A CHANGING of the guard took place at last night's Isle of Wight Council meeting as new faces replaced old.

Following the May 6 elections, chair and vice-chair of the council, Cllrs George Cameron and Shirley Smart were unsuccessful in their re-election to the authority so were unable to take their positions for a third consecutive term.

Taking their place were Cllrs Geoff Brodie and Claire Critchison who both beat Conservative nomination Cllr Ray Redrup (in a vote split 20 to 18) to the positions.

Cllr Brodie said: "I have to say 16 years ago when I joined the Council, I never aspired to this, ever; I am quite surprised to be here. I will give it my absolute best and will be as fair as I possibly can be.”

Before the meeting was over, however, tributes were paid to the hard work and dedication of Mr Cameron and Ms Smart and their time on the council.

Cllr Ian Stephens, new deputy leader of the council, asked for a letter to be sent on behalf of the Isle of Wight Council to Ms Smart after her years of service.

Ms Smart first sat on Medina Borough Council in 1989, before it became the Isle of Wight Council in 1995, through to 2005. After a 12-year gap, Ms Smart returned to the authority in 2017 and became vice-chair in 2019.

Cllr Stephens said: "Cllr Smart has fulfilled so many tasks within the IWC admirably and has been part of the gel that glues things together within our number.

"Herding cats is one thing but making a cohesive group of them is a damn sight more difficult than words can say — Cllr Smart achieved that. She is without doubt one of the councillors I admire."

At the election, Cllr Martin Oliver won the seat from Ms Smart in the Mountjoy and Shide ward, by 159 votes, as a gain for the Conservative party.

Speaking about Mr Cameron, Cllr Stephens said: "George undertook all sorts of tasks through his terms on the council and from my side, being an independent, he has always had my profound admiration because quite honestly he is one of the councillors who come sin does the job and moves on."

Mr Cameron had served on the council from 2005 to 2013 and once again from 2017, and was described by new Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox always being dressed immaculately and smelling gorgeous and she could not fault him as her superb second in command.

Mr Cameron lost his seat to fellow Isle of Wight Councillor John Medland, an independent, by 49 votes after switching wards from Freshwater North to Freshwater South.

Cllr Ian Ward said he would see Mr Cameron in Freshwater soon after strong bonds of friendship and comradeship had been formed throughout the years.

Even though Ms Smart was on the opposite side of the political fence to Cllr Ward, he said he always had a lot of regard for Ms Smart as he thought she did the best for the Island, regardless if that was best for her party and was sorry to see her go.

Cllr Vanessa Churchman credited Ms Smart for her 'crowning jewel' of the Riverside Centre, and said she was a lovely lady who she admired.

Leader of the Conservative Party, Cllr Steve Hastings said he recalls when he was first elected receiving an invitation to Ms Smart's Christmas party and despite being among opposition councillors, Ms Smart was very friendly and fair. He said she and her work will not be forgotten.

Mr Cameron was presented with the chairman's medal by Cllr Brodie before he officially left the meeting.