Merton Council’s Conservative group has unveiled a new top team as their councillors enter a third year of being in opposition.

Councillor Debbie Shears, the group’s leader, announced sweeping changes to an enlarged shadow cabinet which sees many faces and only two councillors staying in the same role.

Coun Henry Nelless, who remains deputy leader, has been named shadow cabinet member for performance after serving for two years as the lead on environment and regeneration, a post given to former education spokesman, Coun Richard Hilton.

The education brief was given to Coun Oonagh Moulton, who enters the shadow cabinet, as does Coun Simon Withey (young people), Coun David Simpson (crime prevention) and Chris Edge (planning and regeneration). Coun Krystal Miller takes on a “community engagement” brief after her role as lead on “strategy” is dissolved.

Coun Samantha George (culture and leisure), Coun Suzanne Grocott (finance), and Coun Suzanne Evans (health and older people) retain their shadow cabinet roles.

Coun Shears said the next two years will be "crucial" for Merton's Conservatives as they try to take back power after losing the administration to Labour, who became the largest party in the 2010 local elections.

Coun Shears said: “The next two years will be a crucial time for Merton’s Conservative councillors as we approach the 2014 local elections.

“It is our responsibility to show Merton’s residents, over the course of the next couple of years, how a Conservative-led Merton Council could deliver better services for less cost.

“With my Shadow Cabinet colleagues, and the whole of the Conservative Group, we intend to set out this vision so that in 2014 we can take control of the Council and start delivering the necessary changes which we all want to see.”

The new shadow cabinet:

  • Coun Debbie Shears: Leader (and lead on transparency)
  • Coun Henry Nelless: Deputy leader and shadow cabinet member for performance
  • Coun Suzanne Grocott: shadow cabinet member for finance
  • Coun Oonagh Moulton: shadow cabinet member for education and children’s care
  • Coun Simon Withey: shadow cabinet member for young people
  • Coun Krystal Miller: shadow cabinet member for community engagement
  • Coun David Simpson: shadow cabinet member for crime prevention
  • Coun Richard Hilton: shadow cabinet member for environment and transport
  • Coun Chris Edge: shadow cabinet member for planning and regeneration
  • Coun Suzanne Evans: shadow cabinet member for health and older people
  • Coun Samantha George: shadow cabinet member for culture and leisure