A NEW chair of the Isle of Wight Council has been elected — despite her predecessor saying they faced abuse and threats from the public.

At a quarrelsome meeting of the Isle of Wight Council last night (Wednesday), it was all change as a new chair and vice-chair were chosen.

Last year, independent Labour member Cllr Geoff Brodie took the highest civic position within the authority.

In a speech before he left the role, however, Cllr Brodie said it was not one he wished to repeat; having been persuaded in the first instance to go against his long-held values and fill the role where there is an expectation to have a Christian faith and support the monarchy, neither of which he had.

Isle of Wight County Press: Cllr Geoff Brodie when he took office as chair last year. Cllr Geoff Brodie when he took office as chair last year.

He said he was better placed as an opposition councillor for the next three years to hold any administration to account rather than presiding over it.

The two contenders to take over the chair were Cllrs Claire Critchison, the incumbent vice-chair, and Chris Quirk, a former chair of the planning committee.

Isle of Wight County Press: Cllr Claire Critchison last year.Cllr Claire Critchison last year.

Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox, leader of the council, nominating Cllr Critchison, said she had been an excellent vice-chair, attending the events Cllr Brodie had declined.

Cllr Joe Robertson, leader of the Conservative group at County Hall, nominated Cllr Quirk, saying with there being no overall control in the council it would be sensible, fair and reasonable to swing the position between the two largest groups.

Cllr Brodie said it was imperative there was a chair who could handle difficult meetings.

He said he had faced abuse and threats of violence from the public gallery — over a row with the leader of the council and her alleged ownership of racially-offensive dolls — and was confident in Cllr Quirk due to his experience.

Isle of Wight County Press: Cllr Critchison signing her declaration and acceptance of chair.Cllr Critchison signing her declaration and acceptance of chair.

Cllr Critchison, the Green Party member for Chale, Niton and Shorwell, was elected by 20 votes to 18, and thanked those who elected her.

She said it was a huge honour she would not take lightly and would continue to develop the important role over the next year.

Cllr Critichison said reflection sessions held before meetings would continue after prayers were stopped under Cllr Brodie's chair.

She said she would introduce a multi-faith element to the sessions, so differences and diversity could be celebrated.

Cllr Michael Lilley was elected as vice-chair, securing 20 votes against Cllr Quirk's 18.

Isle of Wight County Press: Cllr Michael Lilley signing the declaration and acceptance of vice-chair.Cllr Michael Lilley signing the declaration and acceptance of vice-chair.