At Bristol Full Council tonight (15 March) a motion from Green Councillors passed calling on WECA and Bristol Council to consider all options for future mass transit. The motion includes exploring the use of trams and buses to move more people around the city, and passed unanimously. This sets a strong mandate for sustainable and effective transport action and ensures expensive and impractical proposals for an underground are not the only options considered by the authorities.
The Green Group also passed an amendment strengthening a Labour motion on Ukraine and the Nationality and Borders Bill. This adds calls on the Government to waive visa requirements for refugees trying to enter the UK from Ukraine and other conflict zones and lift the ban on asylum seekers working or receiving benefits. It also calls on Bristol Council to review it’s policies and practices to “ensure we are helping asylum seekers and refugees to the maximum of our legal ability” as well as asking One City partners to take measures to support asylum seekers and refugees in Bristol.
Bishopston & Ashley Down Councillor Emma Edwards proposed the Green transport motion. She said:
“I am delighted that today’s motion passed. This sends a strong message to WECA and Bristol Council not to put all our eggs in one basket – we will be able to look at all the options for a future transport system, including ones that can be implemented faster than an underground. I’m glad council has recognised the need to act with climate change in mind, and that we can now get on with the task of delivering the best transport for Bristol.”
Labour speakers in the debate suggested underground sections in parts of Bristol were necessary because parts of the city like Gloucester Road did not have space for ‘above ground’ transit. Speaking after the meeting, Green Councillor Ed Plowden, who seconded the motion, said:
“All cities have so-called pinch points such as Gloucester Rd. These do require difficult decisions from transport planners, and how we tackle those decisions says a lot about our real priorities. But there is space on Gloucester road, and everywhere else in our city, to support active travel and efficient public transport if we choose to. We cannot afford to waste years, and billions of pounds, digging underground tunnels simply to avoid facing up to tough choices.”
Clifton Down Councillor and Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer proposed the Green amendment to Labour’s Silver motion, seconded by Lawrence Hill Councillor Yassin Mohamud. The amendment was welcomed by Bristol’s Labour and Lib Dem groups and both the amendment and amended motion passed with their support, while the Conservative group voted against.
Councillor Mohamud said:
“My country was wrecked by war, and I came to the UK as a result of that. My Green colleague Mohamed Makawi came here the same way, and there are other councillors at tonight’s meeting who took the same route. We were keen for this motion to reflect our experience as well as those of refugees from Afghanistan, sub Saharan Africa, in fact anywhere. So I am really glad that this amendment and the motion have passed tonight. We have sent a strong message that Bristol is a City of Sanctuary, and we support all refugees wherever they are from.”