Devon County Council's deputy leader is set to become the new leader of the authority.

James McInnes has been chosen by the ruling Conservative group to replace John Hart. Long-standing Cabinet member Andrea Davis will become deputy leader.

Cllr Andrea Davis
Cllr Andrea Davis (Devon County Council)

The changes are set to be ratified at the council's annual meeting on Thursday May 23.

Mr Hart is being nominated to become chairman of the council at the same meeting.

Mr McInnes represents Hatherleigh and Chagford and is a retired farmer from West Devon.

He is married with a daughter.

He was first elected to the county council in 2005 and has been chairman of planning and Cabinet member for children's services and education. He currently holds the adult social care and health portfolio. He is a former leader of West Devon Borough Council.

Mr McInnes said: "I want to thank John for his years of service to Devon. His are very big boots to fill.

"I have worked very closely with him on many of the issues facing the county council and it is very important to have continuity as the authority is facing so many changes following the pandemic.

"It is vital that we continue the modernisation of the council that is already under way. The world is changing fast and we need to change to deliver the services that the people of Devon need and deserve in the most appropriate way possible.

"Our finances have been very tight this year but we have managed to find extra money for potholes and road repairs. That clearly won't solve everything but it gives an indication of how important this issue is to us.

"We're in the final stages of agreeing our devolution deal with the Government and our relationship and partnership with the district and borough councils is very important. As a former borough council leader, I know they are at the heart of our devolution deal in Devon."

Andrea Davis has represented Combe Martin Rural since 2005. She is currently the Cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport. She chairs Exmoor National Park and Peninsula Transport and has previously held the Cabinet portfolios for children and education and health and wellbeing. She is married with three sons.

Andrea Davis also paid tribute to John Hart.

"He's been here a long time and has done such a good job for Devon," she said. "We're stepping into very large shoes. We want to continue what he's achieved and get devolution done.

“One of my priorities will be to get the upper tier authorities in the South West to work ever closer together as a region on transport.

"We're up against the North and other big regions and we are a sparsely-populated peninsula. But we need to focus on what's needed for this region to succeed and campaign for that with one voice."