Why I am standing for Central ward

It has been an absolute honour to serve the residents of Ashley ward for two and a half years as one of their two Green local councillors. Gus and I have always worked as a team and split the casework pretty much down the middle, even when Gus was the Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, and also during the last few months when I have been the Green group leader.

It has been great to work with him and with residents. Even during a period when local government has been under attack by successive Coalition and Tory governments, we have been able to help people on lower incomes to get their housing issues resolved or their benefits situation reviewed, as well as leading in the challenge of getting clean streets and the resources to keep them that way. Amongst all of our work, I have been particularly pleased with the new Albany Green improvements, and I look forward to a huge increase in the number of bike parking spaces in the Stokes Croft/Picton Street area in the next few months.

My term as Ashley councillor will be coming to an end in May and I recently made the decision that I would stand for a different ward, the new Central ward, which stretches from Stokes Croft and the Dove Street flats in the north, to the University of Bristol in the west, to Temple Way in the east, to the New Cut in the south.

I have taken this decision for a few reasons.

Firstly, and after 2.5 years, it has become clear to me that electing a gender-balanced pairing is better for residents – particularly for women who may need a female councillor to represent them on particular issues. I am convinced that the Green Party’s new Ashley council candidates (when announced) will be a well-balanced team and will serve the communities of St Pauls, St Werburghs, Montpelier and St Andrews with dedication and perseverance if elected in May.

Secondly, I am excited about a fresh opportunity, that of standing alongside Ani Stafford-Townsend to make Central a fully Green ward. The approach Ani has taken in her first year as a councillor has been fantastic – leading on crucial issues such as small business support, the homelessness crisis and the protection and improvement of the city centre’s green spaces. She has excelled herself in chairing a Development Control committee and is available for face-to-face meetings with residents, which is the first job of a good local councillor.

Thirdly, I have realised that two of the biggest challenges we face in making Bristol a Green city – sorting out a transport system that still does not do enough to de-incentivise motor vehicles, and ensuring we create safe, warm, low energy affordable homes – are being played out in Bristol City Centre. I am particularly energised by the idea of the centre of Bristol becoming much more pedestrian and cycle-friendly, with the four-year goal of closing more streets to through-traffic. This is an undeniably Green direction to take, because it would not only improve our air quality, but also improve social conditions – the centre would be more liveable, legible, and far more open to local traders and businesses. Our centre promenade often doesn’t feel like a “location” in the same way other cities manage with their central squares – and I want to work to make this happen.

The city centre has undergone big changes in the last decade, not least in the number of people who have come to live there. The task of bringing together diverse, sometimes isolated communities as one city centre community is one I relish and I can’t wait to get out and listen to the views of residents on what would improve things.

The recent political history of Cabot ward is not lost on me. George Ferguson and Stephen Williams, both purveyors of economic neoliberalism, have both been councillors in the central ward in the past. If elected, I will look to challenge this outdated economic consensus that they have both, in their differing ways, chosen to comply with – and provide an alternative Green vision of economic prosperity for all.

I’ll get to know a lot more about residents’ needs in the coming months, but I think one of the first challenges in Cabot/Central is to get more residents registered to vote. Cabot has had a worryingly low response rate to the Household Enquiry Form, which is in part because of the large student population, but with wider impacts too. We know that Individual Electoral Registration has caused a huge democratic deficit in the UK, with millions of people falling off the electoral register, and it is, alongside the council’s Electoral Services team, mine and Ani’s task to ensure that people are able to use their democratic right – whether they decide to vote for us or not. My overarching passion remains reforming our anachronistic and discredited electoral system so that power at the ballot box is given to people, not parties – and I will continue to work for this at all levels, not least in my current role as a council member for the Electoral Reform Society.

As always, I remain contactable on rob.telford@bristol.gov.uk if you have any questions.

Ani Stafford-Townsend, Rob Telford, in Redcliffe, Welsh Back to rear
Ani Stafford-Townsend (L) and Rob Telford, Green candidates for Central ward, May 2016

LEADER’S BLOG: October 2015

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

Jerome Thomas (Clifton councillor)
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=28

Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Clifton
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGnAN_THWdwQLNlSUduIe7A
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bristoljerome
Jerome@RegAt a City level I have been working with the Green Party Transport Group to propose Transport policy and campaigns for 2016. With that group and with the Green Party councillors we have been looking at Air Quality in Bristol and have  proposed our approach for the launch of a low emissions zone in central Bristol. We will be consulting on that with Green party members in the coming weeks. In Clifton we have been progressing an enhanced role for Clifton Library. On Tuesday 6 October we held a very well attended Friends of Clifton Library meeting. This was led by local Green Party member Paula O’Rourke.

I’ve been working with John Grimshaw (founder of Sustrans) on his proposal for a zebra crossing on Jacobs Wells Road and better access onto Brandon Hill. I’ve also met with the council’s cycling officers about the unacceptable life risks to cyclists on the Jacobs Wells roundabout and have proposed a number of measures, some of them very low cost, which will reduce those risks to acceptable levels.

Gus Hoyt (Ashley councillor)
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=91

Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Ashley
Blog: https://greengus.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrGreenGus
Cllr Gus Hoyt
The main issue locally has continued to be the Carriageworks (Westmoreland House – the derelict building on the corner of Ashley Rd and Stokes Croft). The developer Fifth Capital London has worked closely with the community liaison group (CAG) since their planning application was deferred at committee in April. This leads many to believe the development is likely to go ahead despite 25 years of set-backs.

The main concern is that there is local representation on a future management committee so that future use is in keeping with the Community Vision. The decision is going to planning committee on the 14th October. Following on the housing theme, I was the only councillor not on Place Scrutiny to attend an excellent full day for the Bristol Housing Enquiry where we explored the situation in Bristol and looked to other authorities and organisations to see what they are doing around the country to solve the housing crisis.

Prior to this I joined other councillors and members for the formulation of the Green Housing Policy working group which met for an evening to discuss what our short, medium and long term goals need to be within the city. This will feed into the Mayoral Manifesto for next May’s elections.

Earlier this week I also met with local campaigners who want to solve the growing problem of homelessness faced by the city. The aim is to creating temporary shelter leading to continued support to those who have found themselves in the downward spiral of homelessness. The main problem at this stage is lack of suitable buildings available and I will be working with Cabot Cllr Ani Stafford Townsend as this issue crosses both our wards.

Likewise litter, fly-tipping and the general rubbish on our streets is continuing to be the number one complaint, and rightly so. Lower Montpelier and St Pauls are continuing to be blighted by a dismal street-scene and it is hoped that now the waste contract is brought back ‘in house’ that some progress can be made.

Interestingly, we are being approached by residents in St Andrews asking for an extension to residents parking as the displacement of extra and commuter cars are spreading further north now the zone is active in Montpelier.

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

CarlaRather than summarising a whole month, this time here’s a day in the life of Cllr Carla Denyer. This was 7th October, slightly busier than the average day, but far from unusual.

9:30am-10:30am – Emails (backlog = 378, as I was at a conference last week)
11:00am-12:00pm – Met a business-owner in my ward to address waste collection and fly-tipping issues on her property, complicated by neighbour relations. One of them did not take kindly to being asked well-meaning questions… sometimes being a councillor entails being a counsellor too. I am now following up on the issues with the Waste Services team.
12:20pm-2:00pm – Lunch and scheduling
2:00pm-3:00pm – Budget briefing from the Finance Service Director at Bristol City Council to the Green councillors
3:00pm-4:00pm – Jointly drafted the Green councillors’ contribution to the West of England Spatial Strategy (how and where to build the tens of thousands of new homes needed in Bristol)
4:00pm-5:45pm – Emails
5:45pm-6:00pm – Grabbed a quick supper
6:00pm-7:00pm – Meeting of the Environment Sub Group of my local Neighbourhood Partnership to discuss how to spend delegated money on environmental improvements. (Left 1 hour early to get to…)
7:00pm-9:00pm – Meeting of Bristol Green Party to discuss policy proposals and campaign ideas
9:30pm – Home

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-2013Redland councillors are now grappling with continuing problems over the Bristol North Baths Redevelopment (a new library, medical centre, flats and toilets above the car park on Gloucester Rd). Since the Medical Practice serving most of Bishopston announced they will no longer seek to relocate there many questions have come up.

While the plan adopted was controversial and some residents are saying now is the time to revisit the shape of the project, with a close to completion development it makes sense to get the best from the investment, protect the council’s interests as freeholder, and ensure local medical services are not jeopardised. We want our local library to open and Drs to have a base with more facilities.

We are pressing hard for the long awaited proposals on review of the new Residents Parking schemes to be published so that those affected by the commuter parking around our current zone get a solution, and the proposed minor changes to the existing scheme can be implemented. There is widespread support for the scheme now in place and many outside it are very keen to see parking managed. We’re committed to getting as many local residents and traders’ ideas incorporated as possible so the scheme is shaped by people using it.

Months ago the Gloucester Rd and many other local streets were resurfaced. We are still pressing for reinstatement of all the markings which still fail to restore the cycle tracks that provide some protection for cycle users on the city’s busiest cycle road.

Daniella Radice (Bishopston councillor and Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods)
Councillor page:
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Bishopston
Blog: http://bishopstongreencouncillors.info
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GreenDaniella
daniellaAlthough I haven’t had any major papers to take to cabinet this month, it hasn’t been that quiet. I seem to get about 100 e-mails a day, a variety of issues relating to my portfolio, dealings with officers and of course ward work.

This week I spoke at a conference on rethinking parks, attended a celebration of the Playing out charity and also chaired a meeting of the partnership advisory group for Muslim women which is planning a conference for Muslim women next year. As part of my role in Sports I am helping convene an open space session to help start a women’s sports strategy for the city next month. Part of my work involves being part of the sports commission shadow board which is setting itself up as a community interest company. I am also now the Green representative on the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership that runs the festival of ideas.

Steve Clarke (Southville councillor)
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=29
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/about-stephen
Blog: http://votegreeninsouthville.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/southvillesteve
photo-cllr-stephen-clarkeI have attended a number of council and commission meetings (including a cabinet meeting on 6.10.15 where I asked a question about the environmental sustainability of the Arena). There was a very informative Housing Inquiry Day (with four separate briefing meetings beforehand) where councillors, experts and officers discussed innovative ways for Bristol to try and tackle the housing crisis.

I have also had a busy month dealing with a number of urgent local issues. Regarding the stadium parking, we now seem to have engaged the Council’s senior leadership team (including Assistant Mayor Simon Cook and Transport Service Director Peter Mann) in a meaningful effort to try to come to some worthwhile solutions regarding the parking and travel issues. They seem to be talking to Bristol Sport again and we we will watch closely where that goes. Unfortunately, there looks like little danger of City getting promoted in the near future in any event so we may not feel the full impact of the 27,000 seater stadium for a while…

I met an interesting delegation of citizens from Hanover (one of Bristol’s twin-towns) and discovered that they have many of the same problems that we do; public transport, air-quality, lack of really affordable housing etc. I enjoyed meeting them and they loved Bristol.

Finally, myself and Charlie Bolton (co-councillor for Southville) are continuing with our initiative to talk to the voters in the nine tower blocks in our patch by having regular surgeries. The biggest issues are dog-free blocks and illegal tenancies. Generally the residents are very pleased to see us as they have been ignored and forgotten for a long time.

Green group

LEADER’S BLOG: September 2015

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

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

The big event for me this month was the Cabinet meeting where the Mayor took the decision on the future of Bristol’s Libraries. I gave a speech summarising how we got to where we are, and published it on our website (see above for link). The headlines that are that we have reduced the scale of the cuts to the libraries and are keeping 27 out 28 libraries in their current locations and moving one into Lockleaze. Regrettably, there will be reductions to library opening hours across the city, but with the libraries being kept open, there is potential to increase their accessibility in time.

This has been a really difficult time for me, like many of us I have an emotional connection with libraries I hate to see reductions in opening hours. However, money is tight and having been given an insight into the looming impacts of welfare reform, the government’s policies on right to buy and rents, on top of more spending cuts, I know that from a council perspective things are going to get more and more difficult over the next few years for the most vulnerable people in our city.

Charlie Bolton (Southville councillor and Chair of the Place scrutiny committee, which covers Transport)
Councillor page: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=39
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/about-charlie
Blog: http://southvillegreenparty.blogspot.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharlieBGP

photo-cllr-charlie-boltonAmongst many other things, Charlie has been championing the need for a Henbury Loop rather than a Henbury Spur. You can read more about this case in Charlie’s recent blog:

Steve Clarke (Southville councillor)
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=29
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/about-stephen
Blog: http://votegreeninsouthville.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/southvillesteve
photo-cllr-stephen-clarkeAs well as attending council meetings and his committee meetings (Business Change Scrutiny, Human Resources and Appeals Committees), Steve has had a busy month dealing with a number of urgent local issues.

The longest running issue on the table is the terrible traffic problems that are already being created by the new stadium at Ashton Gate (even though it is only half-built. Steve is a lifelong Bristol City supporter so he is enjoying watching the the brand new 27,000 seater stadium rising from the mists of Ashton but he (and most of the residents) have no idea where all the cars are going to go. There is no local Metrobus stop, no new Ashton Gate train station, Long Ashton Park and Ride is closed during match times (yes really!). Meanwhile, hundreds of cars cruise around Southville and Ashton and residents cower behind their net curtains… Anyway, Steve and Charlie are trying to help. They have met the Mayor for a one-to-one, met Bristol Sport’s MD (who was incredibly frustrated with the council), started a petition and are generally creating a stink.

Another issue that has just flared up is Ashton Gate Primary School. This has just opened in a new site with a lovely new school and extensive playground. The trouble is that there is a road between the school and playground. Unbelievably, no one has bothered to put a zebra crossing, bollards or anything else to stop the local cars ignoring the 20mph speed limit and potentially mowing down the little ones. Not surprisingly, the local parents are apoplectic and we have received lots of irate emails. Again, we are trying to get urgent changes to the road layout.

Finally, we are continuing with our initiative to talk to the voters in the nine tower blocks in our patch by having regular surgeries. Generally the residents are very pleased to see us as they have been ignored and forgotten for a long time.

Deb Joffe (Windmill Hill)
Councillor page:
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/about-deb
Blog: http://debjoffe.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WindmillHGreens

DebJoffeI’ve been working on some ward issues, especially calling for an RPZ in Windmill Hill ward and asking for more public consultation on the Arena and sustainable transport plans for accessing Temple Quarter from Bath and Wells Roads ( a neglected route in my opinion).

I’m the vice-Chair on People Scrutiny where we (Dani Glazzard and I) are focusing on mental health and early years provision. The re-commissioning of the children’s community health services is a major topic now that the only NHS provider has withdrawn from the contract for next year. I am looking at ways to ensure that NHS bidders are encouraged in the longterm.

I also sit on the Police and Crime Panel which scrutinises the Police Commissioner. This is quite controversial since the Chief Constable was suspended and has now been asked to resign.

Councillor round-up…in Easton, Cllr Anna McMullen has been promoting jobs fairs and meeting with local landlords about provision in the private rented sector…in Clifton, Cllr Jerome Thomas is helping residents who would like a community centre in the Jacobs Well Road area…in Redland, Cllrs Martin Fodor and Fi Hance have been frustrated by the slow progress on the Bristol North Baths development…in Cabot, Cllr Ani Stafford-Townsend has been encouraged by community days and is monitoring closely the extent of student accomodation being proposed in the ward…and finally, in Ashley, Gus and I are pleased the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) have got many concessions from the developer, Fifth Capital London, before it is due back to the planning committee in October, and we have more and more people approaching us from St Andrews and St Werburghs asking for Residents’ Parking Schemes to be introduced (as a result of the knock-on effect of  recent schemes in St Pauls and Montpelier).

Green group

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

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/
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.

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).

What’s been going on in Ashley ward?

Reflections from Gus Hoyt and Rob Telford, Ashley ward’s Green councillors

Rob (l) and Gus (r) with the South West's Green MEP Molly Scott Cato
Rob (l) and Gus (r) with the South West’s Green MEP Molly Scott Cato

As austerity digs deeper so we have seen an increase in our casework for more serious and personal issues of local residents. These have focused on housing issues, mostly an inability to pay when in the private sector as rents are increasing but pay and benefits are not. We have had a number of residents needing to be rehoused and have been working closely with housing services to ensure people have safe and secure homes.

The Montpelier Residents Parking Scheme went live in early July and despite a few who will never accept it most are now contacting us and thanking us for keeping strong as the results are now infinitely safer and more enjoyable streets. The benefits are that there are no vehicles parked dangerously over corners and it’s become easier to park near your house. Local residents who have previously given us grief over the past two years have confided in us that it’s great! We have been incredibly grateful that residents have come forward to point out where the scheme isn’t quite working. This includes lengthening double yellow lines in some places, shortening them in others, and working with the RPS team to figure out whether these can be caught in the “snagging” process, or whether they will need to wait for the six-monthly review.

There are two major developments in the ward at the moment, and they require close monitoring and involvement with local residents and the community (as well as with the developers where possible). The main one is still the Carriageworks/Westmoreland House site in Stokes Croft and the second is the Brooks Dye site in St Werbs.

The issue of youth homelessness is on the increase and Gus is in the process of organising a cross-agency conference on this issue. He has visited the old probabtion centre which has been squatted and houses travellers too. There have been violent attacks there and the issue is pretty serious. Rob has been in dialogue with Docklands/Full Circle/ACE Project about youth services in St Pauls and how to get the most out of what is being offered across the board.

There are a few local roads schemes that Gus is working on with residents. The plan is to draw up proposals to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists – and then for cars and buses too. This will be a long process and the Assistant Mayor has reiterated that there’s no money. The Brooks Dye development may have a part to play in funding an important and much-needed review of traffic flows in the St Werburghs area.

We have both been encouraged by the new Sustrans project “Imagine St Pauls”. There is a regular “tea stop” outside the Learning Centre to hear how this project is progressing. At the moment, Sustrans’ Community Street Design Officer Georgie Burr is collecting residents’ views on what the project will entail and how St Pauls’ streets can be improved for residents. Rob and Gus have also been working with Incredible Edible, Knightstone Housing and BCC housing to reinvigorate some community allotments in St Pauls.

Rob recently talked to Mufti Games about their summer projects as part of  our year as European Green Capital. They are creating games that show the problems with fly-tipping and rubbish on the streets, all developed in a creative way so kids can learn how these things affect everyone in the community. The communal bins in St Pauls are a continued problem but we see signs of improvment. With the council’s waste services very shortly to be taken “in-house”, we hope that this additional control will allow a much quicker response time for dealing with these issues.

Tagging is still public enemy number one. On the city level, there have been some prosecutions but we are trying to explore more positive and inclusive community options. This is likely to be driven by an open space meeting we’ll host this summer/autumn.

The ongoing caravan issue has returned in St Werburghs with the summer months. Campervans/motorhomes are legally allowed to park anywhere, but there is legislation to remove caravans from the highway if they are causing a permanent obstruction or have been abandoned. It is always a balance between being a welcoming and inclusive community and ensuring that those who live in caravans on the street do their utmost to respect local residents’ wishes.

Albany Green rocks! We are looking into funding to improve it further to give activities for parents when supervising children. The overwhelming ask is for outdoor gym equipment. This is expensive but we are exploring possible options, including using the Mayor’s Parks and Play Fund.

There has also been a reinvigorated action group form around Rosa Parks Lane. We are looking into sorting a regular maintenance regime with the Neighbourhoods management team so that residents can focus on improving the other features of the space, such as improved planting and visible signs that this is a loved and cared-for lane.

Both Gus and Rob have been taking the first soundings of what local businesses, traders and residents want from a restarted Stokes Croft Traders group. We are hoping to re-launch the group fully in the autumn after this initial feed-in is completed and we have got a good steer from everyone.

A number of other community groups go from strength to strength; the Montpelier Bean Feast team are looking for volunteers for their now annual event in September and the Portland & Brunswick Squares Association have started a regular Tuesday (1 to 2pm) gardening slot in Portland Square. There continues to be a multi-agency action group on the Brunswick Square Cemetery and dealing with some of the anti-social behaviour present there.

As always, if you have any ideas or want to ask for more specifics about anything here, please do contact us!

Rob Telford: rob.telford@bristol.gov.uk // Gus Hoyt : gus.hoyt@bristol.gov.uk
Cllr Rob Telford Cllr Gus Hoyt


Six points that refute the Tories’ motoring lobby motion

BristolArena_Populous_Plaza_Nigh_636Here are six points that refute the Conservative motion (scroll down to Agenda Item 10, first motion) at last week’s Full Council meeting. Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives all voted for this motion in its amended form. (The amendment did little to change the Tories’ intentions.)

1. The Arena is situated directly next to Bristol Temple Meads, the main public transport hub for the West of England and also the South West region as a whole. The vast majority of people who use the Arena will be able to make use of public transport – buses and trains – to the site, without needing to drive a car into the centre of Bristol. Residents of Bristol will be able to walk and cycle to the Arena.

2. Commercial viability is not measured by how close you are able to get in a motor vehicle to something. It is measured by many factors: the attractiveness of the facility and the freedom for pedestrians to easily move around in outside spaces, that could be used for local street markets, which would pay back into Bristol’s ultra-local economy. These would be directly compromised by a whopping stretch of asphalt dedicated to private vehicles being placed anywhere near this facility. (For my own understanding of commercial viability, it is the quality of the acts that will be booked for the Arena that will be the determining factor in whether I regularly pay into paying back our Arena debts.)

3. Traffic congestion is caused by the number of vehicles that are on the road, not by the lack of car parking space. The simple, and most root cause solution, is to encourage and/or limit the number of cars that are able to access the centre of the city. While the Mayor has made noises about a Low Emissions Zone for Bristol, we would like to see this moved forward to stop and/or limit vehicles, and the attendant air pollution and congestion, before such draconian measures as giving yet MORE land over to motor vehicles.

4. Air pollution killed 196 people in Bristol in 2012. That pollution isn’t coming from nowhere. Some of it is coming from vehicle movements, yet the Conservatives are attempting to the reverse the trend of encouraging people out of their cars.

5. The Conservatives are arguing for us to stop building in the centre of Bristol. This is a completely wrongheaded approach to city planning, as there are more services in the centre of cities, and you can build on brownfield sites here, without having to build on what Tories USED to consider the precious greenbelt. As a council, we need to hugely up our game on building genuinely affordable and high energy performance homes on city centre and suburban brownfield sites.

6. I am not interested in simply finding “a fairer deal for the motorist”. I am interested in finding a safer and more livable environment for the people of Bristol. That would be for the common good of all.

GUEST BLOG from Cllr Carla Denyer: 50% Women on Bristol City Council in 2016 – a view from a Green Woman

50% Women on Bristol City Council in 2016 – a view from a Green Woman
Guest blog from Cllr Carla Denyer (Clifton East)

Yesterday I attended the launch event of Bristol Women’s Commission’s 50:50 campaign, and got photographed holding a balloon. (The balloons spelled out “50 50” – not “so so” for anyone who was wondering!)

Photo credit: Cllr Helen Holland (@helenhbristol)
Photo credit: Cllr Helen Holland (@helenhbristol)

BWC is challenging all parties to field at least 50% women candidates in winnable seats, and encouraging individual women to come forward. I am supporting this campaign because I know that for democracy to work well and good decisions to be made, you want a diverse group of decision-makers. If a majority of the decision-makers (whether in a democratic setting or a commercial one) have similar backgrounds or life experiences, ‘groupthink’ can become a real problem. Diversity brings a variety of lived experiences, and a variety of ways of looking at problems, and solutions. So even if you don’t care about equal rights, and care only about the Council making sound and rational decisions, you should still support equal representation.

The Green Party now has 14 councillors on Bristol City Council; 7 male and 7 non-male (one identified as genderfluid). And we are pretty proud of that. However, I am the first to acknowledge that this was partly down to fortune with who got elected and who didn’t.

We did not achieve this with all-women shortlists (which is Labour’s strategy nationally) or quotas, but (aside from the good fortune) simply by everyone in the local party putting effort into encouraging women, young people, black and minority ethnic (‘BAME’) people, and people from other underrepresented groups to step forward.

The 50:50 target for winnable seats in the “all up” elections next year (all 70 councillors, the mayor and the police commissioner are all up for election in May 2016) still represents a challenge for us though. This is especially the case because, based on past experience, women are often more hesitant to stand in winnable seats because of the time commitment involved in both the campaign and the councillor role itself. Such a time commitment is, for some, incompatible with the caring responsibilities that women still generally carry more than men.

Personally I’m not a fan of the ‘hard’ style positive discrimination of all-women shortlists, I believe the way forward is a ‘softer’ but energetic encouragement, coupled with providing really substantial support to equip people with what they need to stand for election, which could be public speaking or leadership training, or a flexible campaign strategy that fits around candidates’ other commitments.

So we’ve still got a way to go. Not to mention that the 14 of us are pretty white (although count several with immigrant backgrounds in our number) and predominantly middle-class; definitely two more areas to work on in 2016!

But I want to take this opportunity to highlight a coincidence, one that makes me proud to be a Green. Yesterday afternoon in Bristol we clutched “50 50” balloons, and the Mayor joked about the idea of a “job share mayor” as the only way to encompass 50:50 representation in his role. Meanwhile, two Green Party members in Basingstoke prepared for a hearing with a high court judge in their push to ensure equal opportunities for women and those with disabilities to stand in parliament, by allowing MPs to job share.

Green Party members Sarah Cope and Clare Phipps’ request for joint candidacy was rejected by the Electoral Returning Officer at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on the grounds of a ban on job-shares for MPs.

It is shocking that the total number of women who have ever been elected to the House of Commons over the last century are still outnumbered by the number of men sitting as MPs today. Many of those, like Sarah and Clare, who would be amazing MPs have children, family responsibilities or have disabilities, which means that they can’t be a full time MP. Allowing MPs to job share would unlock the potential of these disadvantaged groups, and allow for people from a wide range of backgrounds and with a variety of skills to contribute to our society.

If you are non-male and inspired by Bristol Women’s Commission’s campaign, feel free to get in touch with me to discuss what being a councillor entails.

by Carla Denyer, Green Party Councillor for Clifton East




  1. Gender isn’t binary, so if it were up to me I’d rephrase this campaign, calling for at least 50% non-male councillors. It may not be as catchy, but it’s more inclusive.
  2. Female:male:non-binary gender ratios by political party on Bristol City Council, July 2015:

Green Party: 6:7:1      (43% women, 50% non-male)

Labour: 14:16:0  (47% women)

Liberal Democrats: 2:7:0     (22% women)

Conservatives: 2:14:0    (13% women)

UKIP: 0:1:0     (0% women)

Total: 24:45:1  (34% women)

  1. You can read more about Sarah and Clare’s legal challenge here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/jobshareMPs