Ambitions to improve the lives of the residents of the South Hams will be ‘delivered with renewed vigour’, the council’s leader has declared.

Cllr Judy Pearce, leader of South Hams District Council, told Thursday’s full council meeting that the events of the past 12 months may have held up the grand plans her administration had, but had not dimmed them.

In her statement as the council leader, she paid tribute to the hard work and dedication that council officers had undertaken over the last 12 months to keep the council running and keep many businesses afloat.

And with the coronavirus crisis appearing to be coming towards a conclusion and life on the way to returning to normal, Cllr Pearce said that the priorities she outlined when she became council leader back in May 2019 have not changed.

The meeting was held in person at the Kilworthy Park HQ of West Devon Borough Council due to Covid-19 restrictions meaning that South Hams’ Follaton House HQ in Totnes could not accommodate all 31 councillors plus officers.

Cllr Pearce said: “If a day in politics is a long time, two years is an aeon. When I gave my acceptance speech in May 2019, who would have imagined all that has happened since.

“Two years ago I said the priority would be on the wellbeing and prosperity of residents and while welcoming visitors, I said we had a duty to conserve the natural and historic built environment. As we stand at the gateway of a new corporate strategy, I reassure you that my objectives as leader of this council have not changed one bit.

“We have a broad basis for the strategy, we have the climate change and biodiversity action plan, the recovery action plan and we have the housing strategy and its action plan, and a good deal of money already has been spent on bringing forward the actions in these plans.

“Events may have held us up but the ambition is not dimmed. We intend to deliver with renewed vigour over the next two years to show that this is an administration which can achieve improvement and opportunity for the lives of our residents.”

The meeting also saw Cllr Tom Holway announced as the new executive member for climate change, while Cllr Richard Foss was elected as the new chairman of the council.