THE new chairman of Teignbridge District Council claims he will unite the community and water ski in the Teign Estuary during his year of office.

Long-serving Cllr Chris Clarance (Independent, Shaldon and Stokeinteignhead) was chosen to chair the council for the coming year after spending the last 12 months as deputy.

'He has performed admirably as deputy chair,' said proposer Cllr Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish NE). 'He has navigated our way through some interesting discussions.  I also like the fact that as an Independent he can ensure openness and transparency.'

Cllr Clarance was elected by 32 votes to nine, defeating Cllr John Radford (South Devon Alliance, Kerswell-with-Coombe).

He told a meeting of the full council on Tuesday: 'I consider this to be a great honour, and I hope all council members will have confidence in me.'

He named the Devon Air Ambulance as his chosen charity for the year, and pledged to raise funds by water skiing at Coombe Cellars, as he had during a previous stint as chairman a decade ago.

He will not be able to tackle the famous ski jump this time, though, as it has been removed since his first leap.

'I hope to bring members together to work for the good of the community,' he went on.

And he broke the news of the death of former chairman Mike Walters. 'He was in relatively recent times a member and chairman of this council,' he said.

'I have fond memories of Mike. Our condolences to his family. It is very sad.'

Cllr Clarance’s deputy will be Cllr David Cox (Lib Dem, Teignmouth Central).