Barbara Janke: Why I resigned as Bristol City Council leader
Bristol City Council leader Barbara Janke, who today resigned just a week before Bristol's mayoral referendum, has insisted that the timing of her decision aimed to give a new Liberal Democrat leader time to prepare for local elections "over the coming months and years".
In a statement released this morning, Mrs Janke - who has led Bristol's Liberal Democrat party since 1997 and was appointed Leader of Council in June 2003 - said she was "enormously proud" of the Liberal Democrats' achievements.
She also praised the stability of the council administration in Bristol, "despite the propaganda of Lords Adonis and Heseltine and other proponents of elected mayors".
Earlier this year she spoke out against the idea of an elected mayor for Bristol, stating that they would be no more than a "professional politician" who could do no better than traditional council leaders.
However, a national poll by the Institute for Government last month claimed 38 per cent of people wanted a directly elected mayor rather than a council leader.
Mrs Janke will remain leader of the Liberal Democrats until the group's annual meeting on May 8, when her successor will be appointed.
Read Barbara Janke's full resignation statement below.
"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."
"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."