New chairman elected at district council

Published Monday 22 May 2023

Councillor Barbara Johnson has been elected as chairman of Harborough District Council for the 2023/24 council year.

New chairman Cllr Johnson receiving the chain of office from outgoing chairman Cllr Neil Bannister
Outgoing chairman Cllr Neil Bannister welcomes the new chairman Cllr Barbara Johnson (Photo courtesy of Andrew Carpenter @Carps23)

Cllr Johnson received the chain of office from outgoing chairman Cllr Neil Bannister at the Annual Council meeting on Monday 15 May 2023.

Cllr Johnson was elected as 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 in Logan ward in Market Harborough.

In the 2023 election Cllr Johnson retained her seat in Logan ward. She was first elected to the post of chairman of council in 2019 and re-elected on 15 May this year.

The chairman, whose role is ceremonial, represents the council at civic functions and at local events around the district.

Cllr Johnson said: “I am delighted and honoured to serve again as chairman of the council. When I was last elected as chairman it was my firm desire to meet with as many people in the district as possible. I hope to continue that theme, particularly meeting volunteer groups in our community. I also hope to raise awareness of the need to protect our environment.”

Born and educated in Leicestershire, with a working life mostly spent in education, latterly press and publications officer at the University of Leicester, Cllr Johnson is committed to working in the community and has campaigned for public services, especially for bus services and better amenities for residents.

She is also president of the Harborough branch of the Royal British Legion, chair of the Market Harborough Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group, a trustee of the Howard Watson Symington Memorial Charity and has served as a governor at a local primary school and as a trustee of VASL.

Cllr Johnson’s interests include keeping hens and two cats, running, arts, theatre, music, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

The new chairman’s chosen charity for the year will be the Derbyshire Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance.

The vice chairman will be Cllr Peter Elliott, ward councillor for the Thurnby and Houghton ward. 

Outgoing chairman Cllr Neil Bannister, who represents the Dunton ward, thanked those who had supported him during his year in office.

During his time in office, Cllr Bannister has helped raise a total of £3,030 for his chosen charity the Leicestershire and Rutland branch of Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Cllr Bannister said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have been the chairman. I attended around 80 civic events during the year. I am pleased to have attended functions across the whole of the Harborough district. I thank the outgoing vice chairman Cllr Rani Mahal for her support.”

Cllr Bannister included among his highlights supporting the classic car show in Market Harborough, meeting the local Guides and Brownies at their Jamboree event, remembrance events and taking part in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and King’s Coronation services.

Janet McMillan, chair of the Leicestershire and Rutland branch of Motor Neurone Disease Association, said: “This is an amazing sum of money that has been raised. Without Cllr Bannister nominating our charity we wouldn’t have this wonderful donation at a time when we need it so much. We have already given out over 20 support and care grants this year to people in Leicestershire.”