'We will challenge and work with mayor'
TIM Kent has been chosen as the new leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Bristol City Council.
Councillor Kent, 38, who represents Whitchurch Park ward, lives with his partner, Sally and their children in Hengrove Lane.
He will be formally elected at a group meeting tonight but he was the only councillor nominated and therefore will not be opposed.
Jon Rogers, councillor for Ashley, who was the party's candidate in the recent election for a Bristol Mayor, has also not been opposed to continue as deputy leader of the group.
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Mr Kent takes over from Simon Cook, who stood down under party rules so that he could join Mayor George Ferguson's new cabinet.
In a statement, Tim said: "Our core beliefs, liberalism, the freedom of the individual, protection of the vulnerable, a fair society and independence of mind, must be protected and championed.
"The election of the mayor presents us with new challenges and new opportunities.
"As a group we were sceptical of the role – too much power and not enough checks on that power in the hands of one individual.
"But we must now actively co-operate with the new system and ensure that it delivers for Bristol. We will provide a robust check and scrutiny of the mayor's power and his decisions and actions.
"We have seen the negative side of party politics recently. Labour councillors have been ordered by their London bosses not to engage with the mayor or help to run this city. We know that this is a situation we would never accept.
"I will work with the mayor to ensure this city delivers more jobs, improves its transport network and has the school places needed for our young people.
"I will also challenge the mayor where we believe, and our residents believe, his actions are detrimental to our city.
"That challenge will always be constructive. Where we challenge, we will always present the mayor with another option.
"Locally, we must ensure that we are fully engaged with residents, that we are talking with them and ensuring their concerns are represented. We were elected as champions of our communities and this must remain our first duty."