Tributes paid to outgoing Warwick District Council chairman whose year in office was marred by personal loss amid Coronavirus pandemic restrictions

Cllr Martyn Ashford's wife died, many of his ceremonial duties were restricted and he had to chair countless virtual meetings

Cllr Martyn Ashford.

Tributes have been paid to Cllr Martyn Ashford (Con, Warwick Aylesford) who has stepped down after his year as chairman of Warwick District Council

Cllr Ashford’s wife passed away during his year in office that was also marred by the coronavirus pandemic which restricted his ceremonial duties and saw him chairing countless virtual meetings.

Council leader Cllr Andrew Day (Con, Bishop’s Tachbrook) led the tributes at last night’s (Wednesday's) annual meeting.

He said: “What an extraordinary example of leadership in a year that some have said was challenging and one that I’m sure all of us would wish never to see repeated.

“Martyn, you have been an incredible chairman. You have been brave and shown extraordinary courage and real humanity in the way you have reached out to our staff, residents and fellow councillors.

“I know that personally this has been a year that you yourself have been challenged. You have come out stronger and have given us an excellent example of what it means to be a good councillor and public servant. I can’t thank you enough on behalf of fellow councillors and fellow residents.”

Cllr Neale Murphy (Con, Myton and Heathcote) was elected as the district council's chairman for 2021/22.

During the meeting, Cllr Day also announced three new additions to his executive, taking the total number of councillors to nine. He explained that this would bring the council in line with Stratford District Council as the two authorities continue to work towards a joint South Warwickshire council.

Cllr Moira-Ann Grainger (Con, Warwick All Saints and Woodloes) returns to the executive and has been handed the planning portfolio. Cllr Mary Noone (Con, Warwick Myton and Heathcote) takes on the resources portfolio and Cllr Liam Bartlett (Con, Warwick Aylesford) will take care of culture, tourism and leisure.

In addition to Cllr Day, the other members of the executive are Cllr Richard Hales (Con, Kenilworth Abbey and Arden), Cllr Alan Rhead (Con, Budbrooke), Cllr John Cooke (Con, Kenilworth Abbey and Arden), Cllr Jan Matecki (Con, Budbrooke) and Cllr Judy Falp (Ind, Whitnash).