Simon Cook has promised to hand over Bristol to an elected mayor “in a very good state” after Liberal Democrats chose him to take over as party leader last night.
The Clifton East councillor defeated his sole challenger Jon Rogers at a meeting of councillors at the Council House, after the likes of Guy Poulteney withdrew from the race earlier in the day.
Mr Cook will be nominated by the party as the new council leader next Tuesday, after the surprise resignation of Barbara Janke as both council and Lib Dem party leader last month. Dr Rogers was selected as the party’s deputy leader and will take on the nomination for council deputy leader.
With the city deciding in last week’s referendum to adopt an elected mayor, Mr Cook’s job is to oversee the transition to the new form of government.
But speaking last night, he pledged to press ahead with the party’s programme, saying “the city cannot just stop for the next six months”.
“My job is to hold the fort. We have six months and if elected as council leader I want to continue with our programme on transport and schools until the mayoral election and hand over,” he told the BBC.
“There are lots of decisions to be taken in the next six months – you can’t just stop the city. We will be working very hard with everyone to keep this city going. We will enjoy doing that and hand over the city in a very good state to the mayor in November.”
Mr Cook succeeds Barbara Janke, who announced last month that she was stepping down after 14 years as leader of the group and nearly seven as leader of the Council.
Meanwhile, Jackie Norman was re-elected chair of the Lib Dems at the Council House, while Mark Bailey was re-elected chief whip.
Further elections – including to potential cabinet positions – will take place at the second half of the Lib Dems’ AGM on Thursday.
Labour leader Hammond re-elected
Cllr Peter Hammond has been chosen as the leader of Bristol’s Labour councillors for a second year, despite a reported challenge for his job by his deputy Mark Bradshaw.
His new deputy will be Cllr Ron Stone, who replaces Cllr Bradshaw who has now stood down from the post.
Cllr Bradshaw said his decision would allow him to concentrate on his job as shadow cabinet member for transport.
“We’ve strengthened our team of campaigners to challenge the austerity measures being introduced by both the government and the council in Bristol,” said Cllr Hammond.
“Last week’s disastrous election results for both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats show that people are looking to Labour to stand up for them with our offer on jobs, growth, homes, transport and support for older people and younger people in Bristol.”
The Shadow Cabinet Team are:
- Children and Young Peoples’ Services – Sean Beynon
- Older People and Health – Jenny Smith
- Neighbourhoods and Housing – Ron Stone
- Transport and Communications – Mark Bradshaw
- Regeneration and Jobs – Derek Pickup
- Culture and Leisure – Brenda Massey
- Green Issues /Sustainability – Mike Wollacott
- HR/Finance – Mark Brain
- Equalities/ Community Cohesion – Jeff Lovell (brief shared with Peter Hammond)