Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Withycombe’s former chairman of the county council, Brenda Taylor, has been bestowed with the title of Honorary Alderman.
Brenda, the only East Devon councillor honoured this year, was first elected to Devon County Council in 2001.
She served as division member for the Exmouth Brixington and Withycombe ward until this year.
She is also the leader of the Liberal Democrats at East Devon District Council and a former Exmouth mayor.
Councillor Taylor, 75, joined six others to receive the honour at a full meeting of the county council last week.
Highly respected by political colleagues and opponents alike, with a well-earned reputation for fairness, she has previously served on a bevy of committees.
These included the audit, appeals, farm estates and public rights of a way committees, the people’s committee, the health overview scrutiny committee, and on the Devon sea fisheries committee.
In 2007 she was selected by the then county council leader Brian Greenslade as council chairman – that year she was also the chairman of the procedures committee, the council’s equality champion, and was executive support member for social care.
It was in this latter role that she was a ‘visitor’, performing unannounced spot checks on some of the county’s community care facilities.
When asked why she stood for election in the first place she said: “I knew a lot of people, elderly, vulnerable people, who needed help and didn’t know where to go or what to do.
“I just wanted to help and I looked at what councillors were doing and I thought ‘I could do that.’”
But it was in various roles in education – including serving on several school governing bodies – that made her particularly proud.
Cllr Taylor frequently had to rise at the crack of dawn to travel to a school on the other side of Devon for 7.45am so she could walk a county designated school route to determine if it was safe for children.
And when Exeter’s education system was being reformed, and the last of the middle schools were being abolished, she sat in on no less than 37 different meetings.
Over the years she has seen many changes at the council, and praised the introduction of community budgets, money given to councillors to spend on their wards.
She said: “It was a really good change, it has really made a difference and has meant that voluntary groups and organisations that did good work in the community could get the funding they previously couldn’t get.”