THE new county councillor for Watlington already has a big political decision to make – choosing the new leader at County Hall in Oxford.

With Keith Mitchell stepping down as leader, members of the Conservative group will vote for a replacement on Thursday.

Caroline Newton held the Watlington seat for the Conservative group on Thursday, polling 865 votes. The by-election followed the death on Boxing Day of county councillor Roger Belson.

Mrs Newton, 43, said she had not yet decided who she should back out of the West Oxfordshire trio of David Robertson, Ian Hudspeth and Pete Handley.

The mother-of-two, who lives with husband Matthew and two daughters aged six and four in Britwell Salome, near Watlington, said: “I’ve got a big decision to make just a few days after being elected.

“I had a few doubts on polling day that I would get elected because the turnout was quite slow and the Lib Dems fielded a strong candidate.”

Mrs Newton, who has worked for the Greater London Authority, BBC News and the Foreign Office, has been on the Conservatives’ parliamentary candidates list.

But the Cambridge graduate removed her name from the list when she took up her post in 2009 as assistant director for government and international relations at the GLA.

She added: “I had had a couple of conversations with Roger Belson about the possibility of standing as a candidate if he chose to retire and it is sad that things happened the way they did. I left the Greater London Authority in December and when Roger passed away it seemed as if it was fated and the stars were aligning for me to put myself forward.”