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County Council elects new Chairman

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The County Council's chain of office has passed to Councillor Ken Thornber who has been elected Hampshire's new Chairman.

Councillor Thornber was elected to the position at the Annual Meeting of the County Council on Thursday 23 May.

As the Civic head of the County, the Chairman presides over County Council meetings and ensures they are conducted in line with Standing Orders and that they are a forum for debating issues. He also represents the County Council on royal visits and ceremonial occasions in Hampshire as well as other civic activities and duties.

Councillor Thornber has served on Hampshire County Council for 36 years and also served on the Police Authority of Hampshire for 22 years. He was Vice-Chairman of the Police Authority, Chairman of the Personnel Sub Committee and Deputy Leader of the County Council, until becoming Leader of the County Council in May 1999. Cllr Thornber announced earlier this month that he was stepping down as Council Leader.

Ken Thornber has long been a voice for local government on a national stage. He was also the Chairman of the County Councils Network for three years (2004-07) which acts as the voice of the 37 shire counties - together these authorities represent 48% of the population of England and provide services across 87% of its land area. He has also played an active role in the Local Government Association previously being Chairman of the LGA's Resources Panel and Conservative Group. He is a member of the LGA General Assembly, the LG Group Councillor Forum and the LG Group Workforce Programme Board.

Following his election to County Council Chairman, Councillor Thornber said: "I am very privileged to be elected Chairman of this great County Council. My role as Chairman is very different from my role as Leader of the Council for the last 14 years, but it will bring its own challenges and own rewards.

"For my theme while Chairman, I would like to help the Young Carers of Hampshire who care for parents and siblings, and do such a marvellous job. Our Activities Centres in Calshot and Runways End are great adventures for the young and I hope we can arrange some one or two day residential programmes so that our Young Carers can enjoy themselves and relax."

During some 14 years as Leader of the County Council, Councillor Thornber has championed new ways of working in local government, and in Hampshire he introduced the voluntary partnership the Hampshire Senate in 2008 to bring public services in the county together, in order to look at ways of sharing services and to aid the delivery of joint projects. The Senate was recognised as an example of how councils are making a success of joined-up working, receiving positive acclaim from Government and other local authorities across the country.

He was awarded the CBE in 1993 for services to politics and the public, and has been awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts for Services to Local Government. His contribution to public life in Hampshire was also recognised in 2005 when he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Winchester University in the context of health and policing as well as his work with Hampshire County Council.

A Business graduate of Strathclyde University and Management Consultant by profession, prior to entering local government Cllr Thornber worked for the Philips organisation and Unilever, which saw him travel the world widely.

Cllr Thornber is married with four sons and lives in the New Forest.

Cllr Colin Davidovitz (County Councillor for Chandler's Ford, and former Executive Member for Communications and Efficiency) was appointed Vice Chairman of Hampshire County Council.

At the County Council's AGM on 23 May, outgoing Chairman, Councillor Andrew Joy was thanked for his past year's tenure during the Jubilee and Olympic year. His highlights during included the 'Making A Difference Awards' held to recognise exceptional efforts by Hampshire's young citizens in helping to make a positive difference in their local community.

Cllr Joy also represented the County Council at a number of key events during the 2012 Jubilee year, and in particular attending Royal visits from the Her Majesty the Queen at the New Forest Show, and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal's visit to Endeavour Primary School in Andover to plant the first tree in Hampshire's nearby Diamond Jubilee Woodlands, which were developed in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Duchess of Cambridge and Countess of Wessex were also welcomed to Hampshire at events attended by Andrew Joy during the year, in addition to the official opening of the Ringwood Gateway public services building by HRH The Duke of Kent in October, which brings together local services provided by Ringwood Town Council, New Forest District Council and Hampshire County Council under one roof.

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