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New chairman sets out challenges for R4U administration at Uttlesford District Council

Cllr Richard Freeman (11564047)
Cllr Richard Freeman (11564047)

Uttlesford District Council has announced its new chairman for the next 12 months.

Residents For Uttlesford (R4U) member Cllr Richard Freeman, who represents Saffron Walden Castle ward, takes over the chain of office from outgoing civic leader Lesley Wells, a Conservative who lost her Broad Oak and Hallingburys seat.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Martin Foley, who represents Thaxted and the Eastons, is Cllr Freeman's vice chairman.

In the May 2 local elections, R4U routed the Conservatives on UDC, taking control with 26 seats, up from 10, with 41% of the vote. The Tories lost 20 of their 24 seats while there are now seven Lib Dems and two Independent members.

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."

The UDC chairman adopts a good cause to support during his year in office and Cllr Freeman asked fellow members to suggest which projects he should back. An announcement will be made shortly.

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