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Chairman reflects on a ‘challenging’ year
The chairman of a parish council has admitted the past year has been “challenging” as he prepares for a second consecutive term in the role.
Councillor Heathcliffe Bowen has been unanimously elected as chairman of Ilkley Parish Council after vice-chairman, Coun Mike Gibbons, said he would be unable to make the “traditional” move to the chairmanship.
Earlier this week, Coun Gibbons became the deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford and said he felt he would be unable to do both jobs.
He will remain vice-chairman at Ilkley for another year, and then is expected to become council chairman.
Coun Bowen said he had come around to the idea of being chairman for the second year in a row.
Speaking at the parish council’s annual meeting, he said: “I’m looking forward to it now after looking forward to getting my life back.
“It’s been a challenging year. We lost three councillors for various reasons.
“We recruited a new clerk and we’ve got some ongoing issues like the LDF (Local Development Framework) and so forth.
“In spite of this, we have achieved a great deal. The business of council has continued despite these challenges.”
The parish council has faced criticism for not replacing the three councillors who have left during the course of the year, but Coun Bowen insisted the body had the support of the majority of residents in the town.
“We will hopefully fill the vacancies on the council and build a strong team,” he said.
“I’d like to thank all the residents. We do have a few detractors in the town, as most council’s do, but I think the majority of residents are supportive in the town.
“We appreciate the support of residents.”
Coun Bowen also thanked his fellow councillors for their work and, in particular, Coun Lexa Robinson and former councillor Pauline Dixon for acting as consorts throughout the year, and deputy clerk Fiona Birdsall.
“I’d like to thank the vice-chairman,” he added. “Mike’s always been there to offer advice and support”