Reflections on Bristol: European Green Capital 2015

In January 2015 I published a blog about the start of city_review_box_jpg__560x380_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscaleBristol’s year as European Green Capital:

Much has been said, done, and reported since the year took place. Some is published here in the official City Wide Review of the year:

I’ve been looking back at the year and the issues raised around it, and I was disturbed at the almost total focus on issues around invoices for services used through the year, and little if any attention on the many projects, achievements, volunteers, and outcomes from the year. So next week I’m asking the Mayor of Bristol to answer the following questions: Continue reading Reflections on Bristol: European Green Capital 2015


Whatever the question, Hinkley is not the answer

Hinkley: the most expensive project ever built
The massive white elephant of a project

Sixty years ago this month, the “world’s first commercial nuclear power station” opened at Calder Hall, Sellafield. Three years ago the unprecendented promise of a guaranteed, index linked wholesale power price of double the current rates was promised for decades, to keep Hinkley project profitable for French and Chinese developers.  At the same time the unfunded clean up of the site at Sellafield is costing us billions over the next century. How did we get to such a situation when this city is full of energy solutions?

I spent many years developing energy policy for local government nationally. At the Local Government Association we worked hard to get a chapter about the value of local solutions in delivering national energy answers: local programmes to make homes more efficient, generate power, or create initiatives like Bristol Energy Company (which was supported by EU funds).  It’s therefore a sad reflection on how little lasting impact we’ve made overall that the government seems fixated on massive, national ‘megaprojects’ that are meant to solve energy problems.

a folly, a fiasco, and farce

But whatever we think about the need for large scale projects there seems to be little credibility for the proposed reactor project at Hinkley Point C. Whatever the question being asked to me Hinkley is now so obviously a folly, a fiasco, and farce….. Continue reading Whatever the question, Hinkley is not the answer

Who will win ‘the only game in town?’

Devolution and a metro Mayor for the West of England: we’re told this is the only game in town – but if we play who will be the winners and losers?

Greens have mixed views on the west of England devolution deal. As our council Group Leader Charlie Bolton said at council recently: “Beware of Tories bearing gifts.”  But what are the issues we’re concerned about?

Greens are clearly committed to devolving power from government.   Continue reading Who will win ‘the only game in town?’

Winning Redland ward again for the Greens

Elections are a central activity for politicians. Without an election victory we can’t get on with our work. So months of activity focus on election day and weeks of canvassing (visiting voters to speak to them and hear their concerns) are carried out.

It was therefore a great result when the votes were finally counted, and my fellow ward Green councillor, Fi Hance, and I secured substantial majorities at the May elections Continue reading Winning Redland ward again for the Greens

What a Year of Achievements it’s Been!

Our Green Group more than doubled in size after the 2015 elections. What a year of influence and achievements it’s been!

By presenting motions, amending proposals, questioning the Mayor, and initiating debate we’ve had a substantial positive influence on the work of the council in the city, from a position as the third biggest group on the council.

Here’s a short summary of just some of what we’ve been up to:

Green-councillor-achievements (link to story)

Some of my work has been featured here, and I’ve been delighted to be part of a positive, constructive, effective and creative group of colleagues helping implement green policies and initiatives in Bristol.

Continue reading What a Year of Achievements it’s Been!

Less waste; more Reuse

Influencing could strategy and projects is a key role for local councillors. I’ve served on the Neighbourhood Scrutiny  Commission for two years and one of its responsibilities is the  oversight of council waste and recycling strategy and services. One of my key themes has been to get it modernised so that usable goods, materials, appliances and resources are reused and not recycled. Until recently the only option has been to recycle old items despite the established market via charities and other outlets for reused goods.
I therefore took the opportunity to speak strongly in favour of a budget amendment to devote funds to setting up reuse centres on household waste sites. Continue reading Less waste; more Reuse

Investing in the Future

It’s very rare for the Green Group to be guaranteed time for a Full Council debate on any issue. We take a turn a couple of times a year, and the choice of topic is of course a much contested one among the group. I was therefore delighted to be supported when I advocated choosing the future shape of our city’s economy as influenced by the local government pension fund.

Our economy can help create our future, and our savings can stimulate the economy. That’s why I developed a motion for the council to influence the investments of the Avon Pension Fund, specifically to get funds shifted into positive, future sectors and away from the damaging fossil fuels that are undermining out climate. Continue reading Investing in the Future

Why 20’s Plenty for the people of Bristol

A petition was brought to Full Council recentlyCity of Bristol-20160808-00073
asking to remove 20mph limits in the city.
I spoke out against it

– ie in defence of our limits – why does this matter? I made a number of comments there, mainly drawn from these points below.

It’s also significant to clarify that we do not have 20mph Zones in most of the city (with a couple of localised exceptions); only 20mph speed limits are in place – very few areas are provided with physical treatment to curb speeds that would create effective zones.

Continue reading Why 20’s Plenty for the people of Bristol

Calling in Digital Billboards

The new council year has started with two Call-Ins of recent decisions by the Mayor. One was instigated by the Green Group. A successful Call In gets a poorly made decision referred to the Full Council for debate by all city councillors where the process that’s been challenged can be revisited and the principle underlying the decision as well. So what did we object to and why?  Continue reading Calling in Digital Billboards