Whitchurch Town Council has co-opted a new councillor following a full council meeting on Monday night.

Councillors voted at a full council meeting to co-opt Dr Jessica Mercer into their ranks, which will bring the council to 12 members.

Cllr Mercer said that she would contribute her skills working with charities and government to the council, helping to use her expertise on pressing matters such as climate change.

Councillors met at a full council meeting of Whitchurch Town Council on Monday, February 1, to discuss a number of matters, including the co-option of a new councillor.

Only one application form was presented in the meeting papers, that of Dr Jessica Mercer. Cllr Mercer gained her PhD in geography from Macquarie University, in New South Wales, Australia, in 2008, having previously been a disaster management co-ordinator for the development assistance agency ADRA Mongolia.

Following time as an adviser to the catholic aid charity CAFOD and a manager for Oxfam Australia, she has been a consultant for Secure Futures for the past eight years, moving to Whitchurch four years ago.

Cllr Mercer said that she wanted to use these skills she had developed to contribute to Whitchurch, saying: “For over 15 years my career has involved working with government and non-governmental organisations on issues of disaster risk reduction (addressing natural hazards) and climate change adaptation.

“The focus of this work has been mainly overseas in developing countries such as Papua New Guinea and Mongolia. I feel it would be an interesting challenge to be a member of the town council here in Whitchurch, utilising my expertise to contribute to key issues such as climate change.”

She said that she wanted to put her project management skills “to good use” in the town, adding: “I have found [Whitchurch] to be a friendly, vibrant community and I would like to give something back and support the development of our town.”

Following discussion, councillors voted to co-opt her onto the council, saying that they “look forward to working with her”.