YARTY councillor is new Leader at East Devon

Deputy leader is Axminster’s Andrew Moulding and new Chairman is Honiton’s Peter Halse

A NEW era began at East Devon District Council today (May 26) with fresh faces at the helm and a promise of greater transparency.

At last night’s annual meeting, Yarty ward member Paul Diviani was elected Leader, with Axminster’s Andrew Moulding as his deputy.

The new Chairman of the council is Peter Halse (Honiton St Michael’s) with Frances Newth (Sidmouth Town) as Vice-Chairman.

There are more new faces on the council’s cabinet, where the portfolios are aligned closely with the new officer structure.


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Andrew Moulding picks up strategic development and Partnership, while Ray Bloxham (Raleigh) takes on the newly titled corporate business portfolio. Ian Thomas (Trinity) is responsible for the new corporate services portfolio, which includes communication.

Continuing with the economy portfolio is Axminster town councillor Graham Godbeer (Coly Valley), while David Cox (Ottery Town) picks up responsibility for finance. Iain Chubb (Newbridges) takes over as environment portfolio holder, with a new deputy position going to Chris Wale (Sidmouth Rural). Miss Jill Elson (Exmouth Halsdon) retains similar responsibilities under the new title of sustainable homes and communities, with Stephanie Jones (Seaton) in the new position as her deputy.

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In a speech accepting the Leadership, Councillor Diviani paid tribute to his predecessor Sara Randall Johnson, who served on the district authority for 20 years, 10 of them as Leader.

He said: “Under her leadership this council became one of the top performers nationally, with one of the lowest council taxes.”

Turning to his own vision for the future and his style of leadership, Councillor Diviani said: “Some call it safe, clean and green – to which I would add seen.

“Safe comes through good design at the planning stage, through working with the police, fire and rescue and all the other services that deal with our society’s well-being, with particular emphasis on the vulnerable of whatever age.

“Clean is the public realm – paths and pavements on which we travel, the quality of our parks and pleasure grounds, efficient and convenient services, such as waste recycling and collection.

“Green will come as no surprise! Two-thirds of our district is nationally designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which makes East Devon such a fabulous place to live, work and play. “Seen is about perception and reality and is all about effective communication. All too often we read that EDDC doesn’t listen, doesn’t care, sits in an ivory tower – the list goes on. The cynical view of the last government – decide, consult, do it all anyway – is not my approach.”

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