LONG serving Skipton councillor, Paul Whitaker, has been elected chairman of Craven District Council.

As first citizen of Craven for the next year, Cllr Whitaker’s consort will be former councillor and now honorary alderwoman, Marcia Turner, herself a former chairman of the council.

Cllr Whitaker, a Conservative member who represents Skipton North, told the council’s annual meeting last week, when he was sworn in, that he was honoured and privileged to be elected chairman.

During his second term as chairman, he last served in 2010/11, he will support the Take Heart charity.

Warm tributes, lead by council leader, Cllr Richard Foster, were paid to retiring chairman, Cllr Wendy Hull.

Cllr Chris Rose (Lab) thanked Cllr Hull for carrying out her duties and representing Craven with professionalism and also with a ‘little twinkle in her eye’.

“You have been an excellent ambassador for Craven,” she said.

Cllr Hull, whose consort for the year was her daughter, Claire Lindblom, said it had been a real honour and how the council’s work on attracting young people and families to the dales had been very important to her.

She also thanked the team ‘behind the scenes’ for supporting her and mentioned several highlights, including the opening of the animal management centre at Craven College, which she said was one very positive way of bringing young people into the area. She had also enjoyed the Craven Community Champion Awards and the Skipton town cycle races.

Her daughter, who undertook a masters degree at the same time as being the chairman’s consort, said she too had been privileged to attend many events, including the Duke of Wellington Association’s annual dinner and even a fascinating trip to a concrete factory in the Ribble Valley.

Tributes were also paid to the council’s former deputy leader, Cllr John Dawson (Con), who lost his Skipton North seat in the May local elections to David Noland (Green).

Cllr Patrick Mulligan (Con) described Cllr Dawson as a true gentleman who never raised his voice.

He had been chairman of the council’s spatial planning committee during its work to complete the Craven Local Plan, a very difficult few years, he said.

“I am sure we will see him back here again at some point,” he said.

Cllr Chris Harbron was elected vice-chairman and is likely to become chairman in May, 2020.

Gargrave ward member, Simon Myers (Con), is the new deputy leader, replacing Cllr John Dawson (Con) who lost his Skipton North seat to David Noland (Green) in the May local elections.

Cllr Richard Foster (Con), council leader, is chairman of Policy Committee; Cllr David Staveley (Con), chairman of Select; Cllr Wendy Hull (Con) chairman of Audit and Governance; Cllr Simon Myers (Con), chairman of Licensing; Cllr Alan Sutcliffe (Con), chairman of Planning; Cllr David Ireton (Con), chairman of Standards.

A total of 11 seats were up for re-election, including a by-election in Upper Wharfedale. Six sitting councillors were re-elected and five new members were elected onto the authority.