The leader of the Labour Party on Bracknell Forest Council has said her new administration will prioritise young people, education, policing, and potholes.

Mary Temperton also gave her thoughts on the reasons behind Labour’s striding gains in earthquake local elections on May 4. And she addressed speculation about a pre-election deal with the Liberal Democrats and Green Party, in an interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The Labour Party took control of Bracknell Forest Council for the first time since 1997 in last week’s local elections. Their number of councillors shot up from four to 22—giving them an overall majority.

The number of Conservative councillors plummeted from 37 to ten, with the Liberal Democrats also taking six additional seats, giving them seven in total.

Now, councillor Temperton says Labour wants to make the council “much more open and accessible—to listen to people in consultations, to do it with them rather than to them.”

She said Labour’s priorities would be to “invest in youth in our areas, providing youth facilities in the borough, and also tackling the problem with special educational needs.”

This comes after a report by schools inspector Ofsted last year said there were “significant areas of weakness” in Bracknell Forest Council’s provisions for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Cllr Temperton said there is “an enormous amount of children with an education, health and care plan, and there is a delay.”

She added that other priorities include: “Getting the police visible in the community, and of course mending the potholes and sorting out the litter.”

READ MORE: Bracknell Forest Council elections 2023 results in full

On Labour’s big victory in the election, Cllr Temperton said: “It’s a national turnaround, not just in Bracknell. People did vote tactically.” But, she added, “We did work hard where we stood.

“We concentrated on areas where we thought we could win—not just putting leaflets through doors but knocking on them, talking to people and listening to them.

“We contacted an awful lot of people. They’ve shown they thought it was time for change.”

There has been speculation in the national press that Labour and the Liberal Democrats formed a pact ahead of the elections. That’s because there were no wards in Bracknell where Labour and the Lib Dems both stood.

But Cllr Temperton said that, for Labour, it was just a matter of standing candidates where they thought they could win.

“When you’re trying to find candidates in this particular situation, you’re asking people commit for four years as they could well get elected. Not everyone can volunteer, so it was really difficult to find good candidates,” she said.

“People came forward who really wanted to be candidates, and those were the ones we put up. We put up candidates where they had a really good chance of winning.”