GAPTC Executive Committee
OUR ORGANISATION STRUCTURE
Member councils are represented by an EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE which meets six times a year. Since autumn 2015 it replaces two former committees (county and management) and consists of twelve councillor representatives and one clerk representative. Honorary officers are also entitled to attend, but have no vote.
The committee is responsible for the overall strategic and policy direction of the organisation and ensures there is a system of sound financial management. A marketing and communications working group has been established and members with financial expertise are available to advise the Chief Executive Officer.
Representatives are nominated by parish councils every four years following the election cycle and, in the event of more nominations than places, voting by parishes takes place by email. Each of our administrative districts has three councillor representatives. For ease of management, we include the five Cheltenham parishes in Tewkesbury and Quedgeley is with Stroud.
Committee members can be contacted through our office.
GAPTC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Chipping Campden TC
'People 'ave gone to work, paid their taxes, to give yew this h'education, now it's your turn to give back, h'always remember that.' Wise words from an influential local leader that have echoed in Liz Hodges her entire career. Liz knows it's not the qualifications in your back pocket that make you a caring, passionate member of a community. After deciding office work wasn't for her, she went to college and became a food microbiologist, and married a farmer (although she swore she never would). Liz was a member of the Women's Food and Farming Union (not all women, not all farming and an association rather than a union!) She co-ordinated the industry year-end exhibition in Hyde Park and represented WFU at parliamentary committee meetings lobbying ministers. Liz is a mother who got involved with the PTA and school governors. Over 30 years ago she was persuaded to become a town councillor by a neighbour (a mayor). Liz helped establish a Community Interest Company which now oversees the Tourist Information Centre and helped set up a monthly market in the town. Liz is still very much involved in the farming/contracting business and her limited spare time finds her with her nose in a book, both reading and writing, and occasionally gardening.
Nick Penny has lived in the Forest of Dean since the age of two so truly feels at home in that community. Following a Business Studies degree at the University of Plymouth Nick pursued his childhood dream in retail but soon realised his interests lay in logistics not sales. In June 2000 he entered a career with the Corus Group in Newport and over the following fifteen years successfully progressed through the organisation. Then it was all change again as he launched his own events management company which he continues to run. However, the Pandemic forced a difficult period on the outdoor events industry which saw Nick taking up a full-time role in the 3rd sector with the Forest Voluntary Action Forum. His Town Council journey started in May 2003 when he was elected to Coleford Town Council; he served from 2003–2007 and again from 2011 to the present. Nick has held the roles of deputy mayor and mayor and is passionate about the community in which he feels lucky to serve. Nick is activity involved with the local music scene, although he is not a musician(!) and with the Coleford Twinning Association where he supports all links with Coleford's twin town of St Hilaire de Riez in the Vendee region of France.
Alan Porter was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, where he attended both primary and secondary school. He holds an honours degree in Industrial Chemistry and a master's in educational management. Alan has been a teacher his entire adult life, teaching predominantly in the secondary sector, but not without a short stint in KS2. He has been an executive member of a national Teachers' Union as well as its National Defence Committee. All these roles have influenced the way in which Alan interacts with the people he comes into daily contact with. His union roles have informed him about employment, in particular, the disputes which arise between employers and employees, and the possible mechanisms which can be used to resolve situations, not always to the satisfaction of all concerned. Although retired, Alan is the Chairman of a parish council and still serves on the Gloucestershire branch of the National Teachers' Union. He is an amateur genealogist and rugby enthusiast, having been involved in both refereeing and the assessment of referees.
Gary O'Connor grew up in rural west Ireland. He was educated in Boyle, Co. Roscommon and, as a mature student, attended Stroud College where he studied for a HNC in Mechanical and Production Engineering. Gary has enjoyed a rich and varied career; he was most influenced by his roles in sales and production management (not simultaneously). This work fortified his professionalism and honesty and highlighted the importance of effective customer support, values that continue to inform his work and practise. As a Technical Support Engineer, Gary ran customer-specific training courses. He prides himself on always lending a supportive, empathetic ear and using available resources to achieve desired outcomes. Gary is a keen runner; he coached the Tetbury Youth team for many years & was chairman of the Youth division. He is most proud of his children; of their achievements and the progress they continue to make. He believes GAPTC's role in supporting town and parish councils is most effective in streamlining transitions in councils over election years. Gary always takes an unbiased, balanced view and currently serves as chairman of the Finance and Security, and Youth committees at Tetbury Town Council.
Geraldine Connor grew up and went to school in Cheltenham, she has a master's degree in law from Bristol University where she read medical law, ethics, crime and family law. After leaving the corporate world of law behind Geraldine trained as a counsellor and now works as the parish clerk for Churchdown. These positions have taught her the value of diligence, honesty and discipline which she applies to all aspects of her work and life. She loves to travel and takes long walks in an attempt to achieve a work-life balance. Geraldine represents all the country's clerk's on GAPTC's executive committee.
Isaac Bamfield is a councillor with Berkeley Town Council, where he lives with his wife, two children and a chocolate cockapoo. Isaac grew up locally near Thornbury and has lived in South Gloucestershire most of his life. He attended Marlwood School and went to the University of The West of England and later Cardiff University. Isaac is a chartered civil engineer and day to day runs large programmes as a project manager. In this role he deals with risk management, commercial contracts, finance, collaboratively leading teams, and schedules and stakeholder management. Projects and clients he has been involved in include: electrical substations (National Grid), nuclear new build (Horizon Nuclear Power), metro (Qatar Rail), highways (Highways England), nuclear generation and decommissioning (EDF) and most recently, defence (MOD). Most of Isaac's time revolves around children, but he enjoys long walks with the dog and playing squash when time allows. He hopes to bring his industry and council experience to support GAPTC and its mission to build better councils.
Jim Harmsworth Cowles
Jim Harmsworth Cowles was born in Darlington, went to school in Winchester and university in Lancaster. After realising that the road to journalistic stardom was not paved with local dog shows he moved into graphic design. During his tenure freelancing for London agencies his portfolio boasted big brands like Unilever, Walkers and Coca-Cola. In 2001 Jim established his own agency with clients across a range of sectors. Outside of work, he punishes himself with a season ticket at White Hart Lane, home of the once-mighty Spurs. And to relax Jim attends Lord's, the Oval and county cricket with occasional games at Kingsholm. Music is a huge passion and sees Jim travelling up and down the country watching live music. When he moved to the area in 2015, he was struck by the incredible sense of community in the village and enjoyed the feeling of being part of it. As a result, he is now a councillor at Dumbleton PC. Jim loves being part of the first tier of government and believes that local councils can make a significant difference to the communities they serve. As an executive member of GAPTC he hopes to help grow the organisation so that all the local councils can be empowered to support their communities.
Muriel Bullock has a life-long association with Gloucestershire. She was born in Maisemore and attended Eastington Primary. After passing the 11+ she was offered a place at the then Stroud Girls Secondary Technical School. Unfortunately, her education was cut short when she needed to leave school to care for her mother. As a wife and mother of four, with families of their own, Muriel has no shortage of life experience. After he husband passed away she got involved in voluntary and community work, first as the treasurer for a local diabetes group and in 2010 was 'encouraged' to become a parish councillor. She joined the Eastington PC in September that year where, after what she terms 'a steep learning curve', she became chairman three years later – on her birthday. Muriel is also vice chair of the Eastington Community Land Trust and chair of the village hall board of trustees. She was administrator for a youth choir attached to her local church, served as a Deanery Synod representative and did a short time as a churchwarden. Muriel serves on the GAPTC executive committee because of the support she and her council received during a challenging time and hopes to offer the same for other councils.
Ray Cotton grew up and studied in Birmingham. He served on law enforcement matters for central government nationally, with a predominant interest in the West Country and South Coast for over forty years. He specialised in criminal and civil investigations as well as matters of maritime law. Latterly, he was involved strategically in central government matters; covering national, international operational and liaison aspects which included the first America's Cup race in the UK plus the 2012 Olympics. Throughout his career Ray has worked in public service engaging with the public at large, gaining public understanding, and ensuring transparency of HM Government communications. He has operated an international consultancy company since retiring. Still keen to involved himself in public service, Ray has been a Trustee of the Forest of Dean Citizens' Advice Bureau and is the Awre Parish Council Chairman and is happy to share his experience and skills with GAPTC. Ray is a keen Latin American and Ballroom dancer and has always been interested in space. He was proud to name the European Space Agency Cluster 2 Mission satellites which have monitored the Earth's magnetosphere and space weather affecting climate change since 2000.
Richard Page has a deep understanding of local communities borne out of his long-standing involvement, on many levels and in many areas, with local government. He is chairman of Norton Parish Council, a governor of Norton Church of England Primary School and sits on the village hall management committee. He began his career in the public sector with the legal aspects of Stroud's District Council town and planning responsibilities. He was a Citizens' Advice Trustee (including eight years as Chairman of the Bureau covering West Gloucestershire and the Forest of Dean) and sat on Gloucestershire County Council's School Admissions and Disciplinary appeals panels, giving him an insight into local social and education issues. Richard is a retired lawyer who describes himself as a very family oriented, so it's no surprise that his two sons and grandchildren are what he is most proud of in his life. He grew up in Leicestershire, has been married 42 years and is a real muso; he'll listen to anything from the Neil Diamond to Nirvana. In 1967 he spent a year living and working on a Kibbutz and consequently fought in the Six Day War. Richard loves living in Norton and serves on the executive committee to help his community in the first instance, and the wider GAPTC community in the second.
Steve Ponting became a parish councillor for Rodborough in 2015 and served as the chairman for four years. He was appointed to the GAPTC executive committee in October 2021. After attending the last three GAPTC AGMs he was keen to get involved with the organisation as he found the work interesting. He started his career in various management accounting roles but moved into the information technology sector in the early eighties. For the past twenty-two years Steve has worked as the business systems manager for the Renishaw Group. Having retired at the end of April 2021 Steve feels he can now find time for other activities. He hopes that his experience will help him contribute to the excellent services GAPTC provides and knows he can learn a lot from the experienced councillors who already serve on the committee. Steve has lived in the Stroud area most of his life, maintains a large garden, and has been involved in the governance of two local schools; he continues to serve as a board member at Thomas Keble School.