COUNCILLOR Tim Swales has been elected as the new chairman of North Yorkshire County Council.

Coun Swales, 66, a Conservative, represents the North Hambleton division.

He was first elected to the county council in 2004.

“This will be a period of great change for the local authority as it seeks to make substantial savings and also transform the way it delivers services,” he said.

“So it is important that we talk to people about what we are doing and why.”

Road safety will also be high on Councillor Swales’ agenda. He was a successful speedway racer as a young man, along with his identical twin Tony and rode for Middlesbrough and then Newcastle. He also became chairman of British Speedway in 1994. He currently sits on the speed matrix committee for Hambleton and Richmondshire along with police, fire and rescue and highways representatives, to look at issues of speeding on the county’s roads.

He said: “A lot of bikers come into North Yorkshire to ride through the beautiful countryside and that is good; but they don’t always take account of the nature of the routes, the winding, hilly roads, and unfortunately the death toll has been rising. It’s good to be a biker, but you have to ride safely, and I will be putting my back behind road safety campaigning.”

Councillor Swales started working life as a motor mechanic and owns the garage at Osmotherley, his family business, where he lives. He is married to Sally and has a son and a daughter – Barry, a computer programmer and Tracey, a dental practice manager. He has five grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

The new vice-chairman is Councillor David Jeffels, who represents the Seamer and Derwent Valley division.