Your questions to the men and women who want to be mayor
Published on: 26 Mar 2016
READERS set six questions to the mayoral candidates, and we're very pleased that they all agreed to answer them.
The subjects chosen were: the role of mayor; public transport; the arena; air pollution; Green Capital; and residents parking.
Since we prepared this article, new candidates for mayor have emerged and have added their answers here – Tom Baldwin of the TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) and Tony Britt, Independent.
How would you provide a return on investment on your wage as mayor (£65,738, the same as an MP)? What would you do that the council shouldn't already be doing?
Tom Baldwin, Trade Union & Socialist Coalition I think the council and mayor should be sticking up for this city but they're not. The funding we get from the Tory government has been butchered but George Ferguson and the main parties say they have 'no choice' but to pass the cuts on to ordinary Bristolians. Over £100m has been cut from the city under Ferguson, we've seen 1,000 jobs threatened and libraries, care services and children's centres among the services cut. This needs to stop. The council can choose to put the people of Bristol before their careers and resist these cuts. I would create a budget based on what Bristol needs, not the cuts demanded by the Tories. Council reserves could be used to balance the budget in the short term while a campaign is built to force the Government to return the money they've stolen from the city. This is a weak government, they've been forced back over the cuts to disability benefits and they can be pushed back on this too, if councils have the courage to fight.
I think a mayor who did that would be priceless to the city. But I wouldn't take the massive mayoral salary, I would take only the average wage of a worker in Bristol. You cannot represent people if your lifestyle is completely removed from theirs, if the decisions you make do not affect you in the same way because of your wealth. I would donate everything over the average workers' wage back to campaigns of ordinary people.
Kay Barnard, Liberal Democrat Those are very good questions given that I agree that there are many ways that the services the council provides could be improved. Responding to the concerns of local people should be a priority and currently it is difficult to get a response about many of the council’s services. In particular I will improve services to older people provided by the council by much closer working with the NHS “Care in the Community” services. Bristol lags behind other local authorities in this.
Tony Britt, Independent Why do you want to know what I will spend my wages on?
Tony Dyer, Green My understanding is that the mayor's salary is now £66,395 and that this is effective until April 30. I am uncomfortable with taking this amount of salary given that the average salary in Bristol is much lower than this. Each assistant mayor receives £31,796 and I believe that this is a more suitable amount to be paid to the mayor as a member of a team working together to deliver a better Bristol. Any increases in salary should be pegged to increases in the average salary across Bristol – incentivising the mayor and the assistant mayors to deliver changes that are balanced across the city as a whole. Linking the mayor's salary to the average Bristolian's salary is one way of maximising the return on investment in the mayor. In addition I will publish measurable targets and objectives for my term of office, allowing members of the public to measure how well I have delivered on my manifesto commitments.
George Ferguson, Bristol 1st I shall continue to give away 20% of my salary to good causes. However that pales into insignificance compared with the tens of millions a year I am saving the city through helping to eliminate waste, streamline administration costs, introduce an entrepreneurial approach while minimising cuts to services. Together with our tighter senior management team I intend to see through the business change that is making the council fit to deliver services in the tougher national economic circumstances. I shall work with our partners to deliver the £1 billion pound devolution deal that will improve delivery of our transport, homes, skills and jobs and help continue our great economic revival, making us the most successful city region outside the South East. In summary, I bring a lifetime’s experience and skills required for one of the most responsible jobs in the UK, without being burdened by the party politics that has held us back for decades.
John Langley, Independent That is a brilliant question because it's actually one of my action plans already, should I be elected. Given that in my view as an independent elected mayor (as all council staff are) I would be employed by the council tax payers of Bristol; and not in any way influenced by diktats from a central party office, and in that capacity as a public employee I would enable council tax payers to provide me with six-monthly performance reports on how they see me shaping up to the job and giving value to the role in which I would be elected. In addition this would also be something senior council executives would also have to provide because I feel it is important to me and the council tax payers of Bristol that we are clear and transparent in justifying our roles.
Democracy is key to my campaign. I feel that with current and past administrations far too many important decisions which substantially affect the majority of people are made without prior meaningful consultation. If you pay council tax then you are automatically a stakeholder who has every right to be consulted and heard, and where strong public opinion in the majority challenges the administration then democracy must take precedence.
Charles Lucas, Conservative Bristol needs strong leadership and to get strong leadership of the required quality, you have to pay the going rate.
Marvin Rees, Labour I don’t believe a city is run from the council chamber, so I’ll earn my money by connecting people in a City Office, bringing together leaders in health, education, business, unions, the voluntary and community sectors to make the city run better for everyone and ensure the city spend is more than the sum of its parts.
Paul Saville Firstly, if made mayor, I'd take a pay cut and donate part of my salary to a 'homelessness and housing' fund to help some of Bristol’s poorest people. I'm interested in devolving decision-making to grassroots level. Bristol is a prosperous city, I want to make sure that prosperity is shared among all of the city, not just pockets.
Christine Townsend, Independent I would not take the full wage, this would result in an approximate five-fold increase in my current wage! I would look to earn the mean income in line with the Bristol stats which I believe to be around £25K but would check the latest figures. I call on other candidates to do the same. The money left from the salary could then be used within the voluntary and community sector to support services for the most vulnerable. My focus would be with children and young people. The voluntary and community sector can use this as match funding to apply for external revenue sources to improve/maintain services.
'What...the council shouldn't already be doing' is a very difficult one as there are areas that I am aware of that the council are not acting where I believe it should be – particularly in my area of expertise, education, and I am sure this extrapolates across other areas. Having said this the next mayor needs to fight the ideology of austerity being sent down from Westminster alongside our MPs – this is something that has been totally lacking under the current administration. While a council is not in a position to do this as a body, elected representatives are, should and need to be.
Paul Turner, UKIP I believe the role of mayor is very important to promote the city of Bristol both nationally and internationally, for culture as well as business. To also fight for the whole of Bristol at Westminster, to bang on doors to get the recognition and funding Bristol deserves and desperately needs. Locally to break deadlock in the council chamber, to move ideas forward quickly and responsibly.
How will you ensure that the long-hoped-for arena is an asset to the city without becoming a transport nightmare for Bristolians?
Tom Baldwin For the arena to be a success it needs to be accessible. A combined transport hub next to it is a good idea but it will need parking facilities as well. Otherwise it promises to cause chaos in the surrounding area. The arena needs to be part of a thought-out plan for public transport plan for the city. See the next question for more on this.
Kay Barnard All the estimates are that there will be a significant number of people coming to arena events by car. There should be adequate parking provided by the arena in existing car parks linked to ticket sales, with frequent shuttle links to the arena. In addition I want people living in South Bristol near the arena site to be offered a residents’ parking zone, free of charge to themselves, paid for by the arena developers and then the business managers once the arena is complete. The conditions of such an RPZ should suit the local conditions in terms of times and locations.
Tony Britt Like you I don’t know! But I will believe George will organise the future of his legacy.
Tony Dyer Given the arena's location next to our main railway station, which also has the potential to offer faclities for bus and coach drop-off and pick-up, I am surprised at the relatively poor transport planning that has accompanied the arena proposal. The lack of innovation in looking at alternative ways of allowing visitors to get to the stadium in many ways mirror the problems already being faced at Ashton Gate stadium. At Ashton Gate the lack of a rail station is made worse by the astonishing reluctance to allow the use of the nearby park and ride to relieve the pressure on residential streets caused by the lack of on-site parking. To ensure the arena does not add further congestion and air pollution, I will make the best use of Temple Meads station as a publicly-owned focus for integrated transport in the area, accompanied by a review of the use of park and ride sites (such as that on the A4 at Brislington) to reduce the number of cars accessing the site in an area already suffering from poor air quality.
George Ferguson The Bristol arena is long overdue and is a great story. It will be the finest arena of its type in Europe, bringing a great boost to the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and the city region. There has, however, been huge exaggeration regarding the transport implications, which have been thoroughly addressed for a project of this size. It is less than a sixth the capacity of Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium that is sited bang in the middle of the city without any dedicated parking, and serves to bring massive benefit to Cardiff. The plans, apart from on-site disabled parking, include distributed parking in a variety of car parks within walking distance. The 12,000 capacity will only be reached about 20 times a year, and arrangements are being made for special park and ride services. Metrobus will be completed well before the venue is opened in 2018 and there will be special trains run from Temple Meads. Walking and cycling routes and infrastructure are being improved and a residential parking scheme will be made available to adjacent areas.
John Langley To be honest, Before the arena is even built it has become a nightmare for Bristolians because in my view it wasn't very well thought out, and I think there was a definite lack of public consultation (as referred to in Q2 above). Quite frankly the whole project is a transport nightmare waiting to happen as it stands currently. The only way I can feasibly see something of a solution is by ensuring that ticket prices to the venue are set to a level which includes the use of park and ride as well as bus and rail services. A Transport Commissioner would look at the city as a whole, and the impact of the arena would form part of the commissioner's portfolio.
Charles Lucas We all want to see the arena built but it has to work for the people of Bristol and the region who are going to support the events and make the arena a success. Arena Island is the right site due to its proximity to Temple Meads and the centre of the city. However, public transport does not suit a lot of people and many others simply will not want to use it so they will all use their cars. This will create a huge parking problem. We have to provide a large city centre car park adjacent to the arena itself. We also have to ensure adequate train, bus and park and ride facilities are provided before and after events to move people efficiently. This will help to encourage people not to use their cars.
Marvin Rees I want to see the arena going ahead, but it has to be properly planned to protect the residents whose streets would be gridlocked during events and those visitors who would be forced to walk to the arena from the city centre. I will ensure we work with communities, business and the key city institutions to drive forward a transport plan.
Paul Saville “Long hoped for?” that depends on who you ask! I'm not in favour of an arena at all – especially in its current location. Lots of people I speak to about the arena tell me that this will be of great detriment to the lives of Bristolians living in the area and in Bristol more generally. Personally, I'd have the arena project scrapped and have the arena moved on the outskirts of Bristol rather than having it right in the centre. The arena is a terrible decision for Bristol in my opinion.
Christine Townsend I would seek to ensure a corporate responsibility clause is contained within the contract so not-for-profit and community groups can access and take advantage of the asset this arena will bring to Bristol. The council needs to work with the contractor to ensure that the employment opportunities remain within the city for Bristolians.
There needs to be access to the arena complex from the back of Temple Meads.
If local residents want an RPZ, after consultation led by the neighbourhood partnership, then the operation of this reflects what local residents have stated would be needed given the impact of visitors to the complex. Local bus and train operators need to be involved in designing routes and times to ensure people can get to and from the venue efficiently. I would also like to see more use of the waterways in and around the city centre, including those around the arena, rather than just being used as a pleasure route, as appears to me to be the current situation.
Paul Turner It is essential for the arena to be a success. The only way it can be is for as many people as possible to attend as many events as possible, which means we have to have an effective and practical way of getting large numbers of people to the arena without adding to an already overcrowded road network. At the very least a park and ride area should be built along the M32, I would also look to negotiate lower rail/bus prices for those attending events.
What are you planning to do about public transport in Bristol?
Tom Baldwin I think there's a lot of scope to improve the bus and rail networks in Bristol and link them up. However, currently these run at the whim of profit-driven private companies like First. If we want them to deliver a route then they demand taxpayer subsidy. I would push for public ownership of local bus and train services so local people have genuine democratic control over their running. They can be then be made affordable and any money made can come back to the council not to line the pockets of shareholders.
Kay Barnard I want a transport authority which can deliver better bus and train services around Bristol. We need legal contracts over where and when buses drive, and better ticketing. At the moment the bus companies have complete control over that. We also need investment in improving the train lines around Bristol and new stations to help commuters get around the city more easily. I will fight at a national level to get a fair share of investment in Bristol’s public transport.
Tony Britt My answer would be, encourage more competition and a government scheme to set up community minibuses.
Tony Dyer Nationally the Green Party is committed to bringing the railways and bus services back into public hands. We also believe that there needs to be greater public investment in public transport to provide fairer fares. However, currently I will have to work within the framework established by successive governments in which our “public” transport is provided by a number of separate private companies. Nevertheless there are areas where I believe I can make improvements – speeding up the introduction of smart ticketing to reduce boarding times and allow easier cross-service interchange is one example, another is the opportunity to take advantage of changes that allow for the franchising of bus services, particularly where current provision is lacking or of poor quality. I will also look to invest in the re-opening of railway lines such the Portishead line and the Henbury loop including adding additional stations such as Ashton Gate, Ashley Hill, Horfield/Lockleaze, Henbury, and Portway. I also believe, having spoken to several of our local operators, that there are opportunities for better partnership working to reduce fares and improve services, especially with bus transport.
George Ferguson There is no such thing as a public transport system in Bristol since it was deregulated in by Margaret Thatcher in the Eighties, and there has been a failure to grasp the nettle over decades, while some northern cities have invested in new infrastructure. Unfortunately talk of taking the buses back into public ownership is pie in the sky. I shall however do all I can to build on the success and momentum of the last three years, in partnership with our bus companies, with cheaper bus fares and an increase of 25% in bus use over the past two years alone. Since 2012 we have adopted a can-do attitude, are delivering an improved Metrobus scheme, have negotiated reduced bus fares, invested to improve vehicle, cycling, and pedestrian access, and, with Bristol University are developing the "Bristol Brain" to provide real-time analysis of traffic congestion and pollution levels. Major investments have been made in South Bristol, including the Metrobus running from Hengrove and from Ashton Vale as well as the construction of the South Bristol Link, all to be completed next year. We are currently in a period of construction, which is a necessary but understandable source of frustration that will pay dividends in a smoother running system. We are also well on our way to complete the Network Rail electrification by 2018 and are helping bring on low or zero emission buses and cars to reduce air pollution, and improve our health. The budget announcement of our devolution deal, negotiated over the past year, will include a single pot for transport and help us deliver a modern suburban railway network and a much more integrated system including multi-modal smart ticketing across the city region.
John Langley The challenge is far greater than the arena in terms of traffic using the city; the arena would add to it. My proposal for a Transport Commissioner post would see such a role look at the city as a whole, and the impact of the arena would form part of the commissioner's portfolio.
Charles Lucas I want to get Bristol moving. I will improve bus services by working with the existing bus operators to improve the efficiency and frequency of their services. I totally disagree with the suggestion of nationalising the local bus services – just look at the disaster that was the Bristol Bus Company. I will open up our internal rail network and re-open our railway stations right across the city including at Ashton Gate. The Henbury Spur is under way, but this must be part of completing the Henbury Loop.
Marvin Rees Leadership and governance are perhaps the single most important factor in delivering better transport. I will develop an integrated transport plan, including buses, taxis, trains, walkers, cyclists and car-users, to help get Bristol moving. I want to see a single Bristol travel card across all bus and train companies, as well as having a single Bristol fare. I will also look into the financial viability of setting up a Bristol Bus Company owned for Bristol’s common good.
Paul Saville Aha. Transport – the bugbear of Bristolian life. Firstly, First have had a stranglehold on our transport system for far too long. Let’s bring the transport network back into public ownership for the good of Bristolians, owned by the city, for the city – not for rich shareholders in at First.
Christine Townsend I would look to work with providers to devise integrated ticketing/passes that allow for multi-transport use for travellers. A discounting scheme for children, young people, students in line with those currently in place for disabled users and older people, look at viability of bringing existing but unused railways back into use such as the Portishead route currently used only by freight and the line that runs across Ashley Down.
Paul Turner Public transport is a mess in Bristol. I would like to bring the transport system back under public control. My slight reservation with this is that the city council has the reputation of not being able to run an egg and spoon race, let alone a large transport system. Major changes would be required at City Hall. I would also look at re-introducing a tram network which has proven so successful in other cities around the country.
Would you reverse part or all of the residents parking schemes? Will you exempt community nurses and other carers from the £198 annual charge they now have to pay to visit patients who live in RPS areas?
Tom Baldwin I think the arrogant way in which the RPS has been pushed onto people is a reflection of George Ferguson's approach to running the city. He said people should move to be closer to work but not everyone can afford to buy a theatre/bar with a posh pad upstairs! Housing costs are becoming a crisis in Bristol with many people priced further and further out. I'm not against residents' parking schemes on principle but if they are brought in, it has to be where there's a demand for them and implemented in genuine consultation with local people. Most importantly it should not mean having to pay to park in your own street or because you work as a carer. As it stands the charge is a flat rate, regressive tax hitting people that are already hard pressed. I would scrap these charges.
Kay Barnard Where there is clear unhappiness with an RPS I will complete real consultation with local people about removing areas from the scheme. I would definitely work with the local NHS funders and council staff to make sure that community nurses and carers can park free of charge when they are working.
Tony Britt At the start of this election I was positive I was going to do away with this scheme. After talking to people at different forums, it seems like some people like these schemes! I will go to different community forums, and give it to individual communities to vote in or out. When it comes to doctors and nurses, I have already made a promise to a surgeon, who was cutting the cancer out of my chest, I was going to provide free parking for those who work for the NHS.
Tony Dyer Given the capital costs incurred so far in introducing the residents parking schemes, costs that will have to be written off if the schemes are reversed, I doubt if any serious mayoral candidate is prepared to write off those costs. If they do intend to reverse the schemes, I think they need to be honest about how they will pay off the costs so far incurred. Nevertheless, I do think that the community consultation on many of the schemes has been less than satisfactory, and has resulted in schemes that do not always meet the needs of local residents. For the existing schemes, and for any new schemes (where a majority of residents demand them), there has to be a greater level of community involvement in determining how the schemes operate in order to better fit their differing neighbourhoods. I believe that community nurses and other carers should be treated as a special class of car dependent user, as should those who are blue badge holders. I am already committed to revoking charges for blue badge holders and I believe that community nurses and carers should also be exempted.
George Ferguson Residents parking schemes have been so successful that many areas that asked to be left out are now asking to be included. I am always up for reviewing boundaries, hours, conditions, and costs including special categories such as carers and disabled provision. RPSs have undoubtedly contributed to making our residential areas safer and more civilised. I had to compensate for previous administrations’ failure to grasp the nettle by taking bold action, but having delivered the essential core, future areas will be considered on a more consensual basis.
John Langley I hope I have in some way already addressed this in Q3. The resident parking schemes are contentious. I don't agree with the way they were rolled out in such a disingenuous way without any prior consultation whatsoever, and to me they are just another means of gathering revenue from people who already pay in to the city via council tax. Personally I would scrap them all. However, there may well be residents in areas of Bristol who have found the scheme beneficial where they live. I would therefore put this issue out for public consultation. You are absolutely right in identifying community nurses and carers, and I agree wholeheartedly with exemptions in this respect.
Charles Lucas RPS schemes work. If the scheme is wanted by the residents the RPS zones must be retained. If the majority of residents do NOT want an RPS then I would consider repealing it on a zone by zone basis. In the same way if an area needed and wanted a RPS zone (e.g. Totterdown) then I would introduce one. I am against blanket roll-out of schemes such as this. Any parking restriction has to work for the residents and businesses in that area on a local basis.
All nurses and carers need to be able to visit patients and there should not be a direct cost to the carer as part of their work.
Marvin Rees I will exempt all blue badge holders and essential workers from parking charges, as well as giving local traders a discounted rate. I will review the whole RPS system to ensure they work well for businesses and communities.
Paul Saville At the stage we are at now, we as a city owe £10 million pounds (thanks Bristol city council for taking such a large debt on our behalf). My proposition is once the debt is paid off (RPS made £1.2m last year) that residents then get to park their cars for free. The RPS should never have been used as a cash cow for the council. Yes ,carers should be exempt and bBlue badge holders should be able to park freely throughout the city too. In terms of future RPS schemes/scams I would HALT all further rollout.
Christine Townsend No – the money and time has already been spent. If other areas wanted RPSs then this would be a matter for the local councillors, community groups and the neighbourhood partnership working with the transport department. There is no need in my view for the mayor to be involved in this.
Policy changes are needed in existing zones, however; carers working across RPS areas are one example, as are blue badge holders and others who work in communities around essential services such as nursery and school staff or libraries.
Paul Turner RPSs have been an area of much controversy since many were imposed on the people of Bristol. I will review all RPSs so they are more for the benefit of local residents and local businesses rather than just an additional tax. In some parts of Bristol RPSs have worked well for local residents; however, in many areas they have not helped at all. It is in these areas that I would look to make the greatest change and potentially reverse the schemes. Community nurses and carers will be exempt.
Are you happy that the Green Capital money was spent with the interests of all Bristolians at the fore?
Editor’s note: Most of the budget for Green Capital 2015 was devolved by the council to an arm’s-length private company, Bristol 2015 Ltd. The Government contributed £7 million and the council £1m. So far detailed accounts of how the money was spent have not been provided.
Tom Baldwin I'm not happy that the money has been well spent, how can you be when we don't know how it's being spent? The lack of transparency and accountability is unacceptable, it makes you wonder what they have to hide. At the least it shows representatives that are completely unconnected to the people they're supposed to represent. The Green Capital was a chance to leave something positive behind but all it's left is the feeling that we've been cheated.
Kay Barnard Spending public money through an arms-length company has meant that details of how the money was spent are extremely difficult to find. Companies may be exempt from Freedom of Information requests. That is obviously unsatisfactory where public money is concerned. We just do not know if all the money was well spent. I am optimistic that the money spent locally in Bristol schools and with local social enterprises will mean a better future for Bristol, but we definitely need more details on whether expensive trips overseas will actually benefit Bristol in the future.
Tony Britt Like yourself, I won't know the answer unless I become mayor, for not all information is known to me.
Tony Dyer There always needs to be transparency about how public money is spent – whether that be Green Capital funding, Metrobus, or NHS funding allocated to private healthcare providers. I therefore believe that the spending by Green Capital Ltd should be published in line with the local government transparency code. However, this important debate over the lack of transparency is in danger of overshadowing the hard work done by many Bristol individuals and organisations who worked hard to ensure that our Green Capital year raised the profile of green issues across the city. In terms of whether all Bristolians benefited equally from Green Capital – I think this is a problem that is not unique to Green Capital. Too many Bristolians tell me that they feel that many of the city's projects and events are not designed with them in mind – people with disabilities, people living on the outskirts of the city, and people from disadvantaged communities, are among those who too often feel uninvolved and uninvited to get involved in so much of what our city offers.
George Ferguson Certainly, ours was the most successful European Green Capital to date. I am extremely proud of the hundreds of great initiatives across the city and our international recognition as a leading world city in the fight against climate change to secure a healthier environment for our children. We made a single investment of £1m which I believe has been returned a hundred fold in terms of value to the city’s environment and economy. Following my direct request to the Prime Minister, the Government made a special grant of £7m to which was added a further £4m in sponsorship, money that we would not have received without setting up the Bristol 2015 company, which has been the subject of greater scrutiny and audit than any other company with which we do business. The legacy of Green Capital will serve our city for generations and will secure thousands of jobs and long-term investment. For example, Bristol is now home to the largest Green Tech sector in the UK which means that we are creating innovative solutions to solve pressing environmental challenges right here at home. This also means that we build a stronger economy, offer more jobs, and make stronger investments in our city. We achieved extraordinary international profile at the Paris climate summit which was followed by cross-party support for a "carbon-zero" Bristol by 2050. What is most telling of our progress is that more Bristolians are making environmentally friendlier choices in terms of their energy use, recycling rates, and reduction in their daily carbon footprint.
Everything about Green Capital placed the interests of all Bristolians at the fore. Often, these benefits are not experienced directly or in the short-term but they can be life-changing. For example, a reduction in C02 emissions across Bristol means a reduction in deaths caused by air pollution, healthier birth weights, healthier cognitive and overall health development in children, and a reduction in air pollution sickness that affects so many people. However, we cannot rest on our laurels, we must continue to make bold strategic investments that promote the environmental well-being of all Bristolians. Our new Bristol Energy Co is an example of a long-term investment that will provide clean energy to Bristolians at a fraction of the cost, helping to tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions. Equality is at the heart of Green Capital. Research has consistently shown that it is the poorest that are most affected by climate change. In Bristol this means that people who are most vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, for example, are those who live in economically deprived areas. This is why I have been so committed to challenging our city to make strategic investments to improve Bristol's energy use and overall environment with special consideration given to the most deprived areas.
John Langley If I was elected, then with immediacy I would launch an independent inquiry into the whole Green Capital project and it would be the first and last time a project run along the lines of a private company would be seen in Bristol by the council.
Charles Lucas I do not understand why the council is withholding these accounts. I cannot comment further as we do not know what they are trying to hide, if anything. The whole situation over the spending of the £8m makes me very uncomfortable.
Marvin Rees I don’t know because the mayor won’t tell us how the money has been spent! I would open the books and so should he, so Bristolians can see where every last penny has gone.
Paul Saville Bristol Green Capital. What a load of greenwash. As a keen environmental activist for nearly 10 years, I was saddened by Bristol Green Capital year. A great opportunity SQUANDERED by the powers that be at the council. What is now rubbing salt into the wounds of many Bristolians is the now highly secretive accounts which they won't release. I support the call of opening the books and revealing line by line how our cash was spent. If made mayor, I promise to reveal the entire accounts, and more generally promote a much more open, honest and transparent Bristol city council for all. The council work for us and should be reminded of this. Bristol deserves better!
Christine Townsend No – for me Green Capital has reflected the external/party focus of the current administration. I expected to see the money spent on sustainable projects that reduce energy costs for local people or enable essential services to access renewable energy sources and bring down their overheads. Too much focus and therefore money was spent on arts projects, websites, wages and promoting Bristol on a national and international stage making very little difference to the lives of most of us that live in the city. There needs to continue to be a focus on exactly what and who got the public money that came into the city for Green Capital so that lessons can be learnt and this does not reoccur in other arms-length companies such as Bristol Energy, Bristol Waste Company or City of Culture/Sport, if this happens. Public money needs to be open to public scrutiny.
Paul Turner The people of Bristol have the right to know where every single pound of taxpayers’ money is spent and to have the opportunity to question why. I believe the Mayor and the city council should be independently audited/investigated, the full results to be made public. Bristol 2015 Ltd should never have been set up in the way it was, I will investigate why this had happened, and who has been responsible so that it cannot happen again, in a very open and transparent way.
What will you do to improve the quality of Bristol’s air? In many places pollution exceeds WHO safety limits for nitrogen dioxide, which is estimated to cause an extra 200 deaths in the city every year, and is thought to be particularly damaging to children.
Tom Baldwin This should have been the real legacy of the Green Capital, not unaccounted funds and a few art projects. We need to reduce car use in Bristol but this can't be done just by taking punitive measures against drivers, you need to be able to offer real alternatives. A publicly owned transport network will be key to this, see my answer above. I think the city can also do more to address environmental issues, such as creating jobs for young people doing things like installing solar panels.
Kay Barnard Walking around Bristol is not a pleasant experience in the centre of the city. I would introduce a low emission zone, which means that the most polluting vehicles would have to pay a daily fee to enter the zone. The fee would be set at a level to encourage drivers of older buses and lorries to upgrade to less polluting vehicles. The bus companies are already introducing buses which are much cleaner and this will provide a real incentive to do that. We also need to improve public transport and cycling space to help people find alternatives to driving into the city. Car exhaust, particularly from diesel cars, is also harmful to people’s health by emissions of very small soot particles which get stuck in the lungs.
Tony Britt I do not know the future plans of the city council, but there are suggestions to stop cars going into the city centre. As a landscape gardener, I know the more trees and plant life you put in the centre, it sucks pollution out of the air. I have thought about moving traffic faster by taking traffic lights away from roundabouts, and keeping traffic moving instead of stop go, stop go. Aiming for our children’s future.
Tony Dyer I have made a public commitment to introduce a low emission zone to cover the city centre by 2020 to reduce the number for high emission vehicles accessing the city centre. I will work to provide low emission alternatives to single occupancy private cars – this includes improved facilities for walking and cycling, investment in public transport such as rail and buses (especially low emission vehicle types), and provision of the infrastructure needed to support electric cars. I will also look to expand the use of freight consolidation and rail freight interchanges in order to reduce the number of HGVs travelling on our city's congested roads.
George Ferguson The health of citizens drives my environmental agenda. We have made great strides in tackling air pollution, and have been recognised across Europe for doing so, but we are faced with turning around decades of failure to act decisively, and I am proud of our record over the past three years that is resulting in improvements in terms of cleaner vehicles and lower building emissions. I have been prepared to take unpopular measures in order to tackle the local issues, such as 20mph, which has encouraged more active transport of walking and cycling, and residents parking which, together with lower bus fares, has resulted in an overall reduction in commuter cars and increased (cleaner) bus use. We have created Air Quality Areas and funding for smart buses to switch to zero-emission electric on entering them. The next objective is to create widespread low emission zones. Like many other cities, air pollution generates inequality before birth. For example, expecting mothers exposed to greater air pollution are more likely to have babies with lower birth weight which can impact on intelligence and increase the likelihood of developmental delays and cognitive and behavioural challenges in children. In Bristol, key indicators of health deprivation are mood and anxiety disorders in children. These effects are more likely to be experienced by mothers who live in socio-economically disadvantaged areas with less access to alternative forms of transport and green spaces. We are working to solve this in Bristol through expanding our transport infrastructure and investing in our urban parks and wildlife, including my One Tree per Child initiative of planting 36,000 trees. Our individual actions have a global effect on the lives of others. However, like so much change, the time of transition is the most difficult, frustrating, and can feel endless. We are at last making some real change in Bristol, nobody can dispute that, but it does take time!
John Langley Again I would refer this to the role of my proposed Transport Commissioner. I find it beyond astonishment that a city flagged as a Green Capital has such a high rate of nitrogen dioxide within its air quality. In my view the inquiry to which I referred in Q5 would uncover a great deal of information which I don't believe we have been told, and from that we can provide real and meaningful solutions to fully address the issue of nitrogen dioxide. Having said that I am already fully aware that with vehicle fuel prices being so low at the moment more people are using their cars for journeys while ordinarily they would use other means of transport, such as buses, and that in itself has been a major contributor in recent times to our congested city.
Charles Lucas We must ease congestion, which is obviously a major contributor to air quality. I want to promote electric vehicles as well as other more energy efficient means of powering our vehicles at both personal and also council levels. We must continue to seek to maintain as many of our green spaces as possible and improve these by continuing to plant trees.
Marvin Rees Traffic congestion is a major cause of pollution and I have already detailed how I will tackle that problem. I want all council-owned buildings to be run on renewable energy by 2020, and introduce a low emissions zone with the aim of Bristol becoming carbon free by 2025.
Paul Saville Provide Bristolians with a public transport infrastructure that is easy to use, cheap and is reliable. Only with carrot before stick can this be achieved. Also, if made mayor - I will produce a in depth investigation into just what is going on down in Avonmouth, with widespread allegations of pollution down there the port. This is something that seems to be off the radar in Bristol but has a massive detrimental effect on the lives of Bristolians and the quality of life that some receive thanks to some operators.
Christine Townsend If people drive in Bristol they will notice a remarkable difference during school holiday periods. Far too many children are being transported across the city to school – local children should be accessing local schools. Some secondaries in Bristol allocate and/or ring-fence places for children who live beyond the Bristol boundaries, while turning away local applicants – this must stop. The city's children want to attend these schools and need to be in a position to do so, especially as a main focus for the next mayor will be the need to increase the availability of secondary school places.
For other public transport improvements please see the response to the arena question, as transport development around the arena obviously needs to be coordinated with more strategic improvements across the city and beyond.
Paul Turner There is no doubt that the quality of air in Bristol is at a dangerous level. We need to be approaching this in two separate ways: firstly we need to look at cleaning the air. Some cities are trialling rooftop air purifiers with some success but I would like to work with the city’s two universities to establish an effective and practical way in which Bristol can clean its air.
The second area we need to look at is the source of pollution, the main cause but not the only cause is the large number of slow-moving vehicles across the city. We do not have a cost-effective efficient public transport network as a viable option, which we would need in order to entice motorists out of their cars. I’d like to introduce a car sharing scheme as well, whereby drivers who drive their car in to central Bristol with two or more passengers are rewarded – this could be in the form of free parking for the day.