Bath and North East Somerset Independent Group 

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Our Council and how it works

We currently have a Council made up of 65 councillors; 35 are Conservative; 17 Lib Dems, 6 Labour, 5 Independents, and 1 Green.  In May this year, there will be Council elections for B&NES. The number of councillors will be reduced to 59, and some ward boundaries have been redefined; it’s worth checking to see which ward you’re in. Most wards have 2 councillors.

Bath & N E Somerset is composed of 2 areas – Bath (MP, Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem) and N E Somerset (MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Con). The authority was invented on April 1st 1996 when Avon was broken up; before that, it was part of Somerset.

Unlike most local authorities, the control of the Council shifts back and forth between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.

The controlling party appoints a Cabinet and Leader who are responsible for managing the budget for B&NES – which is currently a bit less than half a billion pounds. It sounds a lot, but almost all of it is already allocated – 80% or more going to social care.

The most significant change over the last few years has seen annual cuts imposed by the Conservative government, leaving this Council (and others) with no alternative but to reduce services, jobs and anything else they think they can do without. 

The way the Council works at the moment is that the main parties vote along party lines, very much as they do in parliament. The Conservatives all vote together and the others mostly vote against them. This process is something of a ritual, since the decisions have already been made before the Council meets. The 6 independents operate individually rather than collectively.

There are a number of reasons why BIG thinks that there is a better way of running the Council.

We don’t see any benefits to voters to have councillors who owe their allegiance to a national political party. It may help the candidates to have brand recognition; but it means that the political party takes precedence over the voters. Because councillors are almost all drawn from political parties, the majority of potential candidates are excluded. It’s a very small pool of talent.

Councils and councillors nearly always base their decisions on a short term calculation about whether they will be re-elected next time. This prevents the Council from making decisions based on a) evidence, b) a longer term plan, and c) what is best for the community.

The history of the last 23 years indicates that one of the great cities of the world, in conjunction with the immediate area nearby, has suffered from a lack of ambition, determination and independent thinking. We could do so much better if all the available talent in B&NES became involved; if voters felt that the Council belonged to them; and if leadership took priority over expediency.

BIG's candidates are ambitious, determined and independent of traditional party political allegiances - and it is this that enables them to work collaboratively with all other councillors to deliver the best results for Bath & North East Somerset.

BIG is registered with The Electoral Commission as a political party in Great Britain, registration number PP6744. We are funded entirely by subscriptions and donations from individual supporters below the amount reportable to the Electoral Commission.  We do not accept corporate donations. Privacy Policy

Promoted by Stephen Taylor on behalf of the Bath & Northeast Somerset Independent Group (BIG), both of 10 Russell St, Bath BA1 2QF

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