A NEW chairman and vice-chairman have been elected at Cumbria County Council.

Carlisle councillor Christine Bowditch will take the chains of office in 2019-20 with the vice-chairman being Cllr Tony Markley, of Silloth.

Cllr Bowditch has been the chair of Carlisle Mencap for the last 25 years.

She also had a long and distinguished career as a teacher and deputy head, specialising in helping children with physical and learning disabilities.

Her husband is former Carlisle city councillor and mayor Steve Bowditch and they have two children Kate and Andrew.

Cllr Bowditch said she was proud to be a councillor and to visit its Cumbria House HQ on William Street, Carlisle, where her mother was born.

“When my mother and grandmother were born, women didn’t have a vote. I don’t think they could have imagined that a woman from such a poor background would end up as the chair of the county council,” said Cllr Bowditch, the Labour member for Belle Vue, Carlisle.

Cllr Markley, the Conservative member for the Solway Coast, was described as “one of life’s cheeky chappies” who “always has a smile on his face”.

Tributes were also paid to outgoing chairman, Cllr Elizabeth Mallinson, the Conservative councillor for Stanwix Urban.

She said she had visited libraries, community centres, care homes, schools and fire stations from Carlisle to Kendal, Cockermouth to Workington and from Millom to Barrow, and met many Royal visitors.

Cllr Stewart Young, the council leader and head of the Labour group, said she had been “accomplished and dignified”. “You have been a great ambassador, not just for the council but the whole county,” he said.

Cllr Peter Thornton, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said Cllr Mallinson had been a “fair and calm” chairperson.

Cllr Hilary Carrick, deputy leader of the Conservative group, said: “You’ve travelled the length and breadth of the county and met with an eye-watering number of people and raised a substantial amount of money for your chosen charities.”