Chairman of the council

Information about the Chairman's role, the difference between the Chairman and the Leader, who the current Chairman and Vice Chairman are, do they wear a chain.

Information about inviting the Chairman to your event, how the invitation will be dealt with, what happens on the day of an event, how to verbally address the Chairman, order of civic dignitaries, what the Chairman's awards are, what the commendation awards are and how to nominate someone for the awards.

Who are the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the council?

The Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council is Councillor John Whittle and he will be accompanied on civic engagements by Mrs. Jane Whittle.

Councillor Whittle, who has served as Vice Chairman for the last year, has been an independent councillor for North Holderness since his election to East Riding of Yorkshire Council in 2007.

Since his election, Councillor Whittle has been a member of strategic planning committee for the last 15 years and also sits on the children and young people overview and scrutiny committee.

Before his election to East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Councillor Whittle had been a member of Holderness Borough Council and has sat on Hornsea Town Council since the early 1980s and has served as their mayor on seven occasions, including in 1987 when, at the age of 31, he was their youngest elected mayor at that time.

Councillor Whittle was born in Middlesbrough but had family links to Hornsea and it was while he was a student at Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincoln that he would spend his holidays working at the famous Hornsea Pottery where among the jobs he undertook was driving the miniature bus before moving into full time employment, culminating in a sales role.

After taking care of his father’s small printing business, Councillor Whittle moved into the hospitality industry and along with his wife, Jane, owned the Swiss Cottage restaurant in Hornsea for a number of years before leaving the venue to focus on his role as a ward councillor.

Looking ahead to his year in office, Councillor Whittle said: “It is a great honour to be elected as the chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council and I’m very much looking forward to the year ahead.

Councillor Whittle has three step-daughters, six grandchildren as well as a number of great-grandchildren and is also a well-known figure in Hornsea’s amateur dramatic and operatic scene.

The Chairman’s charity appeal for the civic year is Hornsea District Lions Club (external website)

Chairman of the Council - Councillor John Whittle (pdf 320kb)

The Vice Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council is Councillor Linda Bayram.

A list of past chairmen of East Riding of Yorkshire Council can be viewed below:

Past Chairmen of the Council (pdf 128kb)

What is the Chairman’s role?

Since its creation in 1996, East Riding of Yorkshire Council took the decision not to call their Civic Head a Mayor but decided upon the title of Chairman and, in that capacity, it is their duty to represent and promote East Riding of Yorkshire Council at all civic and ceremonial events as well as chairing council meetings.

The Chairman attends a variety of events and functions within the East Riding of Yorkshire organised by businesses, churches, local organisations, parish and town councils and many other organisations throughout the county and further afield if there is an East Riding connection. The Chairman also attends events which are organised by council departments, such as opening of community homes, schools, youth clubs and museum exhibitions to name but a few.

The position of Chairman is held by a councillor who is appointed at the council's annual general meeting held in May. The position is held for a period of one year and is apolitical.

During their civic year, the Chairman may also choose to raise money for charity through fundraising events.

A Vice Chairman is also appointed to represent the Chairman should they be unable to attend an event.

How do I contact/invite the Chairman to my event?

If you wish to invite the Chairman of the Council to attend your event please complete a Request a Visit Form (online council form).

Alternatively please contact the Civic Office by the following means:

In writing:

Civic Services East Riding of Yorkshire Council
County Hall
Cross Street
HU17 9BA.

By email: Tel: (01482) 393260

Please do not contact the Chairman directly or send correspondence to their home. All communication must be done through Civic Services.

When inviting the Chairman, please give some thought to what you wish to achieve by having the Chairman at your function and what you would like the Chairman to do. This may include making a presentation, receiving a cheque, reading a lesson, making a speech or drawing a raffle.

It would be useful if you could provide some background information about your organisation and the event, this is especially important if you wish the Chairman to make a speech.

Please note: the Chairman often has several civic engagements throughout the day and will need to leave your event on time in order to maintain their schedule.

How will my invitation be dealt with?

All invitations received will be discussed with the Chairman and a decision made depending upon the civic diary. If the Chairman is available to attend your event an acceptance letter or email will be sent to the named organiser together with an attendance form and guidance on the protocol to be observed. The attendance form must be completed and returned to the civic office to arrive prior to the date of the event.

In the event that the Chairman is unable to attend, the invitation will be passed onto the Vice Chairman for consideration and the appropriate response sent.

How do I verbally address the Chairman?

When introducing it should be 'Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Councillor…' or referring to the Chairman in a speech of any description, they should be addressed as 'Chairman of the council'. If speaking on a one-to-one basis, the correct form of address is 'Mr. Chairman', if a gentleman, or 'Madam Chairman', if a lady.

If making a speech and the Lord-Lieutenant is in attendance and other visiting dignitaries whether Lord Mayors or Town Mayors, the order in which they should be addressed at the beginning of a speech is 'Lord-Lieutenant, High Sheriff, Chairman, Distinguished Guest, Ladies, and Gentlemen'.

Further advice or clarification on the protocol can be sought from Civic Services.

What is the correct order in which civic dignitaries should be placed?

The Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire (which for ceremonial purposes includes the East Riding of Yorkshire and the City of Kingston upon Hull) is The King's representative and, if attending the event, takes precedence over all local dignitaries. If not in attendance, the Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council has precedence within the East Riding of Yorkshire over all visiting dignitaries including Lord Mayors and Town Mayors but not the High Sheriff of the East Riding of Yorkshire if they are present.

Therefore, the order of precedence should be Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, High Sheriff of the East Riding of Yorkshire, Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, visiting Lord Mayors, Mayors and Town Mayors.

Further advice or clarification on protocol can be sought from Civic Services.

Which organisations are supported as part of the Chairman's Charity Appeal?

During Councillor Whittle's Civic Year, the Chairman's Charity Appeal (2023/2024) will support the following organisation:

Hornsea District Lions Club (external website)

Any donations would be gratefully received. Cheques should be made payable to ‘ERYC Chairman’s Charity Appeal’ and sent to:

Civic Services East Riding of Yorkshire Council
County Hall
HU17 9BA.

Does the Chairman wear a chain?

When attending at official events, the Chairman wears a chain and badge of office which belonged to the former Humberside County Council.

The chain was designed by local designer, Miss Jacqueline Stieger, who collected the stones from along the East Coast but mostly from the beach at Hornsea.

The stones vary in size and shape and it is said that the links which do not house a stone represent the lost towns and villages of the East Riding and its coast.

The Chairman's badge of office has the council’s coat of arms within the centre.

To fact sheet below provides more information on the Chairman's chain and the badge of office:

Fact sheet on the Chairman's chain and badge of office (pdf 340kb)

What are the Chairman’s Awards?

Every year, the Chairman’s Awards are given to recognise people, businesses or organisations within the East Riding of Yorkshire who have gone above and beyond to serve the community and who have made a significant difference to enhancing their local community and the social well being of the area.

Find out more about the Chairman's Awards here

What is the difference between the Chairman and the Leader of the council?

The Chairman is the civic representative of the council and has no formal power on decision making except to chair council meetings where they must:

  • uphold and promote the purposes of the constitution, and interpret the constitution where necessary on advice from the Chief Executive
  • preside over meetings of the council so that its business can be carried out efficiently and with regard to the rights of councillors and the interests of the community
  • to ensure that the council meeting is a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community and the place at which councillor (who are not on the Cabinet) are able to hold the Cabinet to account
  • to promote public involvement in the council's activities
  • to be the conscience of the council; and,
  • to agree matters of special urgency to the extent permitted by the local authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000 as amended.

The Leader is the political spokesperson for the council and provides effective political leadership and strategic direction for the council. No executive power is delegated to the Leader.

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