The new council leader has pledged to “build a Barnet fit for the future” and provide “first-class customer service” for residents.

Cllr Dan Thomas said the council would use the proceeds of growth and development to benefit the people of Barnet – including delivering affordable housing for the borough’s youngsters dreaming of owning a home.

Cllr Thomas, who is a councillor for Finchley Church End, was formally elected as leader at the annual council meeting at Hendon Town Hall on Tuesday (May 21).

The new leader said it was inevitable he would bring a new approach but that those expecting a “big-bang transformation programme” would be disappointed.

Cllr Thomas said: “In 2019, we must take it for granted that councils will be innovative, open-minded and ambitious.

“In Barnet, this means carrying on as a commissioning council – commissioning services on a pragmatic basis, focusing on better outcomes rather than the delivery method.

“Value for money will be at the heart of everything we do. We spend taxpayers’ money, and we need to ensure that every pound is spent wisely and fairly.”

His comments suggest it is unlikely there will be a radical change of heart on issues like the council’s contracts with Capita.

Cllr Thomas has been deputy leader for eight years and recently served as chairman of the assets, regeneration and growth committee.

He said: “Later this year we will publish an ambitious and exciting growth strategy that will set out how the borough will continue to benefit from development.

“Development isn’t just about houses and flats – it is about new train stations, new commercial areas, investing in our parks, supporting our high streets, creating jobs and building places that we are all proud to call home.”

Cllr Thomas said the borough would provide “a variety of housing choice”, with “good-quality affordable housing alongside a private rental sector that has high standards and treats tenants fairly”.

He added: “We must also provide opportunities for young people who dream of owning their own home.”

Cllr Thomas said his second area of focus would be on improving customer services for residents.

He admitted it was “not the most exciting of topics” but added: “When we get it wrong, it is a source of great irritation for residents trying to do the right thing and tell the council about a problem.

“There are still too many instances where reports end up in a cyber black hole.

“We need to catch up with the private sector when it comes to customer services.”

Cllr Thomas paid tribute to outgoing leader Cllr Richard Cornelius – stepping down after eight years at the helm – saying he served with “dedication and distinction” and “leaves Barnet in good shape.”

He added: “This is an exciting time for Barnet, and I relish the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

“I will do what is right for residents and taxpayers, and build a Barnet fit for the future.”

Cllr David Longstaff, who represents High Barnet, was confirmed as the council’s new deputy leader.