Councillors Clive Stevens and Carla Denyer outside City Hall
Local news - Clifton Down
A street lighting improvement project on and around St John's Road has been granted funding by the local Neighbourhood Partnership. This was the result of a team effort from Carla, Clifton Down Community Association (CDCA), and local student ambassadors from University of Bristol. At the time of writing we are awaiting news on the planned installation dates.
This project began when members of CDCA approached Carla about the issue. So if there's a problem that needs fixing on your street, please get in touch with us.
For the past six months, Clive has been working closely with councillors from other parties on a cross-party motion seeking to mitigate the impacts of university expansion on Bristol's housing crisis and the Council's finances. The motion places the responsibility for mitigating these effects at the door of Government first and foremost, then the University, and then the Council.
The motion was debated at Full Council last week, and passed unanimously. It asked the Mayor to:
You can watch the webcast of the motion debate here.
- Engage with the Government to highlight that the current approach to university growth is creating unsustainable pressure on Council resources, and call for the previously-cut grant funding for university towns to be replaced;
- To ensure that necessary work is done locally in Bristol and in the Combined Authority to update the Universities’ masterplans so as to deliver sustainable future expansion, housing and transport solutions;
- Develop local planning rules to ensure a balance of housing types in all areas of the city, and prevent some areas becoming dominated by students accommodation which then become ‘ghost towns’ in the summer;
- Require the Universities to support transport and housing solutions for more than just first year students;
- Set up an all-party commission to oversee the above processes and liaise with Universities to progress other possible approaches, and keeping members informed.
Redland Library is at risk of closure, again!
If you would like to get involved in the campaign to protect it, sign the petition, take part in the consultation and get in touch with one or more of:
Friends of Redland Library
Save Redland Library
Love Bristol Libraries
For more information about proposed cuts and closures, see the 'More cuts to Council services' section below.
Clive and Carla have received a lot of casework recently about noise pollution from licensed premises (especially the new Steam pub near Clifton Down station) and a couple of particularly loud and persistent buskers. As well as working with the affected residents, perpetrators and Council officials on those specific cases, we have also been working towards long term solutions:
Licensing law - Clive made a submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003, and was quoted in their report (here) which concluded that the Licensing Act "is fundamentally flawed and needs a radical overhaul".
Busking policy - Carla has been working with council staff on a Busking Policy to help encourage good busking and help with enforcement when buskers prove more of a nuisance than a pleasure.
Bristol-wide and Council news
It is vital that everyone responds to the consultation about the Mayor's proposals to stop some Council services. These include closures to most libraries (including our own Redland Library) and public toilets, reductions in 'lollipop people', cuts to Bristol Community Links and cuts to funding of Neighbourhood Partnerships. Read more and complete the consultation on these 'Neighbourhood' proposals at: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/council-spending-performance/your-neighbourhood-consultation-2017
If you want some help completing it, you might find Clive's guide (here) helpful.
The Council is also proposing to make changes to the Council Tax Reduction scheme so that the very lowest income homes in the city have to pay more Council Tax. We successfully called for the scheme to be protected last year, but it is at risk again. This proposal has a separate consultation which you can complete here: https://bristol.citizenspace.com/neighbourhoods/council-tax-reduction-scheme-for-2018-19/
And finally (for now!), there are proposals to stop funding our parks from April 2019. Bristol Parks Forum have launched a petition, here.
Read more about our response to the proposals here, and our previous work on the budget here, here and here.
Green MEP Molly Scott Cato joined objections to a large digital illuminated advertising board in St Werburghs. The giant screen would measure 7.5 metres tall by 5 metres wide and would overlook the inbound M32 and junction 3.
A planning application has been turned down by Bristol City Council but the developers have appealed. There have been over 60 objections against the proposals, which include concerns over road safety due to the distraction of drivers and the screen creating ‘visual pollution’ and being incongruous to the area. Similar proposals have been banned across the globe, including in around 700 communities in the USA.
Green Councillors at City Hall are working to challenge the appeal. Councillor Steve Clarke said "On top of distracting motorists - as proven in a study from Sweden, where they are banned - and promoting mindless consumption, they are incredibly carbon intensive with up to 10,000 LED bulbs burning 24/7".
More information here.
8 months on from a successful Green-led City Council motion on air quality (passed with all party support), last week Green councillors welcomed the Mayor’s report back on the council’s progress towards a Clean Air Zone for Bristol, which would seek to improve air quality in the city, currently among the most polluted of UK cities outside London. Since the council session last November, the council has set up a Mayoral Air Quality Working Group (chaired by Green Party cabinet member Fi Hance), which has secured government funding and started working on a feasibility study to explore different types of Clean Air Zones. The Council has also secured government funding to retrofit polluting buses and provide electric vehicle infrastructure. You can read more here.
Prior to this, back in May a damning report on the government's air quality plan was launched by Bristol Councillor Jerome Thomas, and Green MEPs Molly Scott Cato and Keith Taylor.
The report found that air pollution in Bristol is worst in Central, Lawrence Hill, and Ashley wards and continues to rise in many areas across the city, including at the Bristol Royal Infirmary Children’s Department. It is estimated that there will be an estimated 757 deaths in Bristol linked to NO2 air pollution by 2021. (Report p.7) Other research carried by the council found that air pollution could account for over 9% of deaths in some wards (‘Health Impacts of Air Pollution in Bristol’).
Councillor Jerome Thomas said "Everyone in Bristol has the right to breathe healthy, clean air. The illegal air pollution levels in Bristol are shortening our lives, making us ill and in some cases killing us."
You can read the full report here.
Greens have been working to reverse recent cuts proposed to street tree maintenance and new tree planting. Clive called proposals to cut the 'tree budget' by 78% 'short sighted', noting that “Studies show that properly maintained trees cut air pollution, reduce flooding, add to a city’s resilience to climate change and increase our sense of well-being”.
Fortunately the Mayor’s response to tough questioning at 17th May’s Cabinet meeting was to reverse the decision on no new planting. Cabinet members have also agreed to revisit the business case for stopping tree maintenance in the face of a professionally put case and evidence demonstrating the proposal wouldn’t save any money at all. However, further questioning by Carla last week has revealed that no progress has been made on this yet, and the Council may be at risk from claims against it for injuries or damage to private property.
For more information on the proposed cuts see this story in the Bristol Post and this article.
While disappointed with the local result in Bristol West, Bristol Greens welcome the national level 'youthquake' of increased turnout among young voters. It is also worth noting that the UK's 'first past the post' voting system, which is supposed to produce a clear winner and strong government, has instead resulted in a coalition for the second time in a decade. Greens support the introduction of Proportional Representation so that everyone's vote counts equally - you can sign a petition here.
Bristolians may be getting tired of elections now we've had the Metro Mayor elections and the General Election this year. Of course these are both very important for the future of Bristol and the country as a whole, but after a busy period of election campaigning Green councillors are relieved to return to the relative calm of local politics and get back to working for their communities.
Greens are lobbying for a ban on the use of single use plastics. As such, Councillor Martin Fodor has set up this petition.
Some of you will know that the West of England partnership is producing plans to build over 100,000 houses in the region over the period 2016-2036. At the same time it has a transport plan which - by its own figures - would cut the total number of commuter car journeys per year by just 600.
Given our need to make huge progress towards our climate change targets, these figures are hopelessly inadequate. We need to make the partnership think again. You can help by signing this petition.
Charities, small businesses, community groups and landlords - you can get free cycle racks on your property. Apply here.