New council chairman says ruling group has ‘work cut out for us’

Councillor Richard Freeman. Picture: UDC

Councillor Richard Freeman. Picture: UDC - Credit: Archant

A councillor who “left politics for good” eight years ago has taken up the post of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) chairman.

Councillor Richard Freeman said it was a "privilege and an honour" to have been chosen to serve as chairman for the next year, and one which he had not expected to receive after stepping away from politics in 2011.

Cllr Freeman, who represents Saffron Walden Castle ward, was sworn in at UDC's annual meeting on May 21. He takes over the chain of office from Lesley Wells, who served in 2018/19. Cllr Martin Foley, who represents Thaxted and the Eastons ward, was announced as vice-chairman for 2019/20.

Cllr Freeman said: "It is a privilege and an honour to be elected chairman of Uttlesford District Council, and one which I never expected to receive when I left local politics for good (as I thought) eight years ago. I shall discharge my duties to the very best of my ability.

"Uttlesford faces three major challenges in the foreseeable future. One is the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport, its benefits to some and its impact upon others. Another is the emerging local plan, which will inform and define the type and location of housing and commercial developments for the district over the next 15 years. The third is our substantial investment portfolio. All three of these issues require careful, wise and timely judgements and the right decisions.

"I am confident that we - our officers and our elected members - have the necessary skills and abilities to manage this, and that which we lack we shall resource as required. It does mean that we have our work cut out for us but that said, nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.

"I value and respect the position as chairman of this council, and I am grateful of the opportunity to contribute to the success of this new and ambitious administration."

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As well as carrying out the civic role for the council, the chairman nominates a good cause to be the focus of support for their year of tenure. At the annual meeting Cllr Freeman asked his fellow councillors to put forward suggestions as to which projects he should support.