Barbara Janke will step down as leader of Bristol City Council and the city’s Liberal Democrat councillors, it was announced this morning.
The Clifton councillor, who has led the party since 1997, told colleagues at the council this morning of her decision to stand down. She said she wanted to give a new leader time to prepare for local elections “in the coming months and years”.
Ms Janke added that she and her party had “achieved a great deal” during a period of political stability – a broadside against claims by pro-elected mayor campaigners that the city suffered from too many changes in leadership.
“I have been Bristol Lib Dem leader – apart from 2007-8 – since 1997. I am enormously proud of the Liberal Democrats’
achievements here since then – growing from just a handful of members to become the largest party on the council, with a majority for two years,” she said in a statement this morning.
“Despite the propaganda of Lords Adonis and Heseltine and other proponents of elected mayors, there have actually been few changes of council administration in Bristol over the last few years and for much of the period since 2003 we have led the council.
“We have achieved a great deal. Bristol, under our leadership, has become a greener, more creative and more prosperous city – led by a council which is leaner and more responsive to the needs of our communities.
“There have been, under the Lib Dems, huge efforts to change attitudes and reorganise the way the council works – successes that are a reflection, too, of Jan Ormondroyd’s contribution as chief executive here over the last few years. I would like to offer her my particular thanks for her immense professionalism and support to me as Leader.
“Across the council, officers and other staff have also worked enormously hard to help turn round what was once a failing authority but is now greatly changed and focused on the public we serve.
“There are too many to thank individually, but over the next few days I hope to write to some of those I have worked particularly closely with.
“This will include, for instance, the team that has worked on our two bids to become the first UK city to win the European Green Capital award. If in June the judges make the award to Bristol, it will be a great accolade for our city and I will be very proud of our team, led by officers brought together by this administration.
“I have decided to stand down this year to allow the Liberal Democrats to choose a new leader who will take our cause to the voters in elections over the coming months and years.”
Ms Janke will remain Lib Dem group leader until the group’s annual meeting on the evening of Tuesday, May 8. Whoever is chosen at that meeting as her successor will be the party’s candidate for leadership of Bristol City Council at its annual meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 15.