Sir Bob Russell is the High Steward of Colchester Borough.
The Leader of the Council and the Group Leaders agreed that Sir Bob Russell was offered the post of High Steward in recognition of his many years of public service to the borough. Sir Bob Russell subsequently accepted and became the 23rd person to hold this title.
A special full Council meeting was held on 3 November 2015 at the Town Hall, where the Mayor called for the motion to prefer Sir Bob Russell as High Steward. On being declared carried after a vote at this special Council meeting, the High Steward received the badge of office and a framed copy of the transcript of the resolution. More information about the ceremony here, with a link to a recording of the meeting. Civic protocol states that the High Steward is given precedence after the Mayor.
The office of High Steward was created in Colchester by means of a Royal Charter dated 9 July 1635, which was also the Charter that first gave the town a Mayor in place of two annually elected Bailiffs.
The Charter sets out the duties of the High Steward as being "to advise and direct the Mayor and Commonalty of the same Borough in the chief business touching that borough." As the role is purely honorific, it carries no formal responsibilities or powers.
The Charter states that "henceforth for ever there may and shall be in the borough aforesaid a High Steward to advise the Mayor and Commonalty in the chief business touching that borough. Which High Steward indeed shall continue in the office of High Steward of the borough aforesaid during his natural life, unless in the meantime he should resign that office of his own free will."
The Charter goes on to say that after the death or resignation of a High Steward "...at a time fitting.....it shall be rightfully lawful for the Mayor, Aldermen, Assistants, Common Council and Free Burgesses of the Commonalty of the Borough..... to choose and prefer one other as High Steward...."
The office of High Steward had been vacant since 2009 following the resignation of Professor Sir Ivor Crewe who held the office from 2003.