NEWLY elected councillors will tomorrow be formally welcomed to their seats.

All 19 candidates elected earlier this month will take up their seats in a special ceremony held at the Civic Offices tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, David Renard, the Conservative leader of the council said: “I welcome all the newly elected and re-elected councillors to the start of the 2018/19 municipal year.

“We have an exciting and busy year ahead continuing to deliver the council’s vision, priorities and pledges while continuing to balance our budgets.”

The election, which took place on May 3, was one of the hardest-fought contests in recent memory.

The Conservatives had their majority cut from three to one, with the Liberal Democrats taking Wroughton and Wichelstowe from the Tories and Labour taking Eastcott from the Lib Dems.

Out of an eligible electorate of 158,106, the total number of votes cast was 63,341, giving a turnout of 39.7 per cent. This compares to a turnout of 34.04 per cent in 2016.

Brian Mattock, the newly elected Conservative member for Chiseldon and Lawn, previously served on the council for a decade and this year returns after a two-year hiatus.

He said: “I am certainly looking forward to getting started again. I am passionate about local issues and I want to be able to contribute towards improving Swindon.”

Members will also elect a new mayor to represent the town, as Blunsdon and Highworth councillor Maureen Penny stands down.

She is expected to be replaced by the current deputy mayor Junab Ali, who romped to victory in May’s election, receiving 72 per cent of all Central ward votes.

Coun Ali will be the town’s first Muslim mayor and his election has been seen by many people as evidence of Swindon’s thriving multicultural milieu.

Labour’s Jim Robbins, who was re-elected to represent the residents of Mannington and Western with 1,474 votes to the Conservative candidate John Lenton’s 687, spoke favourably of Coun Ali and looked ahead to the coming year.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing Junab Ali sworn in as the new mayor. Having our first Muslim Mayor in Swindon, and the first of Bangladeshi descent, shows the amazing multiculturalism we have in Swindon and he will be a huge asset to the town.”

He renewed the Labour Group’s promise to “hold the administration to account on behalf of the people of Swindon” and speak out against “the dangerous impact of Tory austerity”.