INDEPENDENT councillor Barry Warren is the new leader of Mid Devon District Council.

He was appointed at a full council meeting on Wednesday, February 22, following the resignation of Bob Deed (Independent, Cadbury).

Mid Devon’s political leadership has been in turmoil after the Conservative members of Cllr Deed’s Independent-Tory cabinet left in a dispute over the authority’s controversial 3Rivers property development company.

Cllr Deed said he was going to appoint the necessary replacement cabinet members ahead of the meeting, but soon after it began news broke that he had resigned.

The former leader didn’t go to the meeting where he was set to face a motion to be removed from the top job put forward by Tory group leader – and Cllr Deed’s former deputy – Cllr Clive Eginton (Taw Vale).

The Conservatives tried to get Cllr Eginton appointed as the new council leader, but this failed to receive a majority of votes.

A subsequent vote to appoint Cllr Warren (Lower Culm), a prominent voice on the council’s scrutiny and planning committees, was then passed successfully.

The former police officer is only likely to serve as leader until May’s council elections, telling colleagues after his appointment: “I am purely here as a caretaker until the next election.”

But it is likely to be a busy two-and-a-half months.

Mid Devon still needs to agree a balanced budget for 2023/24 in the coming days and Cllr Warren will need to quickly appoint a new cabinet.

“There will just be some urgent matters to deal with,” he said. “But if somebody is expecting myself or my cabinet to come up with some earth-shattering new initiative or something, there won’t be.

“It’ll be very much trying to keep going what’s already going and tweaking what needs doing.

“Until I’ve talked to various officers, I haven’t got a clue where we start.”

Ollie Heptinstall