At a Bristol Full Council meeting today, Green councillors criticised the Labour group for wasting Councillors time pushing a self-congratulatory motion, and tabled an amendment to the motion which would have committed all councillors to protect valuable Council services in forthcoming budget – however the Labour group joined the Conservatives in voting this amendment down.
Council meetings take place just 10 times per year and are valuable opportunities for local politicians to debate and influence local policy, partly through putting motions to the meeting. For example previous motions brought by the Green group have committed Bristol to a 2030 target for carbon neutrality, forced a vote on the Temple Meads Arena, and launched council work towards implementing Clean Air Zone. Last year Labour amended the rules so that the number of motions they are allowed to propose for debate doubled, while the opportunities for every other party halved.
During the debate the Labour motion was criticised by councillors from all opposition parties who characterised it as “pointless” and argued it contained little of substance other than praising the administration.
Speaking on the motion, Green Councillor Charlie Bolton said:
“The motion tells us how Labour brought forward a progressive budget last year. This was the one with £30million plus of cuts.
“Next time I see someone sleeping rough, I can say to them, ‘don’t worry, you may be homeless, but Bristol Labour passed a progressive budget’. People of Bristol – this is not a pot hole. It’s a progressive Labour Party pot hole. Public toilets closed? Fear not – Labour Bristol are taking the progressive pee.
“I could go on, but frankly, why bother. We could all turn Bristol into a version of Trumpsville. We could spend the next 16 months coming up with this sort of drivel – back and forth, back and forth. Alternatively, we could actually take a step back. I know Labour can be better than this – can’t we collectively agree to actually try to raise the level of debate slightly higher than this nonsense?”
Green councillors tabled an amendment to the motion which removed preamble text celebrating the Mayor and would have committed the administration to “protecting support for the most vulnerable through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and Local Crisis and Prevention Fund, and standing up for local services” – however this was voted down by Labour and Conservative councillors.
Group leader Eleanor Combley said: “Why are Labour wasting the Council’s time with self-congratulatory cheerleading when, as we saw from the petitions at this meeting on dangerous pesticides, saving Hamilton House and the future of the Bear Pit, there are so many issues that Bristolians would rather see a vote and decision on.
“Opportunities for parties to debate motions at council meetings like this are few and far between and it’s a shame that Labour sought to use theirs to pat themselves on the back rather than addressing any of the issues facing Bristol today. In fact the whole meeting, including Member Forum questions, was dominated by tribal and partisan politics from a Labour administration repeatedly attacking the Greens, including for not voting for Labour’s austerity budget last year, which contained £5m in cuts to Special Education Needs support later ruled as illegal by the High Court.
“Labour know full well we are opposed to austerity. They like to talk about working together but then behave like this. This is not leadership. You can’t bully people into wanting to support and work with you by constant sniping, point scoring and stretching the truth to breaking point.”
– Full text of Green amendment with tracked changes is attached here.