Bath and North East Somerset - Governance

Governance

See also: Bath and North East Somerset local elections

Historically part of the county of Somerset, Bath was made a county borough in 1889 so being independent of the newly created administrative Somerset county council, which covered the rest of B&NES. The area that would become B&NES became part of Avon when that non-metropolitan county was created in 1974. Since the abolition of Avon in 1996, Bath has been the main centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), one of the four authorities that replaced Avon County Council.

Before the Reform Act of 1832 Bath elected two members to the unreformed House of Commons. Bath now has a single parliamentary constituency, with Liberal Democrat Don Foster as Member of Parliament. The rest of the area falls within the North East Somerset constituency. Previously most of the area was in the Wansdyke constituency, which covers the part of B&NES that is not in the Bath constituency. It also contained four wards or parts of wards from South Gloucestershire Council. It was named after the former Wansdyke district.

Since B&NES was created, no political party has been in overall control of the council. The Liberal Democrats quickly became the dominant party, but in the local elections on 3 May 2007 the Conservative Party won 31 seats became the largest party, though they did not have a majority. After the 2011 local elections, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives won 29 seats each with the Labour Party winning only five seats, none of which are in Bath; the Liberal Democrats went on to form a minority administration.

The current council composes of 65 councillors, 32 from Bath, 6 each from the Norton Radstock and Keynsham areas, and 21 others. The current political division as of May 2012 is:

Party Councillors +/-
Conservative Party 27 -5
Liberal Democrats 29 +3
Labour Party 5 0
Independent 4 +2

Local concerns include the building of a new road for buses on Conservation Area land as part of the Bath Transportation Package, the closure of a Bath Secondary School to remove excess places, economic difficulties in the Norton Radstock area, development of the large Western Riverside brownfield land site in Bath, and the now popular, but long delayed Thermae Bath Spa development. On 10 December 2003, Bath and North East Somerset was granted Fairtrade Zone status.

Bath and North East Somerset Council runs one of the most successful youth democracy groups in the UK, Democratic Action for B&NES Youth (DAFBY), which is now a model of good practice for similar organisations across the country. The group are consulted by the council and its partners on a wide variety of issues that affect young people. The Quality Improvement Agency have awarded the group Post-16 Citizenship Champion status, and in May 2008, DAFBY was awarded Outstanding status by OFSTED. DAFBY now delivers training for other youth participation organisations, as well as supporting the local Member of Youth Parliament, Fred Cotterill.

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