Bristol's Green Councillors have announced their candidate for Lord Mayor as Cotham Councillor, Cleo Lake.
Statement from Councillor Cleo Lake:
I am proud to have been selected as the next First Citizen of Bristol. I will find it strange to be referred to with the title as Lord Mayor – as a Green I’m slightly uncomfortable with titles like this and see myself as more of a ‘People’s Mayor’. My background is in arts, education and events, all things Bristol prides itself on and so I hope to support as many such events throughout the year as possible, whilst also being proactive in initiating my own.
I have two main areas that I want to focus on: community cohesion and social justice. I would like to support the UN declared Decade for People of African Descent through a programme of exciting events in 2018 which I hope will be designed for everyone to take part in, enjoy and learn from. As a born Bristolian I am passionate about making a difference on the ground and as such my other focus will be outreach into South Bristol, an area of Bristol that is too often left behind.
I have ambitious aims for the year but as the role now comes with limited funds for projects I am also appealing to businesses and institutions to sponsor the various programmes. Hopefully, that might also include a greener electric vehicle to replace the current car which is approaching the end of its lease. During my time as a Green councillor, I’ve been involved in local campaigns that show we can, and we must, do things differently. I campaigned to change the name of Colston Hall, sought justice after the police tasering of race relations officer Ras Judah Adunbi, challenged the possible deportation of homeless migrants by the Council in our ‘City of Sanctuary’ and spoke at the anti-austerity rally last September. Cohesion and social justice have been at the heart of all I do, and will remain at the heart of my year as Bristol's First Citizen.
In Bristol, the Lord Mayor is a ceremonial, non-political role with no direct power, and is by agreement rotated between the party groups each year. Councillor Lake will be voted in at the Full Council AGM in May. The Lord Mayor has a busy calendar and their responsibilities typically include opening events, attending memorials and receptions, chairing Bristol Council’s Full Council meetings and fundraising work.
Green Mayors in other cities have included Lancaster, York, Oxford, and Brighton, and this year Sheffield will also get a Green Lord Mayor as Councillor Magid Magid takes up the role. While the position is non-political in the sense that the Lord Mayor is prohibited from advancing a party agenda, Green Lord Mayors often find ways to make the role their own, for example by cycling to official events where possible. In Brighton, the previous Green Mayor expanded the number of Mayor’s charities from 3 to 27 and broke fundraising records.