The outgoing chairman of East Sussex County Council has been praised for his ‘good humour’ and ‘optimism’ in representing the authority.
Colin Belsey, the local member for the Eastbourne division of Ratton, stood down earlier this month after three years in the ceremonial role and was succeeded by Michael Ensor, one of two county councillors for Bexhill King Offa.
Peter Pragnell, the county councillor for Hastings’ Ashdown and Conquest division, will serve as his vice-chairman.
Cllr Ensor said, “It is a great honour that yesterday I was elected as chairman of East Sussex County Council for the coming year.”
He will be sharing information about events he is attending on his Twitter handle @CouncillorEnsor.
Nick Bennett, lead member for education and inclusion, special educational needs and disability who proposed Cllr Ensor, said Cllr Belsey would be a ‘very difficult act to follow, but I know he will do his best’.
During Tuesday’s meeting Cllr Ensor said, “It is not only an honour, but a responsibility to be your ambassador throughout the whole of the county for this coming year.”
His wife Sue and his 92-year-old father were in the council chamber to watch him accept the role.
Paying tribute to Cllr Belsey’s work, he added, “He has handled the business effectively and with some hilarity at times, but nevertheless he has guided us through the business.”
He continued, “He and his wife Terri have set an incredibly high standard these last three years and I would certainly like to thank them for the work they have done in representing us.”
Keith Glazier, leader of the county council, said that in difficult times Cllr Belsey had been ‘full of optimism and solutions and I think if anything that should be your testament’.
David Tutt, leader of the Lib Dem group, added, “Colin, it’s been great fun it really has.
“Can I thank you for the good humour you have shown in chairing county council meetings.”
Meanwhile Philip Howson, leader of the UKIP group, felt that Cllr Belsey had done a ‘fantastic job’, while Ruth O’Keeffe, leader of the independent group, praised his ‘wonderful public touch with people’.
Cllr Belsey wished Cllr Ensor well as chairman, and said he had hoped he could ‘stand up in the chair and shout: “SEAGULLS” as we’ve got three more games to go and we’re going to get there’ as Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club missed automatic promotion to the Premier League and are instead be in the play-offs.
He started off by thanking his wife Terri for her support during his three years as chairman.
As the first chairman and consort at the county council not to have a driver and car, they had amassed 17,000 miles attending at least 483 separate events.
Cllr Glazier proposed Cllr Pragnell, and explained how he had worked diligently in adult social care and other areas and ‘will make a very good vice-chairman’.
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