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.
I hope this edition of the newsletter finds you well and wrapped-up and warm. It is at this time of year that my thoughts truly go out to those less fortunate than us who cannot afford the heating bills or who are homeless. These are tough times we find ourselves in and there are a great number of us who will bear the brunt a lot more harshly than others.
We need affordable housing built to a high level of energy efficiency and existing housing stock retrofitted to the same standards - so that everyone in the city can afford to live in a comfortable and decent environment and not just those who are better off. This is something I will be lobbying the Mayor once elected – but more of that later.
Our Streets :
As the clocks have gone back it is dark very early and it is essential that you are seen and can see at all times. This is true for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. It is best to think safety first. Dark clothes and no lights on a bike can be fatal and now it gets colder a clear field of vision is often compromised with hats, hoods and steamy/icy windows. Take care out there.
Blue Badge Amnesty
I was contacted by many Blue-badge holders concerning the mix-up and delayed process of renewal this year. For those dependent on these badges as passages of freedom this was proving extremely distressing and potentially disastrous, essentially making users of this scheme homebound and cut off from their communities. After a lot of cajoling and going public with this scandal, I managed to secure an amnesty on parking tickets that any blue badge holders might acquire whilst waiting for their new badge to arrive.
The process has begun to look at the viability of closing Sevier Street, Picton Lane and Magdelene Place to through traffic. These are neighbourhood roads and should never have been able to evolve into the busy rush-hour short cuts that they have. This is a lengthy process and will require a lot of traffic studies and public consultation. All these roads will of course remain open for resident access, but will be blocked to ensure they cannot be used as cut-throughs. The effects of nearby roads and streets are always considered in great detail and no rash plans will be forced through.
There is a long-established campaign to get a safe crossing on Ashley Hill near the railway bridge. This is still going through the lengthy council-process and there is a new campaign to cut speeding in the interim. Please do contact me and I shall put you in contact with the chief organisers. The next step is to get police training with a speed gun so we can collect real data of car speeds and demonstrate to drivers that we are watching their speed.
The Sustainable Transport grants have been decided upon but the results are remaining Top-Secret until after the Mayoral Election. I am imagining that we will fare well here in Ashley due to the high quality of the applications we made. Fingers are crossed!
Clean Streets :
The eternal struggle with May Gurney – the company that took over the collection of our recycling and rubbish and who are responsible for street cleansing – continues. The communal bins around St Pauls continue to be an eye- and nose-sore for the residents. They will be facing some performance fines and we are giving them a serious grilling in the local Neighbourhood Partnership meetings. I sincerely hope we can get this sorted as it is really troubling many local residents.
Likewise casual fly tipping continues. This is particularly bad in Lower Montpelier. Bags of rubbish are left outside – unprotected by a bin – sometimes for days. These bags always break or are ripped open by our city wildlife and the contents spread all over the adjoining roads and pavements. Please ensure that you place your rubbish correctly in a bin. It is an easy task and saves hours of clean up for May Gurney and will keep our streets looking clean and liveable.
If you know of any repeat offenders to fly tipping you can report the location to the rubbish-hotline – where you can report all you recycling and rubbish concerns and problems.
0117 922 2100
Please DO report uncollected rubbish, fly tipping, general litter or anything else you see. If it remains un-reported they cannot clean it up and we are left to live in a dirty environment. The number is in my speed-dial and why not add it to your phone too?!
Our parks were long neglected over the rainy summer period and this trend continued long into the autumn. Dalrymple park and St Werburghs became the worst kept and this caused a great deal of concern within the community. Finally, through combined pressure from myself, the Parks Forum, St Pauls Unlimited and the Neighbourhood Partnership this has finally been rectified and both have returned to their former condition.
Albany Park has secured additional funding and council officer support and as soon as the mayoral elections are over with Jon and I will sit down and plan just how this money is spent. I have received many suggestions and local input, but if you would like to add anything or let me know your priorities for the area, please do contact me and let me know.
Concerning the upkeep on non-park green spaces, local residents raised concerns about Rosa Parks Lane. The bushes and grass had not been maintained for a long period and hard-drug users were using it as a spot to both use drugs and discard of their needles. Clearly this is unacceptable in a public place but due to the fact it backs onto a school this complaint was taken very seriously. The Safer Bristol team rectified this right away and a clean-up team was also dispatched. If you know of a similar spot where the undergrowth has got out of hand and provides a possible threat, don’t hesitate to report it.
Bristol Mayor :
Well, you may well have noticed that there is a little thing coming up next week… On Thursday the 15th November Bristolians will have the right to vote for one of the 15 people who have put themselves up for election as Bristol’s first elected mayor.
I was opposed to the creation of this role as it could lead to dangerous levels of centralisation of power and a return to the dark cigar smoke-filled rooms of old where decisions were taken in private… However 51% of 21% of people registered to vote agreed in May to have a Bristol Mayor and so this is where we find ourselves.
There have been daily hustings (public interviews) for the last few weeks but the most inclusive and informative one so far can be found on the BBC Bristol website and iPlayer (follow the link – iPlayer is locked out on my work computer) www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-20233713
A Green Mayor
Obviously I will be voting for Daniella Radice (Green) for this position. She published a detailed manifesto long before any of the candidates even started to think about it as we Greens have been thinking how we would run this city differently for some time now. You can read her exciting policies from the Living Wage to combating the culture of violence to women in her comprehensive manifesto on her official site here: http://daniellaformayor.wordpress.com/
One key commitment she has made from the beginning is that she intends to bring real decision making to communities. Local Neighbourhood Partnerships would evolve into Neighbourhood Councils (such as are in Birmingham) with increased spending and decision-making responsibilities. She is also committed to cross-party politics of inclusion and consensus rather than confrontation and competition.
But we will not just have a single vote. This time the election is under a “Supplementary Voting” system. You will in effect get two votes – a first and a second choice. If your first vote is not for one of the top two candidates then your second vote will be counted (but only if it is for one of the top two).
This sounds very confusing and it is in no way perfect or a decent and fair form of PR – but it is what we have been given.
Essentially this gives you the freedom to vote as you really want to with your first preference and then vote tactically (as we often tend to in national elections) with your second vote.
Giving a minority candidate your second preference won’t even be counted and documented if they do not pass the first round and come in the top two.
A full list of candidates should have been delivered to your home, but they can also be found in your local library or can be downloaded here. www.bristol.gov.uk/page/council-and-democracy/bristol-elected-mayor
Whoever you do vote for on November the 15th, please do go out and vote – it would be a real shame if the power to run the city was decided by as small a number as those who voted in the referendum.
Please also read about the elected Police Commissioner position here www.bristol.gov.uk/page/council-and-democracy/avon-and-somerset-police-and-crime-commissioner-election
This position wasn’t even open to a referendum but was imposed on us from central government. The Greens and I are fundamentally opposed to a politicised police force and are not standing locally. Please do take the time out to read about the candidates and make the best decision you feel – even if it is to spoil your ballot paper in protest.
More Information :
I blogged recently about the need for greater powers of scrutiny for Councillors to hold the Mayor to account, you can read this and other blogs on Bristol 247’s site: www.bristol247.com/comment/gus-hoyt/
You can also track some of the work I do in the local paper the Post you can search under my name Gus Hoyt www.thisisbristol.co.uk/search/search.html?searchPhrase=Gus+Hoyt
Though these stories are ranked by viewing figures not date.
My email address is email@example.com or you can write to me here at the Council House. You can also follow me on facebook and on twitter @MrGreenGus – though be warned, I tweet in a personal capacity and quite a lot.
Thank you for your time and I hope this has given you a small glimpse into some of the work that has been going on locally and some explanation as to how the voting system for Mayor and Police Commissioner works.
All the best and I hope you stay warm and well,
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