A former Liberal Democrat councillor on Bath and North East Somerset Council has officially joined the Conservative Group.
Cllr Dr Yukteshwar Kumar left the ruling B&NES Liberal Democrats in December and has since then sat as an Independent councillor. He was the second councillor to leave the Lib Dems this term amid allegations of bullying.
And tonight, at a meeting of the B&NES Full Council, Dr Kumar crossed the floor to sit with the opposition Conservative Group, increasing the Group’s numbers on the council to 11 members.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “I am delighted to welcome Dr Kumar to the Conservative Group.
“He is an extremely hard-working councillor who is well respected in his ward and who holds himself to the high ethical standards we expect to see from those elected to public office. Sadly, over the course of the last few years those standards have not been upheld by the Liberal Democrats.
“With consistently poor decision making, the mismanagement of key public projects, the failure to follow through with previous manifesto pledges and constant public infighting among group members, the Lib Dems have completely lost their way.
“Clearly Dr Kumar recognises this and, like us, believes that B&NES would be much better served under a Conservative-run council, one that better understands the needs of local people and that has the ideas, the skills and the determination to fulfil its local election promises.”
At last month’s Full Council meeting, Dr Kumar supported the Conservatives in condemning attempts by the Liberal Democrats to ban people from speaking at public meetings if they fail to provide the full text of their speech beforehand. He described it as “the murder of democracy” and is delighted that, due to the pressure applied by the opposition, the proposal has been reversed.
In recent months he has also supported the Conservatives in highlighting Lib Dem mismanagement in relation to the disposal of land at Bathampton Meadows, the ongoing failure of the Cleveland Bridge repair works, the cancellation of the world-famous Bath Christmas Markets, the Ring of Steel city centre barriers and the administration’s poor record on tackling the climate emergency – among many other things.
Cllr Dr Yukteshwar Kumar, now B&NES Conservative ward councillor for Bathwick, said: “I’m thrilled to be welcomed into the Conservative Group and I look forward to working closely with my new colleagues as I continue to do my very best to serve residents in Bathwick.
“Being a member of the Lib Dems was a traumatic experience for me, and over the past three years it has become increasingly clear that their administration has been an abject failure.
“The vast majority of their 2019 manifesto pledges have not been met, they have consistently made decisions that run contrary to the interests of residents and businesses and they are now completely out of ideas.
“There is a saying in Hindi: Akela Chana Bhand Nahi Todta. It means ‘one fan can’t dispel the fog’, or ‘a sole effort can’t change things’. Unfortunately, B&NES has been under the dark fog of the Liberal Democrats for a few years now. As an Independent, I would’ve been unable to dispel the fog on my own at the next local elections. Therefore, to continue my good work in my ward, I have decided to join hands with the Conservatives.
“I’m hugely excited to be part of this ambitious team and to be helping secure a Conservative majority on the council next May.”