District council elects new top team.

A new era of openness has been promised following the selection of a new district council leader, chairman and a new top team.

A new era of openness has been promised following the selection of a new district council leader, chairman and a new top team.

At last Wednesday’s annual meeting of East Devon District Council Paul Diviani, Yarty Ward, was elected leader, with Andrew Moulding, Axminster Town, as his deputy.

But once again none of the top jobs went to Exmouth’s 15 councillors – who make up a quarter of all of East Devon’s members - with Jill Elson, in charge of homes and communities, the only cabinet member.

The new chairman of the council is Peter Halse with Frances Newth, Sidmouth Town, as vice-chairman. Councillor Diviani outlined his vision for the future: “Some call it safe, clean and green – to which I would add seen.”

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He said he would work with the emergency services to ensure the district’s ‘wellbeing’ focusing on the vulnerable, and vowed to ensure public spaces were kept clean.

He promised to ‘conserve and enhance’ East Devon’s beauty and vowed a more open council.

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He said: “All too often we read that EDDC doesn’t listen, doesn’t care, and sits in an ivory tower.

“Obviously, we won’t all agree on everything but my path is one of consensus and inclusivity. We want to align talent and experience with positions rather than through patronage.”

He paid tribute to his predecessor Sara Randall Johnson, who served on EDDC 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.

“EDDC led the fight against the imposition of a massive Devon Unitary. She steered a budget… (and) ensured that the swingeing but necessary cuts imposed by the coalition government have been….without any loss to front line services. These are magnificent achievements, which will no doubt be recognised in time.”

Cllr Moulding also picks up strategic development and Partnership, while Exmouth-based Raleigh ward councilor Ray Bloxham takes on the newly-titled corporate business portfolio.

Ian Thomas, Trinity ward, is charged with the new corporate services portfolio.

Other cabinet posts will be Graham Godbeer, economy, David Cox, finance, Iain Chubb, environment.

There was no room in the cabinet for former deputy leader Graham Brown.

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