One role for local councillors is to question, scrutinise, and influence the city’s elected Mayor. Since the Mayor makes most decisions of the authority now this has to be a very significant role. If we are successful then we can help change the direction policy may take, and we may effect change in the city even if not in the position of power.
I’m glad to say that the Green group I am part of – 6 of the 70 councillors in the city, so far – is probably doing a considerable amount more than any other larger group to probe and question. In fact we are certainly asking far more relative to our number, and through our less confrontational style I suspect we are more influential, too. There are certainly some who seem to think question time at Cabinet or Full Council, or some other bodies, is a chance to complain or hector, but not actually get an outcome in terms of changing the Mayor’s mind.
Among the issues I have raised in question times (alongside a whole range of other questions by my colleagues) are:
– council support for buses (the budget and how it is used for non-commercial services) with specific reference to the supported 520 service through Redland ward and the overall process used to allocate budget;
– renewable energy developments;
– Green Capital grants;
– working with the voluntary and community sector (grants review) and the need to support smaller organisations gain access to grant opportunities;
– adopting a Good Food policy by the council to support local food initiatives;
– council support for a switch to using clean energy across the city;
– the recruitment of professional consultancy services by the council;
– promotion of the Go Green initiaitive to council suppliers for small businesses to benefit and take part in the Green Capital;
– the need for a transport interchange at Temple Meads;
– how the council’s new Bristol Energy Company will spend its surplus in the city;
Many of these were in response to Cabinet Papers, and at such times questions can only be based onthe report. Some others are at open question time before Full Council.