On Thursday 5 May, Bristol voted to scrap the elected Mayor position and run the Council by a more democratic committee system, after Greens and other opposition parties passed a motion at December Full Council to call a referendum.
Green Group Leader Heather Mack said:
“The outcome of tonight’s vote marks a new chapter in the way our city is run. For many years now, important decisions affecting the whole of our city have been made behind closed doors by a central autocratic figure whom the public and elected councillors cannot easily challenge.
“In the future, we look forward to a fairer, more open way of doing business where decisions are made collaboratively, at open meetings the public can attend and scrutinise. I believe empowering councillors will allow the Council to take more action to sort out the city’s transport, care crisis and climate emergency, with all councillors able to contribute to and scrutinise crucial decisions. Soon Bristol will be run by councillors from all parts of the city – from Filwood to Lawrence Hill, Hengrove to Stoke Bishop – people from all walks of life and backgrounds, working together.
“I’m not going to pretend it will be perfect – and we won’t always agree on everything – but that’s fine. Debate and discussion don’t undermine democracy, they are the essence of it. And decisions made democratically are usually stronger and better decisions than those imposed by one person. Democracy can be hard work, but it’s worth it to create lasting change the whole council is signed up to.”
Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party and Councillor for Clifton Down said:
“I’m delighted Bristol has voted for change. Over the next few years, I hope we will now see a more cooperative way of doing politics in our city as a result, so we can get on with tackling the cost of living, social care and housing crises, and take action on the climate emergency.”
“This adds to a brilliant set of local election results across the UK for the Greens. We’ve been winning yet more seats from Cumberland to Coventry, from Plymouth to Peterborough. People across England and Wales see the Greens doing politics differently, and the result of Bristol’s referendum reflects that.”
Now Bristolians have voted for a committee system, the Council is required to implement it and there will no longer be a Mayor after the next election in 2024. The Council will need to develop a process to design the Committee system and set out the specifics of how it will work.
Councillor Mack said:
“Inside the Council we will now spend time bringing everyone around the table and working out the details – while Bristol has chosen the committee system tonight, it won’t take effect until 2024 and the process for designing it is only just about to start. I think both expert advice and public input will be an important part of that over the coming months.”
Councillor Guy Poultney, who was a Councillor in Bristol before the Mayoral system, said:
“Bristol has got its democracy back. Our city has rejected the failed experiment of a mayoral system and opted for a fairer, more open way of doing business.
“Away from the headlines, Councillors from all parties in Bristol already work together and have been doing so for years – on statutory committees, on scrutiny, and on council motions. I know that ultimately there is more that unites us than divides us and the majority of councillors just want to get things done for their residents.”
“In the meantime Bristol needs us to get on with the task at hand and tackle the city’s priorities – the cost of living crisis, cleaning up our dirty air, out of control rents and taking action on climate change. Greens will continue to work constructively with the current Mayor for the next two years as he serves out the rest of his term. As always we will support the administration when they do the right thing, but won’t hesitate to challenge failure and look for better ways of doing things.”