Diss town councillors

The Town Council has 13 town councillors who voluntarily, democratically and lawfully make the strategic decisions.

Sonia Browne

Town Mayor, Chair of Full Council, ex-officio on all committees

Originally from London; my family are of mixed heritage, including; West Indian, Indian, French, English, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and African descent. I moved to Diss in 2011 after living across the UK and abroad. Since 2014, I have served as a Governor at Diss High School and I am now Chair of its Audit Committee. My son attended Diss High School where he was elected head boy, before carrying on his studies at university.

My work has covered areas such as Education, Social Housing, Health & Safety, Investment Banking and Law. I have worked since 2012 with Citizens Advice Diss & Thetford. I am a Advice Crisis Champion, Mental Health Navigator, Domestic Abuse Support Specialist, Debt & FinCap Specialist, DRO Intermediary, Trainer, Supervisor and Consultant.

I was co-opted onto Diss Town Council as a councillor in 2017, believing that it is important to serve and give back to the community, which has been so supportive to my family.

As Mayor I sit on all council committees, In addition to the Carnival sub-committee, Diss Youth Town Council and Christmas Lights Switch-On committee.

Simon Olander

Council Leader, Chair of Infrastructure committee, ex-officio on all other committees

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I have had the pleasure of living in Diss all my life. My working life on the whole has been for Royal Mail, in that role I have delivered to Diss and the villages around it.

I joined Diss Town Council as a Councillor in 2004 as I wanted to shape the place where I live.

Through my council role I was and am able to make our town a better place to live.

Over time Diss has changed particularly with regard to new development and infrastructure.

In my time on the Town Council I have been Chair of the Planning & Highways Committee now the Infrastructure Committee, I have sat on various committees/groups for different projects in the town.

My proudest moment however was being elected first Deputy in 2006 but then Town Mayor a year later, which I was for two years and the youngest Mayor at 36 years old in Diss’s history.

Since then and in 2019 I was elected Council Leader.

I am passionate about Diss and the surrounding villages, my aim is for all to grow in a reasonable manner and receive good quality development in the right places.

Only by the parishes working together I believe we can achieve this.’

Doreen Collins

Member of Facilities and Infrastructure committees

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I moved to the Diss area in 1988 and worked at the Tourist Information Centre when it opened in the heart of Diss in 1989.

Over the last 30 years I have had the privilege to become involved in many projects and committees in the promotion of Diss.  Working within the community, I was able to get to know the residents, businesses and local groups and became involved in committees.  I have volunteered for many projects which include the Diss Town Guide, Town Team, Christmas Lights Committee and I also helped to revive and run the much loved Carnival for 8 years.

I currently run the floral project around Diss which has enabled wooden planters filled with beautiful flowers to be placed around the town, brightening up the area.

I have a good knowledge of the town and I thought my experience and knowledge would be an asset to the Town Council, helping to shape a much better future for the residents of Diss!

Mark Gingell

Member of Executive, Infrastructure and Planning committees

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I was born in London and moved to the Diss area over 25 years ago and continued my association with the town, having first visiting it in 1978. 

I am a retired Assistant Headteacher and have worked full-time in both the private and public sectors. I have worked part-time for a charity as well as a volunteer and I currently work as a Benefits Form Specialist at Diss Citizens Advice in town. Through my work, I get to meet and work with a cross-section of Diss residents and the individual difficulties that they can face at times. 

I often travel in and around Diss and the local parishes by foot, bike and car. Again, I see the town from different perspectives and can assimilate the views of others, into a coherent and concise viewpoint and therefore better inform the decision making process.

Sue Kiddie

Member of Infrastructure, Facilities and Executive committees

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I have lived in Diss for the last 26 years and my three children were schooled in Diss. I have a background in nursing, the armed forces, project management and running my own business.

I presently own and run a dress shop in Mere Street. It was there, in the heart of the community whilst listening to my customers that I realised that there were real challenges in Diss. I felt that I could bring my own expertise and experience to the Town Council, helping to shape the future of the town that I have grown to love.

I feel very much a part of Diss and its community and by serving on the Council I feel I can contribute to both.

Adrian Kitchen

Member of Facilities and Infrastructure committees

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I have resided in Diss most of my life and began to play the violin at school. I then continued my violin studies at the City of Leeds College of Music; I am very grateful to all those people who helped me to become a professional musician of merit. I have been teaching the violin for over 30 years and currently work at Diss High School as a support worker.

During my time as a musician, I made a few recordings on the Brewhouse label and on my own AKCC and AKCD labels. I became a councillor many years ago as I am passionate about improving the area for the benefit of both residents and visitors.

I believe that by being a councillor, I am at the core of how changes can be implemented within the town.

Julian Mason

Member of Executive, Planning and Facilities committees

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I have lived and, before retirement, worked in Diss on and off for the last forty years. 

I was employed at Hamlin Electronics for over thirty years, which for newcomers to the town was on Sawmills Road where the glazing company now is. Later, I joined and finally became co-owner of Larter and Ford in town. 

I have two daughters and three grandchildren who all live locally. Most of my hobbies involve sport and I have been actively involved with both the football and cricket club over the years. 

I joined the Council hoping to give something back to our splendid town and have enjoyed about twelve years contributing to making improvements for the good of the residents and visitors.

Kieran Murphy

Executive, Facilities

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I have lived in Diss my whole life and have found it to be a wonderful and vibrant town. Before becoming a councillor, I was an active member of the Diss Youth Council. I joined it in 2017 when I was 15 and became its first leader and chair. During my time on the youth council, I took part in many town events and really enjoyed getting involved in the community. I think the community spirit in Diss is incredible. I'm honoured to serve Diss as a councillor and I look forward to representing our town in the future.

Dave Poulter

Member of Executive, Facilities, Infrastructure and Planning committees

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I am married with three daughters. My wife Liz and I moved here from Essex in 2017 following my retirement. We love the area and the town, and I am keen to do what I can to help Diss flourish, whilst retaining the unique character that originally attracted us.

I have worked in blue collar, technical, managerial and executive roles. I started out with British Rail and then the NHS, before setting up my own project management consultancy. I then went on to work with Local Authorities, Housing Associations & Developers to deliver affordable housing schemes. My experience includes consultation and negotiation, commercial, financial, design and risk management.

John Robertson

Chair of Facilities Committee, member of Executive and Planning committees.

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I was born and raised in Essex and was schooled there and in Kent.  I served in the Metropolitan Police as a Police Officer in London for 30 years finally retiring in 2003.  During my working life I have picked up a useful skill set, which I have utilised after retirement and diversified into employment as a self-employed advisor and trainer on Working at Height.  I hold an accredited power boat trainer licence and continue to hold a commercial Coastal Skippers licence.

I am married with three daughters who live in New Zealand, Australia and Somerset.  My wife and I moved to Diss in 2014 and found a wonderfully friendly and welcoming place. I am very used to public service and I thought that by serving as a Town Councillor, I could bring the skill set I have gained through my working life to Diss.

I was co-opted onto the Town Council in 2017 and have thoroughly enjoyed working for the residents of Diss. There is a strong feeling of “Town” in Diss, and I hope that through the Town Council we can improve and enhance the “Town” experience of residents, workers and visitors.

Eric Taylor

Chair of Planning Committee, member of Executive, Facilities and Infrastructure committees

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I moved with my family to Diss from Manchester in 1983. Throughout my working life I have been involved with the design and manufacture of specialist agricultural machinery and in the last 12 years of working, managed one of the UK’s largest agricultural machinery manufacturers.

When I retired in 2013, I was able to follow my interests in how the town was changing particularly with regard to new development and infrastructure. Initially, this was with the local residents' association but for the last two and a half years with the Town Council where I chair the Planning Committee and am also the Vice-Chair of the Infrastructure Committee.

I joined the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group two years ago because of my passion to see Diss grow in a structured way with the right amount of good quality development in the right place. I also wanted to influence the need for better infrastructure to cater for the growth in Diss.

Stuart Warren

Full Council, Infrastructure, Executive

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I have lived in and around Diss most of my life. After moving to Norwich a few years ago, my partner and I moved back to Diss because we missed the area and wantred to be closer to family. Between us we have four children, two girls and two boys. 

I have worked in the care and support sector as well as in mental health, welfare rights advice and social housing. I’m also a qualified vehicle technician. At the moment, I work for Citizen’s Advice in Diss and Equal Lives. 

I’m passionate about helping and supporting others, particularly those with mental health difficulties. I have a mental health illness and am quite determined to show others that it is perfectly acceptable to suffer from ill mental health. I want people to see that it’s good to be open and honest about it to help combat stigma. 

I decided to join the Council team because I’m passionate about the town and want to provide a voice to those that wouldn’t normally get involved. I want to help improve our town and continue to make it a lovely place to live and for people to visit.

Jim Welch

Member of Infrastructure committee

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I was born in London in 1959. I was Grammar school educated before studying with the university of life, compliments of the Royal Air Force.

While in the services, I was able to participate in my passions of archaeology, genealogy and war gaming. My time in the service was spent in an intelligence role, which has given me many skills to fall back on when needed. I moved to Diss a few years ago with my family looking for a slower pace of life, only to find I had come home; my mother’s great grandfather was born in Diss in 1847.

I was co-opted onto the Council in 2020 after finding I had time on my hands. I needed something to help me get over a bout of depression and I have a passion for improving life for the residents within the town.

I hope to speak up for the people of Diss and can be found in and around the many cafes in town most days.

John Wooddissee

Full Council, Executive, Infrastructure

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I was born and bred in the West Midlands. After studying at Sheffield University, I went on to live and worked in Scotland, The Midlands and Manchester before moving to Norfolk in 1990. I lived in Norwich and then Dickleburgh before moving into Diss in 2019.

Following many years in HR, I became Chief Executive of Norfolk & Waveney Training and Enterprise Council and worked closely with local authorities, charities and other organisations to provide training and business development support across the area. 

In 1996, I set up my own business management consultancy (which I still run) specialising in Compliance and Quality Management.

For 5 years I was the Non-Executive Chairman of All Hallows Hospital near Bungay. I was also a Governor at Diss High School and its Chair of Governors for several years. 

I believe that my blend of experience, knowledge and skills will enable me to make a positive contribution to Diss as it regenerates and grows following the pandemic.


11-12 Market Hill

Diss, IP22 4JZ

Visit the office from 9.30am-1.30pm Mon-Fri


01379 643848

Phone lines open 9.30am-3pm


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