THE leader of Torridge District Council Ken James urged his councillors to concentrate on “working together” to see millions of pounds of investment come into the district as he was re-elected for the fifth year.

Cllr James (Ind, Milton and Tamarside) said it is a very important year as levelling up funds of around £20-million were earmarked for Torridge “if we can get our act together”.

The money will be focused on raising achievement levels in education and employment opportunities but has to be spent by next March. The district council is a key player in the Torridge Place Board, but decisions on how the money is allocated willl ultimately be made by the government.

Cllr James said: “I want to appeal to everybody to concentrate on working together to deliver what we need to deliver to get money invested into Torridge.

“It will lift everybody’s standards, particularly young people’s and their education opportunities. We want them to stay in Torridge. We don’t want to keep losing them to other areas because we are not doing enough here.”

Cllr James was nominated by Cllr Clare Hodson (Ind, Westward Ho!) who said he had done “a splendid job” as leader, and the district needed “consistency and continuity” at this time.

Cllr Hodson was re-elected for the fifth year as deputy leader.

Cllr Doug Bushby (Ind, Bideford North) was re-elected as chair of the council and Cllr Doug Smith (Lib Dem, Great Torrington) was voted in as deputy chair and will succeed the late Peter Christie (Green, Bideford North) who died in February.

Cllr David Brenton had proposed Cllr Hodson as chair, saying he thought it was time the council had a woman in that role.

“It doesn’t reflect well on the authority or the areas we represent,” he said.

Cllr Hodson thanked the councillor for his nomination, but added: “I hear what you are saying Cllr Brenton but I think you are wrong in saying that we need a women rather than a man. It should be the best person for the job and that’s not me as chair.

“I think it is rather a pity, we are trying to meet the equalities agenda but men and women are people and should be appointed on merit not on sex.”

Committee chairmans were elected as follow: community and resources – Cllr Robert Hicks (Ind, Monkleigh and Putford), planning – Cllr Rosemary Lock (Con, Two Rivers and Three Moors), licensing – Cllr Chris Bright (Lib Dem, Great Torrington), audit and governance, Cllr Philip Hackett (Ind, Broadheath), internal overview and scrutiny – Cllr Simon Newton (Con, Winkleigh), external overview and scrutiny – Cllr Cheryl Cottle Hunkin (Lib Dem, Shebbear and Langtree) and standards committee – Cllr Louis Bach (Ind, Westward Ho!).