A LONG-standing councillor has made a whirlwind return to the frontline of local politics.

Barrow-born Hazel Edwards was voted in earlier this month after 13 years away from the council.

The 71-year-old has now been named leader of the Conservative group – taking over from Cllr Rory McClure.

Mrs Edward retired from the council in 2006 after serving 28-years as a councillor, including a year as mayor between 1993-94.

Cllr Edwards, who represents Hawcoat, polled 852 votes on election day and has now won the ballot to lead her party on the Labour-run council.

She is understood to be the first woman to hold the position for the Conservatives on Barrow Council.

The former Thorncliffe School teacher said she hoped to work with Labour council leader, Cllr David Pidduck to get things done for the town.

Cllr Edwards said: “I am very passionate about Barrow and I genuinely believe we have a lot to offer residents and tourists. I think there’s a lot we can do working together to improve the environment. On the council it’s not all about politics, it’s about working for the town and getting value for money from our contracts. I just feel really very proud to represent people where I live.”

Her new deputy will be Les Hall, who was also elected to the council earlier this month to represent the Newbarns ward.

Among her priorities will be Barrow Town Centre and she plans to visit local businesses and work with the Barrow Business Improvement District (BID).

She also wants to tackle the parking problems on streets around Furness General Hospital which she called “horrendous”.

Cllr Edwards was born in Manchester Street, Barrow, to parents Isaac and Betty Pickthall. She joined the Conservative Party at 16 and joined the Young Conservatives while studying at Chester University.

Her teaching career began in 1969. She taught French and languages at Victoria Girls School in Barrow, and then rose to a head of department position at Thorncliffe, before retiring in 2006.

Cllr Edwards is married to husband Keith and has two sons, Daniel, who was elected to Dalton North, and Mark who works in Lancashire.