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The Chairman and Vice-Chairman

16 May 2018

The Chairman is the civic and ceremonial head of Essex County Council.

The Chairman’s role is to:

  • be politically impartial and uphold the democratic values of the Council
  • represent the County Council at civic and ceremonial events, acting on behalf of and supported by the whole Council in a non-partisan matter
  • act as the principal spokesman for the Council on civic and ceremonial occasions
  • act as an ambassador and champion for the County Council and Essex
  • uphold and promote the purposes of the Constitution and interpret the Constitution when necessary, working with officers to keep the Constitution under review to ensure it is relevant to the Council’s needs
  • preside over Full Council meetings, acting impartially and ensuring that business is carried out efficiently and effectively whilst protecting the rights of individual County Members and the interests of the community
  • promote public involvement in the Council’s activities and ensure that at Council meetings, matters of concern to local communities can be debated by their County Members
  • promote and support good governance of the Council and its affairs
  • provide community leadership and promote active citizenship, fostering community identity and pride and promoting public involvement in the Council’s activities
  • support the office of the Lord Lieutenant and to provide an office to the Essex Lieutenancy
  • and ask questions of and offer support and advice to Members of the Council.

For the two-year period of his/her office the Chairman is politically neutral.
We also have a Vice-Chairman who acts on the Chairman’s behalf when the Chairman is unavailable.


The current Chairman of the Council is Councillor John Jowers, he was elected on 15 May 2018 by Full Council.  

Councillor Jowers has been an Essex County Councillor since 2005 and currently represents the Mersea and Tiptree Division. 

He was a Cabinet Member for eleven years until becoming the Vice-Chairman of the Council.   He was the first Chairman of the Police and Crime Panel on its creation in 2012.

Cllr Jowers is also a member of Colchester Borough Council where he was first elected in 1996. He served as Leader between 2002 and 2006; during this time he saw the major redevelopment of the Colchester Garrison.  

Prior to being elected to Colchester Borough Council he was a Mersea Town Councillor, serving for ten years, including as Town Mayor.

Cllr Jowers started his career as a lecturer before becoming a fisherman. He was Chairman of the Mersea Fisherman’s Association for 19 years and has served on the Kent and Essex Fisheries Committee, serving for over 30 years.

Cllr Jowers is a Mersea local, with long standing connections to the island. He has been married to Susan for 52 years, they have two children and one grandson.

Profile photograph of Cllr John Jowers


Vice Chairman

The current Vice Chairman is County Councillor Eddie Johnson.

He has represented the  Harlow South East Division since 2005.  He has served as the Cabinet Member and as Deputy Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport between 2014 and 2017.
He has served on many committees including most recently as Chairman of the Place Services and Economic Growth Policy and Scrutiny Committee.

Councillor Johnson was first elected to the Great Parndon Ward on Harlow District Council In 2000. During this time up to present day he has undertaken the roles of Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Council, Chairman of the Environment committee, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Governance.

All invitations to the Chairman, whether in the role of Chairman or as an ordinary Member of the County Council, should be sent to