Reform, economies and putting residents first

The new Conservative leadership of Bath & North East Somerset Council has set out its priorities for the next four years, with a promise to reform the way the local authority works and build a Council which ‘puts the interests of residents first’. That’s according to a statement the Conservative Group – who now control B&NES – have issued.

The Bath Guildhall

The Bath Guildhall

At the authority’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday, 21st May, the Council’s new  leader, Cllr Tim Warren, said that improving transport, investing in the local economy and getting finances back on track would all be at the top of the agenda for his new administration. He also reaffirmed his commitment to delivering on the promises made within the party’s local election manifesto, which included plans to improve local leisure facilities, deliver more affordable homes, and invest in the area’s transport infrastructure, all under a theme of ‘putting residents first’. Council Leader Tim Warren said: “We’ve got a big task ahead of us and we’re very humbled by the trust residents have put in us, but we’ve got a good team in place of talented individuals with fresh ideas and a clear vision for making our area an even better place to live. “With the Council’s new administration now officially appointed, we’re ready to roll-up our sleeves and get on with the job of delivering on the commitments made during the election – such as sorting out our area’s transport system and getting the Council’s finances in order. “There will be difficult decisions ahead, especially when it comes to finding the necessary budget savings within the Council, but B&NES is a great area with huge potential and I’m optimistic about what we can achieve in the next few years.” Explaining the approach the Conservatives will take to running the Council over the next four years, Councillor Warren added: “There’s one overriding theme running through everything we plan to do – and that’s ensuring the interests of residents always come first. Does this proposal truly serve the interests of local residents? That will be the litmus test we will apply to all decisions in the Council. “‘Residents first’ was on the front-page of our manifesto, and that is the approach we will take to running the Council over the next four years.” The Conservatives took control of B&NES Council at the local elections earlier this month, becoming the first political party since B&NES was created to gain an outright majority on the Council, with a total of 37 Councillors against the Lib Dems’ 15 seats and Labour’s 6 Councillors. A further 5 Councillors were also elected as independents. · The six key priorities set out by the new Conservative Cabinet: – Tackle wasteful spending – launching a ‘root and branch’ review of all Council spending to put the Council on a sure financial footing for the long-term; – Improve local transport – bringing forward plans for an East of Bath Park & Ride and developing long-term Transport Strategies for the Somer Valley and Keynsham; – Deliver more homes and jobs – investing in brownfield regeneration projects to deliver more affordable homes and good local jobs; – Invest in young people – delivering more primary school places and investing in facilities for children and young people; – Create cleaner, greener, healthier local communities – with investment in local leisure facilities and improvements to street cleaning and recycling; – Ensure greater choice and independence for older people – with investment in home adaptations for elderly and disabled residents and ensuring integrated health and social care services. Here’s the full list of appointments made at the annual meeting. The new Chairman of Council is Councillor Ian Gilchrist. The Vice-Chairman of Council is Councillor Alan Hale. There are 7 further Cabinet Members taking responsibility for specific service areas. These are: · Councillor Charles Gerrish (Conservative, Keynsham North) – Cabinet Member for Finance & Efficiency · Councillor Tony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown) – Cabinet Member for Transport · Councillor Michael Evans (Conservative, Midsomer Norton North) Cabinet Member for Children’s Services · Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) – Cabinet Member for Community Services · Councillor Vic Pritchard (Conservative, Chew Valley South) – Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health · Councillor Marie Longstaff (Conservative, Keynsham East) – Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning · Councillor Patrick Anketell Jones (Conservative, Lansdown) – Cabinet Member for Economic Development. In addition, there are 7 new roles of Cabinet Assistant. These Cabinet Assistants will not be full members of the Cabinet, but will be aligned to each Cabinet portfolio and will assist the Cabinet Members in their roles – taking on specific responsibilities and helping to ensure delivery within that portfolio. The Cabinet Assistants are: · Finance & Efficiency: Councillor Paul May (Conservative, Publow and Whitchurch) · Transport: Councillor Matt Cochrane (Conservative, Bathwick) · Children’s Services: Councillor Emma Dixon (Conservative, Saltford) · Community Services: Councillor Chris Pearce (Conservative, Kingsmead) · Adult Social Care & Health: Councillor Lisa O’Brien (Conservative, Keynsham South) · Homes & Planning: Councillor Bob Goodman (Conservative, Combe Down) · Economic Development: Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe). Note from VMB Director:  OK so Bath’s heritage comes under economic development but it amazes me that – despite so much income from the city’s World Heritage site ‘attractions’ – there is no Cabinet member appointed solely to look after all the  archaeological, architectural  and cultural money-spinners.