Councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have voted to launch a review looking at how to improve civic governance and community representation in Bath.
At the authority’s Annual General Meeting last Thursday, 8th May, Councillors voted unanimously in favour of a proposal to establish a cross-party working group tasked with looking at options for creating a new body or forum to represent the interests of Bath residents on issues affecting the city.
Unlike communities in North East Somerset, which are represented at the local level by Town and Parish Councils, Bath has lacked its own forum at which issues affecting the city can be considered and debated since the former Bath City Council was dissolved in 1996.
It is hoped that by establishing the new working group it will be possible to find a way of addressing this so-called ‘democratic deficit’ in Bath. The group will then present its recommendations to a future Full Council meeting in either July or September.
Conservative councillors, who last year undertook a city-wide consultation seeking residents’ views on various proposals to address, have welcomed the establishment of the working group.
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Tim Warren, who seconded the proposal, said:
“We welcome the fact the Council has agreed to establish this cross-party group, which will be tasked with looking at ways in which civic governance and community representation in Bath can be strengthened and then bringing its recommendations back to all councillors for consideration.
“The fact that Bath currently lacks its own forum at which matters affecting the city can be debated by the city is a real issue for many residents. It is something which Conservatives consulted residents on last year, and it was clear from the results of our survey that the clear majority of people favour some sort of change so that the interests of Bath residents can be better represented on matters affecting the city.
“There are many ways in which this could be done, be it through a special committee of B&NES Council, a separate appointed body, or combination of ideas, and so we look forward to seeing the suggestions of the working group. Conservatives do believe residents should be given a say over any changes, so we would like to see any proposals put to public consultation before being implemented.”