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Cllr Bethia Thomas elected as new Leader at Vale of White Horse District Council

Cllr Bethia Thomas is the new Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council. She was chosen by councillors during a vote at the Council meeting last night (7 December).

Her election as Leader comes after Cllr Emily Smith chose to stand down having led the council since the local elections in 2019.

Cllr Thomas, who was deputy leader and is a ward member for Faringdon, has been a district councillor in Vale of White Horse District Council since 2019, and has served on the Cabinet since her election, as Cabinet Member for community engagement.  

A photo of Cllr Emily Smith and new council leader Bethia Thomas standing outside Abbey House in Abingdon
A photo of Cllr Emily Smith and new council leader Bethia Thomas standing outside Abbey House in Abingdon

Cllr Neil Fawcett has become the new deputy leader of the council, following Cllr Thomas’s election to leadership

Cllr Thomas paid tribute to Cllr Smith and said: “I’m very proud to have been chosen as Cllr Smith’s successor. Emily has done an excellent job as Leader and I would like to pay tribute to her for her dedication and hard work leading the Council over the past three and a half years.

“Her leadership helped steer the council through the very difficult times of the pandemic while providing vital support to the most vulnerable members of our community.

“She was instrumental in the council declaring a climate emergency and has made tackling climate at the heart of all we do.

“All this while managing the council’s financial situation and helping deliver the affordable homes that our district needs.” 

Cllr Smith became leader of the council after the change of administration at the 2019 election. She has been a member of the council since 2015, representing the Botley and Sunningwell ward, which she will continue to do.

Cllr Emily Smith said: “It’s been a privilege to serve the residents of the Vale as leader of the council. It was a difficult decision to stand down, but I have a personal work opportunity that means I felt like I wouldn’t be able to give the important responsibilities of Leader the time and attention they deserve. I will continue to represent my neighbours in Botley and Sunningwell on the council and I look forward to doing so.”

Cllr Thomas’s new role as Leader and Cllr Smith’s resignation mean there are some changes in the Council’s cabinet. They are as follows:

  • Cllr Bethia Thomas: Council Leader and Community engagement 
  • Cllr Andy Crawford: Finance and corporate assets
  • Cllr Neil Fawcett: Deputy Council Leader and strategic partnerships and place
  • Cllr Debby Hallett: Corporate services and transformation
  • Cllr Helen Pighills: Healthy communities
  • Cllr Sally Povolotsky: Climate emergency, the environment and technical services
  • Cllr Judy Roberts: Development, infrastructure and development management

Note to Editor

Cllr Thomas was elected unopposed and by a unanimous decision