Councillor returns to role as chairman of South Northants Council after a 10 year gap

Cllr Caryl Billingham
Cllr Caryl Billingham
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The new chairman of South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) described challenges past and present after she was appointed to the role for the second time on Wednesday evening.

Cllr Caryl Billingham was the chairman of SNC in 2005 to 2006 and has been elected for a second term-of-office.

During SNC’s Annual Council meeting on Wednesday Cllr Billingham spoke of the challenges the council faced during her first term, including the future of the Grand Prix and the West Northants Development Corporation.

Looking ahead, she spoke about the positive outcomes of joint working with Cherwell District Council, but also recognised some of the current challenges the district may face with proposed developments of HS2 and a rail freight terminal between Milton Malsor and Blisworth.

Cllr Billingham was first elected to Brackley Town Council in 1975 and served for 36 years during which time she was Town Mayor on five separate occasions.

Initially winning her SNC seat at a by-election in 1990, she has 26 years of unbroken service to the district and is currently one of the ward members for Brackley South.

She said: “I look forward to representing this council at functions within the district. Additionally, I very much hope that I shall be able to visit many parishes within the district which are a little off my regular patch.

“I am Northamptonshire born and bred – and very proud of it - and since I was first elected to SNC in 1990 I have made it my business occasionally to drive all around the district leaving no parish unvisited, but I freely admit that some of them remain less familiar to me than others and perhaps this year that will change. I shall represent this district with pride at functions within the county and beyond its boundaries.”

She was educated at the High School for Girls in Brackley and then took a degree in modern languages at Coventry University, a course which included spells at the universities of Toulouse and Granada.

She was brought up in a family business, founded by her great grandmother in 1904 and eventually sold by her mother in 1975: a thriving newsagents and tobacconists in a small town where everybody knew everybody else.

Cllr Billingham joined the contact lens manufacturing firm Cantor and Silver in 1977 as a ‘temp’ for one month, and later retired in 2011 as a director after 34 years.

Additional involvements also include work as a board member of South Northants Homes, a trustee of Home-Start Daventry and South Northants, a trustee – and current chairman – of Brackley United Feoffee Charity. She is also a relatively new member of the Rotary Club of Brackley and enjoys continuing helping within the community in that role.

Cllr Billingham will be supported by vice-chairman, Cllr Fiona Baker (ward member for Brackley West) in leading full council meetings and representing the district at civic events over the coming year. Cllr Baker is currently the Mayor of Brackley.

During her year as chairman, Cllr Billingham has chosen to support the Willen Hospice, Katharine House and Cynthia Spencer House.