It’s been a pleasure meeting residents all over Redland ward
as part of my campaign. I have genuinely enjoyed listening to people and discussing issues in every street and block.
When I was asked to stand again, having been runner up last year without running a a full campaign, I knew that canvassing was the only really effective way to meet people all over the ward, to hear what people have to say, and to show that I am committed to representing all views in the area. Now I’ve visited every single street at least once, and the majority twice, calling at every address and knocking or doors and ringing door bells and buzzers, with my colleagues. I am pleased to say I therefore have a fuller picture of the feelings held across the neighbourhood. I would not expect to represent the area without this amount of effort to hear what people have to say.
And if elected I do of course undertake to make my self available to people and local groups and to hold regular surgeries for issues to be raised.
It’s been wonderful how supportive people are, and I’ve also had some great opportunities to meet other leading Greens from here and across Britain and Europe who’ve been to Bristol and here to Redland ward.
What’s been raised by people? The interesting thing is how in most cases people are quite pleased about the way our neighbourhood works. The local shops and green spaces are highly valued and no one wants to see them at risk. Working in practical ways to support local shops and traders is one field I have been busy in for many years, such as through trialling the Bristol Pound,
as well as developing a traders’ food waste and recycling scheme, and also as a national expert in opening up public procurement to smaller enterprises.
There are many people very concerned about the Mayor’s Residents’ Parking scheme – sometimes as much by how the process has been rolled out as by the actual proposals. I’ve made it very clear that I think parking should be managed but that details need to be worked out street by street, taking account of local conditions (now and with other schemes in place) plus the needs of local traders, travelling workers, and local facilities. My colleagues on the council have set out a very details position that I endorse, seen here: http://daniellaradice.org/2013/06/07/green-party-councillors-statement-on-residents-parking-schemes-rps/#more-412
Improving local bus services is another topical issue, and I’ve written about this elsewhere. The letter setting out what I’ve done to take practical steps to ensure better local bus routes is on my Letters Page. I shall be following up with First Bus shortly.
The protection of allotment land is a priority, too. Having heard about a development threat to some local allotments I looked into the issue, visited the site on Birchall’s Fields, and submitted a detailed objection on various grounds to the current proposal, much to the delight of the Chair of the allotments association. Local food issues are subject of another Blog.
I said a key role of councillors is to represent the area. The other is to challenge, influence, and scrutinise the elected Mayor, since that post-holder now has most powers of decisionmaking.
I’d like to see more powers and decisions devolved to the local level, wherever this makes sense. We have a few service and budget responsibilities held by the Neighbourhood Partnership currently. I’m part of that already and with community reps and input from the wider public we do sound out local views and respond to many agendas brought to the body. But it could involve a great many more people. The times, locations, and publicity of meetings and their process could all draw more people in. So could a clearer agenda about actual decisions to be taken, especially if it can be about more than a small highways works budget, a grants pot, and a few cleansing and street scene issues, plus police liaison.
On the council itself councillors need to review key policy and programme areas BEFORE the Mayor makes a decision. The Green Group already seeks to influence this. I’d like to see us, especially as we grow in numbers, review more areas of council work and ensure better decisions reflecting more input before it’s too late. The announcement of decisions to be followed by a fuss about how they might be changed is not appropriate! I’ve taken part in many negotiation and decisionmaking exercises over the years and good practice goes well beyond: “decide, announce, defend!” Most of my work over the years has been about the scope for partnership: public, private, and community – the development of solutions that expand the common ground and mutual benefits possible. Of course in a time of severe Coalition government cuts and attacks on local councils this is not at all easy, but it’s even more reason to do our best. Until we change the national funding formula and rules for council finance we have to do as much as possible to defend vital services and find the best local outcomes for service users.
Being European Green Capital 2015 may just make that job a bit easier as it could bring resources, investment, and a focus on best practice in many areas to our city. This could benefit the local economy, the community and the environment in various ways and my aim is that the whole of the city shares this boost.