Ashbourne councillor Tom Donnelly was elected Derbyshire Dales District Council’s civic chairman for the coming year at our annual meeting on 19 May.
And there was praise at the meeting from the council's leader, Councillor Lewis Rose OBE, following difficult decisions taken by the authority in 2015/16.
Councillor Donnelly, an Ashbourne south ward member since 2011, succeeds Councillor Albert Catt as Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales, and will represent the district at around 100 engagements in the county in 2016/17.
A former fire officer who served in Derbyshire for 31 years, Councillor Donnelly is no stranger to a chain of office – he was Ashbourne’s Town Mayor in 2011/12 – and he has pledged to raise funds for the local Air Ambulance during his time in office.
“I am very much looking forward to representing Derbyshire Dales, which I know is an incredibly well respected local authority,” said Councillor Donnelly. “It really is an honour and a privilege to be selected by my fellow district councillors.”
Councillor Donnelly’s deputy in the civic role for 2016/17 is Matlock councillor Steve Flitter, who is currently the second longest serving councillor on the authority after its leader, Councillor Lewis Rose OBE.
Speaking at the annual meeting, Councillor Rose praised fellow members, officers and staff for their hard work in making “a lot of difficult decisions” in the past year.
“We continue to face enormous challenges with the Local Plan,” said Councillor Rose, “and our financial position continues to be under constant pressure. It is likely to get more challenging as local government has more cuts imposed on it by the Government, but we are rather used to that.
“We already know what we need to save in the next year or so and the savings we need to make will get larger. We have to continue to explore every avenue, looking at shared services with other organisations and councils, looking at doing things differently or not at all, and looking for more income sources as well as possible increases in charges when the time is right.”
He added: “We have the opportunity to continue to make a real difference in our district, to create more jobs, to provide more affordable homes, to improve our already excellent leisure facilities and many others.
“If we are to survive as a separate local authority serving the different needs of the Dales, we have to think positively, act quickly and seize every opportunity that comes our way. We will not get anywhere if we do nothing and complain but we will make real progress if we face up to the challenges we face and take up the opportunities in an enthusiastic manner.
“I have no doubt that with our excellent team of officers and staff supported by us, the members, we will continue to be one of the best district councils in our region and the country. So don’t be despondent or downbeat, let’s go for it!”
Councillor Jacquie Stevens was re-appointed chairman of the District Council’s Governance & Resources policy committee, and Councillor Jo Wild was re-appointed Chairman of the Community & Environment policy committee. The Planning Committee will continue to be chaired by Councillor Garry Purdy.