At its Annual Meeting on Thursday, 28 May 2015, Councillor Susan Harvey became the district’s first citizen, when she was elected as Chairman of Suffolk Coastal District Council.
Cllr Harvey, who represents the Kirton Ward, will be Chairman for the next 12 months, taking on the post from Cllr Bob Snell. The new Vice-Chairman of the Council is Cllr Mark Newton, who represents the Tower Ward.
The Chairman’s role is a largely ceremonial one of representing the district at about 100 formal and less formal public engagements a year. Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Chairman wears a chain of office when carrying out most duties, but does not have any formal robes like many mayors.
Cllr Harvey, who has lived in Kirton for 38 years, became a Suffolk Coastal Councillor in 2011, after serving for 30 years on Kirton and Falkenham Parish Council.
“I am thrilled to be in this position, where I have the opportunity to promote all the good things about Suffolk Coastal,” said Cllr Harvey.
“It is a great privilege to be elected as Chairman, to represent such a fantastic area of Suffolk, the county where I was born and bred. I am a family person, not someone with a long list of qualifications. I firmly believe the strength of this area is our communities.”
“Our supportive communities do not happen by accident. We have to work to develop and maintain our communities. While I am Chairman, I will be working to develop community spirit everywhere and make sure that those with quieter voices also get their chance to be heard.”
“I am also a big supporter of the drive by Suffolk Coastal to provide more affordable housing, which allows us to keep families and their children in the village. It is a fantastic initiative, which works well and helps build thriving communities for the future.”
“I also think it is important to cater for the older people in our villages, by providing accommodation that they can downsize to and remain within their own communities, with their circle of friends, in their later years.”
Cllr Harvey is married, with three grown up children (2 boys and 1 girl). She was born in Stowupland, but she was put up for adoption at three months of age. She was adopted by her new family, Leonard Harridge (a draftsman at ICI Stowmarket) and his wife, Ethel.
She went to Springfield School in Ipswich, before moving to Amberfield School, finishing up with a ‘handful’ of O’levels. A spell working at Midland Bank, was followed by marriage.
Cllr Harvey studied for her City and Guilds in furniture making, design and history, before setting up and running a successful upholstery business, based in Kirton, for 23 years – specialising in making small oak tables and chairs, and bookcases.
Cllr is also a trustee for the local NASSAU Trust, as well as being part of the team running Kirton’s Community lunch club and Community tea shop.
She is committed to community-based work and will be supporting two charities during her year as Chairman – Alzheimer’s Research and Home-Start.