Council elects Steve Bridger as new leader

Cllr Steve Bridger was elected as leader of North Somerset Council at a meeting last night (May 10).

Cllr Steve Bridger was elected as leader of North Somerset Council at a meeting held last night (May 10). - Credit: Archant

At an annual meeting of the council last night (May 10), members voted to elect Cllr Steve Bridger as the new leader of North Somerset Council.

Members voted to replace Cllr Don Davies as leader of the authority after he stepped down from the role on Monday (May 9).

Cllr Bridger, an Independent who represents Yatton, was nominated for the role by his Independent peers - the largest group in the chamber - and was elected in a near-unanimous vote by members, only three councillors abstained. 

His role will include leading the strategic policy of the council for the next municipal year until the district holds elections in May 2023. 

At the meeting he paid tribute to his predecessor for leading the council through 'one of the toughest periods in our council's history' and remaining 'steadfast' in his commitment to residents.

He added: "I would firstly like to thank the council for putting faith in me as your leader.

"Councils across the country have stepped-up to become that fourth emergency service for so many of our residents and businesses.

"We are a forward looking council with 21st century councillors, and I hope we will become a 21st century local authority.

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"We have great deal of mutual respect on all sides in this chamber but I do realise that will come under great stress next year at election time. I truly hope that mutual respect is maintained so we can lead by example."

Cllr Bridger has also assumed the role of leader of the Independents in North Somerset. 

At the meeting, a new chair was also elected to replace Cllr Richard Westwood for the next municipal year. 

Green councillor for Banwell and Winscombe, Karin Haverson, was elected as chairperson. 

Liberal Democrat for Yatton, Wendy Griggs, was elected as vice-chair of North Somerset Council too. 

The meeting also saw four public speakers inform councillors of their objection to the proposed Banwell by-pass, and opposition to the Local Plan 2038 which sets out the housing, infrastructure and green belt policies for the next 15 years. 

Cllr Caritas Charles carried a motion from the previous council meeting to 'properly uphold standards in the working environment' between councillors, as he explained the 'victimisation and bullying' directed towards himself by some members. 

He praised the protection offered to members against the public but said 'these must be extended in the authority workplace'.

It also included providing training for members on how to conduct themselves in office.  

The motion passed with two abstentions and one member who voted against.