Role of the Chair of the Council
Since the council services are being streamlined and re-structured to produce a more effective and efficient service to the community, the role of the Chair has changed.
The main focus is on the core activities which define the nature and role of the office:
Chairing Council meetings
Leading Citizenship Ceremonies
Chairing Parish Liaison meetings
Sharing commemorative events, such as Remembrance Sunday, supporting our Armed Forces Week, and assisting veterans through the ‘military covenant’
Celebrating community landmark events
Welcoming royal visitors, members of the government and civic dignitaries
These categories will normally be definitive, but in exceptional circumstances support may be possible. If you have an event that meets one of the criteria outlined above, please contact the Chair's Office at Chairs_Office@BATHNES.GOV.UK and we will review any requests we receive.
Unfortunately it is not possible for the Chair to continue fund-raising for ‘the Chair’s charities’ but the Community Awards will continue. It is with regret that receptions and exhibitions have come to an end.
It should be noted that while the Chair will continue their duties as a ward councillor, hold surgeries for residents and so on, the position of Chair is strictly politically neutral, and the Chair will not be signing any petitions or joining any public campaigns.
The Awards recognise volunteers, community leaders, community organisations, carers and local businesses and highlights the positive impact they make on others and the wider community.
The Awards are organised annually in partnership with the Volunteer Centre Bath and beyond; social housing provider Curo; the Student Community Partnership, involving the University of Bath and Bath Spa University students unions; Virgin Care, Sirona Care & Health.
VE Day celebrations
I am afraid that the terrible Coronavirus emergency and consequent Government guidance means that we must advise participants to cancel or postpone the majority of the VE Day 75 community celebrations due to take place on the bank holiday weekend of 8th – 10th May. It is right and proper that people should be kept safe and healthy.
My sincere thanks to everyone who registered their events and were looking forward to celebrating VE Day 75. I know how disappointed you will be that these cannot now go ahead as planned. However, we are still encouraging solo pipers and town criers to continue to mark the occasion from a safe and suitable location.
We are also encouraging all those taking part to undertake the ‘Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of WW2’ at 3pm on the 8th May, from the safety of their own home by standing up and raise a glass of refreshment of their choice and undertake the following ‘Toast’ – “To those who gave so much, we thank you,” using this unique opportunity to pay tribute to the many millions at home and abroad that gave so much to ensure we all enjoy and share the freedom we have today.
However, you could take part in celebrations safely from home by joining your BBC Local Radio station initiative in making your own VE Day Great British Bunting. Download everything you need at bbc.co.uk/makeadifference
With my very best wishes,
Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR
Pageantmaster VE Day 75
Chair of the Council - Councillor Andrew Furse
Andy has been a councillor in Bath for over 20 years. He was first elected to serve as a Liberal Democrat councillor in Kingsmead Ward in the centre of Bath in 1994. On Bath City Council Andy was chairman of the Spa and Recreation Committee for the final year of Bath City Council and saw out the end of the City Council in 1996. Between Bath City Council and B&NES Council, Andy was Liberal Democrat Bath Constituency Chairman and oversaw Don Foster’s 1997 first General Election defence.
Andy was elected again in Kingsmead Ward in 1999 and has served continuously on Bath and North East Somerset Council since then.
In Bath and North East Somerset Council he has been involved in Culture, Leisure and was the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education, chairing the Education Overview and Scrutiny Panel between 2003 and 2007, and led the Primary and Secondary schools reviews.
Between 2007 and 2011 he was 2007-09 LD Spokes-person Bath & NE Somerset Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Children & Young People. In 2009-10 civic year he was Deputy Mayor of Bath, and in 2009-12 was Chairman of the Liberal Democrats B&NES Council Group.
For the civic year 2012-2013 Andy was Mayor of Bath. From 2013 to 2015 he was Chairman of B&NES Corporate Audit committee and between 2015 and 2019 was the Liberal Democrat finance and resources shadow cabinet member.
Since Elections in 2019, Andy was again Chair of B&NES Corporates Audit committee, and vice-chair of B&NES until becoming Chair of Bath & NE Somerset.
Andy is a Railway Signalling Engineer, and continues to work full time in Bath for Altran UK as a Lead Independent Safety Assessor on Railway signalling projects. He is currently the Lead Safety Assessor for London Underground’s 4 Lines Modernisation project, Copenhagen S-Bane re-signalling project and Transport for New South Wales Digital Systems signalling programme in Sydney. Andy is a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Fellow of the Institute of Railway Signal Engineers and Member of the IET. His projects have involved working on mainline and underground railways throughout the UK and worldwide, specialising in new and novel signalling system applications for large complex projects. It was working on the Taiwan High Speed Rail project in 2006 that he met Mei-Ling, his wife.
He grew up in North Devon, went to school in his local village and then Bideford and on leaving school joined British Rail in Reading where he attended Technical College on day-release for an HNC in Electronic Engineering. He was then granted British Rail sponsorship to study for a degree Electronic and Electrical Engineering at University College London and undertook many engineering roles throughout British Rail working in Reading, South Wales, Bristol and London Marylebone.
After a 2 year spell in Oil Exploration working in Tunisia and Chad, Andy returned to the Rail industry in Chippenham. It was this job that brought Andy to Bath in the late 80’s. He lives close to Bath city centre in Kingsmead Ward.
Andy is an advocate for community, a supporter of our built heritage and green spaces, and recognises that one of the challenges facing Bath & NE Somerset, like that of the UK, is youth skills and training. Through this he has close links with Bath College and has been Vice-Chair of Governors there since 2014 and continues to work to ensure that young people have the right skills for today’s labour market especially in B&NES.
Vice Chair of the Council - Councillor Lisa O'Brien
Lisa first became a B&NES Councillor in 2015, having been elected to represent South Keynsham ward.
During her first term, she was a member of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development scrutiny panel where she particularly focussed on the development and improvement of Social Housing in the area. She was also closely involved in scrutinising retail activity in both city and town centres and in neighbourhood outlets. In addition, she was a member of the Avon Pension Fund committee, taking a keen interest in moving from investment in fossil fuel companies towards emerging markets infrastructure schemes.
Re-elected in 2019, she is now a member of the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Scrutiny panel, with a particular concern to reduce waste and litter in our area.
Lisa’s first involvement in local politics arose during the 1980’s when she co-ordinated the successful campaign for a parish council in Saltford. Moving to Keynsham in 1989, she combined raising her two children with co-owning a printing business and later taking on a full time role as a senior academic at the University of the West of England. She was a school governor at St John’s primary school in Keynsham for several years and became a member of Keynsham Town Council in 2011, subsequently serving for eight years, two of which as Chairman. During this period, she was closely involved in music and arts development as well as promoting twinning activities with Libourne in France.
Born and raised in Somerset, Lisa gained a degree in Business Economics & Marketing from the University of Strathclyde before starting her career in the retailing with Marks & Spencer. Overall she spent six years with them merchandising in various textile and food departments. She was then head-hunted to join Levi Strauss Northern Europe as product manager for denim jeans and jackets. Leaving commerce to gain a Post Graduate Diploma in Education with the intention of teaching, she was subsequently persuaded to return to Levi’s, this time as Inventory Planning and Control manager for the Northern Europe Division while at the same time being the user interface for information technology development.
Blue-chip companies had their drawbacks and after a year of marriage, she and her husband decided to move down to the West Country in pursuit of a gentler lifestyle - that of owning a village post office & stores in Wiltshire.
It was an eye-opener to the harsh reality of front line trading – a lot of work for little financial reward and really brought home to her the challenges of self employment, particularly in the retail environment.
They consequently bought into a quick printing franchise in Bristol and moved into this area.
Returning to the academic sphere in 1990, she was appointed senior lecturer in Retail and Operations Management at Bristol Business School. Her management experience led to module and programme leadership at both undergraduate and post graduate level. She also became Director of Facilities for the faculty, responsible for accommodation, audio visual provision and development of revised teaching and learning spaces.
During this period, she was identified as the Business School retail specialist for media liaison and appeared on several occasions on both national and local TV and radio.
In time, she moved to Facilities and Estates as project manager for the development of Frenchay campus masterplan. One of her projects – the conversion of a semi dilapidated 10,000sqft building into the West of England conference centre - has recently been temporarily reborn as the Bristol Nightingale hospital!
Now retired, Lisa is able to concentrate on her special interests. As a long-time trustee of Keynsham & District Mencap Society, she has always stood up for and campaigned in support of the rights and opportunities for disabled people (lack of dropped kerbs is a nightmare!).
Although now restricted to tending her tubs on a small balcony, she has always loved gardening, and through her ward funds has previously donated materials to brighten up neighbourhoods believing absolutely in the beneficial effects of flowers and nature generally on residents’ wellbeing.
More recently she has undertaken the role of co-ordinator for ‘Plastic Free Keynsham’ (allied to the national campaign by Surfers against Sewage) seeking to play her part in protecting our local environment and the planet in general.