New cabinet role to boost local economy

Pictured on a recent visit to Newark Works to meet Richard Pearce, CEO of TCN Ltd – developers of Newark Works, are Councillor Mark Roper (left), and Councillor Kevin Guy (centre).    

B&NES inner cabinet has got a new member, with the creation of a new, dedicated role to boost the local economy.

Councillor Mark Roper, who represents Newbridge ward on the council, has been appointed to the brand new Economic Development, Regeneration & Growth portfolio. 

The position is responsible for economic development, regeneration; high streets renewal and public realm investment, inward investment (including events policy), and leisure provision on open spaces including Entry Hill, Approach, Lansdown and Odd Down.

Councillor Roper has taken up the role following his appointment by council leader Councillor Kevin Guy. Councillors Richard Samuel and Sarah Warren remain Council Deputy Leaders, with Cllr Samuel holding the Resources portfolio and Cllr Warren Climate and Sustainable Travel.

Other cabinet roles remain broadly unchanged but with some adjustments to individual portfolios. The updated cabinet portfolios are listed here.

Councillor Guy said: “Given the urgent cost-of-living crisis and particularly the impact of rising energy costs- with its huge impacts on businesses- I have decided we need a single role entirely dedicated to supporting regeneration and the local economy. Councillor Roper will bring enormous strengths and experience, including business experience, to this new brief. In doing this, he will build on the brilliant work Councillor Samuel has put into helping support and steer our area’s economy through this difficult period.  Councillor Roper will provide a clear focus on helping our area continue to bounce back from the pandemic during these very challenging times for the national and local economy.”

Councillor Roper said: “I am delighted to be appointed to this role. Local businesses face pressing challenges, particularly with energy cost, and we also need to attract the inward investment required to create and sustain high-quality jobs. With our flagship Bath Quays development, we have already started to provide the flexible workspaces that our local economy is crying out for – particularly to support high-wage employment in the tech and creative sectors. I am also very proud that our Number 1 Bath Quays development has the largest solar array in the city.

“We must also ensure the economic vitality of our market towns, villages and rural communities. Our Somer Valley Enterprise Zone aims to deliver 1,300 jobs and we are also working with Radstock Town council on a Radstock Regeneration Action Plan. As part of our improvements to the public realm in Keynsham we are re-using a vacant shop and have set up a new town website, again working with the town council. I welcome approaches from local businesses on how we can work together – please contact me at ”

Councillor Roper will also be responsible for the Bath Local Centres High Street Improvement Project in Twerton, Weston, Moorland Road and Mount Road.

Councillor Roper has been a Bath & North East Somerset councillor since 2019 and has spent most of his life in Bath, having attended Beechen Cliff School and City of Bath College. He has been involved in numerous local charities.