26 January 2016

Cllr Jim Harker OBE is to step down as Leader of Northamptonshire County Council after more than a decade in the role and 23 years as Leader of the Conservative Group.

Cllr Harker will officially resign from the position at the annual general meeting of the County Council in May but will continue to represent the Ise division as a councillor until the County Council elections 2017.

The next three months will be spent working closely with Cllr Heather Smith (Oundle Division), the Deputy Leader, to ensure a smooth hand-over of responsibilities at the annual meeting of the Council in May.

Cllr Harker said: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been leader of the County Council for all these years – there have been many changes and challenges in local government over the decades.

“Born and raised in the county, representing Northamptonshire means the world to me and I’m proud to think that I’ve helped to bring about positive changes in my time in charge.

“Whatever your political background, you become a councillor to try and make a difference and although not everyone will have agreed with decisions that have been made, they have been for the right reasons.

“We continue to face tough times in local government but I’m sure that, my successor will do a great job as we have an effective team in place that is helping steer the authority through the biggest changes in the history of local government.”

Cllr Harker's career

Jim Harker was elected Leader of Northamptonshire County Council in 2005, having been elected as a Conservative county councillor in 1979. He was Deputy Leader from 1989 to 1993 and leader of the Opposition from 1993 to 2005, during which time he held various positions on the County Council, including Chairman of the Planning and Transportation and Finance committees.

Having served for five years as vice chairman of the Local Government Association’s Economy and Transport Board, Cllr Harker was appointed on to the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board and the Homes and Community Agency’s Rural Housing Advisory Board. He is also on the Local Government Group’s Councillors’ Forum.

He has recently retired as a board member of EMDA, and was the founder and vice chairman of the county’s local enterprise partnership, Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership. For five years he served on the board of Silverstone Holdings Ltd during the County Council’s investment in their major redevelopment project.

He is a founder partner in the England’s Economic Heartland strategic alliance and Chairman of its Strategic Transport Forum.

He sits on the East Midlands Councils Executive Board and was a member of the East Midlands Regional Development Agency and Northamptonshire Police Authority until their demise. He was a member of the Royal & Derngate Theatres Trust for six years.

As well as championing the economic development of Northamptonshire, he is also passionate about its heritage and the part this plays in its prosperity and cultural agenda. He is chairman of the Chester Farm and Roman Town Development Board, and has recently been awarded a Heritage Angel accolade by English Heritage for this work. He is Chairman of the East Midlands Regional Heritage Lottery Fund.

Jim Harker was educated at Kettering Grammar School, and qualified as a chartered quantity surveyor. He was, for 20 years, senior partner of a large Midlands practice of architects and surveyors, Gotch, Saunders & Surridge.

He lives in Geddington with his wife Jenny and together they have five children and 10 grandchildren. Jim enjoys walking, reading, theatre, local history, culture and travel.

Jim was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2012 for services to the civic society and economy of Northamptonshire.