Following their election victory last week, Bristol’s Green councillors have elected a new leader and deputy leader to represent the councillor group. Green councillors more than doubled their numbers at last week’s election, becoming the joint biggest group on Bristol City Council with 24 elected councillors.
Green group leader Paula O’Rourke who pioneered the introduction of citizens’ assemblies in Bristol last year said:
“I am honoured to have been elected leader of the largest Green group in the country. The electorate has put 24 Green councillors on the benches of City Hall because they want the policies that we stand for implemented: bold action to help us reach carbon neutrality by 2030; efficient, warm homes; new Green jobs; cleaner, better transport and preservation of our City’s heritage and open spaces.”
“The people of Bristol will expect their vote to be listened to. They want a Bristol with a strong Green voice and will expect the city’s Mayor to deliver on this by sharing power. We want to work collaboratively, but this must include real power and influence so that together we can make Bristol a better place to live for everyone.”
Councillor O’Rourke’s previous work to reboot democracy in Bristol built cross-party support for Citizens’ Assemblies, which bring together people from across the city to be involved in making the most challenging issues that face the city. The first of these took place earlier this year, and provide a strong mandate for more action on the climate emergency and improvements in public transport.
The group also elected Councillor Heather Mack into the position of deputy leader and re-elected Councillor Fi Hance into the position of whip. Councillor Mack represents Lockleaze, where Greens saw the biggest gains of any party in the city and now boasts two Green councillors.
Green group deputy leader, councillor Heather Mack said:
“We have the most fantastic group of new Green councillors, I worked with all the candidates in the campaigns that lead to the Green success in Bristol and now I’m really excited to help guide this new team in the challenges ahead.”
Green councillors do not force individuals to toe the party line like other parties, but the whip position helps to manage cross-party negotiations. Councillor Fi Hance, who has been a councillor for 12 years and represents Redland ward said:
“This is such an exciting time for Greens in Bristol and with the number of green councillors more than doubling I’ll certainly have my hands full.”
Green Group leader Paula O’Rourke continued, “The new group of councillors are talented and diverse and offer great potential. I’m looking forward to building on the strong leadership of our previous group leader Eleanor Combley, who did not re-stand for election and of course, my fellow Clifton councillor Jerome Thomas who was a very credible candidate in the WECA Mayor election.”