Council culture and leisure chief David Lawrence steps down
A senior council official who had been put on temporary paid leave has retired from his job.
Bath and North East Somerset Council divisional director for tourism, leisure and culture, David Lawrence, has stepped down from the role he had held for the last five years.
Mr Lawrence, who has spent 36 years in the public sector, had made it his mission to raise the city’s game in hosting major events and encouraging more visitors.
But he had been away from his office since the beginning of July while, in the words of a council statement, “certain matters are investigated.”
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His work has been carried out by interim director Mike Butler, who has been working with the B&NES environmental services directorate since March on various improvement programmes.
The council had declined to explain the reasons behind one-time Olympic-standard canoeist Mr Lawrence’s absence from his office.
It said yesterday: “Today, David Lawrence, divisional director, tourism, leisure and culture, has announced that he is retiring after 36 years in public service to pursue his other interests.
“Bath and North East Somerset Council wishes him well for the future. David would like to thank all his staff for their commitment during his five years at the council as director. He would also like to wish the council continued success in the future. Mike Butler will continue to support the strategic director for place until alternative arrangements can be put in place.”
The council added in a subsequent statement: “There are no ongoing enquiries into any individual who has either left or is currently at the council.”
The council is separately recruiting a new strategic director for place - the next tier above Mr Lawrence’s role - because the current postholder, Glen Chipp is leaving for a new job in Essex. That job covers strategic responsibility for everything from planning to rubbish collection.
Mr Chipp leaves at the end of the month and the council says there has been a “positive” response to its advertisement.
Mr Lawrence, who made the GB squad at the 1972 Olympics as a kayak canoeist, had been at the helm of efforts to make the most of this year’s Games.
He had also been one of the driving forces behind events such as the Christmas lights switch-ons, the royal-themed free picnics at Royal Victoria Park, and a number of digital festival initiatives, as well as a champion of public artworks. His portfolio of responsibilities also meant he was in charge of attractions such as the Roman Baths, efforts to get people to take more exercise, libraries and the Bath Film Office.