AWARD-winning SNP councillor Elizabeth Robertson says she is thrilled to be the first woman to take on the high profile role as leader of her group in the Municipal Buildings.

The Inverclyde North elected member has been chosen by her colleagues to replace Chris McEleny in the key opposition role.

Setting out her vision today, Councillor Robertson told the Tele she wants to work with others across the chamber and put the community right at the very heart of decision making.

She takes over at a time when Inverclyde faces huge challenges ahead - and the committed councillor wants to play a role in helping the area recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

Councillor Robertson said: "I feel very privileged to be chosen by my colleagues to take on such a huge responsibility.

"It is a job that I very much wanted to do and one that I feel I can take on.

"While I feel that we are the opposition that does not mean that we have to be in opposition on absolutely everything.

"Where we think a decision is right for Inverclyde, we will support it.

"I think it is important to have mixed voices and opinions across the chamber.

"There are things we will agree on and we will work constructively.

"We are all there because we want to do the right thing for our communities."

Cllr Robertson praised her predecessor, who is now set to try and win the SNP nomination for the Inverclyde seat at the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election.

She said: " I think Chris has done a great job in raising the profile of the opposition leader in the council.

"While I will do it in my own way, I want to thank him for all he has achieved."

Cllr Robertson highlighted health, the economy and decision-making in the community as key in the recovery from the coronavirus outbreak - and said while the area has great assets, it must also address longstanding problems.

The new group leader said: "We have to look at public health, how we keep people safe and how we recover economically and socially from this.

"Inverclyde is the best place in the world to live and there is nowhere else I would want to be, but we do have issues.

"There is too much poverty, we die too young and we need to close the attainment gap.

"These are all issues that have to be faced."

It has been a swift rise to the top for the 45-year-old, who is still in her first term after she was elected three years ago, having previously worked for the local authority as an official.

In her previous job she held key positions within frontline departments and also had a spell in the chief executive's office.

The busy mum-of-four is also a foster parent Elizabeth and along with fellow elected members Lynne Quinn, an independent, and Labour's Natasha Murphy, she has helped widen representation.

Councillor Roberston added: "I think it is good if we have had an influence since being elected."

Now with the support of her husband Robert and her four children Sian, 20, Struan, 14, Lizzy, 12, and Newton, 11, she is all set to lead from the front.

She will be supported by Cllr Chris Curley as her deputy with Cllr McEleny, his dad Jim, Innes Nelson, Jim MacLeod and John Crowther completing their ranks.

Outgoing leader Mr McEleny said: "I wish Elizabeth all the very best and I am delighted she has been chosen.

"Elizabeth will be the first woman group leader I believe.

"I hope she becomes the first female council leader as well."