New Devon County Council chair sworn in as Annual Meeting returns

Cllr Ian Hall, chairman of Devon County Council

Cllr Ian Hall, chairman of Devon County Council - Credit: Devon County Council

Axminster councillor Ian Hall has been sworn in as the new chairman of Devon County Council (DCC).

The outgoing chairman Jeff Trail BEM, handed the reins to Ian Hall on Thursday (May 26).

The annual changing of the guard took place at the first annual council meeting at County Hall for two years – because of Covid-19 restrictions, the previous two meetings had been held virtually.

At the meeting, councillor Percy Prowse, a retired police officer who served for 32 years and has represented Duryard and Pennsylvania on DCC since 2009, replaced Cllr Debo Sellis as vice chairman.

A former member of Axminister town council, Cllr Hall has been a county councillor since 2007 and was elected to East Devon District Council in 2015.

His interests include sport and helping change young lives and promoting education through sport, and the role of faith groups to help unlock the ‘hard to reach’ residents of Devon.

An engineer by trade, he believes in ‘fairness for all’ and has an interest in ensuring the mental and physical wellbeing of all of Devon’s residents.

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As chairman of the council his main theme for his year of office will be mental health and he said: “I am humbled to hold the position of Chair and to be part of the momentous Platinum Jubilee.

“Over the past two years, our communities have fought back against every challenge, battling loneliness and isolation, dropping off shopping to vulnerable neighbours, volunteering at vaccine centres, and now opening their homes to our new Ukrainian neighbours.

“I want to thank all the teachers, health professionals, emergency services, armed forces, all volunteers, local authorities and all of the residents of our fine County who have dug so deep for so long and have done Devon proud.

“I aim to use my position to focus on the importance of mental health. It’s been difficult for many, none more so than young people, but I have been heartened to see that over the last decade the conversation around mental health has continued to increase in prominence.

“But there is still an incredible amount to do - never has there been a time when this issue has been so important, and we must all ensure that we look out and support one another and help our communities to heal.

"Over the next year equality, diversity and inclusivity will also be at the forefront of my mind. ”

At the meeting, new leaders for the two main opposition groups were announced. For the Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Julian Brazil replaced Alan Connett.

And for the Labour Group, Rob Hannaford passed the mantle to Carol Whitton, the local member for St David's & Haven Banks.