The new Chairman of Lancashire County Council is the first ever to be elected ‘virtually’ during an online meeting of the Full Council.
County Councillor Susie Charles, who represents Lancaster Rural East, was appointed this week without being able to receive the chains of office due to the current coronavirus crisis.
A county councillor since 2005, Susie was also a Lancaster City Councillor from 1999 to 2019, serving as Mayor in 2014/15.
Susie was the Lancashire County Council Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools before becoming Vice Chairman to County Councillor Paul Rigby during his year in office. She is the 51st Chairman of the county council.
Susie was born in Malaya whilst her father was seconded from the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars to fight in the Malayan Emergency, and the family lived in various places in Malaya and Singapore until her father was posted to England when she was eight.
She was educated in Dorset and worked in Barcelona and London, where she met her late husband Richard.
Together they led a slightly nomadic existence, moving around England as Richard built up a successful business in the food industry.
Susie’s Lancashire roots come from her mother (Mary, nee Sandeman, who originally came from the Lancaster village of Ellel) and Susie and Richard and their three children (two boys and a girl) moved there in 1997.
She said: “I feel very honoured to have been elected by my fellow councillors to serve as Chairman. It’s a privilege to serve the people of Lancashire in this way, although in a slightly curtailed way thanks to the restraints initiated by Covid-19.
“I’m looking forward to highlighting the varied work people do across the county, especially where concerned with our rural economy, along with the voluntary work that people do to help others.”
The county council’s new Vice Chairman is County Councillor Barrie Yates, who represents South Ribble East. Barrie was elected to the county council in 2012 and has served on the Pension Fund Committee, Health Scrutiny Committee, Regulatory Committee and Development Control Committee. He has been the Chairman of the Development Control Committee for the last three and a half years.