The opposition leader in Bexley has set out his priorities for the coming four years in scrutinising the council.

The Conservatives won a big majority in Bexley in the elections, but Labour kept hold of 11 seats in the north of the borough.

Daniel Francis, the leader of Bexley Labour, said his group were in a good position to challenge the chiefs at the council when needs be.

“We won 37 per cent of the vote”, cllr Francis said, “And we have a good set of councillors ready to challenge decisions.”

“45 per cent of the people who voted did not vote for the Conservatives and it is important that we scrutinise and challenge decisions when we feel they can be better.

“For example, the level of cuts coming to public services is a challenge – and we don’t think the heavy reliance on the voluntary sector is sustainable.”

Cllr Francis added that there were concerns over the ability for the opposition to “call-in” or challenge decisions due to the make-up scrutiny committees, saying he will be raising it as an issue at the next council meeting.

Cllr Francis also said he would be reducing the size of his shadow cabinet from eight to six, to reflect the smaller size of the next council.

The opposition leader set out what he felt the priorities for the next council would have to be over the next four years.

He said: “The Growth Strategy will be at the forefront of everything the council does, and we need to make sure communities are involved and it takes them with them, that’s got to be a priority.

“The make-up of many wards has changed over the last 10 years and we need to make sure that the communities there are involved in the growth, that’s been clear from the doorstep that it can’t happen without them.”

The council’s growth strategy is supported by both sides of the chamber and will eventually see 31,000 homes built in the borough by 2050.

The strategy focuses on key “growth areas” which are primarily in the north of the borough, areas cllr Francis said have changed significantly in recent years.

“The housing crisis will continue to be a big problem, that doesn’t appear to be going away. The council needs to get on with building affordable houses to bring communities forward,” he added.

It comes as the Mayor of London announced funding for an extra 10,000 council houses across the capital.

When asked what he thought the council had done well, cllr Francis added: “I think the council has recognised how important investment and growth will be, and the continued lobbying for Crossrail is something everybody wants to see.”

Teresa O’Neill is set to be re-elected as the leader of the council next week, in what will be her 20th year as a councillor.

Cllr Francis said: “Not that she’ll be keen to take any advice from me, but the council can’t be afraid of public scrutiny, it’s a good thing – and they must make sure communities are involved with the growth strategy.”