Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Give much higher priority to transport issues in Bristol

Today received a letter from the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance requesting the views of individual candidates on their work. My reply is below:

For the attention of Pip Sheard, Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance

Many thanks for your letter asking me for my views on the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance's Manifesto for Transport, which I received today.

I am a very strong supporter of a Transport Authority for Greater Bristol and signed the online petition you refer to in your letter a while ago. Transport issues of many kinds are very inadequately addressed currently, not least the funding levels for public transport.

I support all the main items in your manifesto and in fact feature transport and related issues a great deal in my election leaflet.

This is because of my leaflets focus on achieving a better quality of life and sustainability, the main obstacle to which in Bristol is the massive impact of current transport habits on air quality, noise, health, climate and open, green space.

I very much welcome all the good work you are doing and would do my best to advance the case for sustainable transport if elected to Bristol City Council.

Yours sincerely
Glenn Vowles
Green Party Candidate, Knowle Ward

You're never too old to rock and roll!!

Excellent broadcast on youtube - really entertaining and makes a great point. Thanks to Jean for sending me this link:

Here's why you should vote Green: a policy summary

Local Council powers can be used to deliver the Green Party objectives of improving local neighbourhoods, enhancing local services, promoting health and protecting the wider environment - especially against climate change.

The task is becoming ever more urgent, and the time for action is now. So vote Green in these elections because:

1) Greens are the One Chance for Action on Climate Change

Greens are the One Chance for cheap and clean energy in your community. Greens will help you save money and combat climate change. Greens will help you to go Green locally, investing in small scale locally owned renewable energy
Greens will promote local shops and businesses so local people can provide local goods and services, saving energy, time and money
Greens will oppose devastating airport expansion and new, unnecessary roads, promoting new, cheap public transport instead
Greens will get rid of waste and aim for 100% recycling schemes

2) Health

Greens are the One Chance to keep the Health Service public
The Greens are the One Chance to let carers care
Greens want all vital local health services within walking distance or with easy public transport links for everyone. Greens will protect services from cuts, closure and creeping privatisation. Greens will oppose wasteful, financially damaging PFI health schemes. Greens will cut bureaucracy, top heavy management and distorting targets to let carers care.
Greens will build healthy living into our work and leisure by making cycling and walking easy and pleasant.

3) Education

The Greens are the One Chance to keep education open to all
The Greens are the One Chance to let teachers teach.
Greens want local schools within walking distance or with easy public transport links for everyone. Greens will protect schools from cuts, closure and creeping privatisation. Greens will oppose wasteful, financially damaging PFI education schemes. Greens will cut bureaucracy, top heavy management and distorting targets to let teachers teach.
Greens will campaign for the restoration of student grants and the abolition of fees.
Greens believe everyone should education be open to all, regardless of their background or financial status.

4) Housing

The Greens are the One Chance for decent housing for all
Greens want good housing for everyone. We will make sure that affordable housing is always part of new housing projects. We will push for new, high quality council and housing association flats and houses. We will also put money into housing cooperatives and self build schemes.
Council house repairs will be dealt with swiftly and empty properties brought back into use. ALMOs will be opposed and residents brought into management and control of housing stock.
Greens will help council and housing association tenants get low energy bills through putting in the best insulation, small wind turbines and solar panels. Greens will make sure planning laws do not get in the way of people who want to help combat climate change through installing their own small wind and solar energy panels.

5) Greens are your One Chance for councillors that make your voice heard

Green councillors will make your voice heard by
(i) standing up for the local community, providing proper value for money and listening to local people not big business
(ii) giving local neighbourhoods a direct say in the decisions that affect them - devolving powers to neighbourhood forums and parish councils
(iii) taking your complaints seriously - ensuring graffiti and fly-tipping is removed within 24 hours of it being reported.

One World. One Chance. Vote Green Party.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Proposed South Bristol Ring Road: a major threat to communities, the environment and the climate

Received a letter requesting my view on the proposed South Bristol Ring Road today - my reply is below:

For the attention of Mike Landen, Chair of the Alliance Against the South Bristol Ring Road:

Many thanks for your letter requesting my views on the proposed ring road which I received this morning.

For very much the same reasons as you outline in your letter I am totally opposed to the ring road and if elected would do all that I can to advance the case against the proposal. The proposed road is indeed a major threat to communities, to the environment and to the climate (and thus future generations). Please visit my blog site for further details of my views on issues

I'm proud that my party is united and consistent on this issue too. As is clear from the Bristol Green Party website ( local Greens have campaigned hard against the ring road for some time now and have asked very pertinent questions of the council, to which we have had no satisfactory reply. All Green candidates throughout Bristol will feature opposition to the proposed road on their election literature in one way or another.

Please find attached a copy of my election leaflet for your information. The statements on protection of open, green spaces from inappropriate development and on cutting carbon emissions in the Bristol area by at least 3% per year both relate to the ring road very directly.

Many thanks for the work you and the organisation you represent are doing on this issue.

Glenn Vowles
Green Party Candidate for Knowle Ward

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

A 'Noise Strategy for Bristol' is needed to tackle this often forgotten pollutant

I've been working on the issue of noise pollution recently. My call for a noise strategy for Bristol is stimulated by my experience of noise on busy roads in Bristol. A 'green city' would be a more tranquil, less noisy place (see the recent work of the CPRE).

Bristolians are increasingly living with unacceptable and unhealthy levels of noise (city council website acknowledges this). The noise levels from traffic, which the council acknowledge as the main noise source in the city, often peak at what can only be described as 'industrial' levels at the busiest times, especially with heavy lorries. However, strategies to address the problem are available and should be enacted now - thus my attempt to highlight the issue and call for a noise strategy and action plan for Bristol modelled on London's.

I have been taking noise pollution readings with a sound level meter along the Wells Rd in Knowle at various times, dates and locations on the road. My findings: when roads have just a few cars a 50 decibel reading (at 4-5 metres distance) is typical, the level at which normal conversation is conducted. As soon as a steady flow of traffic is present readings are a steady 80 decibels - note that normal conversation is interrupted at 60 decibels and shouting is needed to be heard above 70 decibels. Its common experience in Knowle that you cant walk your child to Hillcrest School down the Wells Rd and hold a conversation or give an instruction without shouting and you cant walk to work listening to your MP3 player without turning up the volume more than normal.

When traffic is busiest and heavy lorries are on the road noise pollution reaches industrial levels at around a common 93 decibels. The highest reading I recorded was 97 decibels, from a particularly large, heavy lorry which rattled as it broke the 30mph speed limit climbing the hill opposite The George pub on Wells Rd. If in industry, where it is recommended in Health and Safety regulations that workers are not continually exposed to noises louder than 90 decibels during their day, exposure at 97 decibels would be strictly limited to around an hour or so and/or ear protection issued. If we are to have a truly better quality of life we need to get far away from industrial standards on our streets.

The Bristol City Council website states that the council 'do not have legal powers to deal with...traffic...noise' (or noise from aircraft, or rowdy behaviour for that matter). But there are things that could be done eg on quieter roads surfaces, better road maintainance, and crucially traffic reduction and weight limits.

Noise pollution issues should be heard much more on the political agenda. Noise has become another form of urban blight which we need to quell. It causes behavioural changes such as inducing irritability and annoyance, boosts stress levels and nervous disorders eg through disturbing relaxation and sleep. Noisier areas tend to have higher incidence of taking pills for blood pressure, stomach complaints, tranquillisers and sleeping pills. Noise also causes 'acoustic fatigue' in buildings, resulting in stress cracks and damage.

Noise is certainly a significant factor in Bristolians' list of quality of life concerns, but the powers-that-be have so far refused to treat it with urgency or give it the seriousness it deserves. Unlike the UK capital, which has had the London Noise Strategy for a few years now - the first in the country - Bristol has no noise management strategy or action plan yet, according to the city council website.

London's strategy contains some 100 policies designed to tackle ‘ambient’ or ‘environmental’ noise in buildings as well as from traffic, aircraft and other sources. Its a very good model to follow for Bristol.

In view of the forecast population and traffic increase in Bristol over the coming years, it is particularly important that we address noise pollution - in many respects the forgotten pollutant - effectively, now.