COUNCILLORS have voted to appoint Cllr Adrian Birch as new Leader of the Forest of Dean District Council, following the decision by Cllr Mark Topping to step down from the role.

Tidenham ward member Cllr Birch, one of the 15 Green councillors on the council, was appointed co-deputy leader in February, replacing Cllr Jackie Fraser.

He said after being voted to the leadership at a full council meeting on Thursday (April 18): “It is a great honour to be named as leader of Forest of Dean District Council and it was gratifying to receive such emphatic cross-party support.

“I am excited to get to work and deliver on our ambitious priorities on behalf of all the residents, communities, and businesses in the Forest.  

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Cllr Topping for all his hard work in the role and know that he will continue to provide great service as a councillor for residents in Lydney West & Aylburton and the wider Forest of Dean.

“In his year as leader, he’s laid a solid foundation for us to continue to build on.  

“As a council, we want to help our communities and local economy to thrive, whilst ensuring that we protect and enhance our natural environment and be on target to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

“I’m thrilled to help deliver on these targets and look forward to working with councillors, officers, and partners to provide long-lasting benefits for people across the district. 

“I am looking forward to starting work as leader and am confident that together we can achieve great things for the Forest of Dean, while also providing the council services we all expect.” 

Stepping down, Cllr Topping (Green) – an actor who has starred in several horror films – said family and work needs meant he could not give the commitment needed to be leader.

“It has been a real honour to serve the district in this way since last May,” he said.

“However, both family and work commitments mean I am not able to continue giving the role the time and commitment it needs.  

“I will remain an active councillor representing my ward and an active member of the Green Group.”