Agenda item

Chair's announcements


The Chair, Councillor Pete Gilbert, made the following announcements:


(1)  Death of Councillor John Horner


“The burden has fallen to me too often over the last twelve months to inform members of the passing of former and sometimes serving colleagues.  Today, that burden falls even heavier. 


I, like all of you, was deeply saddened to hear of John Horner’s death.   He is a great loss to this Council, he was a fantastic Vice-Chairman, and he will be missed here at Shire Hall and across our county.  He was independent minded, intelligent and in this for the right reasons.  I know from my conversations with him that his sole focus here was ensuring that the Council represents the people it serves.  You could uniquely like John, respect John, but not agree with everything he said.  He was a man of principle, of quiet passion and someone I was proud to call a colleague and, later, a friend. 


This Council will be far poorer without him.  He would have made quite a brilliant Chairman - I’m sure far better than me – and arguably it still would have been a waste of his quite significant talents.  He was so sharp, so bright also enigmatic to boot and I have wondered in recent days whether people like John will be encouraged to engage in politics in the future.  We need more people like John here, not fewer.


John also had a wry wit. One of the comments I remember him making to me I’m going to share with you today. I said to John once that I would have liked to have ended one conversation feeling less stupid at the end than I did at the beginning. He smiled and quietly said, “Peter, impossible”!


A great man, and a great loss to us and to everybody in this county but an even greater loss to his wife, his children and to their wider family.  So sudden and far, far too soon.”


Councillor Gilbert invited Council to stand for a minute’s silence in memory of Councillor Horner before inviting Councillors to pay their own tributes.


The Leader, Councillor Isobel Seccombe, acknowledged that it had been a difficult week due to the shock of Councillor Horner’s sudden death, which had come far too soon.  She noted that she had known him since at least 2007 and reflected on his talents and qualities: very bright, capable, intellectual, possessing a dry wit, sardonic and amusing.  He did not always toe the line but was a valued member, friend and colleague.  The intellect he brought to the Group and the Chamber was valued.  He had been a member of the cabinet with responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service and had also been a chair of overview and scrutiny.  He had pursued the areas that concerned him, which were those of his community, and always stayed true to the issues his residents felt mattered.  Councillor Horner was a country man, who took long walks with his dogs, and a family man with four children and grandchildren.   The Council had much to thank him for and to miss him for. 


Councillor John Holland reflected on the immeasurable loss to Councillor Horner’s family and hoped the words of appreciation that were shared at the meeting would be of some comfort to them.  He noted that Councillor Horner had been a quietly spoken but deep thinker, who drew on experience to come up with solutions. He understoond that Councillor Horner had been very pleased to be elected Vice-Chair and was looking to forward to taking on the role of Chairman and, to this end, Councillor Holland was grateful that Councillor Horner had had the opportunity to Chair some meetings. He concluded by extending sympathies to Councillor Horner’s family.


Councillor Jonathan Chilvers noted that he had never left a conversation with Councillor Horner without having something to think about.  He noted he was a deep and intelligent man who saw the world in a different way and Councillor Chilvers considered that the world and this Council needed more people like that - people to challenge our preconceptions. He expressed the view that Councillor Horner would have been a wonderful chair and extended thoughts and prayers to his family.


Councillor Bill Gifford extended his thoughts and prayers to Councillor Horner’s family.  He expressed his shock at the news and expressed the view that this was a major loss for the Council.   Councillor Gifford considered that Councillor Horner had been a brilliant Chair of the Pension Fund Investment Sub-Committee, who undertook a lot of work behind the scenes and displayed a sharp intelligence that Members had grown to respect and understand.  It was an intelligence that was expressed in such a way that one never felt put down, never felt upset, but provoked thought.  Councillor Horner was easy to get along with and one of the reasons it was a pleasant sub-committee to work on.  Councillor Gifford expressed the view that Councillor Horner would have made a brilliant Chairman of the Council.


Councillor Judy Falp noted that she had first met Councillor Horner around 30 years ago when he had become a teacher at the school where she sat on the governing body and he had wanted the children to aspire to great things.  She had also spoken to him a great deal during mental health first aid training, and had many good conversations with him.  She noted how deeply he had cared for his division and that his passing was a great loss to the Council and to his family.  She considered he was a great man to have known and was pleased he had been able to chair the last meeting of the Council.


Councillor Dahmash expressed his sadness and shock at the announcement and reflected on his election in 2013 at the same time as Councillor Horner which had presented them with many opportunities to talk to each other.  He noted that Councillor Horner was very knowledgeable and astute, an enigmatic maverick who was really kind, especially with his advice. 


Councillor Andy Crump expressed how much he had valued Councillor Horner for his dry humour, wit and intelligence.  He echoed sentiments that Councillor Horner was a deep thinker who looked at things from a different angle.  Whilst he was softly spoken, when he spoke, people listened, as what he said was worth listening to.  Councillor Crump expressed the view that Councillor Horner would have been a great chair as he was a great person.  He would miss him, his wry and cheeky smile.  Councillor Crump extended thoughts, prayers and condolences to Councillor Horner’s family and friends.


Councillor Penny-Anne O'Donnell stated that she had been privileged to know Councillor Horner, someone who was very intellectual and wore his heart on his sleeve. He was always immaculately presented and possessed charm and wit, the underrated qualities of kindness and authenticity. She would miss his dry wit and comic timing and his family remained in her thoughts and prayers.


Councillor Christopher Kettle expressed the view that the Council would not easily forget Councillor Horner.  His contributions in meetings were brief, preceded by a smile and he could nod and summarise a topic in one or two sentences that made it easy for all to understand.  He thanked Councillor Horner for his contribution and for demonstrating how Chairing should be done and undertook to try to follow his example. 


Councillor Gilbert concluded by noting that a memorial service for John Horner would take place on 27 May 2022, and further details would be circulated.


(2)  Church Service for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee


Councillor Gilbert reminded Members to respond to their personal invitations to the Church Service to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on 5 June.