I am pleased to see three political ex-colleagues in the Birthday Honours this time and send them hearty congratulations.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson has been appointed a Commander of the British Empire. He is the Liberal leader of Portsmouth City Council and has held on to his seat and to this council as a Liberal one despite the national collapse of the Liberal Party. I got to know him when I was Chairman of the South East Regional Assembly. He was a typical Liberal in his political outlook so we rarely agreed in anything, particularly things European. However, he was a lot more personable than many Liberals and, I think, less to the left than many so we got on well on a personal level. Congratulations, Gerald, welcome to the club (an exclusive one with membership capped at 8,960 members!) and enjoy your day at the Palace!
Cllr Paul Bettison has been appointed an Officer of the British Empire. He is the Conservative Leader of Bracknell Forest Unitary Council in Berkshire. He has been the Council Leader for 20 years and has been active in the Local Government Association for much of that time. He is a larger than life character with a taste for garish ties. He used to drive a Jaguar with a personalised number plate and expect he has still got it! I always enjoyed working with him on regional and national issues. Congratulations, Paul and enjoy your day at the Palace!
Cllr Phil Atkins has also been appointed an Officer of the British Empire. He is the Conservative Leader of Staffordshire County Council. He is another long-serving council leader and he has been active regionally and nationally in the Local Government Association and the County Councils Network. I got to know him when Chairman of the South East Regional Assembly and in the LGA where we regularly enjoyed a joke in a quiet moment or a gossip in the corridor between meetings. Congratulations, Phil and enjoy your day at the Palace!
Finally, I was pleased to see Oxfordshire County Council in the Birthday Honours. Charles Greville Williams is the Watch Manager for Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service and has been appointed a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire. Well done Charles!