Neil Butters is a prominent member of Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES), albeit he is now semi-retired. Currently Rail Liaison Advocate, his former posts include Joint Cabinet Member for Transport Services (2019-21), and Council Chairman from 16th May 2013 to 8th May 2014. During the latter period he raised £11,000 for five charities, and attended some 500 events across the district. He had previously been elected Vice-Chairman on 10th May 2012, and Chairman-elect on 19th February 2013. He has served overall as a Member since 3rd May 2007. (Some 600 events as Vice-Chair/Chair/Past Chair.) From June 2021 he is Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Avon Fire Authority.
Neil represents Bathavon South ward which until May 2019 comprised the villages of Freshford, Hinton Charterhouse, Midford (most of), Monkton Combe (most of), Shoscombe, South Stoke - where he lives, and Wellow; a single-member ward. It has now been extended to include Camerton, Claverton, Combe Hay, Dunkerton & Tunley, Englishcombe, Marksbury, and Priston. This is now a two-member ward - his new colleague being Cllr Matt McCabe, who lives in Englishcombe parish.
He is a member of the Liberal Democrat Party, and has lived here since 2004.
Previously, he had served as a Thamesdown/Swindon [from 1997] Borough councillor (St Margaret Ward: 1982-86, and Lawns Ward: 1995-2000) for a total of nine years; he also served for 12 years as a parish councillor (Wanborough and Covingham Parish Councils - 1976-88). He was Chairman of Wanborough Parish Council in 1980-81, and the first-ever Chairman of Covingham Parish Council, when it was established independently from Wanborough, in 1983-4. He is the only Liberal/Liberal Democrat to have represented St Margaret Ward, and was the first non-Conservative to represent Lawns Ward.
Unusually, he won his first ward (St Margaret) from Labour; his second (Lawns) from the Conservatives - and held his third (Bathavon South) from the Liberal Democrats!
B&NES is a unitary authority - ie: it covers the functions of both a district and a county council, including planning, transportation, social services and education. Neil publicises his activities as a councillor through the FOCUS newsletter. In addition however he communicates with large numbers of people in his ward through e-mail. If you live in the ward, are interested in local news, and would like to be added to this list please write to him at CllrNeilButters@aol.com.
He and Matt regularly attend local parish council meetings. "It is good to see first-hand what goes on in your ward if you want to help your residents", Neil says.
He is a former Member of the Development Control (now Planning) Committee, the Employment Committee, the World Heritage Enhancement Fund Committee, the Communities, Transport and Environment Scrutiny Panel, the Wellbeing Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel, and a former Reserve Member of the Licensing Committee. His role when Chairman included chairing Parish Liaison Meetings and leading citizenship ceremonies.
Outside appointments on behalf of Council: Member of Avon Fire Authority (since 2015) - see above; Executive Member of Local Government Association's (LGA) Public Transport Consortium; Trustee, Blue Coat School Foundation. When Cabinet Member, also served as a member of West of England Combined Authority (WECA) Transport Board, and Western Gateway Sub-national Transport Body (STB).
By profession, Neil was a career railway manager until his retirement on 31st March 2013 - having worked at almost all levels of the industry, in various locations. He began with a holiday job at Kensington Olympia in 1966 (Motorail services). In 1970, after various other jobs as a Railman/junior clerical officer - in London and Birmingham - whilst a student, he joined full-time as a Traffic Management Trainee at Bristol - the only one in BR Western Region's West of England Division (Penzance to Bromsgrove/Swindon). His many subsequent jobs have included: Assistant Area Manager at Swindon; TOPS (Total Operations Processing - computer - System) national implementation team - and, later, Western Region manager; Western Region Management Services Assistant (based Reading); Personnel Research, Policy Unit, British Railways Board; Management Development & Training Officer, Freightliner; Overseas/Senior Training Consultant, Transmark; Development/Commercial Manager and Deputy Head [Executive Grade, ie: senior manager, 1990] - running the establishment and dealing with university relationships, The Grove Management Centre, Watford (now a five-star hotel); and Heritage Officer for the British Railways Board. From 1998 see below.
He attended Magdalen College School, Brackley, Northamptonshire (1959-66) - then a state boarding Grammar school.
He holds a London University BA in Psychology, Law & Economics - for which he studied externally at Portsmouth College of Technology (now University), a post-graduate Diploma in Personnel Management from the University of Aston in Birmingham - for which he was awarded an SSRC Bursary, and an MBA in Business Development from City University Business School. He is a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). He also holds a Cambridge University CELTA Certificate (English Language Teaching - Adults), for which he studied at Bath College; and a University Certificate from the University of Bath. At Portsmouth, he became President of the Psychology Society, Treasurer and then Secretary of the Liberal Society, and a member of the Cultural Committee.
He has also served on a number of secondments - to a local enterprise agency: Assistant Director, Bath Enterprise Ltd, Green Park Station*; a university: MSc Transport & Logistics Management Programme Director and (later) Visiting Fellow, Salford; a professional institution: PA to President, Chartered Institute of Transport (Alastair Pugh CBE); and the Corporation of Lloyd's: Recruitment Consultant.
* Whilst working in Bath he worked on and produced two major local studies along with Christine Edwards of North East London Polytechnic (later University of East London): "Unemployment in Bath - a Profile" and "The Labour Market in the Bath Area - Current Trends and Future Prospects". (Both 1987.) Christine later became Professor of Personnel Management at Kingston University.
He has served as an External Examiner for both Middlesex and Kingston Universities; and as a Governor of Dorcan School - Swindon, and Ralph Allen School - Bath.
He served as Chairman of the Old Town Festival in Swindon during 2003-4, immediately prior to his move to Bath - providing entertainment, and raising money for charity.
From 1998 to 2013 he served as Secretary to the (Great Britain-wide) Railway Heritage Committee, a statutory body sponsored by the Department for Transport. (The Railway Heritage Committee has now been superseded by the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board, reporting to the Trustees of the Science Museum Group.) From 2006, he worked (full-time) partly from home and partly from an office in Bristol - Temple Quay House, also the headquarters of the Planning Inspectorate. [Note that the role of the Railway Heritage Committee was to 'designate' significant railway records and moveable artefacts - anything from a painting to a High Speed Train - and ensure their long-term preservation. It was not to be confused with the Railway Heritage Trust, which deals with buildings and other structures.]
He is a Member of the Retired Railway Officers Society.
From July 2014 until 2020, he served as a Member of the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board.
From 2011 he served as an Officer of the Heritage Railway Association - and, as such, was appointed one of two Co-secretaries of a new All Party Parliamentary Group for Heritage Rail until taking up his Council Chairman duties in 2013.
In 1993, he produced and self-published a Historical Transport Map of Wiltshire - which sold extensively through the county.
In 2016, he produced three books from photographs by J.C. (John) Way: Bath's Railways; Railways of Exeter and Axminster to Lyme Regis; and Penzance Railways. All three published by Stenlake Publishing Ltd.
His first wife Sheila died in 2002. He married his present wife Charlotte Moore, a local artist (studied at Chelsea and Falmouth Colleges of Art), in 2005 at the Roman Baths. Charlotte, who exhibits regularly and is a Committee Member of the Bath Society of Artists, painted three of King Bladud's pigs for 2008, a baby elephant for London's 2010 'Elephant Parade', a lion for the 'Lions of Bath' 2010, a swan for 'Swans of Wells' 2012 http://www.swansofwells.com/p/inspiration.html, and two owls - one large, one small - for 'Minerva's Owls of Bath' 2018. [The small owl is on display at at the magnificently restored Packhorse pub, of which they are shareholders, in South Stoke.]
Charlotte and Neil are both qualified Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, and have had many foreign students to stay.
Neil and Charlotte (who was born in Brisbane, Australia, and also came to England at two years' old - see below) have five children between them, all grown-up.
His particular interests locally are similar to those of his well-known predecessor Gitte Dawson MBE:
keeping our villages alive - encouraging local shops, pubs, post offices, and other important facilities
fighting off inappropriate development
getting traffic calming and speed limits
safeguarding and promoting public transport
pressing for sustainable decisions in whatever the Council does.
Neil and Charlotte are shareholders in the Packhorse pub.
Neil is Chair of the Swindon Tram 13 Trust, whose aim is to restore and display Swindon's last tramcar - one of only two in the historic counties of the south west capable of being restored.
Neil is always keen to hear from residents - with problems he might help you solve, or just suggestions as to how things could be done better. He and Matt, with help from Gitte and others, publish an occasional local newsletter - FOCUS (see above) - to keep residents informed. If you would like to see some early examples, you may download some from the bottom of this page. If you could help deliver FOCUS in your road, Neil would be very pleased to hear from you. Also, as mentioned above, he keeps in touch with many people in his ward by e-mail.
You can contact Neil on –
Tel: 07762 245105
His postal address is –
Bath BA2 7DN
Further background details: Neil (full name Trelawny Neilson Butters) came to England from Durban, South Africa - where he was born - just before he was two years' old. His parents had both been born in India, although they had met in London. He has lived in many parts of the Midlands (Cheltenham, Banbury area, Brackley, Birmingham), London (South Kensington, Battersea, Putney), and the South (Worthing, Winchester, Portsmouth/Gosport, Bristol, Swindon area). He has one sister, who lives in Mantua, Italy. Their mother died when he was 12, his sister 7- further to which they were brought up in a one-parent family.
A great uncle, Francis Neilson (formerly Francis Butters), was Liberal MP for Hyde, Cheshire, from 1910-16. He resigned to publish a book critical of the First World War: How Diplomats Make War..
Neil has travelled widely: all over Europe; USA (four times); Australia (five times) and New Zealand; southern Africa; Central and South America - including Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Uruguay; Palestine and Jordan; India and Nepal; and the Far East - including Tibet, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan.