Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work
I was born in Gosport to a naval family. We moved regularly including spending time in Cornwall and Malta – which were wonderful times for me and my two brothers. In the early 70s I studied computing at Brighton when computers were as big as buildings. This is where I met Maggie. We married in 1975 and have three adult children.
Since graduating I had a 28 year career in computing and IT, working on very large and highly pressured industrial projects in south and west England and managing staff across Europe, India and America. I also had two contracts over six years in Zambia and Liberia. While in Zambia we regularly travelled with friends in our Landrover, camping in the bush and seeing the most amazing variety of bird and animal life. In Liberia I organised a qualified blacksmith to come out from England to teach these skills to the local workers, ensuring long-term employment in the Horse Club.
We returned to England in 1984 and needed a base for contracting and to be close to family in Wiltshire. I discovered Bath, lost my ‘itchy feet’ and have lived here since then. Since my early teenage years I have been politically active, driven by three main principles: developing liberal society; preserving and improving our environment and advocating social justice. I am internationalist and remain a keen supporter of the European project.
I was elected councillor for Southdown in 1988 and have represented Southdown since then (apart from 1996 to 1999 due to reorganisation). In 2002 the council was obliged to ‘modernise’ and adopted the Leader + Cabinet + Scrutiny model. I was elected as group leader of the Liberal Democrats and became the first Leader of B&NES. I led the council for nine years between 2002 and 2015. I am pleased with what B&NES delivered under my leadership, for example creating the fantastic Threeways school from separate specialist provision and resolving the building chaos I inherited surrounding the new spa, ensuring it was completed and delivered what it promised.
I like to solve seemingly intractable problems. The regeneration of Radstock had been argued about for over a decade. I got regeneration going by leading on cultural regeneration to transform the purpose and use of Victoria Hall. From this start I was able to convince local people that the new housing would benefit everyone in Radstock in a new enlarged and vibrant community.
In my spare time I love sport, travel, scuba diving and music. My first memories of Bath are all music related, travelling up from Gosport for the Blues Festival on the Rec in June 1969 at an all-day cost of 18 shillings and 6 pence. On three occasions I attended rock concerts at The Pav including Jimi Hendrix Experience.
In 2016 I became the 789th Mayor of Bath. It is a great honour to represent and serve the people and communities of this fabulous city. So far I have had 350 engagements, varying between meeting young people facing great difficulties to famous footballers. My theme for my year in office is Bath – a Transition City to raise awareness and build resilience to environmental changes.