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.

Community Awards

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; HCRG Care Group and The Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon, and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board.

Cllr Karen Walker, Chair of the Council

Cllr Karen Walker is the Chair of Bath & North East Somerset Council, after receiving unanimous cross-party support to take on the role at the Local Authority’s Annual General Meeting in May 2024.

Cllr Walker has made history by being the first person in the 29-years since the council was created to hold the position twice – having previously served as Chair from 2018 to 2019.

Karen was first elected as an Independent Councillor for Peasedown St John in May 2015, and is now in her third term as a councillor.

During her tenure on the council, she has:

- 2017/18 – Served as Vice-Chair of B&NES Council 

- 2018/19 – Served as Chair of B&NES Council

- 2019 - 2023 – Served as Chair of the Climate Emergency & Sustainability PDS Panel

- 2019 – 2023 – Served as Leader of the Independent Group

- 2023 - 2024 - Served as Vice-Chair of B&NES Council

Cllr Karen Walker is ‘community’ through and through. She has spent the last 20 years leading and running projects in Peasedown St John – 9 of those years have been as an elected representative here on the council.

She is one of the founders of Peasedown’s popular Party in the Park festival and the founder of the Peasedown Community Library.

Over the years, she’s raised over £50,000 for good causes in Peasedown St John and has championed a range of causes from additional tree planting to better access to mental health support services for her constituents.

She is also a Director and Trustee of the Peasedown Community Trust.

Cllr Liz Hardman, Vice Chair of the Council

Liz Hardman was first elected as a Bath & North East Somerset Labour Councillor for Paulton ward in 2011, which has returned a Labour Councillor since the inception of the council. She was consequently re-elected in 2015 and 2019. Before becoming a Councillor, Liz taught in Ireland and France, before returning to the UK to teach in London, Bristol and finally Bath, where she was an assistant headteacher in a comprehensive school for over 10 years. 

Liz first became involved in her community when she and the then-Head of Library Services collaborated to move Paulton Library to a more central position. Her dream of having a café with an Internet connection in the Library area was finally realised after she was elected as a Councillor. Both café and library are flourishing. Liz was also involved with setting up a group to improve the environment in Paulton. A South West in Bloom group was formed which transformed many areas of the village. Flowers were planted, shrubs were cleared and hanging baskets brightened up the central area. The group even won a Southwest in Bloom award in their first year. Liz is also part of the organising committee for Paulton’s free annual Party in the Park, a fun community day with free entertainment, stalls of all kinds, local bands playing until 9pm, dance exhibitions including the local Infant School, and children’s activities. Life’s not always bright, however: At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liz and other residents set up - and have continued to run - a free food larder for Paulton’s families in need, supported by the Methodist Church which allows it to be run on its premises, and by Rotary.

Here at B&NES in the last two years alone, Liz has taken up positions on the Knife Awareness Working Party, which works to stop knife violence, and the Fair Food Alliance Group which is working to combat food poverty. She is the Champion for Children Looked After, and played a key part in developing a motion for Council that made being care experienced a legally protected characteristic, with significant and measurable positive impacts for this group of people. She's also fought for rural buses in her area and after six months of campaigning with her fellow Paulton Parish Councillors, they have developed a new supported bus service, serving a wider area than before, linking Paulton and surrounding villages to the Park and Ride in Bath.

Finally, Liz’s interest in education is ongoing. She has been a governor at Paulton Infant School for over 10 years and was part of the team when the school received a “Good” Ofsted rating. Liz has said she is honoured to have been elected as Vice Chair of B&NES Council. She is looking forward to the new challenges this rôle will bring. She is committed to serving the residents of Bath and North East Somerset, and to supporting the Chair, Karen Walker.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset

His Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of a county is an Honorary Officer appointed by the King on the advice of the Pirme Minister. They are the permanent representative of the Crown in that county and normally serve until retirement at between 70 and 75 years of age.

Somerset Lieutenancy covers the historic county of Somerset (the areas administered by Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset, and Somerset County Councils). The total population of this area at the last census was 981,700.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset is Mr Mohammed Saddiq.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset
Lieutenancy Office
County Hall

The office dates from the reign of Henry VIII, and the Lord-Lieutenant was originally responsible for the maintenance of order and for local defence.

Today, the responsibilities of the Lord Lieutenant include:

  • All aspects of visits by members of the Royal Family, and escorting Royal Visitors
  • Presentation of awards and medals on behalf of The King
  • Representing The King at a variety of events
  • Liaison with local units of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, and with the reserve forces and cadets
  • Participation in civic and voluntary activity within the Lieutenancy
  • Advising on honours nominations
  • Chairmanship of the Advisory Committee which recommends the appointment of magistrates to the Lord Chancellor

On ceremonial occasions, Lord-Lieutenants wear uniform, or a special badge of office.

The Lord-Lieutenant is supported by a Vice Lord-Lieutenant and by Deputy Lieutenants, who they appoint from those people who have rendered particular service to the county in a variety of ways, the number of Deputies depending on the size of the population. There are normally between 30 and 40 Deputy Lieutenants.

The High Sheriff of Somerset

The High Sheriff of Somerset is Robert Drewitt Esq.

Hill View House
Bishop Sutton
BS39 5UJ


You can also find more information on The High Sheriff of Somerset website.

The Office of High Sheriff is at least 1,000 years old, having its roots in Saxon times, before the Norman Conquest. It is the oldest continuous secular office under the Crown. Originally, the office held many of the powers now vested in HM Lord-Lieutenants, High Court judges, magistrates, local authorities, coroners and even the Inland Revenue.

The Office of High Sheriff remained first in precedence in the counties until the reign of Edward VII, when an Order in Council in 1908 gave the Lord-Lieutenants the prime office under the Crown as the sovereign's personal representative. Lord-Lieutenants were created in 1547 for military duties in the shires. The High Sheriff remains the sovereign's representative in the county for all matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.

Functions of the office

High Sheriffs are responsible in the counties of England and Wales for duties conferred by the Crown through warrant from the Privy Council, including:

  • attendance at Royal visits to the county
  • the well-being and protection of His Majesty's High Court judges when on circuit in the county and attending them in court during legal terms
  • acting as the Returning Officer for Parliamentary elections in county constituencies
  • responsibilities for the proclamation of the accession of a new sovereign
  • the maintenance of the loyalty of subjects to the Crown
  • in Somerset, the leading role in Somerset Crimebeat

Nominations for High Sheriff

Nominations to the office of High Sheriff are dealt with through the presiding Judge of the Circuit and the Privy Council, for consideration by the Sovereign in Council. The annual nominations of three prospective High Sheriffs for each county are made in a meeting of the Lords of the Council in the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice on 12 November each year. Subsequently, the selection of new High Sheriffs is made annually in a meeting of the Privy Council by the Sovereign, when the custom of 'pricking' the appointee's name with a bodkin is perpetuated.

The Sheriff's Year

The High Sheriff takes up appointment upon making a sworn declaration in terms dictated by the Sheriffs Act 1887. The appointment is for one year only, except in the event of something untoward happening to the High Sheriff's expected successor, in which case a High Sheriff must remain in office until a successor is appointed.

High Sheriffs are now encouraged by the Shrievalty Association of England and Wales to undertake duties to improve and sustain the morale of the personnel of voluntary and statutory bodies engaged in the maintenance and extension of law and order, and the entire criminal justice system.

It is an independent, non-political office which enables the holder to bring together a wide variety of individuals and office holders for the good of the community they serve. In recent years, High Sheriffs in many parts of England and Wales have been particularly active in the field of crime reduction and the development of an anti-crime culture, particularly among young people.

The High Sheriff receives no pay or expenses.

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