FORMER highways chief Vernon Smith has been elected as Gloucestershire County Council chairman.

The Conservative councillor who represents Tewkesbury East at Shire Hall took on the role from Cllr Alan Preest at a meeting on May 24.

Council leader Mark Hawthorne (C, Quedgeley) nominated Cllr Smith, who previously served as cabinet member for highways, to be chairman.

He said he is a “true man of Gloucestershire who shares the outgoing chairman’s passion for the county.

“He is a true man of Gloucestershire, someone who will follow in your footsteps and show the same dedication and passion to the role of representing us and being an advocate in the community. I look forward to your year and tenure as chairman of the council.”

Deputy council leader Lynden Stowe (C, Campden-Vale) echoed the council leader’s comments and said he was very happy to second the nomination.

He said: “Vernon has always struck me as someone who is very enthusiastic and really dedicated to a cause. Always capable of being on message.

“Those are great qualities which will end up with him being a great ambassador for the council and county and I’m sure a very fair chairman to boot as well.”

Cllr Smith said he felt very honoured and humbled by his appointment. He said he will endeavour to be as fair as possible to move the council forward.

“I do really appreciate this honour,” he said.

He thanked outgoing chairman Preest for his fantastic work during his time in the role. Susan Williams, Conservative councillor for Bisley and Painswick, will serve as vice chairman.