With just three months to go until Bath & North East Somerset Council’s most highly anticipated local elections in 20 years, the Independent councillors have elected a new leader.
Councillor Nathan Hartley, who has represented Peasedown St John for almost 10 years, has taken up the post and in doing so will be a strong voice for non-party politics on the Council.
He takes over from the council’s River Champion and Lambridge councillor Dave Laming who is stepping down to concentrate on the River Safety and Regeneration, as well as to spend time on his pet Lambridge project of a Sporting & Educational Academy between St Marks School and Larkhall Football Club.
Cllr Laming said: “It’s now time to hand onto the next generation and to someone with the same commitment, passion and energy to take the Independent movement forward.
“There has never been a more exciting time in British and B&NES politics to fly the Independent flag than there is now.”
Mr Hartley’s appointment comes just days after long standing councillor Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE, a Newbridge councillor since 1995, left the Liberal Democrats to join the independent benches at Bath’s Guildhall.
Her decision means that the Independent Councillors now hold the balance of power on the local authority.
Nathan said: “Independent councillors have always played an important role on the council by providing a strong, objective voice – free from party politics.
“There are able to achieve so much more for their communities because they are not restricted by party politics and are free to work for the benefit of those who elected them.
“Ever since the election of Phyllis and Jonathan Gay for Radstock 16 years ago, who paved the way for independent politics, the votes of Independent councillors have been highly sought after by the larger political parties.”
Each individual member of the Group of Independent councillors is first and foremost ‘independent’ – they put their community first, and their principle agenda is always the needs of their residents.
Working as a Group, this position isn’t compromised as they don’t follow any mainstream party line. It’s become increasingly clear that by working together, Independent councillors not only provide an attractive alternative to the establishment, they also hold a lot of influence on a local authority that has never seen one political party have overall control.
All the focus will now be on B&NES Council’s most important meeting of the year, which takes place at Bath’s Guildhall on Tuesday 17th February.
The sixty-five members of the authority will meet to debate and vote on next year’s council tax level, and decide how the £250 million annual budget should be spent.
Cllr Hartley added: “Based on the pattern of voting intentions and the demographics of Bath and North East Somerset over the last two decades, it’s highly likely that Independent councillors will continue to hold the balance of power after the May 7th local elections.
“There are a record-breaking number of independent candidates standing across the area this year.
“All of them are active in their communities, already have a strong local network of support, and are providing an appealing alternative to party politics.”
Mr Hartley is expecting to see the number of Independent seats double on the council from 7 to 14. The current seven seats are held by:
- Cllr Doug Deacon, Timsbury
- Cllr June Player, Westmoreland
- Cllr Malcolm Lees, Weston
- Cllr Dave Laming, Lambridge
- Cllr Bryan Chalker, Lambridge
- Cllr Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE, Newbridge
- Cllr Nathan Hartley, Peasedown St John