District Councils’ Network vice-chair Cllr Sharon Taylor has been awarded a peerage, Downing Street announced on Friday.
Cllr Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council for the past 16 years, has held key national roles at the District Councils’ Network and its predecessor bodies for the past decade and a half.
Following her peerage nomination Sharon will be standing down as Stevenage leader on New Year’s Eve and will therefore relinquish her DCN position – the most senior Labour role in the district council movement – at the same time. She will remain a councillor until the 2024 elections.
Sharon said: “The DCN has really raised the profile of districts, the tier of local government closest to local communities, so I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done.
“The fact is that, as a cross-party organisation, we’ve worked very closely with many Secretaries of State and it’s now a normal thing for our chairman to go into the department to meet with Simon Clarke and his top civil servants.
“I am passionate about local government and will be seeking to work in the House of Lords on the devolution agenda to bring about our sector’s further empowerment. I hope the Lords gives me a new platform from which to promote the cause of local government and the services which we deliver which are so vital to so many people.”
DCN chairman Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen said: “Sharon has made an enormous and tireless contribution to Stevenage, to the district councils’ movement and to the whole of local government so I congratulate her on being awarded her well-deserved peerage.
“Within both the District Councils’ Network and the LGA, Sharon has used her political nous to work across party lines to seek devolution to councils and ensure our sector is properly funded, and to ensure councils work as effectively as possible.
“I know that she will continue to be a passionate and effective advocate of district councils in the House of Lords.
“I very much look forward to working with Sharon’s successor as DCN Labour vice-chair.”
Sharon is one of three DCN vice chairs – the others representing the Liberal Democrat and Independent groups. The cross-party DCN currently has a Conservative chair.