Author Archives: Mike Bell

Brian Cotter 1936-2023, former Lib Dem MP for Weston-super-Mare

Brian was born in London, the son of a doctor from Weston-super-Mare and was educated in London and Somerset. After doing his National Service he entered business, eventually running his own small manufacturing company in Hampshire. Brian married Eyleen in the 1960s and they had two sons and a daughter together.

Brian came into politics relatively late, not joining the Liberal Party until his 40s. He became active in Woking and was elected to Woking Borough Council in 1986, as a Liberal/SDP Alliance candidate, representing the Mount Hermon West ward. He retained this seat until standing down in 1990.

Brian moved to Weston-super-Mare that year following his selection as our Parliamentary Candidate for the 1992 General Election. He set about campaigning with gusto and personally knocked on thousands of doors and helped to recruit new members and deliverers everywhere he went. He took us to a strong second place securing more votes than any Liberal or Liberal Democrat candidate in the history of the seat.

Brian was reselected and contested the seat again at the 1997 General Election, winning this time with a majority of 1,274 over the Conservative – the first non-Conservative for 74 years. He successfully defended the seat in 2001, holding on with a reduced majority.  In 2005, Brian was defeated by the Conservatives, and in the following year was nominated to the House of Lords by the late Charles Kennedy MP and he served in the upper chamber until his death.

My standout memories of campaigning with Brian include in the run-up to the 1997 General Election when we were expecting a flying visit from Paddy – literally, as he was landing in a helicopter on the beach. Paddy was running late (of course) and the Conservative candidate drove round and round the Beach Lawns – where Brian and around a hundred of our supporters were waiting for Paddy – and heckled through the loudspeaker on her Land Rover: “They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek that Paddy everywhere”. Brian delivered an impromptu speech and pointed out that if the best the Tories could do was watch us then we were winning already – and he was right.

Posted in Obituaries | Tagged | 6 Comments

Supporting vision rehabilitation

All councils in England provide a service called vision rehabilitation which offers crucial training and advice to people living with sight loss. Evidence shows that many blind and partially sighted people are failing to receive vital vision rehabilitation support. RNIB’s current campaign, See, Plan and Provide, is calling for improved access to vision rehabilitation assessments and support.

Vision rehabilitation provides crucial training and advice to people experiencing sight loss. This includes support to help them live in their home safely and negotiate the many obstacles and risks in the external environment. It gives people the skills and confidence to maximise …

Posted in Local government, News and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

Opinion: the Coalition’s £7 billion hit on families

The Government believes that strong and stable families of all kinds are the bedrock of a strong and stable society.

So says the Coalition Agreement, but has the Government’s approach to reducing the deficit actually demonstrated the opposite?

The furore over the proposed removal of Child Benefit from higher rate tax payers has raised hackles in the middle classes – and aspiring middle classes. But the cuts to Child Benefit are further evidence of a worrying trend since the election.

Whether there are arguments for the cuts or not, the list since May does not smack of a Government committed to “strong and …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 36 Comments
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