Agenda item

Chairman's Announcements


Grainne O’Rourke


The Chairman reported that it was the final full Council meeting for the Strategic Director for Housing, Communities and Governance, and the Council’s Monitoring Officer, Grainne O’Rourke.


Grainne joined NFDC from a local government background in June 1997, as Principal Solicitor - Planning.  Members with long service recalled her excellent work supporting the Planning Committee.


Grainne had a succession of promotions, including to Head of Legal & Democratic Services in February 2000, with the addition of Monitoring Officer responsibilities reflected in 2001.  Grainne was recognised as a brilliant advisor to the Council and its Members.


Grainne’s work in the Monitoring Officer role also included the significant progress from 2011 to move the Council forward from the old Standards regime and help shape its Code of Conduct, and more recently overseeing the preparations for the new Council in 2023, a refreshed Constitution and a comprehensive new Member Induction Programme.


In 2015, Grainne became the Executive Head of Governance and Regulation, broadening her responsibilities across a range of regulatory services.


Grainne began the transformation of the Council’s full range of Housing Services from 2018.  And as preparations continued to meet the requirements of the new Social Housing Regulator, it was recognised that the Council could not be better placed to rise to future challenges in housing, having had Grainne’s driving force to modernise and ensure that services meet the housing needs of local residents.


In recent years, Grainne was also instrumental in helping to deliver the Public Space Protection Orders for the New Forest, working with partners to secure powers to help protect the natural environment. Members recognised that her leadership of this project was much appreciated by local partners including the National Park, the Forestry Commission and the Verderers.


Most recently, in November 2022, Grainne became the Strategic Director for Housing, Communities and Governance and would leave the Council with the legacy of high quality services, her professional approach and an incredible contribution to the Council over 26 years with NFDC.  The Chairman extended, on behalf of the Council, his personal thanks to Grainne, for all her work.


Group Leaders also paid tribute to Grainne on behalf of their groups, recognising her contribution to initiatives such as St George’s Hall, Calshot, the transformation of Housing Services and the significant contribution to the Council in the Monitoring Officer role.


Grainne thanked Members for their kind words, and wished the Council every success for the future.




The Chairman reported on the following engagements undertaken since the last Council meeting:-


17 October


Attended the Youth Options Annual Review and Celebration at Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton, hosted by HM Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire.  This shared the success stories of some of the children and young people together with the work that Youth Options provide.


26 October


HM Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire hosted the Hampshire Awards Ceremony as President, held at St Swithuns School in Winchester.


2 November


Attended the Solent Mind Celebration and AGM, which reflected on the past year, looking ahead to the future and continuing to strengthen partnerships, and looking at the challenges of mental health.


6 November


Attended the Annual Awards Ceremony of Minstead Trust, hosted by Daniel, someone supported by the Trust.  The Wellbeing Instructor Andy spoke about the internal magazine that is produced and there was also a demonstration and a performance by the Portsmouth supported choir.


13 November


Attended, as President, the AGM of New Forest Mencap in New Milton.  The agenda consisted of funding and grants during the financial year and an annual report.


17 November


Attended the Royal Hampshire Regiment Reception in Winchester. 


24 November


Attended the presentation of a new defibrillator positioned at the New Inn Pub in Hounsdown, Totton.  This was due to the fundraising efforts over the last 18 months to raise money for this to be provided and installed.  Wessex Heartbeat presented the community with it on the day.


Represented the District Council at the Beaulieu Annual Estate Dinner, hosted by Lord Montagu.  The guest speaker, Hallam Mills, spoke about his work at Bisterne Farms and the Environmental Farmers Group.


30 November


Attended the Brilliance in Business Awards for the New Forest Business Partnership.  The awards ceremony, representing the 9000 businesses in the New Forest, celebrated the success and achievements of local businesses, and the presentation of awards were made in the 18 categories.


2 December


Attended the Carol Service for the New Milton Town Mayor, featuring performances by the New Forest Community Choir and the La Nova singers.


6 December


Hosted the Inaugural Long Service Award Annual Reception, celebrating NFDC employees who had reached 20, or 30 years of service to the Council this year.


The Chairman extended his thanks to the Vice-Chairman for attending the Mayor of Test Valley’s charity event on 10 November, on his behalf.