A PARISH council has elected its youngest ever chairman in a contest won by just a single vote.
Cllr James Butcher, 21, is the new chairman of Lancing Parish Council after he defeated Cllr John Hollington by six votes to five at the council’s annual meeting on May 7.
Cllr Butcher listed his proudest achievements since joining the council, which included setting up the Lancing Community Awards, a scheme now in its third year, with past winners including Lydia Schilbach for co-ordinating the Sensory Garden project and Marion Peskett for her work with Electric Storm Youth.
As chairman of the council’s finance committee, Cllr Butcher secured £20,000 for regeneration projects, including the renovation of Headborough Gardens.
He also secured the budget for, and guided through the resurfacing works to the Beach Green car park and pathways in the same role.
Cllr Butcher said he was proud to have been elected chairman.
“It’s an honour and a great responsibility,” he said.
“The most important thing is that I do a good job and that I can confidently say that Lancing is better off when I leave office than when I started.”
He said he aimed to improve communication between the council and residents through Facebook and Twitter and hoped to visit every Lancing business and as many clubs and meetings as possible during is year in office.
Cllr Butcher also said he wanted to push ahead with the regeneration of the village.
“I am a huge advocate of regeneration,” he said.
“We have some excellent local residents, activists and community leaders, so I will create a ‘Regeneration Task Force’ to advise me on regeneration-related issues to put on the council agenda.
“It will not be a magic bullet, but by bringing people together, we can hope to move things forward – both in council and out of it.
“Personally, I’d love to see mid-level lighting all the way along the promenade of Lancing Beach Green – but that will require some hard work and lots of sourcing of funding.”
Finally Cllr Butcher said he aimed to engage more young people with local politics.
“As a twenty-one-year-old, I am really proud of Lancing,” he said.
“We have three parish councillors under the age of 21. We need more young people to step up and Adur Youth Council needs our support.
“I will create a youth summit to try re-engage people with Adur Youth Council and lobby to give the it a real say in the local environment.”