North Yorkshire County Council’s new chair has vowed to spend his year of office getting out and about meeting people on the ground in every division of the county.
Cllr Jim Clark has set out the ambition to attend an event at each of the council’s 68 divisions during his year and to support local charities. He said: “We have great communities all over North Yorkshire doing great work to support the county, its economy, its children and young people, its older and vulnerable people. My intention is to get out and about as much as possible and to meet community members who help to make North Yorkshire the great place it is to live and work.”
Cllr Clark, who was nominated by Cllr Don Mackenzie, has played a key role as a North Yorkshire councillor, holding Executive positions since being elected to Harrogate’s Harlow division in 2001.
From 2003 to 2005 he was Executive Member for finance and education (other than schools) and from 2009 to 2010 he took on the schools’ brief, remembered for his work to introduce a much fairer secondary schools’ admissions policy.
Since 2010 Cllr Clark has been the high-profile, chairman of the county’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, taking forensic oversight of issues at a time of significant change in matters of health and adult social care.
He has also served on the North Yorkshire pension fund committee throughout his time at county hall.
A chartered accountant by profession, Cllr Clark was a partner of Arthur Young from 1983, holding senior positions including Head of Audit and Head of Entrepreneurial Services. Born and educated in Arbroath, Scotland, he studied at St Andrew’s University and remains a passionate follower of the Scotland football team.
Outside of politics Cllr Clark is a committed volunteer for his Harrogate community. A dedicated thespian he has served as Chairman of Harrogate Theatre for 10 years, overseeing the theatre’s restoration and he is a trustee of local charities - Harlow Community Centre, Friends of Valley Gardens and Pinewoods Conservation Group. He is a former chairman of Rossett Acre Primary School and a former governor for 14 years of Harrogate Grammar School.
Cllr Clark has said there will be two themes to his year – supporting health-related initiatives and also promoting the cultural life of the county. He said: “I am one year older than the NHS and have supported it my whole life so I want to support initiatives that promote health and wellbeing around the North Yorkshire. We also have great theatres and a rich cultural life and this will also be supported through my time in office.”
As well as carrying out his ambition to visit every division in the county Cllr Clark is also looking forward to welcoming the UCI World Cycling Championships to Harrogate.
He said: “It’s going to be a full and exciting year. North Yorkshire is England’s largest county and immensely varied in its landscape and communities. I intend to make it my business to meet people in every part of it who do great work to support these communities.
“We also face a challenging year ahead, with many threats to the way we run things in this county, but I am an optimist and I will do my bit as chairman to help turn these threats into opportunities to take this great county council forward into the future.”
The new deputy chair is Cllr Robert Heseltine who represents the Skipton East division.