Why new development is right for Harborough district

Outgoing chairman Neville Hall welcomes in councillor Mike Rook and councillor Janette Ackerley as vice chairman of Harborough District Council.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Outgoing chairman Neville Hall welcomes in councillor Mike Rook and councillor Janette Ackerley as vice chairman of Harborough District Council.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

The new chairman of Harborough District Council said this week that new houses and new businesses were essential for a forward-looking district.

“We don’t live in a museum, we live in a thriving community,” said Cllr Mike Rook.

“And we have to make sure that that vitality continues, with the right sort of new business and the right sort of housing development.

“I didn’t come onto the district council to concrete over our lovely land, but we need the houses.

“The key is to develop sensibly, take as much control as we can and give residents the loudest voice that we can.”

Councillor Rook was elected as the chairman of Harborough District Council for 2015/16 last week.

He received his chains of office from outgoing chairman Cllr Neville Hall.

Cllr Rook, who lives just outside Tilton on the Hill, is married to Elaine and has three children and three grandchildren.

He attended Oakham School and Leicester Polytechnic before joining the family textile business and running a factory in Oakham.

He ran his own business in Lutterworth for several years before moving to Lincoln.

“My business background is in textiles and hospitality,” he explained.

Whilst in Lincolnshire he was elected as a councillor at North Kesteven District Council in 2001, where he held the post of portfolio holder for housing and development.

He moved back to Leicestershire in 2007 and was elected to Harborough District Council in May that year.

“I hope I bring business knowledge to the council,” said Cllr Rook, who is now retired. “And I’ll be looking to support local businesses and local schools.”

Cllr Rook says his hobbies include playing golf “badly”, and watching “as much cricket, tennis and rugby as allowed”.

During his year of office, Cllr Rook would will donate any monies raised from civic events to the research charity Hope against Cancer, which is based in Leicester.

“My wife Elaine has been involved with the charity for a number of years,” said Cllr Rook.

One of the events he hopes to organise is a charity golf match involving councillors and council staff from Harborough and other local councils.

He said the financial squeeze on local councils had been “difficult”, but had the effect of making councils more efficient and more professional.

And finally he had very positive words to say about the Harborough district in general.

“The district is a wonderful mix of rurality and urban development,” said Cllr Rook.

“And so long as people remain positive and we move forward in a progressive way, Harborough has got a tremendous future.”

Cllr Janette Ackerley, ward member for Lutterworth Swift, was appointed as district council vice chairman.