"DEMOCRACY can only work if people follow rules and that's important to bear in mind," said the newly elected mayor of Shaftesbury, Andy Hollingshead.

During the Shaftesbury Town Council meeting on Tuesday night, it was confirmed that Cllr Hollingshead would take on the role from Cllr Tim Cook, and Cllr Alex Chase would have the deputy position.

This was backed by the majority of members, apart from Cllrs Karen Tippins and Peter Yeo.

Cllr Yeo expressed he was “totally against” Cllr Hollingshead becoming mayor, adding: “He phoned 999 and made false allegations against me, he is a liar.”

He was asked to retract the comment, referring to an incident when police were contacted during a committee meeting, but there was no further discussion of this statement.

Following the new appointment, Cllr Cook wanted to offer his “sincere thanks” to councillors, council staff, and those who had volunteered and supported the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “The last few months have proved to be to some degree a test of our resilience as a community, and it’s been heartening to see so many people volunteering to deliver food and prescriptions, [provide] scrubs and generally look out for those working, shielding or self isolating during the Covid lockdown.”

He added that around 150 people were to be commended for their work this year, and will be formally recognised through badges and certificates.

On receiving his new position, Cllr Hollingshead said to Cllr Cook “you’ve done a lot of good work for the town so we are very grateful”, before proceeding to declare his acceptance of office.

This was followed by Cllr Chase’s declaration, and it was approved both will be in these elected positions for the rest of the municipal year.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic however, a mayor making event has been deemed "unlikely" by Cllr Hollingshead.

Speaking about his plans for the town until May 2021, the new mayor told the Journal: "I am looking forward to working hard with the team to deliver for the town. While there is a lot we would would like to get done our priority is keeping the town safe.

"We don't know how long [the Covid-19 pandemic] will go on for and it's hard to predict the future. I want us to finish our tourism strategy and get more footprint out, just so people can find out about us and know why to stay local.

"We need to focus on our community to get everything right, so we can work, shop and enjoy the town.

"I am delighted my colleagues have faith in me and wanted me to chair this council."

With online meetings throughout the year resulting in disputes between members, including the exclusion of Cllrs Tippins and Yeo from Tuesday's meeting, Cllr Hollingshead said it is "imperative" that members use "these positions of trust to work collectively for the community", and he plans to speak with each member individually to establish the "best ways to work together".

He added: "[Councillors] need to look into their own behaviour and see if they are conducting themselves properly.

"If people in positions of power are not complying with rules and abuse these rules, democracy gets weakened and stops functioning. Democracy can only work if people follow rules and that's important to bear in mind.

"Next week I will sit with the clerk and we will talk through issues and see how we can all work together."