Long-serving councillor is appointed chairman of Harborough District Council

“I will do my best to represent the council as its ‘first citizen’ in all parts of the district with humility on my part and pride in the wonderful place that we live,” he said

By Red Williams
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 10:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 10:58 am
Outgoing chairman Stephen Bilbie welcomes the new chairman Councillor Neil Bannister and vice chairman Councillor Rani Mahal.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Outgoing chairman Stephen Bilbie welcomes the new chairman Councillor Neil Bannister and vice chairman Councillor Rani Mahal. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Cllr Neil Bannister is pledging to act with “humility” after he was appointed chairman of Harborough District Council for 2022-23.

The long-serving councillor received the chains of office from outgoing chairman Cllr Stephen Bilbie at a council meeting last night (Monday).

Cllr Bannister said: “I am greatly honoured to be elected chairman of the Harborough District Council.

Chairman Stephen Bilbie presents £2,938.11 to from left, Kate Naish, director of income generation, and Lisa Harrison-Bryne, income generation manager of VISTA. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“I will do my best to represent the council as its ‘first citizen’ in all parts of the district with humility on my part and pride in the wonderful place that we live,” he said.

“I look forward to meeting a great variety of people and organisations in the coming year and to highlight the work of my chosen charity, the Leicestershire and Rutland branch of Motor Neurone Disease Association.”

Cllr Bannister was elected to Harborough council in 2011, representing Dunton Ward, and won re-election in 2015 and 2019.

He served on the local authority’s executive before becoming council leader in 2017.

Cllr Bannister was also elected to Leicestershire County Council in 2021 representing the Broughton Astley Division.

As chairman he will represent the council at civic functions and local events around the district.

Cllr Bannister moved to south Leicestershire with his wife and young family 30 years ago in 1992.

“He has served his community almost continuously since that time by chairing Claybrooke Magna Village Hall Committee and becoming a school governor at Claybrooke Primary School.

“After moving from Claybrooke Magna and settling in Broughton Astley, he joined Broughton Astley Parish Council where he served for 13 years,” said Harborough council.

Cllr Bannister also became a governor at Hallbrook Primary School.

He works part time for the Crown Prosecution Service as a crown advocate appearing in crown courts, mainly in Leicester and Northampton.

Cllr Bannister and his wife now live in Lutterworth and are celebrating becoming “proud grandparents” for the first time.

The vice chairman will be Cllr Rani Mahal, ward councillor for the Glen ward.

Outgoing chairman Cllr Stephen Bilbie said: “During my time in office, despite challenging times of the pandemic with civic events postponed, I decided to use online technology to enable me to organise a quiz night and two sponsored bike rides.

“This was great fun even though we could not meet in person.

“I wish Cllr Bannister the very best in his role of chairman and his chosen charity Motor Neurone Disease.”

At the Annual Council meeting, Cllr Bilbie presented a cheque for £2,938.11 to his chosen charity Vista.

The sight-loss charity had previously received an additional £113.46 directly from the charity bucket collection during the Chairman’s second Sponsored Static Bike Ride.

Thanking Cllr Bilbie, Kate Naish, representing the charity, said: “Vista is absolutely delighted to receive this wonderful donation from Cllr Stephen Bilbie.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic Cllr Bilbie found innovative ways to support us and fundraise for Vista throughout his time as chair of the council, for which we are extremely grateful,” she added.