Somerset County Council

Civic dignitaries


The Chair of the Council
The Council elects its Chair and Vice Chair each year. Currently the Chair is Cllr Nigel Taylor and the Vice Chair is Cllr Peter Clayton.

The role of the Chair, and in their absence, the Vice-Chair, is:

  • to uphold and promote the purposes of the Constitution, and to interpret the Constitution when necessary; 
  • to preside over meetings of the Council so that its business can be carried out efficiently and with regard to the rights of councillors and the interests of the community;
  • to ensure that the Council meeting is a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community and the place at which members who are not on the Executive Board are able to hold the Board to account; 
  • to promote public involvement in the Council's activities; 
  • to be the conscience of the Council; and 
  • to attend such civic and ceremonial functions as the Council and he/she determines appropriate. 

For more information about the Chair or Vice Chair of the Council please contact:

Democratic Services
Somerset County Council,
County Hall,
TA1 4DY 
Phone 01823 357628

The Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset
Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of a county is an Honorary Officer appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. He or she is the permanent representative of the Crown in that county and normally serves until retirement at between 70 and 75 years of age. 

Somerset Lieutenancy covers the historic county of Somerset (that is the areas administered by Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, and Somerset County Councils). The total population of these areas at the last census was 908,700.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset is:
Mrs Annie Maw
Lieutenancy Office
County Hall

The office dates from the reign of Henry VIII, and the Lord-Lieutenant was originally responsible for the maintenance of order and for local defence.

Nowadays the responsibilities of the Lord-Lieutenant include:

  • All aspects of visits by members of the Royal Family, and escorting Royal Visitors
  • Presentation of awards and medals on behalf of The Queen
  • Representing The Queen at a variety of events
  • Liaison with local units of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, and with the reserve forces and cadets
  • Participation in civic and voluntary activity within the Lieutenancy
  • Advising on honours nominations
  • Chairmanship of the Advisory Committee which recommends the appointment of magistrates to the Lord Chancellor

On ceremonial occasions male Lord-Lieutenants wear uniform, women a special badge.

The Lord-Lieutenant is supported by a Vice Lord-Lieutenant and by Deputy Lieutenants, who she appoints from people who have rendered particular service to the county in a variety of ways, the number depending on the size of population. There are normally between 30 and 40 Deputy Lieutenants.

You can get more information from:

Justin Fudge
Lieutenancy Office
County Hall

Phone 01823 356726

or Julia Knight
Phone 01823 355509

You can also find more information on The Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset website

The High Sheriff of Somerset 

Jonathan Halliday Esq
Corfe Barton

Phone 07770 673428

The Office of High Sheriff is at least 1000 years old, having its roots in Saxon times, before the Norman Conquest. It is the oldest continuous secular office under the Crown. Originally, the office held many of the powers now vested in HM Lord-Lieutenants, High Court Judges, Magistrates, local authorities, Coroners and even the Inland Revenue. 

The Office of High Sheriff remained first in precedence in the counties until the reign of Edward VII, when an Order in Council in 1908 gave the Lord-Lieutenants the prime office under the Crown as the sovereign's personal representative. Lord-Lieutenants were created in 1547 for military duties in the shires. The High Sheriff remains the sovereign's representative in the county for all matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.

Functions of the office
High Sheriffs are responsible in the counties of England and Wales for duties conferred by the Crown through warrant from the Privy Council, including:

  • Attendance at Royal visits to the county 
  • The well-being and protection of Her Majesty's High Court judges when on circuit in the county and attending them in court during legal terms
  • Acting as the Returning Officer for Parliamentary Elections in county constituencies
  • Responsibilities for the proclamation of the accession of a new sovereign
  • The maintenance of the loyalty of subjects to the Crown
  • In Somerset, the leading role in Somerset Crimebeat

Nominations for High Sheriff
Nominations to the office of High Sheriff are dealt with through the presiding Judge of the Circuit and the Privy Council, for consideration by the Sovereign in Council. The annual nominations of three prospective High Sheriffs for each county are made in a meeting of the Lords of the Council in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice on 12 November each year.

Subsequently, the selection of new High Sheriffs is made annually in a meeting of the Privy Council by the Sovereign, when the custom of 'pricking' the appointee's name with a bodkin is perpetuated.

The Sheriff's Year
The High Sheriff takes up appointment upon making a sworn declaration in terms dictated by the Sheriff's Act 1887. The appointment is for one year only, except in the event of something untoward happening to the High Sheriff's expected successor, in which case a High Sheriff must remain in office until the appointment of a successor is executed.

High Sheriffs are now encouraged by the Shrievalty Association of England and Wales to undertake duties to improve and sustain the morale of personnel of voluntary and statutory bodies engaged in the maintenance and extension of law and order and the entire criminal system. 

It is an independent, non-political office which enables the holder to bring together a wide variety of individuals and office holders for the good of the community a High Sheriff serves. In recent years, High Sheriffs in many parts of England and Wales have been particularly active in the field of crime reduction and the development of an anti-crime culture, particularly among young people - Somerset Crimebeat. 

The High Sheriff receives no pay or expenses.

In Wells Cathedral
The new High Sheriff is formally sworn-in towards the end of March each year. The new High Sheriff is presented in the cathedral at the Legal Service, giving the opportunity for a prayer of thanksgiving for the past year and a welcome for the year to come.

» Indicates required fields

Feedback form
Was this information helpful? »