New Forest councillor takes charge at Hampshire County Council

Brockenhurst Cllr Keith Mans is the new Conservative leader of Hampshire County Council

HAMPSHIRE County Council has a new leader at the helm – Brockenhurst councillor Keith Mans, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.


Emotions were running high at The Castle in Winchester as Conservative former leader Cllr Roy Perry stepped down with a standing ovation from all county councillors and Cllr Keith Mans was welcomed as new man in charge.

As reported in the A&T, Cllr Perry stepped down from his position after six years, handing over to Cllr Mans who was previously deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services.

A Tory, he represents the Brockenhurst division on HCC and had previously been the member for Lyndhurst.

Before Cllr Perry took charge the leadership was held by another Brockenhurst councillor, Ken Thornber, who died in 2017.

Cllr Mans was an MP for Wyre in Lancashire between 1987 and 1997 and PPS to the health secretary.

He previously served as an RAF officer and then became a senior executive with the John Lewis Group.

Talking to councillors on Friday Cllr Mans said: “I just have three simple messages. We must recognise the council’s past because that tells us where we are today.

“We must be relevant to the present and ensure that the services we provide are ones that are needed by the community.

“And most of all we must focus on the future so we change with the times and provide the services that people will want tomorrow.

“Thank you all for electing me as the leader of Hampshire County Council. I will do my very best not to let you down.”

During his speech on Friday Cllr Mans also thanked Cllr Perry and described him as the best boss he worked for.

Cllr Perry, who will continue to serve as backbench councillor for Romsey Rural, said: “I have been very grateful for the messages and gestures of appreciation I have received for my time as leader. I will be happy to serve as a backbench councillor.

“I pledge my full support to the next leader and his new team as they continue taking Hampshire forward.”

Other appointments included Cllr Charles Choudhary being elected HCC chair and Cllr Mel Kendal, who represents New Milton and recently completed a year as chair on New Forest District Council, chosen as vice-chair.

Outgoing HCC chair Cllr Elaine Still was thanked for her work in the role, which includes presiding over council meetings and representing the authority at civic events.

Cllr Mans’ cabinet includes Cllr Rob Humby as his deputy leader and member for environment and transport, plus another New Forest councillor Edward Heron, who retains the countryside and rural affairs brief.