New council leader shares vision for North Somerset

Cllr Steve Bridger was elected as leader of North Somerset Council at a meeting last night (May 10).

Newly-elected council leader, Steve Bridger has outlined his plans for North Somerset. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset's newly-elected council leader has unveiled a 'Cost of Living Taskforce' to help residents, in his first interview since taking the mantle.

Independent councillor, Steve Bridger, was formally appointed during an executive meeting on Tuesday (May 10).

"It is a privilege to take on this role and have the opportunity to lead our ambitious council in our commitment to being open, fair and green," Bridger told the Mercury.

"I hope that I can bring the same balance of passion and determination to the role that Don has delivered over the past three years.

"He will be a hard act to follow and I know all councillors share the immense gratitude I feel for the work he has done." 

Cllr Don Davies.

Steve Bridger called Don Davies' time as leader 'hard to follow'. - Credit: Archant

Cllr Don Davies became council leader in 2019 and is confident Cllr Bridger will be his ideal replacement.

Davies stated that part of his reasoning to resign was so that the next leader would have enough time to make their mark ahead of the 2023 council elections - something Cllr Bridger is keen to do.

"Over the next year, I want to see us maintain and accelerate our commitment to tackling the climate emergency, invest in our communities, develop our Local Plan, back our children and young people and deliver better and smarter services."

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Tackling the rising cost of living is also a key priority for the authority's new leader.

"As the year progresses the cost of living crisis will bite deeper as more and more families struggle to afford energy bills and food banks will get busier," Cllr Bridger said.

"Politics is about choices and our national leaders make choices about who bears the pain.

"We have established a cross-agency Cost of Living Taskforce to coordinate the response that the council and our partners can bring to bear to support residents."

Cllr Steve Bridger

Cllr Steve Bridger. - Credit: Steve Bridger

The ward member for Yatton also pledged to visit all corners of North Somerset to better understand concerns voiced by each town and village.

"There are still some areas of North Somerset I do not know well, so I want to get out there,

"We need to bring our residents with us.

"I think we need to get better at listening to residents - to grow bigger ears. It's good to have engagement and we do need open consultations to be able to make informed decisions as a council, whatever they may be."

Cllr Steve Hogg will take over Don Davies' role as an executive for Transport and Highways.