

“We are confronted by a series of challenges, including a council house repair backlog and a looming budget deficit.

"That comes on top of the shameful growing dependency of our citizens on food banks, the pressing need to help young people find homes, and the necessity to tackle pollution and climate change.

“One thing is clear, we can’t have business as usual. We need to rethink, rebuild and repair.”

After becoming leader at Monday’s annual council meeting, she said the council’s £6.7million budget gap over the next four years would mean "tough decisions", but also required "innovative" approaches.

She said continuing to improve Babergh’s council housing for tenants remained an urgent priority. Nearly £1m has already been invested to clear a repairs backlog, with new systems being introduced and improved communication with tenants pledged.

The council wants to encourage more community-led housing and stimulate the formation of Community Land Trusts. These result in community ownership of land for affordable housing – currently, the district’s only scheme that has built new housing is in Lavenham.

She takes over as leader from Independent councillor John Ward, who had been acting leader since last summer when Liberal Democrat Dave Busby was forced to step back to receive cancer treatment.

Mr Ward now resumes his role as deputy leader, with Mr Busby political deputy leader.

Elisabeth Malvisi was re-elected chair of the council, with Ruth Hendry elected vice-chair.