New leader marks the start of a new era for the district council

PUBLISHED: 10:53 23 May 2019

Ben Ingham (inset) has been elected as the new leader of East Devon District Council. Picture: Ben Ingham

Ben Ingham (inset) has been elected as the new leader of East Devon District Council. Picture: Ben Ingham

Archant

The election of an independent councillor as its leader has marked the start of a new era for the district council.

Blackdown House, East Devon District Council's Honiton headquarters. Picture: Dan WIlkinsBlackdown House, East Devon District Council's Honiton headquarters. Picture: Dan WIlkins

Cllr Ben Ingham, of the Independent Group, was elected as leader of the council for the next 12 months at East Devon District Council's annual meeting on Wednesday (May 22).

One of the major issues facing the council is expected to be plans for thousands of homes to be built across the wider area every year as part of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.

The meeting was the first to be held since the May elections where the Independent Group seized control of the council from the Conservatives.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Ingham said: "For the first time in nearly half a century, East Devon is no longer under Conservative control.

Devon County Council candidate Ben Ingham.Devon County Council candidate Ben Ingham.

"We are committed to being a transparent and accountable administration.

"We will listen carefully to residents and communities to bring about change in a planned and managed way.

"We will work collaboratively with all councillors across the political spectrum.

"But as the largest group, the Independent Group has unanimously agreed to step forward and 'take the lead'.

"It's a big task ahead, but by no means overwhelming."

Cllr Ingham will be deputised by Cllr Susie Bond, of the Independent Group.

She said: "Our first priority is to provide continuity, ensuring the new council functions better than ever.

"We will get to work immediately serving East Devon - residents and communities will be at the heart of everything we do."

At the meeting, the new leader accepted a request from Cllr Paul Arnott to look at whether the council should change from a cabinet system to a committee-style model.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Arnott, leader of the Independent East Devon Alliance, said: "The Independent East Devon Alliance looks forward to the promise of change made by the new ruling Independent Group.

"We will act as a critical friend, serving the best interests of the people of East Devon.

"We are pleased that the Leader of the Independent Group accepted our request to explore democratic reform and a move from Cabinet governance to the more democratic Committees system."

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