Bath Voice Interview: Widcombe and Lyncombe’s new councillor opens up about life, politics and Winston Duguid

By Harry Mottram: Meet Councillor Deborah Collins the new Liberal Democrat representative for the Widcombe and Lyncombe ward in Bath.
Well – not that new as the elections were in May – but no matter – Deborah joins Alison Born of the same party as the joint representatives for the ward – and replaces the respected Winston Duguid who stood down at the last council election.
Bath Voice caught up with her at the Prior Park Garden Centre Cafe for a brief chat and a cuppa.
“I have big shoes to fill as Winston was a well known and hard working councillor,” she said, “and he was very helpful introducing me to people and getting me up to speed on all the ward’s issues.”
Deborah lives in Lyncombe or as she jokes West Widcombe as the road she lives in has something of an identity crisis!
Her dad was in the army and so she lived in many different places – mostly on Salisbury Plain – but was born in Malta. Aged 60 Deborah is a retired lawyer with a career mainly in central Government in ‘senior leadership roles’ and later for Southwalk Council in London in management roles. She has an ex husband and two grown up children – one who has moved back in with her in Bath to save cash. A situation familiar for many boomer parents.
After moving to Bath she worked for a time for Cardiff University – but now is a committed councillor who has as she says ‘ an obsession with streets.’
“One of the big things is to help people to walk the streets and cycle more safely,” she said, “so that’s a big focus.
“I’d like to see as a councillor our administration put more resources into keeping the streets clean and better maintained. It’s helpful for people trying to negotiate their way over slippery leaves or cyclists trying to avoid potholes, so getting the basics right is really important.
“The other thing I really care about is listening to residents and hearing what they say in consultations. It’s not unique to Bath but local Government often speaks in Local Government speak which leaves people frustrated.”
I mentioned the case of Snow Hill and their Residents Parking Zone scheme as an example. She explained she wasn’t involved with that but understood the point. Although she wasn’t then elected.
She said: “If you take the RPZ Winston and Alison had put in on Entry Hill and Greenway Lane they put in a lot of work meeting residents and dropping leaflets and answering questions and concerns about it.
“There were some people who said, ‘we don’t want the zone to extend here’ so they didn’t get it to their part of the street while in other places where residents wanted the RPZ extended they made that happen. It’s about working hard as a ward councillor and bridging the gap between the administration and residents.”
In response to the possible criticism that the Lib Dems with 41 councillors is effectively a one party state, she said it was caused by the First Past The Post system – and she’d prefer a proportional representation system – although as she pointed out this was the first time B&NES had two successive administrations which would make long term planning easier.

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Harry Mottram is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Telegram, TikTok and Mobile: 07789 864769