A NEW leader has been elected to the helm at New Forest District Council.

Councillor Edward Heron, who is the conservative member for the Downland and Forest, has previously served as the deputy leader of the council.

He said: "I am incredible honour my colleagues have chosen me. It is a great responsibility as we are still in very difficult times particularly our business and communities. We have still got the vaccinations running and we are not out of the woods yet of the pandemic."

Cllr Heron says that going forward a key focus will be helping with the national response to the pandemic and helping businesses recover. 

He acknowledged that it had been an especially difficult time for the hospitality industry and that he was "incredibly hopeful" it would be a busy summer for businesses. 

"A lot of focus has been on supporting businesses at the moment. Going forward we've got a waste review, big changes," added Cllr Heron. 

"Climate change and sustainability is a big issue for me."

Cllr Heron is also a member of the New Forest National Park Authority, the New Forest Verderers, and Hampshire County Council’s ruling cabinet.

He takes on the leadership role following the resignation of Councillor Barry Rickman last month following a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency.

As previously reported, Cllr Rickman, of Heron Close, Sway, appeared at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on March 12 to face charges relating to a scrapyard.

He admitted he knowingly caused/permitted a person to operate a regulated waste operation facility that dealt with the deposit, treatment and/or storage of waste without an environmental permit.

His brother Robert, 67, who gave his address at Rickmans Scrapyard, appeared in court alongside him.

He admitted conducting/causing or knowingly permitting activity in contravention of an environmental permit in relation to the waste operation.

District Judge Richard Blake, who referred to asbestos and end of life vehicle disposal, said the two men would be sentenced on July 28.

He said: “Quite clearly the land needs to be made good. This is in a rural area and is clearly a curse on the community in the position it is.”

Cllr Heron, who represents Downland and Forest ward, was elected at the latest meeting of the authority and paid tribute to Cllr Rickman, saying he had provided “excellent leadership” over the past 12 years.

During the meeting Cllr Heron also announced members of his cabinet. Councillor Jill Cleary was appointed deputy leader and also portfolio holder for housing and homelessness services.

Councillor Diane Andrews takes on the planning, regeneration and infrastructure portfolio with Councillor Steve Davies in charge of the environment and coastal services portfolio, Councillor Michael Harris business, tourism and high streets portfolio holder, Councillor Jeremy Heron finance, investment and corporate services and Councillor David Russell people and places.

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