Official who led drive over city culture is put on leave
A senior council official who has brought new energy and drive to Bath's cultural sector has been put on temporary paid leave.
Bath and North East Somerset Council divisional director for tourism, leisure and culture, David Lawrence, has made it his mission to raise the city's game in hosting major events and encouraging more visitors.
But his work is now being carried out by interim director Mike Butler, who has been working with the B&NES environmental services directorate since March on improvement programmes. The council has declined to explain the reasons behind one-time Olympic-standard canoeist Mr Lawrence's absence from his office.
In a statement, it said: "David Lawrence is away from the office while certain matters are investigated. The work of the Tourism, Leisure, and Culture Services team will continue as normal – Mike Butler is assuming David's responsibilities while he is away from the office."
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The council confirmed Mr Lawrence was being paid and said it could not predict how long the period of absence would last.
Mr Lawrence, who made the GB squad at the 1972 Olympics as a kayak canoeist, has been at the helm of efforts to make the most of this year's Games.
He has 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 means he is in charge of attractions such as the Roman Baths, efforts to get people to take more exercise, libraries and the Bath Film Office.
His boss, the council's director of place Glen Chipp, will be leaving for a new job as chief executive of a local authority in Essex this autumn.
Mr Butler specialises in improving public sector services to maximise revenue and minimise costs.
In the last three years, he has worked with councils in London and the West Midlands, and previously has worked in the private sector.
Mr Lawrence said he could not comment on the issue.