DORCHESTER councillor Stella Jones has become the new Dorset Council chair, taking over from Val Pothecary.

Another Dorchester councillor, Les Fry, becomes vice chair.

Cllr Jones is believed to be the longest serving female councillor of a 'substantial' council in the country having clocked up more than half a century in public office. Her husband, Trevor, the last Lib Dem leader of Dorset County Council was among those watching the council's annual meeting.

Cllr Jones, a former teacher, said she would be non-political in the role, making a symbolic point of removing her yellow scarf as she took the chain of office.

She has served for 51 years on West Dorset District Council, Dorset County Council, Dorset Council and Dorchester Town Council and has been mayor of the county town three times.

Cllr Jones was awarded the MBE for her public service in 2016 and continues to volunteer with youth and family charities.

Another medal holder, also for public service, and fellow Dorchester councillor Les Fry BEM becomes the council’s new vice chair.

An Independent and former police inspector, Green councillor Clare Sutton, who proposed him for the role said his probity and judgement was beyond doubt, adding that he was highly respected across all political groups on the council.

Cllr Jones said she was delighted to take on a role representing the county saying that she was delighted to see so many new councillors elected for the first time and hoped that it would encourage more, younger, people to stand for council.

In a bizarre twist Preston and Littlemoor Conservative, Louie O'Leary, proposed Weymouth Labour councillor Kate Wheller for the vice chair  -  forcing a vote which went 45-32 in Cllr Fry's favour, two councillors abstaining.

As previously reported Rodwell and Wyke Green Party councillor Clare Sutton takes up the children’s services, education and skills brief on the Cabinet, the first member of her party to take a portfolio position.

Other council positions - Cabinet Cllr Nick Ireland (Crossways) – Leader, Portfolio Holder for Governance, Performance, Communications, Environment, Climate Change and Safeguarding.

Cllr Richard Biggs (Dorchester Poundbury) - Deputy Leader, Portfolio Holder for Property & Assets, Economic Growth & Levelling Up.

Cllr Simon Clifford (Chickerell) - Portfolio Holder for Finance & Capital Strategy.

Cllr Ryan Holloway (Wareham) - Portfolio Holder for Corporate Development, Transformation, Digital & Change.

Cllr Jon Andrews (Sherborne East) - Portfolio Holder for Place Commissioned Services (Highways, Waste, Travel, Leisure.

Cllr Clare Sutton (Rodwell & Wyke)  - Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Education & Skills.

Cllr Steve Robinson (Lytchett Matravers & Upton) - Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care.

Cllr Gill Taylor (Chickerell) - Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Environmental Health, Housing, Community Safety and Regulatory Service.

Cllr Shane Bartlett (Wimborne Minister)  - Portfolio Holder for Planning and Emergency Planning.

Cllr Ryan Hope (Westham) - Portfolio Holder for Customer, Culture and Community Engagement.


People & Health Overview Committee – Cllr Beryl Ezzard (Lib Dem Wareham).

People & Health Scrutiny Committee – Cllr Toni Coombs ( Con Verwood).

Place & Resources Overview Committee – Cllr Andy Canning (Lib Dem Dorchester West).

Place & Resources Scrutiny Committee – Cllr Noc Lacey-Clarke (Con Blandford).

Audit & Governance Committee – Cllr Gary Suttle (Con Swanage).

Appeals Committee – Cllr Andrew Starr (Lib Dem Lytchett Matravers & Upton).

Harbours Advisory Committee – Cllr Rob Hughes (Independents for Dorset Portland).

Licensing Committee – Cllr Derek Beer (Lib Dem Shaftesbury Town).

Strategic & Technical Planning Committee – Cllr Duncan Sowry-House (Lib Dem Corfe Mullen).

Northern Area Planning Committee – Cllr Richard Crabb (Lib Dem Sherborne West).

Eastern Area Planning Committee – Cllr David Tooke (Lib Dem Cranborne & Alderholt).

Western Area Planning Committee - - Cllr Dave Bolwell (Lib Dem Bridport).

Pension Fund Committee – Cllr Andy Canning (Lib Dem Dorchester West).

Pics -  Chief executive Matt Prosser with new council chair Cllr Stella Jones and  outgoing chair Val Pothecary.

Pic - Dorchester councillor Les Fry takes his oath of offiice as the new council vice chair