Friday, 29 April 2016

Putting the Good Transport Plan into action

I received an email today from Sustrans, the 'leading charity enabling people to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys'. It asked 'all Councillor candidates at the May elections to support the objectives of the Good Transport Plan' and said 'We would like to see concrete commitments from candidates to ensure all transport decisions taken at the local (Neighbourhood Partnership) and the strategic level link to the 9 objectives to ensure we’re taking steps towards what we want to achieve in the next 5-10 years.' Here's the text of my email response:

Many thanks for your email. The Good Transport Plan is a great piece of work and one the most valuable things to come out of Bristol Green Capital 2015. I fully support it and have referred to it in my election materials and on my blog. Not only does the plan head us in the right direction, most importantly it was put together in the right way, involving a wide range of stakeholders.

Let me know if there is a place for formally signing up to a pledge of commitment to the plan and I will certainly do so. If elected I look forward to working with all stakeholders to advance the Good Transport Plan significantly and making Bristol a fairer, healthier, more sustainable, lively and enjoyable city.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bedminster area: residents survey results

Having knocked on all doors in the Bedminster area and gained the views of a good sized sample of hundreds of residents 80% told us that public services are very important; first place in priority. Its important that elected councillors oppose cuts and work to keep all vital local public services. I'm totally opposed to the cuts, austerity economics and austerity ideology. Cuts are unfair, unjust, are not working, are counter-productive, are building up year on year and biting into essential local services - and are certainly not the way to invest in and build a fairer, healthier more lively and sustainable city. We should be working for strong local facilities and shopping streets through planning, investment and the Bristol Pound.

78% said safe walking, cycling and public transport was very important. Many of you described: the poor local train network; inappropriate Metrobus; expensive fares; unreliable buses; lack of bus routes; and parking problems. Public transport desperately needs to be given a much greater priority with more local buses,a new train station at Ashton Gate and opening up the Long Ashton Park and Ride during football and rugby matches. The council need to listen much more carefully to local people concerning issues such as improved walking and cycling routes, parking and local development plans.

71%  said green spaces and wildlife are very important. Our green spaces & greenbelt must be protected from all inappropriate development. Bristol should be a leader in the new Green economy which can provide real jobs, a proper living wage and sustainable development which doesn't damage the environment.

69%  told us that adequate housing for everyone is very important. We need houses to match the needs of those who want to make their home in the area - including properly affordable housing, good insulation to reduce fuel bills, and new houses on brown field sites.

52% said that school places and childcare are very important. We need continual vigilance over school places and effective ways to meet needs. Place planning has become increasingly problematic and I'm opposed to fragmentation of the system as its a source of upset and stress. We need to ensure sufficient places for all children including opportunities to reduce costs by sharing facilities with community and commercial organisations. We need to ensure that schools are complying with the legal duties placed on them with regards to admissions.

42% said that an active, involved and informed local community was very importantI'm for the common good. The idea of community is key to this, where people living close together interact and are mutually involved in local events and developments. This is a very important antidote to isolation and alienation, especially though not exclusively in cities. Community should be viewed as a necessity of everyday life, stemming from the sharing of qualities that come from rich diversity. In every election I have contested I have advocated for strong, informed, involved, empowered, lively and resilient local communities with all the facilities and services to meet their needs. I am doing so again in the campaign to win in Bedminster this May.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Tony Dyer for Mayor of Bristol

Tony Dyer is by far the best person to be Mayor of Bristol and I urge everyone to cast their first preference vote for him. I say this: because we need more people with local roots and from working class backgrounds in senior positions of power; because Tony has been tested by his political experiences and had a significant impact on the greening of Bristol politics; because his ability to analyse problems and weigh up evidence is excellent; and especially because he is the only person who has demonstrably integrated his economic, social and environmental policies coherently to bring about fundamental change for the better.

There aren't enough people with deep local roots in senior positions of power - there aren't enough people with working class roots in such positions either

Born and raised in Hartcliffe, South Bristol, Tony Dyer is the son of a Bedminster-born postman and a Knowle West housewife, now living in Ashton. He has strong and deep ties to the city and is very proud of his Bristol heritage which goes back a long way. Family roots amongst the Bedminster coalminers and Bristol dock workers, and a grandfather who grew up in slum conditions in the Old Market area are very clear political influences. Our political system does not have representation that matches the make-up of our society and is heavily skewed in many ways - this needs to change.

Tony has gained great political experience as a Green Party member for many years, strengthened by the heat of the 2015 General Election

As the Green's parliamentary candidate for Bristol South in the May 2015 General Election Tony fought a great campaign based on a detailed set of well thought through policies. He gained the Greens best ever result in Bristol South, ahead of the Lib Dems, with nearly 6000 votes and a double figure percentage (a rise of nine points). This was one key part of building the Green Party's electoral support locally, with growth in councillor numbers from 6 to 14 and the potential to grow councillor numbers to beyond 20 and elect a green Mayor.

Greens have come a long way since the last Mayoral election in 2012:  from 2 councillors then to 14 now;  200 members then to over 2,000 now; from 12,000 votes in local elections, to now we getting three times as many. In recent years Greens have become a rising force in Bristol politics. In former Labour heartlands like Bedminster the Greens are close to winning this May, are the main challengers to Labour and can win if just a vote or two per street changes hands.

Tony has been a key Green activist in Bristol. I've known and worked with him for many years. I've admired his grasp of the details of policy in particular. He is now the Green Party national spokesperson for local government.

Commitment to evidence-based problem solving and a very skilled analyser

Tony Dyer has earned more widespread recognition and respect for his analyses and commentaries on the pressing issues that affect Bristol, its more deprived areas in particular. He has written regularly on economic and political issues, particularly for the independent online newspaper Bristol 24-7. His evidence-based arguments about real and sustainable changes in society are impressive. He has spoken on many platforms about making our economy and society work for the common good.

Tony's skills are partly inherent and partly down to his broad experiences. After leaving Hartcliffe school in 1981 and initially working in construction Tony reskilled to join the IT training industry where he worked for a local not-for-profit organisation supporting small business start-ups. He has worked with a number of community organisations in Bristol. Within the giant US computer company DEC, Tony worked closely with partners such as Microsoft, Cisco, Nokia, and with key clients in the City of London financial services industry and the UK retail industry.

We need a Mayor with coherent, integrated policies to make big changes

Tony has the best policies. He recognises that deep seated problems face Bristol and he is a radical in the sense that his approach is to tackle problems from their roots. He is the only Mayoral candidate who has coherently brought together economic, social and environmental policies capable of achieving fundamental change for the better. He has rightly put particular stress on:
  •      ensuring that homes in the private rental sector meet appropriate standards of safety and comfort
  •      tackling rent rises and exorbitant fees
  •      delivering a low emission zone covering the city centre by 2020 to reduce unhealthy air pollution
  •      implementing an active transport strategy through boosting walking and cycling
  •      co-operation between Bristol and neighbouring authorities aimed at achieving an Integrated Transport Authority
  •      delivering 8,000 new homes in the next four years, including 2,800 affordable  - 80% at social rent levels
  •      increasing apprenticeships in the city by 50%
  •      ensuring there are enough school places in the city to meet demand
  •      ring fencing the Independent Living Fund grant  - funding provided for those with the most serious disabilities
  •      combating inequalities and prejudices; supporting the BME Manifesto, the Womanifesto, and the LGBT+ Manifesto
  •      delivering re-use and recycling facilities across the city - including a new facility in South Bristol - with a target of sending zero waste to landfill by 2020

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Canvassing conversations

During canvassing I'm regularly using three examples when asked by Bedminster voters what makes Green councillors different from Labour ones. These are: Green opposition to cuts budgets; our efforts to get a clean air zone implemented to tackle air pollution; and our proposal to switch funding for an aerospace museum into funding for child safety.

Many voters in the areas of Ashton, Ashton Vale, Bower Ashton and Bedminster I have surveyed and canvassed with my fellow candidate Will Quick and the local Green Team have tuned in to the fact that its a very close Green vs Labour contest this time (Greens 30% in second vs Labour 34% in first last yr) and thus ask for a direct comparison. 
  • Green councillors opposed the £30 million cuts budget set this year by the Mayor/Council (9 Green councillors voted against it and 5 abstained, whilst all Labour councillors voted for it). In their local newsletter Labour describe the Greens opposition to cuts budgets as "utterly irresponsible". My co-candidate Will Quick and I are totally opposed to the cuts, austerity economics and austerity ideology. Cuts are unfair, unjust, are not working, are counter-productive, are building up year on year and biting into essential local services - and are certainly not the way to invest in and build the fairer, healthier more lively and sustainable city we advocate. As Green councillors our perspective and our priorities are therefore very different (more here).
  • Labour councillors voted against the Green motion tabled at the recent Mayor/Council budget meeting focused on implementing a Clean Air Zone to tackle air pollution (Tories councillors voted the same way as Labour; see here). Since then Labour councillors have amended a Lib Dem motion, and say they are in favour of a low emission zone. However they have voted against the budget needed to take action and removed the deadline in the original motion! Meanwhile we have checked on and publicised the Bedminster air pollution data - and it shows we need action for the sake of our health now! As Green councillors our perspective and our priorities are very different.
  • Green councillors tabled an amendment at the Feb Mayor/Council budget meeting calling for half a million pounds allocated for contributing to a new aerospace museum in South Gloucestershire to be spent on child safety in Bristol instead (putting in place more infrastructure to improve road safety for children on routes to school across the city; more here). Across the city, there are near misses on the roads every day, as schools and local communities know. Money for the necessary infrastructure changes is badly needed. Greens are not against museums but when cuts to local authorities mean choices between child safety vs aerospace museum funding then we choose child safety. Not only did Labour councillors not support our view (neither did the Tories) they have written to the local press about how we opposed the aerospace museum funding whilst making no mention at all of what we wanted the money switched to. As Green councillors our perspective and our priorities - and our campaign ethics - are very different.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Green Party newsletter for Bedminster, Ashton, Ashton Vale & Bower Ashton No. 2, 2016

The second edition of Greenminster, the Green Party newsletter for Bedminster, Ashton, Ashton Vale and Bower Ashton is now being delivered by volunteers throughout the area. In this second edition of 2016: reporting the results of our local survey in which we have knocked on every door in the ward; a statement of commitment from the councillor candidates; where the local councillor candidates stand all the top issues as rated by local people (public services, transport, green spaces and housing being the top four, in this order); some examples of the work done by the current 14 Green councillors; the Greens as the main challengers to Labour in Bedminster and the closeness of the contest; endorsement of Glenn Vowles and Will Quick as councillor candidates and Tony Dyer as the Mayoral candidate by Alan Baker, local lay minister and school governor; an update on the air pollution debate in which Labour say they favour a clean air zone but have voted against the budget needed to implement it and removed any reference to a deadline for its achievement.




Monday, 11 April 2016

5 more pictures that speak many words


Having been an active Green in Bristol for 35 yrs (this example is from 26 yrs ago in April 1990) its encouraging to remember good examples of international action on very significant problems (the world finally agreed to tackle the ozone hole caused by CFCs and so in principle it can also tackle other
significant global
issues such as climate change or poverty and malnutrition or the many armed conflicts going on).  
Out on the streets talking to people as a general election candidate (Bristol East, 2010). Doing an awful lot of this now  as one of the Green councillor candidates in Bedminster.
We only have one planet. Everything we are and can become depends on it being healthy. However, human eco footprint has been rapidly growing and for some time now we have been degrading the capacity of our planet to support us. 
Taking part in the protests in Bristol against government policies on higher education during the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition Govt yrs, which amount to privatisation, with huge tuition fees and student loans in place of grants. Things that are public as opposed to private are available to everyone. If they are truly public that is. This makes it a positive, valuable, powerful, democratic idea.

Will Quick my co-candidate and I are clearly in with a decent chance of winning in Bedminster this May. There has been very consistent growth in the Green vote in the area since 2010. We were at 30% in 2015 and a very close second to Labour on 34%, are the main challengers and need just a vote or two per street to change hands to win.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Good transport for Bedminster and Bristol

In the Bedminster Greens survey of  local opinion 78% said transport was very important, a very close second only to public services in general. Hundreds of people made transport related comments in the survey box for 'other' issues, including: the poor local train network; inappropriate Metrobus; expensive fares; unreliable buses; lack of bus routes; and parking problems.No other topic area was commented on to this extent.

Bristol's transport problems are serious. They have long been so. We have: congestion; pollution; delays; business costs; frustration; stress and negative health impacts. We need to come at this complex problem from many angles, some of which feature in the recently developed Good Transport Plan for Bristol, one of the best things to come out of last year's Green Capital work. The plan was produced in just the right way - with many local organisations, community groups and businesses working together to involve over a thousand people in hundreds of face to face and online ways. 

Public transport desperately needs to be given a much greater priority with: more local buses; a new train station at Ashton Gate; and opening up the Long Ashton Park and Ride during football and rugby matches.
The council need to listen much more carefully to local people concerning issues such as improved walking and cycling routes, parking and local development plans. I strongly support the Bristol Cycling Campaign measures to improve cycling in Bedminster (West Street;  Clanage Rd Roundabout and Ashton Park School Link) and their councillor manifesto. I will continue to work hard, whether elected as a councillor for Bedminster or not, for: 
  • Reducing the demand for transport by localising the economy
  • Shifting from the most damaging forms of transport like individual cars, to lower impact forms like public transport and cycling and walking
  • Harmonisation of planning policies and practices with sustainable transport so that one doesn't contradict the other
  • Establishing a truly strategic, integrated Greater Bristol approach via a new transport authority
  • Local community driven forms of public ownership to bring back the public service ethos of public transport
  • Making the pricing of methods of travel fairly reflect their actual total costs
  • Reducing the impact of freight by moving away from large polluting lorries to trains


This all needs good democratic leadership, time and serious money. It's a major issue that needs green thinking – and more Green councillors to pressure for the powers and the money.