LEADER’S BLOG: August 2015

A monthly look at what assorted Green councillors in Bristol have been getting up to…

Deb Joffe (Windmill Hill)
Councillor page: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=14
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/WindmillHill
Blog: http://debjoffe.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WindmillHGreens

DebJoffe
I’m writing this following a Full Council meeting last night. Cllr Sam Mongon and I are working hard to try and get the Council to engage with residents and councillors on the transport plans for the Arena ahead of the actual planning application being submitted. Even though councillors voted for this, we have been met with an effective ‘No, wait for the public consultation’. I am very disappointed in this response and will continue to lobby for more information. I am particularly interested in environmental transport solutions – we urgently need to get people to travel to the Arena without using their cars if we are to have decent air quality and bring down carbon emissions.

More promisingly I have been working with Parent Carers Forum to secure more funding for their fabulous ‘Let’s Go’ community transport scheme. This allows children who are disabled or have life-limiting illnesses to go out with their families and engage in the sort of activity most of us take for granted, such as visiting relatives or a cinema trip. I am hopeful that we will be able to persuade the Council to find funds to continue this service.

Sam & I met with the Parks officer after several people expressed concern about long grass areas. Send your views on the new mowing schedule to parksmaintainence.review@bristol.gov.uk. I mentioned that weeds had seeded near the new path  in Perrett’s Park  – these are now mowed and grass-seeding will be tried again next year.

Finally, over in Windmill Hill and Victoria Park, there is concern about the forthcoming Residents’ Parking Schemes in Bedminster leading to commuters parking in nearby streets where there is no  scheme. Some residents would like to have an RPS and I talked to the council about this . If you agree please email me: Deborah-mila.joffe@bristol.gov.uk.

Martin Fodor (Redland)
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=74
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Redland
Blog: http://martinfodor.com/
martin-fodor-bristol-2013
The main issue has been the libraries announcement.
This is a vindication of our position in that we did not want closures, but do agree that the model needs to be refreshed. The unanswered questions about the reduced cut means the cause of the cuts (coalition government austerity )will still fall on the council services, we just don’t now know where some will be. Greens will need to be extra vigilant about less ‘popular’ services being targeted that impact on vulnerable groups.

The reduced hours also causes alarm as there now has to be a concerted effort to ensure new viable uses are found for every library to get hours up from the 20 hours minimum to ensure services are still open and accessible. This means new events, activities, services and perhaps local cafes bringing refreshments into spaces from local traders. This especially matters in less well-used libraries where they could meet more local needs. Greens have been closely involved in local campaigns but also recognise that the expressions of support generated by the campaigns still need to do lots of work to boost service offers and widen use.

We have been pressing through Neighbourhoods scrutiny for the review of the waste collection contract (in parallel to the transfer of collection services to the new BWC) to be undertaken in a way that ensures better reduction, reuse, repair and recycling. We don’t want a standstill situation where tonnes are destined for disposal due to inaction on repair and reuse or less ambition to raise the recycling rate (eg in harder to reach blocks).

On Gloucester Road we are still watching ever patiently for the completion of our new facilities at the old Bristol North Baths. At last the scaffolding is down! 

To mark Hiroshima and Nagasaki Days, the local CND Group wanted to replace a memorial cherry tree in the Peace Grove in Castle Park (between the ruined church and the harbour). The grove was planted in 1985 but a cherry tree had died and the plaque there was missing. Cllr Martin Fodor was able to secure practical support and agreement from the council to ensure this could take place. On August 7th, Hiroshima Day, the group planted a replacement tree and in a short ceremony re-dedicated the peace grove,  added a plaque, and marked the occasion, with members of CND and passers by. They invited Martin to speak, and heard from Daniella Radice too, acting as Assistant Mayor.

Daniella Radice (Bishopston councillor and Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods)
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=82
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Bishopston
Blog: http://bishopstongreencouncillors.info
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GreenDaniella

daniella50-50 Gender Equality
One of the highlights of the month was seeing the launch of 50-50 campaign for gender equality in the Council for 2016. As chair of the sub-group of the women’s commission that is running the campaign it is great to see it up and running and receiving support from most other political parties.

Graffiti Policy
I am working with Council Officers and street artists to update the Council’s graffiti policy. The issue is that street art is one of the things that many of us love about the city, but tagging has become an increasingly bad problem in many neighbourhoods and we need a proper plan and resources to tackle it. BBC Bristol featured this on radio and Points West and it was picked up positively by the Post.

Libraries
I was pleased to announce this month, initially to scrutiny and then to full council that the new plans for libraries mean that 27 out of 28 libraries will not be closing. As Greens we have played a major role in this outcome, and have reversed some of the proposed cuts, although we do not know where will be cut instead. My speech  is on Tim and I’s new website:  http://bishopstongreencouncillors.info/

Carla Denyer (Clifton East)
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=30
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Clifton-East
Twitter: https://twitter.com/carla_denyer

CarlaLast month I told you about ward casework I have been doing in my first few months. This time here’s a brief summary of work I’ve been doing in 3 of the more interesting council meetings I went to this month. I sit on two committees (Neighbourhoods Scrutiny and Planning), and I attended the public Cabinet meeting along with 5 other Green councillors (and no councillors from any other party!)

Neighbourhoods Scrutiny – 17th July
I helped scrutinise the second phase consultation findings from the citywide libraries consultation, asking questions on the council officers’ (aka staff) proposals. I was pleased to learn that the Friends of Redland Library group I have been involved in had real impact – our public awareness campaign bumped up public response rates in the final few weeks of the consultation, and the creative suggestions in our group consultation response were praised by the officers as some of the more interesting.

Cabinet – 4th August
I made a statement about improving housing standards in the private rental sector by adopting the ACORN Ethical Lettings Charter. I encouraged the Mayor to adopt this alongside the West of England Rental Standard, because the former is a code of good practice, while the latter is just about legal minimum requirements.

I also asked a question about how much renewable energy will be used in the heating system refits of Bristol’s council housing. (Answer: it’ll be mostly efficient Band-A condensing gas boilers, but they will use Air-to-Water heat pumps in some buildings, and there’ll be room for retrofitting more renewables later.)

Development Control (Planning) – 5th August
I read and listened to public representations and officers’ reports, and contributed to decisions on an extension to student flats on Whiteladies Road (I voted against, but it passed), and the outline plan for new buildings at the UWE Bower Ashton site (committee voted unanimously for).

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