STEPPING into a leadership position once again on the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Ian Stephens said he is proud to be part of an administration which is going to be more open and transparent.

At last night's (Wednesday) full council meeting, the choice of Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox to lead the council paved the way for former leader Cllr Stephens to become her second-in-command.

Cllr Stephens joined the council in 2001 and became leader 12 years later in 2013, staying in position until 2015 when he stood down to run for MP.

The Alliance Group took control of the council yesterday, filling the cabinet, and first on the agenda, said deputy leader Cllr Stephens, is to take stock of where things stand, focusing on areas where concerns have been raised by residents and 'raising the game' of services that need it.

He said: "We have done what the electorate wanted us to do - take over the administration.

"It is going to be difficult, with the slim majority, but we have to look at consensus and take things forward in a positive manner."

Another area of concern Cllr Stephens said was the rise of mental health issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: "We need to look at how Covid has impacted the Island, not only our community but business needs.

"Raising the awareness of the inward investment opportunities on the Island and generally looking at, and making sure, the Island profile is raised in quarters like central government and regionally."

Cllr Stephens said the £6.4m 'Island Deal' from government was very high on the group's list of priorities, but they would also be pushing for money for different services as well.

While there may have been problems with the Conservatives in the past, Cllr Stephens said he feels the Alliance Group administration would be more open, with a willingness to listen and take forward any opportunity.

He said they have shown that by restoring reverse proportionality to scrutiny committees and having a Conservative (Cllr John Nicholson) chair one.