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District Council leadership elections

  • by JW

Plus profiles of Sidmouth councillors


The District Council has re-elected its leader and deputy leader, as highlighted in the official press release:

26 May 2021 – East Devon leader is re-elected and speaks out on plans for the future – East Devon

And in the local media:

East Devon council leadership returned – Radio Exe

East Devon re-elects Paul Arnott as leader of the council – Devon Live

East Devon re-elects Paul Arnott as leader of the council |


However, there was a change in the chair of the council:

After accepting the role, Cllr Thomas said:

“Historically, when our council was led by one political party with an overall majority, the Chair would come from within that group. Since elections in May 2019, our council has been more fragmented and polarised, lacking the overall control of one party.

“It is therefore a particular honour, as a non-aligned, individual Independent member, to be elected Chair of East Devon District Council by such a decisive majority of my colleagues across virtually all political groups. I recognise this unique trust brings with it additional responsibilities, and will perform all my duties with an even hand and open mind.”

Cllr Arnott said:

“I am very pleased to see Ian take the Chair, which I am sure he will fill with distinction. I would also wish to give the council’s huge thanks to his predecessor, Cllr Cathy Gardner, for a superb job, done in the most trying circumstances any chair has faced.

“These thanks extend also to all our officers for an extraordinary year’s work – up against the odds throughout.”

26 May 2021 – Trinity Councillor Ian Thomas elected as East Devon District Council’s new chair – East Devon


Cllr Cathy Gardner, one of the six councillors representing Sidmouth, has been in the chair “in the most trying circumstances” – during a year which has been “extraordinary” for everyone.

She has also been involved, in a private capacity, in a legal case:

Covid-19: Cathy Gardner, Sidmouth, threatens legal action over government care home policies | Sidmouth Herald

Covid: Judge allows legal challenge into care home deaths – BBC News

This is now very much in the news:

Pressure grows on Matt Hancock over Covid policy for care homes | Coronavirus | The Guardian


Here are the details of Cllr Gardner’s responsibilities and activities, on the District Council’s website – including membership of the Beach Management Plan’s advisory group:

Councillor details – Councillor Cathy Gardner – East Devon


Cllr Gardner can also be seen online, both in a private and a political capacity:

Cathy Gardner | Facebook

Your EDA Representatives – East Devon Alliance

Easing lock down restrictions ‘frankly irresponsible’ says concerned Sidmouth councillor |


Going alphabetically through the other five councillors representing Sidmouth wards, we have Cllr Denise Bickley – who is also on the BMP advisory group, as well as holding the deputy portfolio for climate change:

Councillor details – Councillor Denise Bickley – East Devon

District council bosses go wild for East Devon ‘nature recovery network’ bid


She has been outspoken on other matters relevant to the running of the council:

Councils oppose Government decision to re-start face-to-face meetings |


Cllr Bickley is also a Town Councillor:

Cllr Denise Bickley – Sidmouth Town Council

Environment Committee –

More details of Sidmouth cemetery management plans announced | Sidmouth Herald


And she is very busy beyond her East Devon duties:

Denise Bickley (Cllr) #dogooder 💚 #NoMowMay (@DeniseBickley20) / Twitter

Sidmouth Plastic Warriors – Doing everything in our power to get Sidmouth single-use-plastic-free

Danise Bickley: Our responsibility to keep beach clean | Sidmouth Herald


The next councillor representing Sidmouth at the District Council level is Cllr Stuart Hughes, who is also on the BMP advisory group:

Councillor details – Councillor Stuart Hughes – East Devon


He is also the Valley’s councillor for the Devon County Council, holding the portfolio for highways:

Councillor details – Councillor Stuart Hughes – Democracy in Devon

Official opening of new footbridge in Sidmouth | The Devon Daily

Recently having secured the ward once again:

County Council elections – Sidmouth results – Vision Group for Sidmouth

With several links available here as part of a recent profile:

County Council elections – Sidmouth candidates – Vision Group for Sidmouth


Cllr Hughes is also a long-standing member of the town council:

Cllr Stuart Hughes – Sidmouth Town Council


And he has a considerable online presence too:

Stuart Hughes (politician) – Wikipedia

Stuart Hughes (@stuarthughes747) / Twitter

Sidmouth Sidford (DCC) – Cllr Stuart Hughes | East Devon

Home | Stuart Hughes

Sid Valley Radio

Stuart Hughes – devon carnivals


Next in the list of District Councillors from Sidmouth comes Cllr John Loudoun, who is on the council’s Cabinet as well as the BMP advisory group:

Councillor details – Councillor John Loudoun – East Devon

Residents should ‘accept’ Beach Management Plan is in ‘the best interests of Sidmouth’ |

‘Bigger and Setter’ sea defences for Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs to be explored as work on current scheme paused – East Devon Radio


He is also on the town council:

Cllr John Loudoun – Sidmouth Town Council

Sidbury EDDC Councillor

Support your local pub! Enjoy a take-away! – Vision Group for Sidmouth


Where he has been active in local campaigns:

Inspector’s business park decision ‘stick two fingers up’ to Sid Valley – Devon Live

Sidmouth Community | Facebook


And Cllr Loudoun also has an online presence:

John Loudoun 🤦‍♂️ 🕶🎸🗳 (@Blindfaith100) / Twitter

(3) John Loudoun 4 Sidmouth Rural | Facebook

John Loudoun 4 Sidmouth Rural – Information from John Loudoun, East Devon District Councillor for Sidmouth Rural Ward

Sidmouth Rural Ward – East Devon Alliance


Then comes Cllr Dawn Manley, who is also member of the Sustainable Homes & Communities team and the BMP advisory group:

Councillor details – Councillor Dawn Manley – East Devon

Sidmouth beach work likely to start – Radio Exe

Boost for bid to protect Sidmouth from the sea as £1m shortfall is bridged


She is also a town councillor:

Cllr Dawn Manley – Sidmouth Town Council

Thousands awarded to launch trailblazing help service in Sid Valley

And has been so for ten years now:

A new Dawn for Sidmouth Town Council | Sidmouth Herald

Kids use Sidmouth building site ‘as playgorund’ | Sidmouth Herald


With Cllr Manley’s online presence here:

Sidmouth Sidford Ward – East Devon Alliance


Finally, the sixth councillor to represent Sidmouth is Cllr Marianne Rixson, who is portfolio holder for climate change, as well as a member of the BMP advisory group and member responsible for Covid issues:

Councillor details – Councillor Marianne Rixson – East Devon

East Devon council fleet gets greener – Radio Exe

Rebrand East Devon as a ‘red wall’ district to get Government cash councillor jokes – East Devon Radio

Covid compliance help on offer as Sidmouth prepares to reopen for business |

East Devon’s new covid compliance officers | Exmouth Journal


Cllr Rixson is also a town councillor:

Cllr Marianne Rixson – Sidmouth Town Council


And she has been very much part of local campaigns:

Footage of traffic issues in Sidford and Sidbury submitted in Sidford Business Park inquiry | Sidmouth Herald


Here is her online profile:

Sidmouth Sidford Ward – East Devon Alliance