Green councillors have submitted a budget amendment to next week’s Budget Full Council to boost the Council’s work to tackle the climate emergency. The amendment allocates almost £10m for the housing department to dramatically scale up ‘retrofitting’ improvements and renewable energy schemes on council houses. It also proposes training council staff and apprentices to install low carbon and green technologies like heat pumps. To tackle the city’s gridlocked traffic system as well as the climate crisis, the amendment earmarks over 12 million pounds for transport improvement works in the city, focusing on local walking and cycling improvements.
In order to help fund transport improvements Greens propose a congestion charge on out-of-town drivers which could raise over £6m per year, and starting work on plans for a charge on companies that provide private workplace parking (a workplace parking levy). Cardiff council is planning a similar congestion charge to boost its transport plans and in Nottingham a workplace parking levy has raised over £44 million in 5 years, used to fund the city’s tram network.
As well as raising funding for transport improvements such as making buses faster and cheaper or pedestrianising parts of the city, these changes would reduce the number of private cars in the city centre, thereby improving air quality, reducing carbon emissions, reducing bus journey delays and making it easier for people to walk and cycle.
"After years of talk with no action from politicians, Bristol is crying out for practical answers to the city’s problems."
Leader of the Green Group, councillor Eleanor Combley said:
“After four long years, in the Labour administration’s final budget, the sense of urgency to tackle Climate Change is still lacking. And where are the big ideas to unstick our transport system and get our city moving again? After years of talk with no action from politicians, Bristol is crying out for practical answers to the city’s problems.
“In our amendment to the budget we have proposed simple and necessary work to reduce our climate impact and tackle long-standing problems for Bristol. Adding solar panels and battery storage to council houses and improving their heat efficiency will lower people’s energy bills and carbon emissions, and generate green energy for Bristol, while creating much needed employment. We’ve found funding to train up council workers with the skills the city’s going to need to install green technology like heat pumps. To address years of stagnation in Bristol’s transport, we’re allocating money to make walking and cycling improvements actually happen rather than leaving it to the lottery of grant applications.
“Finally, we’re proposing action to deal with our city’s interlinked problems of air pollution and traffic chaos. Ultimately you cannot tackle either of these without addressing the root cause: there are just too many private vehicles in the centre of town. Our amendment would fund better buses, raising millions of pounds to improve public transport – through introducing a congestion charge for those driving into Bristol from out of town. This addresses the gridlocked traffic system that costs buses more and stops them running on time.
“If accepted at the budget meeting our amendment would help get Bristol moving again and take urgent action to address the climate crisis. As opposition councillors we do what we can for Bristol, but at the end of the day we need leadership in this city that deep down understands these issues and treats them as priorities rather than window dressing.”
Cycling and walking improvements
These measures would set money aside for cycling and walking infrastructure each year to ensure it is delivered, as opposed to the current approach which bids for small pots of government funding as and when it is available.
Bristol’s current piecemeal approach to cycling and walking infrastructure is in part due to its reliance on small one-off pots of grant funding, released occasionally by central government. While the Council’s transport plans in theory prioritise cycling and walking, in practice money is frequently set aside for roads and not for the other infrastructure. The Green amendment would deal with this and guarantee delivery by setting £8.75m aside over five years for cycling and walking infrastructure projects identified in the Council’s recent Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.
On top of this in year 5 (2024/25) the Greens expect revenue from the congestion charge to be available and from this would allocate an extra £4 million for local transport improvements. This could include new bike lanes, low-traffic neighbourhood schemes, pedestrian-only areas, making changes to roads to speed up bus journey times or subsidising bus routes and reducing ticket costs.
Retrofitting Council houses with insulation, solar panels and battery storage, plus upskilling council staff
These measures would help tackle the climate emergency by insulating much more council housing to good standards, piloting solar panels and battery storage to council buildings, and training council staff and hiring apprentices to install renewable energy and low carbon technologies such as heat pumps.
The Green amendment would allocate £9.9m to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) to scale up retrofitting work and piloting renewable energy projects with Bristol’s council housing stock. Just over a quarter (around 27%) of council homes have an energy efficiency rating of D or below, which means higher carbon emissions and energy bills for residents. The Green amendment would prioritise these first, before moving onto the thousands more with a rating of C. Retrofitting work would improve insulation, but also look at preventing overheating which will become more of an issue in the coming years. The amendment would also scale up a planned trial of solar panels and battery storage on council housing. This would reduce people’s energy bills as well as generate green energy for the city with surplus electricity.
At the same time, the amendment provides funding to train council staff on changing low carbon and renewable energy technologies, so the Council can complete installation and maintenance in-house, and hire up to twelve apprentices in those areas, helping to develop a workforce in Bristol which is able to fill the skilled Green jobs of the future.
Congestion charge and Workplace parking levy
These measures would reduce private car use in the city centre and raise money to fund improvements to public transport or for cycling and walking infrastructure.
A congestion charge would apply only to commuters from outside Bristol. A similar charge is being introduced by Cardiff Council to support a package of transport changes including cheaper bus fares. Last year finance officers approved Green calculations that this could generate over £6 million in revenue each year. In order to reduce the cost this scheme could use the same number-plate recognition cameras the council is already buying for its clean air plans.
Greens also propose funding a feasibility study to build on previous work and take the next steps towards a workplace parking levy. This would introduce a charge on employers in Bristol who provide private workplace parking. (Frequently this is provided as a perk to some of their highest paid employees.) Nottingham used the revenue generated by their scheme to double the size of their tram network and fund other transport work, generating over £44 million between the scheme launch in 2012 and 2017.
A defunct plan for a bygone era” - regional authority approves road-building plans
Last Friday (20 March) the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) approved a transport plan that will fund new road building projects across the region but commits no funding for public transport or walking and cycling schemes.
Greens: 'lift the ban' on asylum seekers working
Green Councillors call for end to illogical ban on asylum seekers supporting themselves
Council heading in wrong direction on climate emergency
Over a year after Bristol Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency, Green Councillors say the Labour administration are making a series of bad decisions that will only make the emergency worse.
Mayor's inaction on air pollution - plans delayed again
Letter on the Mayor's inaction on air pollution from Green Group leader Eleanor Combley
Labour cabinet pass 'potentially illegal' transport plan
Last night Bristol’s Labour cabinet passed a regional transport plan that Greens warned is incompatible with the climate emergency and may be illegal under the UK’s climate commitments.
Greens criticise lack of action as climate and transport proposal is blocked
Green councillors have criticised what they called a “business as usual” approach as Labour and Tory councillors voted down a Green amendment to tackle Bristol’s transport issues and reduce carbon emissions.
Green Party welcomes Greta Thunberg to Bristol
Greta Thunberg has announced she will be visiting Bristol on Friday 28 February to join a Youth Strike 4 Climate demo.
Green budget amendment tackles transport and climate crisis
Green Councillors have submitted an amendment to next week’s Council budget meeting to deal with Bristol's gridlocked transport system and boost the Council’s work to tackle the climate emergency.
Region’s Transport Plan must be changed in light of Climate Emergency
Green Mayoral candidate, Climate Emergency leader, and UWE transport expert call on the Metro Mayor and Council leaders not to approve the Joint Local Transport Plan in its current form next month, stating that proposed new roads will worsen the climate crisis and congestion.
Bristol Airport expansion plans rejected
Press Release from Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN), one of the key campaigning organisations .
Chocolate Path 'melts' into river after council fails to act
Green Councillors have accused Bristol's Labour administration of “enormous incompetence” for failing to carry out important works to repair Bristol’s ‘chocolate path’ long after funding was approved in September 2018, leading to its recent collapse and the closure of Cumberland road.
Why we need to tackle the ecological emergency too
Carla Denyer writes for 24/7 about why we need to address the Ecological Emergency as well as the Climate Emergency
Greens to join march against Bristol Airport Expansion
Bristol Green Councillors will be joining a march taking place 31 January in the city against the expansion of Bristol airport, as the planning decision in North Somerset draws nearer, with the date now set for 10 Feb.
Council passes Green motion to ‘reboot democracy’ with Citizens' Assemblies
At Full Council today (14 January) a Green Party motion passed to ‘reboot democracy’, committing Bristol to trialling participatory democracy schemes such as citizens’ assemblies.
Mayor continues to support airport expansion
Despite growing pressure from climate activists, local councils and Greens, Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees continues to back the expansion of Bristol Airport, a development Greens say is incompatible with Bristol's own carbon neutrality targets.
'Reboot democracy' with Citizens' Assemblies
Green Councillors in Bristol have proposed putting decision making on some major issues in the hands of ordinary Bristolians through ‘Citizens’ Assemblies’ and other forms of participatory democracy.
Bristol Labour block opportunity to oppose airport expansion
Labour and Tory councillors voted against providing time to debate the Green motion in what could be the last chance for the council to make a statement before the planning decision at North Somerset Council.
Rescuing Our Healthcare - with £6 billion per year
We will push the government to prioritise the health and happiness of those in Bristol and across the UK.
Green Party Manifesto - to tackle Climate Emergency and deliver Social Justice.
A Green New Deal to tackle the Climate Emergency and deliver Social Justice.
One year on from declaring a Climate Emergency – is Bristol on track?
One year after declaring a Climate Emergency in Bristol, Greens say new information from environmental group shows the city needs to radically step up action to meet climate targets.
Green candidate Carla Denyer will be only ‘Unite to Remain’ candidate in Bristol West
Greens bid to win Bristol West – launch crowdfunder
Candidate Carla Denyer has launched a crowdfunder campaign aiming to raise enough funds to take the seat from Labour. Greens in strong position to win after Euro results place them ahead of Lib Dems, and Labour suffered devastating electoral defeat.
‘Tinkering around the edges is no longer good enough’ say Greens
Green Mayoral Candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven responds to the Mayor’s State of the City address saying Bristol needs action not words. Greens say bold, immediate moves are needed to combat the social and environmental crises.
Report on former Chief Exec payoff
Green Councillor Clive Stevens has completed a report into why the Council made a £98,000 payoff to former chief executive Anna Klonowski
Greens send letter to the city to encourage all to hear Extinction Rebellion warning
Green MP and Mayoral candidates Carla Denyer and Sandy Hore-Ruthven have issued a letter to the people of Bristol today, calling on the city to face up to the climate crisis.
Better buses starts with tackling congestion, say Greens
At a Cabinet meeting today (1 October), Greens called for bolder action to improve public transport in Bristol.
Mayor misses third government deadline on Clean Air plan
Today Bristol City Council has missed the third deadline set by national government to submit a plan to clean up Bristol’s air. Green Mayoral candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven has called for immediate action.
Nearly 1 year after Climate Emergency declared, progress is too slow, say Greens
The Green Councillor who launched Bristol’s ‘Climate Emergency’ motion in November 2018 has called on councillors from all parties to join her in pressing the administration for urgent action.
Green Party sets sights on second Westminster seat – Bristol West
Bristol West MP candidate Carla Denyer launched her campaign at the Bristol climate strike. Her climate emergency declaration was the first in Europe – driving action on climate change across the continent. Greens aim to elect a second MP to join Caroline Lucas in Westminster after European Elections win.
Green Party chooses Climate Emergency campaigner Carla Denyer to win Bristol West parliamentary seat
Former wind turbine engineer and current city councillor, Carla Denyer, has been picked to contest the winnable seat of Bristol West for the Green Party at the coming General Election.