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Thursday, 5th Mar 2015 by Charlie Bolton

Letter to the editor: Library Closures

Dear Sir,

I can only view with astonishment your story in which Conservative deputy mayor Geoff Gollop and Liberal Democrat assistant mayor Simon Cook 'raise concerns' about the possible closure of libraries. 

Well, Simon and Geoff, none of us wants to shut down libraries. But I do have to remind you that you are part of the coalition government that has devastated local government funding over the last 5 years.  Your LibDem-Tory coalition government has cut the council budget by tens of millions of pounds. Bristol is in the second year of an £83 million budget cut, amounting to some 30% of the budget.

I would further remind you that, if in power after the general election, the Tories will cut a further £25 billion from pubic expenditure and the LibDems will cut £16 billion. Goodness only knows what will be left of local government in Bristol if you get your way.

So I have to ask you, given the scale of cuts which have been imposed by your coalition government, what on earth did you expect to happen? Are you seriously pretending that somehow these cuts are not happening? Do you seriously think local government can just get away with it?

I note local Liberal Democrats, in particular, are campaigning against some of these closures. In view of your complicity in the cuts, this is an act of hypocrisy of the worst sort that reflects badly on you and your parties. 

Yours

Councillor Charlie Bolton
Bristol Green Party

Monday, 26th Jan 2015 by Charlie Bolton

Letter to the editor - Green Capital

2015 has arrived and Bristol is now the European Green Capital. We have just seen the launch event at the Create Centre.

As leader of the Green group of councillors, I welcome European Green Capital Year and look forward to the city taking the opportunities it presents.

Politicians of different groups have taken forward the European Green Capital project over a period of years. They have also endeavoured to make Bristol a 'greener' and more environmentally sustainable city. Far more importantly, many residents, businesses, community groups and charities have worked for many years to achieve the same aims. Many of these will be involved in the year itself, and we earnestly hope that resources can be found to involve others.

Greens understand that the award of 'European Green capital' is in part appreciation of the good work that has gone on before, but more importantly, a statement of intent. We recognise that much more needs to be done.

'European Green Capital 2015' is therefore a step on the 'cycle path' to creating a truly sustainable city which benefits all residents. I, and I am sure my fellow Green councillors  are committed to the year itself, and its role in creating a long term benefit for Bristol, and we will work to help ensure that the city council and our party contributes to making the most of this opportunity for Bristol.


Councillor Charlie Bolton
Leader
Green Group
Bristol City Councillor

Monday, 19th Jan 2015 by Graham Woodruff

Letter to the editor: Labour's role in austerity

Dear Bristol Post

We have the upmost respect for Roger Berry, former Labour MP for Kingswood. He stands for the old vision of Labour values and is a good man, but even he must admit that Labour has left its so-called anti-cuts credentials at the door.

In Parliament on Tuesday 13th January, all but a handful of Labour MPs decided to vote with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government on another £30bn of austerity and spending cuts in the next parliament. The Labour Party has failed to oppose austerity in any way since 2010, even though the government agenda is economically illiterate.

The cuts so far have been deep and hard on the most vulnerable and vital in Bristol's communities – disabled people, low income households and community facilities. Actions speak louder than words, and Labour's actions demonstrate their commitment to the irrational Conservative dogma of cutting essential public services rather than investing in our nation's future. Austerity is a false economy!

So whatever any Labour candidate now says they stand for, in government their party will deliver more cuts. There is now a different coalition of anti-austerity parties forming - the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, as well as many other smaller parties - who will, alongside the trade unions and other civic pressure groups, continue to oppose the destruction of vital public services that we all hold dear.

Charlie Bolton
Martin Fodor
Rob Telford
Daniella Radice
Gus Hoyt
Tim Malnick
Green Party group of councillors, Bristol City Council

Friday, 28th Mar 2014 by Charlie Bolton

Letter to the editor: 'Like it or not, we need supermarkets' Reply

Dear Sir

I see your anonymous letter writer claims we need supermarkets ( 'Like it or not, we need supermarkets', letters, 16/3/14). This is of course nonsense. What we actually need is food.

What we don't need is a food system which results in massive numbers of car journeys, and therefore pollution. What we don't need is an absurdly centralised distribution system - resulting, for example, in raspberries, picked in Scotland, packaged near Bristol, and sold back in Scotland. What we don't need is a food system which - through the dominance of a few - results in areas of this city being turned into food deserts. What we don't need is a food system which sucks money  and jobs out of the local area.

Supermarkets do all of this.

What we do need is a system based on local production for local needs - where everyone has the opportunity to walk or cycle to local shops, which are actually local. What we do need is a system where - as far as possible - the money remains in the local area - through mechanisms such as the Bristol Pound. We need to make use of the high grade local agricultural land (such as the 'Blue FInger') to get food to local people. We do need to preserve the wholesale market.

By doing these things we can create a virtuous circle which helps local people, provides local jobs, keeps people healthy and cuts pollution and congestion. This is a 21st century solution. Supermarkets are part of the problem. Time to move  on.

Yours

Charlie Bolton
Green Party candidate
Southville

Friday, 14th Feb 2014 by Charlie Bolton

Letter to the editor: Cycling in Amsterdam

Dear Sir

I note that Tory councillor Richard Eddy describes cyclists as 'afflicted with a sense of self-righteousness, superiority and entitlement' (the Post letters, 'Cyclists behave badly in Amsterdam as well', 11/2/14). I was surprised, because I thought the Tories had cornered the market in those particular attributes.

He further describes a friend whose visit to Amsterdam was a 'confusing mix of users ( tram lanes, buses, cars and bikes)'. Well, I can only recall my own experience of visiting Amsterdam. The trams were fun, the cycling pleasurable, the infrastructure good to see, the cyclists - there were lots of them. Overall I had a great time.

As far as I'm concerned, having an extensive cycle network in Bristol, combined with policies to maximise levels of cycling is exactly what Bristol needs to do. But more pertinently,  I would point out that we could introduce an entire cycle network for the whole of Bristol for less than the price of the a couple of the proposed bus rapid transit schemes - and to do so would have far greater benefits for the city as a whole.

Yours

Charlie Bolton
Green Party candidate
Southville

Wednesday, 15th Jan 2014 by Charlie Bolton

Letter to the editor: Immigration

Dear Sir

I write while awaiting the hordes of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants we were promised by the Daily Express to come piling into Bedminster. (Funnily enough, I haven't seen any yet). However, while I wait, I am somewhat puzzled at the opposition to their arrival by large sections of the Tory party.

After all, I am old enough to remember Norman Tebbitt  exhorting us all to get on our bikes and seek out jobs. And, frankly, what is an economic migrant other than someone who does exactly that. (Ok, it isn't a bike, but you know what I mean).

Of course, the basic problem is the significant variations in standards of living between different parts of the world. The UK, for all its problems, is far wealthier than parts of Eastern Europe, and both are far wealthier than than parts of sub Saharan Africa (for example). As a Green, I have always thought that the answer was to bring up the standard of living of the poorest, while at the same time getting the richer countries to recognise the possibility that they may need to give up something. In fact, it is a vital part of any attempt to address the huge problems our environment faces. (When applied to Climate change, this is part of a well know theory known as 'Contraction and Convergence', for example).

So while I await the Romanian hordes, perhaps we could move the debate on from the usual petty-Englander 'chuck them out' nationalist claptrap, and start to seek serious solutions.

Yours

Charlie Bolton
Green Party
Candidate for Southville

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