The Big Interview: Former council leader has had a long and varied political career
Councillor Bob Adams is a familiar face on the South Kesteven local government scene - and perhaps in our pubs too.
The 78-year-old former council leader has been a councillor on and off for 50 years and says he will stand again for election in May.
Born and raised in Nottingham, Coun Adams, who is married to Linda and has three daughters, lives in Great Ponton.
His background is in business and finance with a career that started in accountancy, working in Nottingham, Leicester, then Grantham, then back to Nottingham, before coming back to Grantham more than 30 years ago.
He recalls a political interest and career starting off when he was “in short trousers”.
“I became involved with the Conservative Party through an aunt and writing envelopes,” he said.
“That was when I was in short trousers and her son was elected to Nottinghamshire County Council.
“A lot [in politics] is to do with family background. It is a belief you have something to offer and can make a difference.”
Coun Adams, himself, was first elected on to Nottinghamshire County Council in 1968, at a time the Conservatives were popular.
He said: “I won the seat by 3,000 votes and lost it two years later by the same margin. It was due to a nationwide swing against the Conservatives. They were very popular in 1968 but unpopular in 1970.
“People don’t vote on local issues, generally speaking. Local issues are very important but the mood swing is very much governed by national issues.”
Coun Adams was later selected for a safe seat and, in time, became council deputy leader.
Three years later though, he had to come off the council when work took him to Leicester. Then, he had four years serving on Gedling Borough Council in rural Nottinghamshire.
He didn’t join South Kesteven District Council until 2007 and then Lincolnshire County Council until 2013.
With much dependent on the national scene then, how might Coun Adams, who is standing again in the Isaac Newton ward, and his fellow Conservatives fare next May?
“A lot will depend on the outcome of Brexit,” he said.
“The Conservatives will have a hard fight. The Brexit scenarios haven’t played out well for us.”
He credits Brexit for fuelling a growing interest in politics from voters, adding: “My personal view is we should be out of the European Union.
“British industry is resilient to overcome any temporary difficulties.”
After finishing in 1990 at Lombard North Central, a major finance company, Coun Adams began working for himself in the finance sector.
He later took a career change and worked for a plastics firm in Oakham, finishing up as shift leader/ team leader before retiring aged 66.
By then, his council interests had been calling again.
He fought a seat in 1999 and lost and then lost again to former Grantham mayor Ian Selby in 2003.
But it was third time lucky in 2007, taking the Isaac Newton seat on SKDC, which he has held ever since.
He became a member of the policy development group and had roles including vice-chairman of resources committee.
Then, in 2015, the then leader Linda Neal stood down and Coun Adams was elected in her place.
He said: “I think we put a lot of good initiatives into the council such as the [Rioja] designer outlet, the garden village. We cemented the status of Gravity Fields as an internationally recognised event. We helped promote the Literary Festival in The Deepings and got the cinema [in Grantham] through the planning process.”
However, there were rumblings of discontent within the local Conservative group and despite narrowly surviving a vote of no confidence in September 2016, he was deposed the following spring.
Diplomatically, Coun Adams declined to comment on the ‘new’ regime of leader Matthew Lee and deputy leader Kelham Cooke, but when pushed, said: “I think they have introduced new initiatives. Only time will tell if their initiatives will be a success. If anything else, I have been a loyal Conservative.”
He says he is a “strong supporter” of Grantham MP Nick Boles.
“You get more done quietly in the background. He’s done a lot for the constituency and without fuss,” he said.
Coun Adams recalls how the MP was selected in an ‘open’ process that included non-Conservative Party members.
“Nick showed guts for coming out as gay before the vote,” he added.
As a cancer survivor, who is also in remission, Coun Adams also “respects the MP for keeping up the fight” during his own illness. Mr Boles revealed in 2016 he had a cancerous tumour, and later confirmed it had been “eradicated”.
Coun Adams said: “I know a lot of people don’t like to think this. He’s the most honest and genuine MP I have come across in 50 years.”
He also paid tribute to parish councillors, something he has never been.
“I am staggered by the amount of work they do, their contribution to planning issues, looking after their own village and being the eyes and ears of district and county councillors.”
He is also proud of Lincolnshire, citing its history, countryside, the wartime heritage he enjoys visiting, and the people who spend so much time helping good causes to support the less fortunate,
He was involved with such activities in the past but when not busy with council duties, now enjoys bowls and a bit of golf.
He added: “I like a pint in Wetherspoons and supporting the local industry, any good local ale.”