Outgoing Powys County Council chairman, Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe said that he has “seen much more than the average chair.”

At the council’s annual meeting on Thursday, May 18, Cllr Ratcliffe handed over the chains of office to Cllr Beverley Baynham.

But before he left the chair, Cllr Ratcliffe recalled his time in office.

Cllr Ratcliffe said: “As they say, a week is a long time in politics. The last year has flown by but looking back I have seen much more than the average chair.

“The Queen’s Jubilee, the sad passing of the Queen, the King’s proclamation, and the coronation.

“I have also seen three prime ministers, three deputy prime ministers, three home secretaries, four chancellors, three secretaries of state (for Wales), the sterling pound fall to a 37-year low, at its weakest since 1985 and inflation at a 40-year high.

“We can all agree it’s not been a normal year but on a personal note I lasted longer than a lettuce and didn’t have to hide under a desk!”

Cllr Ratcliffe said: “I’d like to express my gratitude to all the council staff who have been instrumental in supporting me and the work of the council.

“Their dedication and professionalism have been truly inspiring.”

Cllr Ratcliffe continued: “Most importantly I would like to thank the people of Powys, it’s been an honour and privilege to serve you.

“I’m humbled by the trust and confidence you have shown me during the past year, I have learnt so much and I will carry those lessons with me, always."

Cllr Ratcliffe added that the remaining money in the chairman’s fund will be distributed to causes and organisations around the county and he has “confidence in the future” of the council.

Cllr Ratcliffe said: “We have many hurdles to face together, I have no doubt that the council will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of its residents in the years to come.

“I will continue to fight for my residents from the back benches and I will cherish these memories and experiences I gained.”

Councillors from all across the political spectrum paid tribute Cllr Ratcliffe for his work during the year.

Incoming council chairman, Cllr Beverley Baynham said: “I’d like to congratulate on your year in office, we all know it’s been a pretty hard job trying to pull us all back together following the election.”

Conservative group leader Cllr Aled Davies said: “You have been a really good chair in difficult circumstances.”

Labour group leader and deputy council leader, Cllr Matthew Dorrance said:  “You’ve worked really hard to defend the interests of members, this chamber and uphold our constitution and democracy in this county.”

Back in the 2008 local elections, as a Conservative, Cllr Ratcliffe unseated the current council leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt to represent the town of Hay-on- Wye.

Later Cllr Ratcliffe switched to the Liberal Democrats and Cllr Gibson-Watt re-entered Powys council representing Glasbury following a by-election in 2015.

“The irony of you sitting in the council chair when I became leader is not lost on me,” said Cllr Gibson-Watt.