by chrislucas on 23 March, 2014
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has praised the “sense of buoyancy” in Bath – and says his party is determined to hang onto the city at local and national political levels. The Liberal Democrat leader was on a private visit to Bath, where his party has begun the task of finding a successor to long-serving MP Don Foster. Speaking after a week which has seen progress on the £65 million redevelopment of the Bath Quays areas at the Newark Works as well as a new dining quarter at Grand Parade and the city’s first modern-day casino, Mr Clegg said: “There is a sense of buoyancy in Bath at the moment. “It has a fantastic record of investment and employment rates which are very strong. “You have a very diverse and vibrant economy, and the MoD sites coming on stream. “There is a real sense that Bath hasn’t only weathered the terrible difficulties in our economy better than others, but is also reinventing itself. “He said the party would be looking for someone “completely dedicated to Bath and the way of life in this wonderful place” when it was picking a successor to Mr Foster, who will be retiring at next year’s general election after what will then be 23 years of representing the city. Party officials will interview people interested in standing in Bath at the beginning of April, before they draw up a shortlist ahead of hustings and a vote on May 10. There will also be elections for every seat on Bath and North East Somerset Council when the nation goes to the polls next year. The authority is currently run by the Liberal Democrats and Mr Clegg said: “We will fight for every ward and every vote. We never take any votes for granted. “And we will listen. The things about the Liberal Democrats is that we have always listened. We don’t just get out on the doorsteps at election time – we are talking to people all the time. “He added: “Look at the investment now flowing into Bath – that wouldn’t have happened without the Liberal Democrats.” Mr Clegg acknowledged that there would be voters in the city who remained bitter that they had put a cross by Mr Foster’s name in 2010 with the aim of keeping the Tories out of office – but had unwittingly helped support a Conservative-dominated government. But he said history would point to the “legacy” of Liberal Democrat involvement being a powerful force for good on issues such as the state pension, income tax, youth unemployment and child poverty. The Deputy Prime Minister said the much-criticised Conservative adverts proclaiming support for the bingo industry and beer drinkers were “silly” and that his coalition partners should have been shouting different Budget triumphs from the rooftops.