A motion moved by Green Councillor Cleo Lake calling on Bristol Council to lobby the government over historic slavery reparations and support black cultural centres in the city has been dropped from a council meeting after the Labour Group voted with Lib Dem and Conservative councillors against allowing enough time for the motion to be heard – despite over 130 public statements and questions submitted in support.
The decision came after a lengthy debate on the ‘golden motion’ moved by Conservative councillors about Jubilee Pool. Greens had submitted the same motion at a previous council meeting in July where it was also not heard due to lack of time. The motion called on the Mayor to lobby the government to set up an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth & Reparatory Justice which would discuss reparations for the trafficking and enslavement in African people.
Speaking about the decision, Councillor Lake said:
“The other councillor groups may not see this as an important issue but for many residents in their city it is. There were over 130 statements and questions in support of the motion – for many people today was the first time they had ever attended or submitted a question or statement to a Council meeting. They will be disappointed that it has been blocked from being discussed today.”
Councillor Lake added that she was especially disappointed as she had tried to work with Labour on the motion well in advance of the meeting. She said:
“I reached out to Labour well ahead of tonight’s meeting because I hoped they might accept our motion – I know some Labour politicians genuinely support this cause, and Islington and Lambeth councils have recently passed joint Green-Labour motions on this issue. And I was led to believe Labour would work with us on it. However instead of doing that, they then waited until the very last moment to submit a hostile amendment – which took the ‘reparations’ out of my reparations motion – and then worked with other parties to prevent the motion from being heard at the meeting.”
Cleo promised activists and residents that the Greens would not abandon the campaign, and would use other means to push the issue up the council agenda.
“I can promise everyone that lobbied the council over this issue that we will keep pushing it up the council agenda – and ongoing support will be needed.”
Labour’s proposed amendment to the Green motion, which was never debated, removed references to reparations from the motion’s text and deleted the names of black cultural institutions for which the motion had called for additional support from the council or through brokering relationships.