New leader, new direction?

A change of leadership at the top as Councillor Dine Romero announces she is standing down as leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council and of the council’s Liberal Democrat group.

Cllr Kevin Guy is the new Lib Dem council group leader, and will be the Lib Dem nomination for council leader at the council AGM.

Cllr Kevin Guy, the new Leader of B&NES.

Councillor Romero has been council leader since being elected at the council’s Annual Meeting in May 2019.

Deputy council leader Councillor Richard Samuel will carry out the council leader’s duties in the interim until a new leader is elected at the council’s Annual Meeting in May.

Councillor Romero, who has served on the council since 2003, will continue in her role as a ward councillor for Southdown Ward.

Councillor Romero said: “It is with great sadness that I announce that I am standing down as council leader.

“I wish to thank everyone who has worked with, and supported me, during the last two years as leader of the council.

“I am incredibly proud of what the council has achieved both before and during the pandemic. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all council officers and council partners who have worked so hard, and in particular everyone who has supported our most vulnerable residents, kept services going through the pandemic and helped mitigate the economic impact for our local businesses”.

Later – a press release from the Lib Dem Group.

“Dine has worked phenomenally hard since the Lib Dems took control of B&NES in May 2019,” said Steve Gourley, local party chair, “especially given the nature of the global pandemic and the impact it has had on all of us. We all owe Dine immense gratitude for the way she has worked tirelessly to ensure our community coped as well as it has.”

“Dine has so much to be proud of,” added Cllr Kevin Guy, “in addition to dealing with the pandemic. We have got some council housing, have planted thousands of trees, started the process for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, got the first Clean Air Zone outside of London, worked with local business to help them weather the COVID storm, amongst many other achievements.”

Dine has used her regular weekly newsletter to announce the change in leadership structure and in it she said, “I am incredibly proud of what the council has achieved both before and during the pandemic. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all council officers and council partners who have worked so hard, and in particular everyone who has supported our most vulnerable residents.”

During the next month in the run up to WECA elections, the council will be in purdah, so this is the ideal time for a smooth handover. Dine has indicated she will accept a role on the cabinet, so we wish her, Kevin, and the team he is putting together all the best in the current challenges Bath and North East Somerset faces. As ever, all our focus is on delivering against the manifesto we were elected on, combatting the climate emergency, building new council housing, and being a listening council.

Wera Hobhouse MP – pictured with Cllr Dine Romero (library picture)

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, said, “I would like to warmly thank Dine for all her hard work over the past two years. She and her team have laid a strong foundation by making real progress tackling the biggest challenges our community faces. Dine played a key role helping to establish the Compassionate Community Hub, unique to B&NES, which has provided vital support for our most vulnerable residents during the pandemic. I am looking forward to working with Kevin and the rest of the Liberal Democrat Council team to build on what Dine has achieved.”

“I am humbled and honoured to take on this role,” said Kevin, “and relish the chance afforded to myself and my team, to truly make a huge positive difference to the lives of all in our authority.”

Editor: Did Cllr Romero step down of her own accord or was this a move within the group for a change at the top? Will a new leader also mean a change of direction in policies and plans for the rest of the leading group’s term of office?

Questions the people of Bath and North East Somerset deserve to have answers to. A bank holiday week-end isn’t the best of times to get a quick reply!

Cllr Guy is a councillor for Bathavon North and here’s his CV from the Bath Lib Dems webpage.

Cllr Guy – pictured with fellow Bathavon North representative, Cllr Sarah Warren

“Kevin was born in Shropshire, July 1980. He has a First Class degree in International Politics & Social & Economic History from Aberystwyth University plus a Diploma in Teaching & Life Long Learning from Worcester University.

Kevin spent 7 years serving in the Royal Navy, taking part in multiple front line operations and also served as a member of NATO Naval Intelligence based in Naples, Italy for 3 years.

After his military career he served as a local borough and parish councillor in his home town for 8 years, while also lecturing at Stourbridge College.

In 2017 he moved to the Bath area after falling in love with both the area and his future husband. Kevin got married at the Guildhall in August 2018. In 2019 he became a ward councillor for Bathavon North. He currently works as a director of Newleaf Farm Ltd based in Bathampton.”

Editor: Further digging reveals that – as a local councillor – Keven Guy was elected Mayor of Telford and Wrekin Council in Shropshire, back in 2012.

Cllr Guy on his appointment as Mayor of Telford and Wrekin Borough Council in 2012.

However, in 2018 he switched from Labour to the Liberal Democrats, and in so doing removed Labour’s majority on Telford & Wrekin council.

At the time he Tweeted:

I have approached Cllr Guy for comment.