A diehard socialist councillor paid tribute to East Hampshire District Council’s Tory leadership at its last meeting before the elections in May.

Cllr Paula Langley, standing down from Alton Eastbrooke, said praising Tories was “just as shocking” as being elected as a Labour member in 2019.

She said: “Those that know me understand that it’s really hard for me to compliment a Tory, especially with what’s going on nationally, but it’s important for us to be honest and to say ‘well done’ to the Tories here in this district.

“Well done for keeping your council afloat despite your party doing its best not to fund you, well done for looking after your residents when I think we all feel sometimes that nobody in Westminster really cares that we are really struggling, well done for caring more about residents than party politics because that’s the most important thing.”

Saying she also spoke for fellow Alton Independent Socialist Stephen Dolan, Cllr Langley said leader Cllr Richard Millard and his colleagues “could have ignored us for four years”, adding: “It’s a testament to us all that we put our residents first and achieved great things.”