Tributes are being paid to the former Leader and Chairman of Hampshire County Council, Honorary Alderman Ken Thornber CBE who has passed away following illness.
Ken Thornber served on Hampshire County Council for 40 years, being first elected in 1977 for Hythe, then in 1981 for Dibden and Hythe, and from 1989 for Brockenhurst Division. He was Leader of the County Council from 1999 to 2013, and Chairman in 2013/14.
Leading tributes, the Leader of the County Council, Councillor Roy Perry said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ken Thornber. He was a hugely respected politician, both locally and nationally, and a public servant in the truest sense of the word.
“Ken played a pivotal role in the political and decision making process in Hampshire – serving the people of the county with diligence and commitment for many years. He cared very much about the divisions that he represented during his four decades of public service. He was equally passionate about the whole of the county, the importance of local government and of public service.
“He not only represented the people of Hampshire, but was also a voice for local government on the national stage, with roles as Chairman of the County Councils Network, as well as Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Resources Committee. He also championed new ways of working in local government, introducing a voluntary partnership to bring public services in the county together. One of his many personal innovations was the commission he set up in Hampshire on adult social care which became a landmark for national policy development.
“I am very pleased that the County Council agreed to bestow on Ken the highest accolade at our discretion, that of Honorary Alderman, at our Council meeting only this week. On behalf of my colleagues at the County Council, we send our thoughts and heartfelt condolences to his family at this very sad time.”
During his 40 years, Ken served on every main committee of the County Council with the exception of Planning and Transportation. He served on many panels and sub-committees and he chaired the Pension Fund Panel, the Buildings, Land and Procurement Panel and the Personnel Sub-Committee among others. He was also Vice-Chairman of the Police Authority of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and a former Chairman of the Hampshire Ambulance Services NHS Trust.
Ken represented the County Council on numerous outside bodies, including the County Councils Network, which he chaired, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Government Association, Hampshire Gardens Trust, the Local Government Association, in which he served as Chairman of the Resources Committee, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum Trust Board, of which he was sole Trustee, South East England Regional Assembly and the New Forest National Park Authority.
Ken Thornber had long been a voice for local government on a national stage. In April 2006, he was appointed as the first Chairman of the Innovation Forum, whose membership was drawn from top-performing local authorities across the country to promote creative dialogue between central and local government and its partners, on new ways of working to deliver better services to local communities. He was County Council’s Network Chairman for three years (2004-07) which acts as the voice of the 37 shire counties – together these authorities represent 48% of the population of England and provide services across 87% of its land area. He has also played an active role in the Local Government Association previously being Chairman of the LGA’s Resources Panel and Conservative Group.
In 1993 he was awarded the CBE for services to politics and the public. His lifelong and distinguished contribution to the public life in Hampshire was again recognised in 2005, when he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Winchester University in the context of health and policing as well as his work with Hampshire County Council.
Ken concluded his service as a County Councillor in May 2017. He was made Honorary Alderman by unanimous agreement of the full Hampshire County Council on 2nd November 2017, the award received on Ken’s behalf by former councillor Mrs Pat West as Ken was too ill to attend in person.
A graduate from Strathclyde University with a Business Degree, Ken Thornber was a Management Consultant by profession, and worked for the Philips organisation, Price Waterhouse and Unilever and travelled the world widely, for the latter. He was author of CBI publication “Managing Change – The Organisation of Work.”