Cllr Derek Tipp named New Forest District Council chair despite 'climate change denier' claims
A COUNCILLOR accused of being a "climate change denier" has been voted in as the civic head of New Forest District Council.
Cllr Derek Tipp, a Conservative who represents the Ashurst, Copythorne South & Netley Marsh ward, was elected at the latest full meeting of the authority.
The opposition Liberal Democrat group questioned Cllr Tipp's nomination, however, with Cllr Malcolm Wade saying it was "inappropriate" to have a "self-professed climate change denier" elected to be the public face of the authority.
Cllr Wade said it was the first time in 22 years he was opposing a chairman nomination.
He went on: "We have to fight climate change – the impact of which will be much worse than what we have seen in the pandemic – and to support somebody who openly does not believe in climate change means you will not been seen as doing that."
However, Cllr Tipp was defended by outgoing Tory chair Cllr Allan Glass, who said he believed his colleague "would do a very good job" and he had "total confidence" in him.
"I have known Cllr Tipp for an awful long time and during that time he has been steady and reliable," Cllr Glass added.
He said Cllr Tipp had journeyed with him to many civic engagements and was very knowledgeable about council processes.
The Lib Dems had proposed one of their number, Cllr Caroline Rackham, be elected chair instead, but that suggestion was defeated comfortably in a vote.
They also put Cllr Rackham forward to be the deputy chair instead of the Tories' nomination, Cllr Alan O'Sullivan.
Lib Dem group leader Cllr David Harrison questioned why the ruling Conservatives should install only their members as both chair and vice-chair, adding other authorities shared those roles between different parties.
He said "a winner-takes-all approach does not do the council a great deal of credit".
Cllr Wade argued the impression given was that "middle-aged men" were in charge, while Cllr Rackham would "provide sensitivity" and "deeply cared" for the district.
He called on the Tories to adopt a "21st century attitude".
However, that idea was also defeated in a ballot, with both votes for the chair and vice-chair role being held in secret.
After the meeting the Lib Dem group expressed its "great disappointment" that new NFDC leader Cllr Edward Heron had not created a special cabinet post with responsibility for climate change, calling it a "missed opportunity".
Cllr Tipp grew up in Barton and Highcliffe, where his father owned the village garage. He attended Brockenhurst Grammar School, subsequently obtained a degree in chemistry and worked as a research chemist in a Totton laboratory.
He later became a science teacher at secondary schools in Southampton, before he and wife Andrea started their own successful property company.
When they sold the firm he won election to NFDC in 1999 and has remained a councillor since.
Cllr Tipp and his wife have three grown-up sons, six grandsons and one granddaughter.