Green councillors in Bristol have criticised what they called a “business as usual” approach as Labour and Conservative councillors voted down a Green amendment to tackle Bristol’s transport issues and reduce carbon emissions.
The Green budget amendment called for allocating over £12 million on local transport infrastructure, almost £10 million spending on insulating and adding solar power to Council homes, and introducing a congestion charge on out of town drivers to reduce traffic jams and fund further transport improvements.
Introducing the amendment, Green councillor Carla Denyer said it was “full of common-sense, tried and tested solutions borrowed from other cities, designed to accelerate our response to the Climate Emergency, with measures that benefit the most deprived in our community”.
However the amendment was voted down by councillors from other parties, although the meeting approved the smaller ‘revenue’ part of the Green amendment which allocated funding to train council employees in installing Green technologies. Opponents of the amendment claimed the Greens’ plan for congestion charging could be illegal, however legal advice from Council officers in February 2019 did not support this and Cardiff Council is moving forward with a similar plan. The amendment was fully costed and approved by Council Finance officers.
Greens said they were pleased that the revenue element of their amendment had been supported but that by voting down the ‘capital’ measures in the amendment Labour and Tory councillors had chosen ‘business as usual’ over engaging with the city’s problems.
"Labour have once again chosen business as usual over the major reforms Bristol needs"
Leader of the Green Group, Councillor Eleanor Combley said:
“After a motion from Greens in 2018, Bristol was the first city in Europe to declare a climate emergency. But since then we've seen little action from the Labour administration other than organising committees and reports. And despite claiming to recognise the emergency the Mayor has supported airport expansion and opposed moves to divest council pensions from fossil fuels. We’ve also seen inaction on major local issues – air pollution and traffic congestion have got worse and worse for Bristolians, and over its four year term this administration has completely failed to deal with them.
“Our amendment was based on acting on the climate emergency and tackling the interlinked crises of air pollution and transport. We found millions of pounds of investment for local transport improvements and to lower household carbon emissions and energy bills – tackling climate change and putting money back in people’s pockets. With a congestion charge to reduce traffic and fund cheaper and better buses we proposed a concrete solution to the city’s gridlocked roads.
“In voting with Tories to reject the bulk of our amendment, Labour have once again chosen business as usual over the major reforms Bristol needs. As they have for the last four years in this chamber they chose to attack Greens and pat themselves on the back rather than engaging with what the city actually needs. In May it will be down to voters to make this choice - between 4 more years of talking or a bold programme to tackle our city’s priorities.”