The new chairman of Horsham District Council has described being ‘delighted, honoured and proud’ to be elected to the role.
Roger Clarke, who represents Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead, took over from Christian Mitchell at Wednesday night’s annual council meeting.
Peter Burgess (Con, Holbrook West) will serve as vice-chairman for the 2017/18 municipal year.
Mr Clarke, who is vice chairman of West Grinstead Parish Council and has lived in Partridge Green for more than 40 years, said: “I’m delighted, and I’m honoured but I’m proud to have been elected chairman for the following year and I hope I can live up to expectations.”
He thought the coming year ‘will be a very exciting one’ with new projects in the town centre in the pipeline such as redevelopment of Piries Place and the planned new cinema in Swan Walk.
His three chairman’s charities for the year are Know Dementia, The Phoenix Stroke Club, and The Firefighters Charity.
Deputy leader Jonathan Chowen, who is Mr Clarke’s fellow ward member, proposed him as chairman. He said: “It’s with great pleasure that I hope he and Penny enjoy the next 12 months. We have had a good example set by the previous chairman and previous chairmen before that.
“It’s a high standard and I’m sure you will enjoy the work and we will all enjoy support you and meeting you on many occasions.”
Mr Burgess added: “All I will say is thank you and I will do my best for you and our current chairman.”
Meanwhile Toni Bradnum (Con, Nuthurst) described Mr Mitchell as an ‘outstanding’ chairman and an ‘amazing ambassador’ for the council.
Reflecting on his year as chairman, Mr Mitchell thanked his chaplain Canon Guy Bridgewater and substitute Father David Bouskill, curator of Horsham Museum Jeremy Knight for putting on ‘wonderful exhibitions’ with the support of Toovey’s, and the council’s support staff.
He described how they were ‘lucky to live in a rich and varied district’, with highlights of his year including helping to judge the Sussex Food and Drink Awards, attending anniversary celebrations at a Hindu temple in Ifield, supporting his three chairman’s charities; The Springboard Project, St John Ambulance, and the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity; and working to renew the council’s constitution.
He was ‘proud of the opportunities we do provide for our district’, as he attended the College of Richard Collyer, had his first job in Horsham, and purchased his first home in the town.
Mr Mitchell concluded: “I think Roger is going to be a splendid chairman over the next 12 months.”