Cllr Louis Stark has been elected as the new mayor of Ross-on-Wye at the town council’s annual general meeting (Monday, May 15).

The decisive victory came after a challenge from Cllr Daniel Lister, with Stark emerging as the winner.

Upon his election, Cllr Stark expressed his gratitude and a deep sense of privilege. He praised his predecessor, Cllr O’Driscoll, for his exemplary term as mayor, noting how effectively he handled the various events, both joyful and sorrowful, that have marked the past year.

Drawing attention to the challenges facing local authorities, Stark emphasised the crippling effects of governmental austerity measures and the escalating inflation rates. He highlighted that such circumstances have significantly increased the costs of services, rendering budgeting nearly impossible. He underscored that the budgetary struggles facing the council are not unique to Herefordshire, but more widespread. He warned that the council, especially during his term, may have to contend with reduced funding at the county level.

Cllr Stark, however, was resolute in his commitment to advocating for fairer funding for Ross-on-Wye, a task he’s been devoted to for the past four years. Despite some successes, he acknowledged that it has been an uphill battle.

The new mayor urged for a collective approach to navigate these challenging times, promising to facilitate such efforts during his tenure.

Cllr Stark also revealed his chosen charity for the year: EnviroAbility, a well-known local charity that offers support and opportunities to vulnerable individuals in Ross-on-Wye.