Northam makes history with online mayoral choice

June 22, 2020 8:23 PM
Originally published by Torridge and West Devon Liberal Democrats

Northam Town Council has chosen its Lib Dem councillor, David Chalmers, to be its next mayor at an online meeting via Zoom on Wednesday evening. Unlike many Town Councils across the country, whose Annual General Meetings have been postponed or cancelled due to the Coronavirus crisis, Northam voted to reinstate all its Council and Committee meetings online in order to maintain democratic oversight of Council activities.

Speaking at the meeting, David Chalmers said:

'I am proud of the example Northam has set for Councils throughout Devon and across the country. We cannot allow a crisis of this magnitude to interrupt our local democracy and accountability to residents. I am grateful for the trust placed in me by my fellow Councillors who know that I will give it my full commitment and leadership.'

Councillor Chalmers, who lives in Appledore, is a governor of Petroc College and Chair of North Devon Sunrise, a community organisation committed to challenging prejudice and celebrating diversity. Commenting on his election, he said:

'I am especially proud to be taking office as a gay man in Pride Month when across the world we celebrate our LGBT+ members of our communities.'

Mr Chalmers, who came second to Geoffrey Cox as the Lib Dem candidate for Torridge and West Devon in last year's General Election, said that he wanted to make sure the Council played its part in three areas of priority: the climate emergency, the safety and health of residents during the Coronavirus crisis, and in taking an active role reviving the local economy.

He said:

'Coastal communities like ours are predicted to be among the worst affected by the coming economic recession. Already Torridge has one of the highest rates of increase in unemployment in the country as a result of the lockdown. Losing Appledore Shipyard was a terrible blow. I will make sure the Council does all it can to promote our area and make sure that residents - and the visitors that many local people and businesses rely on - feel reassured and are safe and protected.'

Mr Chalmers thanked the outgoing mayor, John Himan, and his deputy, Councillor Heather McCarthy, for the work they have done during the past year and said that he looks forward to working with Councillor Claire Hodson as Deputy Mayor.