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Devon County Council leader re-elected as voice for South West

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Devon County Council leader John Hart has been re-elected as the voice of the South West.

He was voted in unopposed as the chairman of South West Councils for a fifth two-year term.

The organisation represents 33 county, unitary and district councils stretching from Cornwall to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire as well as police, fire and rescue services, national parks and town and parish councils.

Photograph of Councillor John Hart sat at a deskMr Hart said: “It’s a tremendous privilege to have been re-elected to chair South West Councils.

“This region has many issues in common, with the economic recovery from the pandemic as our most urgent task alongside support for our vulnerable residents and our vital tourism, hospitality and food and farming sectors.

“We all have a common goal in tackling climate change and reducing our carbon emissions.

“We must also stimulate our economy by improving communications with the rest of the country, ensuring fast broadband coverage for our rural areas at an affordable price and promoting greater skills and employment for our young people.

“We need to present a united front to the Government to ensure we do not remain the poor relation when it comes to funding and that we get a fair share of cash for levelling-up.

“We have worked hard to support the region and been particularly active in lobbying to improve the resilience of our road and rail network.

“We need to improve the supply of affordable housing for our young families who are often priced out of buying a home where they grew up. And we have to move swiftly to ensure that the professionals we are seeking to attract here like nurses, teachers and social workers can find suitable accommodation.

“The South West has long been the poor relation when it comes to funding.

“I will continue to work with councils of all political colours across the region to be a voice for the South West in Westminster and Whitehall and to campaign for a fair deal for local people.”

Val Keitch from South Somerset was elected as deputy chair and Helen Holland from Bristol, Ken James from Torridge and Spencer Flower from Dorset were elected as vice chairs.