We send out a regular email newsletter to any residents of Ashley ward who are interested in what is happening in their area and in what Gus Hoyt, their Green councillor, has been doing. If you would like to subscribe to this newsletter, please email ashley-news.
Dear Ashley Resident,
A lot has happened since my last newsletter and I cannot cover everything here. To the right are handy headers of some of the most pressing issues and topics within the city, from the budget to bins.
Our green party motion to tackle fuel poverty and make Green electricity more affordable for households across Bristol was passed by full council. This was our first motion as a party and it was a watershed moment.
I have participated in two citywide debates on an elected mayor for Bristol and have been asked to contribute my thoughts for the Festival of Ideas’ website. The next – and more important- step is to bring these debates into our communities where it won’t be a majority of white males over 50 in the audience.
At Green Party Spring Conference we passed two outstanding policies on food, which I had a hand in writing. The first deals with food; from field to plate. The second is a complete policy protecting our fisheries and marine stocks.
Our Autumn Conference will be here in Bristol, so look out for lots of Green events during September. It should be exciting and I can’t wait to welcome members to our excellent city.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter, you can un-subscribe at any time using the link at the bottom of the email.
For more specific matters my email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write to me here at the Council House, College Green, BS1 5TR. You can also read about me on Bristol 24/7 or search for me in the Evening Post thisisbristol.co.uk
Green Cllr for Ashley Ward
As you may be aware, there is a new company in charge of cleaning our streets and collecting our refuse and recycling. This has led to a very sore transition period and our neighbourhood streets have been severely affected with unacceptable amounts of litter and refuse.
At the worst point a third of my inbox concerned this issue and I acted on every complaint – and will continue to do so. We now have a much more frequent street sweeping team addressing the worst hit areas. Both Cabinet Officials and May Gurney management have assured me improvements will be made.
Please report all problems from missed collections to fly tipping directly here 0117 922 2100. It is an ongoing battle, but together we can win it.
Last time I proudly announced the closure of the Hurlingham Rd rat run. Work is now set to begin on the 16th April. The wheels turn slowly… I am still receiving a large amount of criticism and abuse for this move but I feel it is right to put the safety of the few ahead of the desires of the many.
The next success concerns St Werburghs. The local community led traffic group has been meeting with officers over the past months to perfect their vision for the area. On Wednesday the Neighbourhood Committee allocated the first instalment of £10,000 to be match funded by the council to complete the first stage.
The priorities will depend ultimately on the vision of the community group and whether it can be delivered. My hope is that both Magdalene Place and Sevier St will be closed to through traffic. The objections and abuse have already begun but I am confident these are the right moves.
Minor road schemes also include (but are not limited to) making Brook Hill one-way and improving safety at the Cobourg Rd/Ashley Hill junction.
I helped out with the excellent Carriageworks Community Vision. This was the largest piece of public consultation I have ever witnessed and everyone who contributed deserves a massive thank-you.
You can see the conclusion of the Community Vision now. It is currently in the gallery space of PRSC at 35 Jamaica St just off Stokes Croft. It will be open until the 24th March so please do go have a look. It is the largest and most iconic development opportunity in our ward. I am sure there will be plenty other ways in which you can help/get involved, especially if a Community Interest Company is set-up to develop the site.
The Bear Pit
This isn’t technically in Ashley ward though over 7,000 people use it each day going in and out of Stokes Croft. The Bear-Pit improvement group (consisting of local residents, businesses and academics) has been working to improve the area for a long time.
On Wednesday the neighbourhood committee provisionally provided 33% of the funding for the “stage one” of their grand works that will include market stall provisions and a café among many other things. We hope that further contributions will come from Cabot and Clifton Neighbourhood Partnership, Businesses that will profit from improvements and other council funds.
The flowerbeds are now planted up for spring and a permanent table-tennis table is being built as I type.
Like other cities, Bristol took a great cut in the finances we receive from central government. This is yet another one of their ideological assaults, this time on local governments. Localism spoken by Pickles and co is just a word and one the treasury is not funding…
In the face of this and because the Green Party now has Party status we couldn’t declare the budget illegal but tried to work within the tough perimeters. Rather than cut elements of the LibDem budget to free up small portions of change we looked at ways we could increase our funds locally.
We explored a number of schemes from a work-place parking levy (for companies providing 5 or more free parking spaces – usually for managers) to increasing council tax. Ideally we would move to a local Income tax and a return to the rates but we could not legally propose this.
We took a bold stance and suggested a modest and below inflation rise to council tax of 3.5% This would give the council an extra £6.4 million a year to fight the cuts from here on and would equate to less than 90p a week per household (not person). This year, because of a one off Government bribe to freeze council tax it would equate to an additional £1.8 million. We allocated this mostly to youth services and the Well Woman Centre.
Though members congratulated us on our bold stance outside of the meeting they all voted along party lines and our motion was defeated.
Our second motion to raise funds for an increased evening service between Temple Meads and Avonmouth was withdrawn as Cllr Tim Kent (Transport) assured the Chamber that he would make this a reality. We will continue to pursue this until the timetable change and the trains turn up at the stations.
As our amendment was not accepted and it meant that cuts were seen as inevitable – cuts that will hurt far more in next years dramatically decreased bribe-free budget; we as Greens saw no other options to vote against it. It did however pass though the cooperation of the Conservative and LibDem parties.
The Capital Budget included borrowing £50 million. Of this £10 million was allocated for the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) scheme that will see a giant destructive South Bristol Ring Road carving up communities in South Bristol and the Green Belt. I repeatedly asked for an assurance that these funds were ring-fenced for this purpose. No assurances were given. For these reasons, Tess and I voted against it.
If you hear rumours that we are against spending money on schools then check out my work on Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny committee where I am strongly pushing for more school places so local kids can walk to school. Anything to the contrary is pure playground politics and it is a shame our cities leaders always fall back on these immature practices.
We were and still are opposed to the cuts - both nationally and locally. We do not believe the solutions will be found by privatising our services but that they must remain in public ownership, especially when corporations and the wealthiest are allowed to dodge taxes and ring fence their fortune.
People and planet must always come before profit.
Motion to Full Council
Now we have Group Status we are able to put forward one motion in four for certain debate at Full Council. This is the same as the other parties and a fine day for open politics in Bristol.
Our first motion tackled fuel poverty and the high prices of Green Energy. It passed. We must now wait for the report from Cabinet as to how they shall implement the scheme.
The motion means that Bristol City Council will work with other local authorities to Bulk Purchase a set level of Green Energy. People can then opt-in to this Bristol Green Energy scheme. This would make Bristol a true pioneer in the promotion of green energy throughout the country. This scheme would also promote and help fund the growth of the renewable sector in the UK. It can work in conjunction with community projects, getting them off the ground and securing the future of safe and clean energy creation.
Unfortunately the Labour group and Conservatives voted against this motion as they wanted “Nuclear Energy” to be included in the definition of “green Energy”. We are thankful to the LibDems who supported our motion.
On a personal level it was very rewarding to demonstrate that we can now participate on a local level and put forward a motion that can benefit everyone in the city and not just score cheap political points which happens too much in local and national politics.
If you want to know more about anything in this e-newsletter, please email email@example.com
If you'd like to contact me, there are a few ways:
Here are some topical links you may be interested in and that we in the Green Party wholeheartedly support.
The Bristol Pound. A hugely exciting local currency that will lead the way in how we think about money and where it goes once we purchase things. Find out more here: bristolpound.org
Bristol Independents. Celebrating our local and independent businesses and stores. Another way to encourage keeping the money in the community and enjoying the variety only independents can bring. bristolindependents.co.uk
The Carriageworks. Find out the results of the Community Vision and where we can go from here. carriageworks.org.uk
Stop Hinkley. The official site protesting against the proposed Hinkley C reactor. It is eight times larger than the original Hinkly A and B sites. stophinkley.org
Our National policies can easily be accessed here: greenparty.org.uk/policies and you can follow the links if you wish to join and become a member.
Gus Hoyt, Ex-Councillor for Ashley
Rob Telford, Ex-Councillor for Ashley
Contact the Ashley team
How to get in touch with us in Ashley