HEREFORDSHIRE Council’s newly re-elected chairman says he hopes they will leave the ‘Covid-induced electronic nightmare’ they are in and return to normality soon.

Bircher ward councillor Sebastian Bowen, a former Royal Marine, was re-elected as chairman at the annual meeting of council last week.

This meeting was held remotely. The council has been holding meetings online via Zoom and broadcast on Youtube since the coronavirus restrictions were imposed in March this year.

Councillor Bowen said he was grateful for being elected as chairman and will duly and faithfully fulfil the duties of it.

“I promise that I will do my utmost to treat you all equally and fairly at all times.

“And that I will always strive to represent the council with enthusiasm, carefulness and civility.

“I do hope that we, as soon as possible, leave this Covid-induced electronic nightmare.

“It will be so nice to get back to seeing you in council, in person and possibly in the Shirehall when it is repaired.”

Coun Bob Matthews, who proposed the Herefordshire Independents councillor for the position, said he is a very fair chairman.

“He repeatedly gets elected with a huge majority. And at the last election he picked up over 94% of the vote,” he said.

“In my view he is a very even handed and neutral chairman.

“He served as an officer in the Royal Marines for several years. So colleagues, in councillor Bowen we have an officer and a gentleman.”

This was seconded by councillor Terry James who said he was sorry coun Bowen had had a difficult six months during the crisis, as he had not been able to represent the council as he had done before the pandemic.

Conservative councillor Kema Guthrie was also re-elected as vice chairman.