Toggle menu

Chairman of the council

The Chairman of the Council is the council's civic head and the first citizen of the New Forest. The current chairman is Cllr Neville Penman.

Chairman Cllr Neville Penman


I have lived in the New Forest all my life as my Scottish father, who was in the Army, met my mother who was a local girl born in Bartley, while he was based at Marchwood. 

Having worked as a line stockman at Dimplex for many years, I was then offered a job as a sales representative for safety equipment, working with various rail companies across both England and Scotland.   This then led to me starting my own safety company, serving both local and national business needs, including major train companies up and down the Country. 

Having married, we settled in Totton and had both a daughter, Nicola and a son, Stuart.  Nicola now has 2 children of her own, making me a very proud grandfather.

After been asked by a relation if I wanted to stand as a Town Councillor for Totton, I agreed and was elected to Totton and Eling Town Council in 2007, where I have been Chairman four times.  I then stood for the District Council, in the Ward of Totton North, in 2011 where I was elected.  I have served on various Committees for the District Council, and served as Vice Chairman in 2022-23.

It is very much an honour to be serving as Chairman for 2023-24, not only for myself but also for the whole District.

The role of the Chairman

District councils are required by law to elect a chairman each year by all members of the council. The Chairman of the Council will not necessarily be a member of the majority political group on the council. As the chair of Full Council meetings, he or she is expected to be completely impartial in this role.

The Chairman is the council's civic head and, as the first citizen of the district, takes precedence within the district over everyone except Their Majesties The King and Queen, or Their representative (usually the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Hampshire). At events arranged by or on land owned by Hampshire County Council, the Chairman of the County Council takes precedence.

As the council's civic head, the Chairman's duties include:

  • welcoming members of the Royal Family when they visit the district
  • receiving dignitaries and other visitors
  • hosting civic functions
  • attending numerous local events, large and small.

The Vice-Chairman can deputise for the Chairman and performs similar duties.

Find out more about the Chairman's engagements.

The Chairman's chosen charities

The Chairman will be supporting the Minstead Trust and the Rainbow Trust during his year in office.

If you are interested in making a donation or helping to raise funds for the Chairman's charities, contact:

Sue Jennings
Business Support Officer

Chairman's engagements

Invite the Chairman of the Council to a local event or function.

Previous Chairmen of the Council

Previous Chairmen dating back to the Council's formation in 1974.

Vice-Chairman of the council

The Vice-Chairman deputises for the Chairman and performs similar duties.

Share this page

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email