Totnes is to elect a new mayor this evening (Monday 15 May) and co-opt new town councillors.

At their monthly meeting tonight, town councillors will vote in a mayor who in turn will appoint a deputy mayor for the next 12 months.

The current mayor, Cllr Emily Price, was elected last year. Cllr Price nominated Cllr Georgina Allen as her deputy.

Both the new mayor and deputy will be officially inaugurated at the annual Mayoral Choosing ceremony, due to be held at Totnes Guildhall on Thursday May 25.

At tonight’s full town council meeting, three new councillors – Luisa Auletta, Tom Cooper and Anna Presswell – will be welcomed.

Councillors are also due to co-opt three new councillors onto the authority, to fill two vacancies on the Town Ward and one on the Bridgetown Ward.

Four candidates have put their name forward – Chris Beavis, Jeff Chinnock, Abigail Read and Nick Roberts.

Chris says said he did not put his name forward during the recent town council elections as he hoped a few more younger people would apply.

He is retired and has lived in Totnes for more than 40 years with his family.

“I have no personal or political agenda, am open minded to other people’s views and having attended several council meetings would now like to contribute to discussions and decisions,” he said.

“With rising costs and charges, the council’s financial stability and ability to provide value for money for residents is a concern. I’m aware of the housing crisis creating less opportunities for the younger generations and key workers and other things, such as the over-stretched infrastructure.”

Jeff, together with his wife Sarah Collinson who is an elected town councillor, founded Inclusive Totnes in 2018, which seeks to create improved access for all across the town.

He is an associate director of policy and partnerships at the Royal Devon University Healthcare Foundation Trust.

He said: “I am passionate about the role that local government can play in strengthening the assets and connections at local level and the way in which proactive community development can build the resilience and capabilities of communities themselves to build healthier, more productive and happier lives for all.”

He added: “I have lived in and around Totnes for over 13 years and I am keen to give something back to a town I am proud to call home.

“I would seek to apply the skills, knowledge and experience I have to improve the lives of everyone living and working in Totnes, and I would be keen to focus on how the council can help play an active role in fostering, enhancing and strengthening our community.”

Abigail says she is a passionate advocate for the community who was recently chairperson of the governors board of a local primary school and chair of Dartington Swimming Pool committee.

“I have been impressed by the work done by Bridgetown Alive with the support of Be Buckfastleigh.

“I would like to see Totnes re-establish itself as a place to visit and be celebrated.

“My view is that this can be achieved by enabling local communities to work together for their own benefit.”

“I genuinely feel that Totnes has lost its way since the arts school closed and tourists (and locals) are more inclined to visit Dartington or Ashburton for an artsy experience – to the detriment of local Totnes businesses.

Abigail added: “I appreciate that I have been a long-term (constructive) critic of the town council. I would now like the opportunity to get stuck in and work together to make a difference.”

Former GP and chief officer for NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Nick, believes in the creation of a “sustainable society.”

“As a general practitioner, one sees the many challenges faced by individuals within the community. I believe the creation of a sustainable society is something to strive for in any community.

“This would include health, inclusivity, economic viability, safety, access to services, housing and wellbeing.

“It would be naive to believe a councillor can solve all these challenges, but by recognising these aims, councillors can work together to address many of these significant issues.”