New chairman for Harborough District Council takes chains of office

Councillor Lesley Bowles welcomes new chairman Barbara Johnson. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Councillor Lesley Bowles welcomes new chairman Barbara Johnson. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Councillor Barbara Johnson has been elected as the chairman of Harborough District Council for the coming year.

Cllr Johnson took over from outgoing chairman Cllr Lesley Bowles at the Annual Council meeting on Monday night (May 20).

The chaiman of the council is the 'first citizen' of the district, and represents the council as a whole in a non-political role as well as chairing meetings of the full council.

Cllr Johnson was elected a Harborough District Councillor in Market Harborough Great Bowden and Arden Ward in 2007. After a short break from politics in 2015, she was re-elected to represent the Logan Ward in Market Harborough.

She is also chair of the Market Harborough Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group, a trustee of the Howard Watson Symington Memorial Charity and governor at a local primary school. As well as this, she said she is very keen, as Chairman, to engage with small community groups across the whole district.

Cllr Johnson’s interests include running, arts, music, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

The new Chairman’s chosen charity for the year will be Spectrum LAS – a support group for parents and carers of children, young people and adults on the Autism Spectrum or on the Autism diagnosis pathway.

Cllr Stephen Bilbie, district councillor for the Fleckney ward, was appointed as vice chairman. The incoming Chairman thanked outgoing vice chairman Cllr Derek Evans.

Outgoing chairman Lesley Bowles thanked those who had supported her during her year in office.

During her year as Chairman Cllr Lesley Bowles helped unveil artwork, a memorial bench and silhouette to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, and unveiled artwork at The Symington Building commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Votes for Women.

She unveiled a poppy drop from the Tower of St Peter and St Paul at Great Bowden, having knitted some poppies herself, along with members of Council staff, to be added to the display.

Cllr Bowles also hosted lunch for 31 local women including female civic dignitaries, councillors, and leading businesswomen, to celebrate the role of the Suffragettes in giving women the right to vote to raise funds for a women’s charity – Bridge House, part of Action Homeless.