SHDC announces new chairman

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SHDC announces new chairman

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South Hams District Council has announced a new chairman, the civic leader for the council, at the Annual Council Meeting. 

The council’s chain of office has been passed to Cllr Richard Foss who represents the Allington and Strete Ward. The outgoing chairman, Cllr Rosemary Rowe, presented him with his chains at the meeting on Thursday, 20 May. 

Local born and bred, the eldest of a family of five children, Councillor Foss is a fourth generation farmer at Start Point. A proud family man, Cllr Foss, who is sadly recently widowed, has three children and three grandchildren.

A shy teenager, he learnt his public speaking and debating skills as a member of the Young Farmers Club. He has an interesting and varied background having studied agriculture in New Zealand for a year, as well as working on container ships from the UK to Australia. He was a member of Prawle Point Coastguard Rescue team for more than 30 years and he plays a keen part in the Kingsbridge Estuary Rotary Club and the Kingsbridge Agricultural Show.

First elected to South Hams District Council in May 2011, Cllr Foss is a member of the Development Management Committee. He joined this committee in May 2012 becoming vice chair in May 2013, a post he still currently holds. He is also a serving member of the Licensing Committee and the Salcombe Harbour Board. He has been a district councillor for 10 years, although he says that it sometimes seems a lot longer!

Wanting to make a difference to his local area, Cllr Foss became a parish councillor 16 years before he became chairman of the South Devon Area of Outstanding National Beauty.

After being presented with the chain of office, Cllr Foss said: “Thank you all for voting me in as your chairman. The first thing I want to say is a very big thank you for the outstanding job that Rose has done in the extremely difficult circumstances we find ourselves in. Others will no doubt have things to add in a minute.

“I do however feel a tinge of sadness, as you will all know I lost my wife Judy to cancer just before Christmas. I will miss her help and advice, which all chairman need. Those who met her would agree she would have been a wonderful consort. I hope the council will indulge me in as much that Judy raised many tens of thousand pounds for both cancer charities and the Devon Air Ambulance, so these will be my charities for my time as chairman, if it becomes possible to hold events once we have got through the worst of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has left its mark on all of us. The way we have carried on with the running of this council and the day-to-day business could not have been so successful without the much criticised T18 project [the partnership between SHDC with West Devon Borough Council]. I think all the officers and you as councillors should take great credit for the monumental effort that has been made to keep this council running its day-to-day business.

“I suspect there will be a great deal of home working for the foreseeable future. The carbon foot print of this council has been greatly reduced by the new way of working. A few figures that might be of interest; there has been a decrease of 85 per cent of commuting miles and 50 per cent of business miles, which equates to 280 tonnes equivalent of carbon.

“I do however welcome the fact that meetings like this can now be held. I think we all agree that this is the much preferred way for public meetings to be held and those important discussions we have before and after such meetings.

“The pandemic has also left its mark on all the residents in many ways. Many of us have lost loved ones and been severely restricted on saying goodbye to them. On this subject I would like officers here and all town and parish councils to see if they have any areas of land that could be used by residents if they wish to plant a tree in their loved ones memory. I know that some are already looking into this.

“Now to the future. I hope we move forward and repair some of the damage that COVID has done. These are many and diverse; some things we can fix as a council some things we can help others to help themselves.

“Mitigating climate change; we have a motion later on this subject. One thing that this council has done for what will be a very long haul is put aside a considerable amount of money for this very important purpose and we as individual members have extra money to help groups within our wards on the many projects that are coming forward.

“Finally, COVID allowing, I will, as traditional, try to get around as many parish and town councils as I can.”

Cllr Foss was not the only member to be appointed to a new position. Cllr Lance Austin, Ward Member for Ivybridge West was appointed as vice-chairman of the council.

The following committee positions were also confirmed:

· Executive Committee - Cllr Tom Holway – Portfolio: Climate Change and Biodiversity

· Audit Committee - Cllr L Austen - chairman, Cllr B Spencer – vice chairman

· Development Management Committee - Cllr J Brazil – chairman, Cllr R J Foss – vice chairman

· Licensing Committee - Cllr D Brown – chairman, Cllr R Rowe – vice chairman

· Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Cllr J Birch – chairman, Cllr P Smerdon – vice chairman

· Salcombe Harbour Board - Cllr J Brazil – chairman

To watch the recording of the full annual council meeting and see other appointments to committees made during this meeting, go to South Hams District Council’s YouTube Channel HERE


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