Clarifications and Facts

I’ve always made clear that, like colleagues in the Green party, I am committed to positive campaigning. You won’t see an attack leaflet from me.

With polling day looming, other parties tend to produce leaflets describing our policies and activities in ways that we sometimes regard as negative and inaccurate.

I’d rather focus on what I have already done to demonstrate my committment to the area and to establish my policies and priorities (witness this blog), and what we as a small but growing group of local representatives can do, for local communities and for the city.

Greens will always acknowledge complexities as openly and transparently as we can, so that you can make up your own mind from an informed position.

Below, therefore, is my and my colleagues’ position and our actions on a number of key issues in response to some allegations starting to fly about in this close-fought Redland election:

Bristol City Council Budget:

Green Party Councillors: Rob Telford, Tess Green and Daniella Radice voted against a proposed revenue budget that entailed an £80 million cut.

They felt this would lead to unacceptable cuts in services, and the loss of much expertise from the council – neither of which Greens could support.

They voted in favour of the Labour amendments to put back money towards parks maintenance and children’s services, ensuring that when the budget eventually went through these items were included.

Residents Parking Schemes:

Green policy has always been that we will support these schemes where and when local residents want them. We believe in incentivising fewer car journeys and in local decision-making and proper consultation. You can read a detailed statement from our councillors on our position, written in June 2013 http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/bristol-green-party-councillors-statement-on-residents-parking-schemes-rps.

I have said clearly that I wish to see effective consultation to get street by street input into the shape and effectiveness of any RSP in this area; solutions for any one road could be different from any other, although adjacent areas will have impacts so this has to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to manage parking. I’ve talked to many people onthe doors tep locally about the need for the scheme to work for residents, traders, and workers who travel around.
Green Party councillors are working hard in their wards to ensure that the voice of their residents on RPS is heard. Cllrs Rob Telford and Gus Hoyt (Ashley) are the only councillors in Bristol to have held their own consultation meetings throughout their ward and to produce their own report for the Council on RPS for Ashley.

Green Party Councillors, along with all the other political parties, voted in favour of the Mayor having to reconsider his implementation of RPSs.

Cllr Daniella Radice (Bishopston) was a member of the RPS working group which examined how the system has been working so far and made constructive recommendations for the future, particularly with regard to greater consultation and getting more details on schemes.

Air Pollution:

The Green Party has long campaigned on air pollution throughout the city, and we are pleased that other parties are now acknowledging its importance.

Cllr Tess Green (Southville) fought for the Sustainable Development and Transport working group enquiry into air pollution. One of its recommendations was to try to set up a Low Emissions Zone for Bristol.

Greens are aware that most of Gloucester Road is an Air Quality Management area (i.e below EU standards for air quality) because the Council already monitor it (and have for years) and we pay close attention to the data.

We consistently call for practical action to reduce traffic congestion and other causes of emissions. It is not clear to us how setting up further monitoring (as suggested by some other parties) will actually help the underlying problem.

Rail

All political parties in Bristol are demanding investment in Bristol’s local rail network. I spoke in favour of local rail at the AGM of Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways (FOSBR) earlier this year, in fact.

The Green Party has campaigned on this issue for many years. Cllr Charlie Bolton (Southville) initiated the subsidy of the Severn Beach line so that half hourly services could run. Since then it has become so successful, a subsidy is no longer needed.

In Bishopston we support a new station at Ashley Hill which we see as crucial for the College, Cricket ground and residents.

Because transport is such a key issue, we have written a 15 point local election transport manifesto (see my blogs on these issues).

Rail is vital, though just one part of the answer. We are also calling for a proper city wide cycle network, revision of bus routes and an integrated transport authority, among other things.

Housing standards

Green party councillors in Bristol support the landlord licensing scheme to ensure landlords provide good quality accommodation. We would like to see the current scheme rolled out across the city.

Nationally, Green MP Caroline Lucas has co-sponsored Jeremy Corbyn’s bill to protect tenants in privately rented homes.

In 2012 she published her own Private Member’s Bill to require local authorities to operate landlord accreditation schemes.

http://www.carolinelucas.com/media.html/2013/10/18/lucas-signs-bill-to-protect-tenants/

I am myself working with the Universities’ Lettings Agencies with a view to raising standards of student lets, to benefit both students and their neighbours with higher environmental standards such as better waste recycling provisions.

National Energy and Climate Change Policy

The Green group is the 4th largest group in the EU parliament, and has achieved many, many improvements in climate change and energy policy over the years.

A large vote for the Green party in 1989 Euro election pushed climate change and environmental issues high onto the political agenda.

The Greens are today an established force in European politics, having been represented in the European Parliament since 1984. The Green group strives to make Europe the global leader in terms of environmental protection, peace and social justice, fair globalisation, and in the fight for human rights.

The Environmental Technology sector kept growing through the recession – unlike most other parts of the economy. It’s a vital part of our city and regional economy.

Energy and Climate Change policy and action are vital for  our future and a field I’ve worked in nationally for many years – I was the local government sector’s national energy advisor for many years and then a senior advisor on climate change and energy issues at the Environment Agency head office. The local relevance of this to our neighbourhood and our homes is described in two of my blogs here.

Bristol Green Capital Partnership

I’ve been backing the Green Capital process since I took part in developing the previous and then the winning bid. My own work with local small traders is depicted in one of the final submission videos. I’ve always said (see one of my own videos here) that the important point of the 2015 award is to get lasting benefits for all of the city and its residents.

Green party councillors and cabinet member are playing a full part in preparations for European Green capital year 2015.

Cllr Radice is part of the Nature and Green spaces action group. She is also a Director of Gloucester Road Traders Association ltd, to help the small businesses of Gloucester road form links with other organisations across the city as part of the Green Capital Partnership.

I’ve long been involved in several of the working groups, seeking practical projects that help the community, the local economy, and the environment.

My colleagues and  fully support the 300+ local organisations from all sectors, who are working hard to ensure that the Green Capital works for everyone in the city.

TRASH campaign and local planning:

The fact that the High Court gave the local traders’ and residents’ TRASH campaign leave to take the judicial review showed that there were valid grounds for the review. If the case had not been sound, the High Court simply wouldn’t have granted leave.

The TRASH campaign was therefore winnable in principle and clearly had widespread community support.

Other parties have claimed they are setting up a ‘planning zone’ related to Gloucester Road. This is rather vague and not necessarily appropriate. Generally neighbourhood planning areas are suited to areas where there is scope of lots of new development, which can then be shaped by a detailed local planning and consultation process which has to be followed by a referendum to create firm local policies. In this area, we don’t regard this as being the case (although Cllrs Willingham (Lib Dem) and Radice in Bishopston did suggest setting up a local planning group a few months ago when there were rumours that the prison was to close).

Cllr Radice regularly discusses planning and development with the Gloucester Road Traders Association which represents the whole of Gloucester Road. I have also attended many of their meetings and supported many events.
When asked most community groups who have followed the neighbourhood planning process requirements say they might not do so again due to the substantial input of time, expertise, and need for widespread commitment. The council only offered practical support to a small number of priority neighbourhoods with local schemes.

Greens on Brighton Council

Other parties have launched attacks on the actions of the Green Group leading Brighton council. To make your own mind up about Greens on Brighton Council visit:

http://www.brightonhovegreens.org/

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/15/greens-blown-it-in-brighton

We suggest that the minority Green Group grasped the nettle and at considerable political cost to themselves, and addressed longstanding, neglected, issues around equal pay.

While other parties often adopt a ‘my party, right or wrong’ approach, Green councillors do not operate a whipping system and vote according to what they think is right. Sometimes there will be divisions because issues are not simple. We continue to emphasise dialogue as a way to address these complexities.

Children Climbing Trees

All the park groups in the city have asked for bye-laws to be drafted which can deal with situations that get out of control in some parks. These would not be criminal laws, but local tools to use in case of trouble so that council staff and police can deal with problems. In Bristol this process was lead by a LibDem cabinet member, but when it emerged the Mayor withdrew it for further work to be done. Far from wanting to ban children from climbing trees I am sure all my colleagues welcome the chance for inoffensive activities like play in natural and green areas.

Who to vote for in the Euro Elections

In Bristol, a Green vote in the Euro Elections is likely to make a very significant difference

European election is in fact by Proportional Representation, so all votes count. There are 6 seats to be contested here in the South West but your vote is for the party. Several may therefore win a place. Currently there are 3 Conservative, 2 UKIP and one Lib Dem. In 2009, the Green Party got more votes than Labour. That was at the height of Gordon Brown’s unpopularity and we expect Labour to win a seat this time. But it is highly unlikely that Labour will win 2 seats. That means that the battle for the sixth seat is likely to be between the third UKIP candidate, the second Tory and Molly Scott Cato for the Greens.

Greens need about 10% share of the votes to win a seat (just 0.7% more than we got in 2009), and recent polls suggest that we are on target to achieve that. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/12/support-labour-drops-tories-lead-guardian-icm-poll

See my blog about the launch of our strong SW Green campaign.

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