SUPPORTING young farmers and the County Show, animal rescue and furthering links with the Royal Navy are all themes the new chairman of Devon County Council has pledged to support.

The county council has announced a new chairman and vice chairman for the remainder of the municipal year.

The new chairman is Councillor Stuart Barker, the local member for Ashburton & Buckfastleigh.

Vice chairman is Councillor Jeff Trail, BEM, the local member for Exmouth. They replace outgoing chairman John Mathews and vice chair Margaret Squires.

They were sworn in at the Annual Council meeting.

Councillor Barker was first elected to Devon County Council in 2001 and has held numerous roles including serving on the Social Services Scrutiny Committee, Cabinet Member for Adult Health and Social care and Cabinet Member for Resources Management.

After being sworn in, Councillor Barker said: ‘I am delighted to be appointed the new Chairman of Devon County Council.

‘I thank (Councillor) Christine (Channon) for proposing me – Christine gave me my first job at the county council (on the social services scrutiny committee) and I’m looking forward to the job immensely.

‘I hope I can do a good job for everybody.’

He added: ‘I want to thank John (Mathews) for the exemplary way he has chaired the meetings. He has been a great ambassador for Devon.

‘During his time, he chose to highlight apprenticeships as a route into work which was a good thing to do.’

As chairman of the council, Cllr Barker has several themes he wishes to support during his time in office.

These include supporting young farmers and the County Show, animal rescue and furthering links with the Royal Navy.

He said: ‘My personal passion is sailing, and I’d want to support any organisations that support sailing for people with disabilities, particularly those that teach disadvantaged and vulnerable children to sail.’

The Vice Chairman, Councillor Jeff Trail, BEM, was nominated by fellow Exmouth Councillor Richard Scott.

A retired Royal Marine Warrant Officer, Cllr Trail has a keen interest in the military, and is a member of the DCC Veterans committee, the charity SSAFA and in his personal life is an active walker, has a passion for gardening and also enjoys course and sea fishing.