Chairman of West Northamptonshire Council
Each year at its Annual Meeting, the full Council elects a new Chairman and appoints a Vice-Chairman. The Chairman must be a serving councillor but must not be a member of cabinet.
The current Chairman for West Northamptonshire Council is Cllr John Shephard. He is supported by Councillor Jo Gilford, ward member for Woodford and Weedon, as Vice-Chairman.
About the Chairman
Originally from Bedford, where his parents were both teachers, John read law at Worcester College, Oxford and qualified as a solicitor in London before he moved to Northampton in the late 1970s to join Becke Phipps (now known as HCR Hewitsons) where he was a partner for 35 years, practising in property and administrative law.
John has been a local councillor for the past 40 years and started his political career serving Daventry District Council as an elected member for the Spratton Ward. On the formation of West Northamptonshire Council in 2021 he was elected as a member for the Moulton Ward, alongside this role John also chaired a number of committees, lead on various projects across the area. At WNC was a member of the Governance and Strategic Planning Committees. John’s passions outside the district have always been sailing, and his family being a proud dad and grandad.
It’s a little-known fact that John took a commission in the reserve forces whilst at university and subsequently joined 4th (Volunteer) Battalion Royal Green Jackets, seeing short periods of service in Cyprus, Germany and Belize.
The Chairman’s Charities
Each Chairman selects a charity or charities to fundraise for at the beginning of their term in office.
Councillor John Shephard has chosen the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT) as he praises and celebrates the work done by the NMPAT and other musical groups in the area and the Army Benevolent Fund providing support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families. All monies generated by the activities of the Chairman during his term will be split equally and donated to these charities.
Role of the Chairman
The Chairman has several ceremonial and civic duties, these include:
- being the politically impartial ceremonial head of West Northamptonshire Council
- promoting the services and objectives of West Northamptonshire Council and the area it serves
- acting as an ambassador for West Northamptonshire Council and the local area
- carrying out ceremonial, civic and community activities that foster community identity and pride and allow our communities to Thrive
Other key responsibilities include:
- presiding over meetings of the full council to ensure they are run effectively and in line with our Constitution
- inviting key individuals and representatives to events organised and hosted by the council
- accepting invitations on behalf of the council to attend events
Inviting the Chairman to your event
If you would like the Chairman to attend your activity, event or function, please contact the Chairman’s Secretary at [email protected].
Please provide background information about your organisation and event such as:
- the name of your organisation and when it started
- your organisation’s aims, activities and achievements
- the date, time and location of your event
The civic structure
The HM Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire is the King’s representative in the county, and alongside the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, leads the civic structure in Northamptonshire.
The Chairman of West Northamptonshire Council oversees the civic structure in the West Northamptonshire area, with the Mayors of Brackley, Daventry, Northampton and Towcester heading up each of their respective town’s parish councils.
History of the role
The role of the Chairman dates back to 1889, when the 5th Earl Spencer, known as the ‘Red Earl’, became the first Chairman of the newly elected Northamptonshire County Council. He served in this role for three years and established the pattern of the Vice-Chairman succeeding to the role of Chairman, creating a workable system of member administration and a balance of party interests.
(Information adapted from ‘A History of Northamptonshire County Council’ by Jonathan Bradbury)
Last updated 22 May 2023