New county council leader elected

Coun Bernard Bateman.
Coun Bernard Bateman.

Ripon councillor Bernard Bateman has been formally elected as chairman of North Yorkshire County Council for the year 2013-14.

The Conservative councillor represents the Ripon North division – the seat he successfully defended this month having first been elected to represent the ward as a Liberal Democrat in 1999.

In his speech of acceptance at the annual meeting of the council at County Hall in Northallerton last week, Coun Bateman looked forward to a busy year in the lead up to the Tour de France in July next year, and said he would be promoting the event throughout his term of office “to ensure we get the maximum economic advantages, both during the event but also in the longer term with the worldwide coverage it will receive.”

He said he would make the development of business across North Yorkshire a priority, and that he is looking forward to visiting schools – particularly sixth forms – “to talk to them about what we do as a county council, and the need for them to become involved.”

Coun Bateman acknowledged that local government is facing difficult times but said despite the economic austerity of the past four years the council had managed to freeze council tax while at the same time maintaining services and achieving savings.

The 69-year-old began his career in local government as a member of Cardiff City Council.

He moved from Wales to North Yorkshire in 1978 when the company for which he worked appointed him sales and marketing director of Yorkshire Heating Ltd, later to become Plumb Center. He now lives in Melmerby, near Ripon.

He has been the chief executive of a number of companies, is a Freeman of the City of London, and in 1989 was appointed an MBE for services to industry.

He is married to Linda, and has two sons – Liam, a chartered accountant, and Nicholas, a company director.

The new vice-chairman of the county council is Coun Tim Swales, who represents the North Hambleton division.