THE new chair of North Yorkshire County Council has spoken of his pride in taking on the role ahead of the launch of a new authority in the spring.

Cllr David Ireton, district councillor for the Ingleton and Clapham ward and self-employed butcher and farmer, was elected as the county council’s chair at a recent full council meeting. He has served as the interim chair following the death of his predecessor, Cllr Margaret Atkinson, in November last year.

The new council will be launched on April 1 when North Yorkshire County Council and the existing seven district and borough authorities - including Craven District Council - emerge in the biggest shake-up of local government since 1974 to pave the way for a devolution deal.

“I was lucky enough to serve as deputy chair alongside Margaret and her passing came as a huge shock and with great sadness to everybody who had the pleasure of working with her over the years,” said Cllr Ireton.

“I am honoured to be taking on this role as we launch the new council in April which will deliver many benefits. We now have just one set of councillors who will be accountable for all services, so it’s clear who represents each area.

“There’s also the prospect of a devolution deal in the coming year, which represents a huge opportunity to take on more decision-making powers. It is certainly a time of change for North Yorkshire and I’m proud to be part of it.”

Cllr Ireton has been a county councillor since 1999. He is the county council’s nominated trustee of the Longstaff Educational Foundation, which provides funds for young people of High and Low Bentham up to the age of 25 to assist them with their education.

Cllr Ireton has been a Craven district councillor since May 1998 and is Craven’s member champion for Armed Forces and Equalities. He is also a member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The new deputy chair who was also appointed at today’s full council meeting is Cllr Roberta Swiers, of the Cayton division. They will be in post until the May annual general meeting when a decision will be taken on a new chair and deputy chair.