'Welcome to the 21st century' - new era for politics in Portishead?
PUBLISHED: 16:00 23 May 2019
'We are you and you are us' - that was the message as a new era of politics began in Portishead.
Portishead Town Council's new term began last week, a fortnight after elections saw traditional party politics almost wiped out in the town.
The Conservative's stronghold on the authority was obliterated on May 2, with all Tory councillors losing their seats amid overwhelming success for the recently formed Portishead Independents, which won 12 of the 14 seats.
Liberal Democrat Sue Mason was the only incumbent councillor to hold on to her seat, and she has been joined on the council by party member Steve Temple.
The town council met on May 15 at the Folk Hall, where Paul Gardner - who was also chosen to represent East ward on North Somerset Council - was voted chairman of the authority.
Speaking to a packed public gallery, he said: "Thank you for your ideas and the support you have given us.
"We are you and you are us. It's your council and we are here to work for you. We are very proud of this town and we want to make it the best town to live in.
"Welcome to the 21st century, you are going to find a town council which is ambitious and works for you.
"We will look for solutions, not just problems. It is a four-year journey and we have a fantastic community. If we work together we can achieve many things."
Cllr Gardner warned members of the public the authority will be hamstrung by its low precept - the money paid to the town council through homeowners' council tax - which has left little wiggle room in the budget for the next 12 months, but he added it will 'be creative' to get things done.
The meeting also saw Tanya Slatter selected as the town council's vice-chairman.
She said: "There is a lot of change going on and I think it will be very good for us. It will make the town more inclusive.
"The people of North Somerset have voted for a much more inclusive and open way of doing things."