DORSET County Council has appointed a new leader.

Cllr Robert Gould was appointed as leader at an extraordinary full council meeting held yesterday (Wednesday) after Cllr Spencer Flower resigned on Tuesday evening, more than two weeks after he was initially charged with three counts of failing to declare an interest in planning policy.

He has pleaded not guilty to all counts and will appear at Bournemouth magistrates court on April 24 to face trial, and has vowed to clear his name.

Cllr Gould, who stood unopposed for the position, was elected after a vote of 25 for and 10 against, and chief executive Cllr Flower was not present at the extraordinary meeting, which also saw Cllr Peter Finney appointed as deputy leader, although the council confirmed he remains in his position as county councillor for Verwood.

Following his appointment, Cllr Gould confirmed he would discuss his position as leader of WDDC in the coming days with members of the district council.

After his appointment, Cllr Robert Gould, said his main focus would be on the council's Forward Together programme.

Cllr Gould said there were no plans to change any of the cost-cutting measures introduced by Cllr Flower but did say he would review the roles of the cabinet, with personnel changes possible.

He said: “We are changing the culture of this council and we have made big progress with that. We are talking to the people of Dorset about their priorities which will become much clearer and going forward we will go back and talk to them.

“It's about changing the culture and we have made a good start and we need to continue that.

“What we are currently doing is a complete transformation for the county council, in particular because of the need to work within financial restrictions and to also make services better.

“It's about transforming the services we offer to make sure they are the best for residents and I intend to continue with that.”

He added: “I want to make sure the cabinet roles reflect what they are designed for and I will be reviewing those roles. There will be no immediate changes but coming out of that review there might be.”