The Green Party in Bristol has made the following submission on the parks consultation.
You can participate here (but please note the deadline is 29th January):
Benefits of urban parks
Bristol’s parks and green spaces play a key role in any city, but particularly within Bristol. They act as a place to play, a place to rest, and a place to meet. They allow those on low incomes access to green space which otherwise they may not get. They cool the city when it is hot, they absorb water when there is heavy rain. They help mitigate and adapt to climate change. They help combat air pollution. They help increase biodiversity. They can have a role in allowing people in the city to get away from the noise and stress of the city which is vital for health and wellbeing. We regard it as a vital part of what makes Bristol special that we maintain a range of high quality green space in all parts of the city.
Additional Benefits of allotments We also believe that our network of allotments plays an important role in allowing people to grow their own food at a location close to their home (which is therefore highly sustainable), be it done individually or communally.
Keep them free! The concept that our parks should be free to use must be enshrined as a fundamental and inviolable principle. We believe that charges for allotments should be kept to a minimum, and rises in charges should be kept to levels of inflation.
Making money from park cafes and concessions We support measures to raise income from parks cafes by improving the offer. We do not believe this should mean significant price rises, but more an extension of the range of items offered. We also support the proportionate increase in numbers of concessions, but there must be a ‘healthy food’ strategy as part of this, in line with council policies.
We note the list of parks which currently have cafes. We assume there will be an analysis of the possibility of putting in cafes to other parks eg Greville Smyth.
In terms of who runs the cafes, we believe that there needs to be a strategy to encourage in house or local, independent concessions eg by letting individual sites not a chain of sites and monitoring social value around local supply chains. We DO NOT believe local concessions should be replaced by an in-house offer, without a very good justification for doing so – the council should be aiming to support local small business, rather than penalise it.
We support the introduction of parking charges in parks, with the proviso that those with mobility issues eg blue badge holders are exempt.
Advertising in parks
We oppose the introduction of advertising in parks. We believe that part of the role of a public park is to get away from the hurly-burly of city living and endless consumption, and this will negate this important benefit.
Advertising on roundabouts
We would discourage introducing billboard advertisements on new sites across the city - they encourage the draining of wealth and spending from the local economy to global corporations and the escalation of consumption that impoverishes communities.
Introduce fees for business operating from a park or green space eg dog walkers, fitness trainers and for balloons
We can envisage considerable difficulties in enforcing this, and, given the relatively small amounts of money expected to be raised wonder if the effort will be worthwhile. However, assuming there is a sufficient cost-justification, a licensing scheme should be considered as one option for charging commercial operators using our parks - with an obligation to demonstrate the license to operate when advertising their services in each location. (eg including a noticeboard listing the licensed and insured businesses approved for each park).
Introduce fee-paying activities into parks
We largely support this approach, as long as sufficient safeguards are put in place not to destroy the ambience of a park. A defined and limited area in each open space should be allocated so that the majority of space is not excluded from free access.
Increased income from larger fee-laying events
We have concerns that introducing ever higher fees for large events could result in the loss of some events (such as Vegfest) or the dominance of large scale corporate operators. Any increase in numbers of large scale events needs to take into account the impact on local residents. To go from one to two large scale events per year may be acceptable. To go from one to ten certainly is not.
We have further concerns that proposals to charge more for non-commercial events will impact on small scale community events. Community groups and volunteer organisations need to be given sufficient time and support to plan for their events, and need a predictable environment in which to do so. Failure to do so can result in them being forced to cancel events.
We are seriously concerned about the impact of the major cuts to the parks maintenance budgets. Significant amounts have been cut from these budgets, and this will inevitably damage the appearance of local parks and reduce their quality. We are concerned at the seeming lack of detail over how these are being implemented. We are also concerned that they may take a park or green space below a minimum acceptable standard.
Use of volunteers/Friends groups
We support the existence of Friends groups for parks. Local people with knowledge of their local park can play a key role in its development. However, volunteers have to be supported to be effective. They need support in all aspects of volunteering, and this may become an overhead in its own right. If we expect Friends groups or volunteers to take on more, the council needs to invest in them – this should include how we communicate with them, insurance, plant and equipment . It also needs to provide a service guarantee for works paid for by groups to ensure these are implemented without excess delays.
CIL and parks We believe that there are opportunities for the council, working in partnership with local groups, to seek further funding to go with CIL applications. The department should be supporting this.
Wildlife areas We would support the introduction or increase in well-created wildlife areas should there be a local will to do so.
Ringfencing of income raised by parks for parks The raising of income for Bristol’s parks is a significant unknown, which may go badly, and conversely may go very well. Were it to be the latter, we believe that a significant proportion of income raised should be ring-fenced to be retained by parks. The idea that parks be a cash-cow for other services is quite wrong.
Cemetaries and crematoriums
It is difficult to comment on the proposals to raise money from the cemetaries and crematoriums service, without having a good understanding of the context of the proposals eg what is the cost and change in cost for a family who have to bury a loved one.
However, in general terms, we make the following comments:
- We believe there should adequate funding for those on low incomes to be able to bury or cremate lost loved ones without getting into debt. That’s why we support the #BurytheDebt http://fairfuneralscampaign.org.uk/content/chancellor-told-bury-debt-grieving-families campaign.
- We therefore would oppose increases in costs which adversely affect those on low incomes.
- We would like to see a review of how the service is run in order to ensure that we do what we can to support a good experience for families dealing with a death
- We should look at the councils provision for more sustainable methods of disposal, e.g. natural burials
- We do accept that the council should also be able to offer and raise income from 'extras' that are wanted by some users of the service to complete their ceremony. This needs to be a sensitive and viable addition to the basic service.
Creation of a trust We believe there needs to be significant further discussion before any trust be created for local parks. This would include, but not be limited to a council loss of control, its income raising potential, and the need a big dowry (depending on which parks are included).
Parks forum submission
We note and are generally supportive of the submission made by the parks forum.
Green response to the parks and green spaces consultation
Green response to the parks and green spaces consultation
"The Tories plans are a tiny drop in a plastic filled ocean" says Bristol's Green MEP
Responding to Theresa May’s speech on the environment, and the government's 25 year plan, Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato said: “The Tories plans are a tiny drop in a plastic filled ocean. Of course action to reduce plastic waste is welcome, but this provides a useful diversion from the many government policies that are trashing the environment. In particular the £5bn in subsidies to fossil fuels since 2010 and kick-starting a whole new fossil industry in fracking.
Green councillor objects to Broadmead Car Park plans
Bristol Green Councillor Jerome Thomas has put in a statement to one of the council’s planning committees objecting to the continued presence of a large multi-storey car park in city centre development plans.
Standing up to racism in our city – Green Group leader Eleanor Combley responds to claims the National Front will return to Bristol
In response to claims that the 'National Front is back in Bristol', the city's Green Councillor Group leader has responded.
Bristol Green councillors welcome progress on clean energy from Pension Funds – but it’s still not divestment
Following a long-running campaign by Greens and other activists, Martin Fodor (Green Councillor for Redland) met with representatives of the Brunel Pension Partnership to hear about the fund’s new investments in sustainable and renewable energy.
Bristol let down by MPs’ failure to back Final Say referendum on Brexit
Green Party MEP and Brexit spokesperson, Molly Scott Cato, claimed the people of Bristol have been let down by their Labour MPs who failed to back a significant amendment last night that would have given the people a final say over the EU/UK Brexit deal.
Green Councillors: Let's Build Bristol's Arena at Temple Meads
Green Councillors Jerome Thomas and Stephen Clarke submitted a statement to Full Council of 12 December 2017, calling for the Mayor to support original plans for an arena in Bristol city centre.
Bristol Labour rejects Green amendments calling for stronger action on austerity
At Full Council today Bristol’s Green Councillors called for Labour Mayor Marvin Rees to back up his words on austerity with actions. However, the Labour group rejected an amendment to their ‘anti-austerity’ motion which called for ‘loud and active resistance’ to austerity.
Greens help deliver Council motion on single use drinking cups
Bristol Green councillors say they are delighted after a Full Council motion they worked on to address the environmental impact of ‘single use’ drinking cups has passed with cross party support.
Councillors propose planning policy to protect music venues
In response to a spate of local music venues raising the alarm about being faced with closure, Green Party Councillors in Bristol have called on the city’s elected Labour Mayor to adopt a planning policy known as the ‘agent of change’ principle. This principle, recently adopted by London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan,(1) puts the onus for soundproofing on new residential developments, which must shoulder responsibility for compliance when situated near an existing music venue. Similarly, if a music venue opens in a residential area, it too would be responsible for complying with residential requirements. According to the London Mayor, “developers building flats near existing venues will need to ensure that residents are not unduly affected by sound from the venue, and that may include paying for soundproofing.”
Brexit ‘breakthrough’: Comment from Bristol's MEP
Commenting on news of an apparent breakthrough in negotiations between the UK and EU and that Brexit discussions will now move on to the next phase, Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green Party speaker on Brexit, said: “Brexit should not be about winners and losers but about ensuring that all citizens currently in the EU, including the British ones, are safe and secure after March 2019.
Bristol MEP and QC launch legal proceedings against government over Brexit sectoral studies
Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP and Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Society, have today applied for judicial review in the High Court over the government’s refusal to release sectoral studies carried out by DExEU into the impacts of Brexit, and a Treasury study into the effects of leaving the customs union.
Bristol's MEP respopnds to David Davis claims that Brexit impact studies do not exist
Responding to this morning's evidence session of the DExEU committee and David Davis's comment that the Brexit impact studies do not in fact exist, Molly Scott Cato, and MEP who is about to launch judicial review proceedings to force the publication of the studies, said: "I have been seeking to know the content of these studies since April and in September Brexit minister Steve Baker responded to my letter demanding release explicitly on behalf of the Secretary of State and acknowledging that the Department had 'conducted analysis of over 50 sectors of the economy'. Now David Davis claims these studies do not in fact exist.
Job Advert: Local Party Organiser in Bristol
The Local Party Organiser will be responsible for supporting Bristol Green Party officers and volunteers in the implementation of Bristol Green Party strategies, plans and day to day operations. The role will support the officers and volunteers to coordinate their work, check on progress and achievements.
Bristol Mayor scraps cross-party cabinet - Green Group Statement
Today, Bristol’s Labour Mayor has decided out of the blue to end the cross-party cabinet, effectively firing Green Cabinet Member Fi Hance and Tory Cabinet Member Claire Hiscott.
Bristol's MEPs unite to challenge Commission over allegations of Russian influence in referendum campaign
Three of the city's MEPs are raising concerns with the European Commission about Russian interference in the EU referendum in an ‘unprecedented display of unity’. Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has teamed up with Labour’s Clare Moody MEP and former Conservative MEP, Julie Girling, to write to the Commission about their concerns.
Bristol and South Gloucestershire Students debate Climate Change in City Hall
Over eighty students from Bristol and South Gloucestershire secondary schools are taking the lead in debating the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement, and discussing with local leaders what more can be done in their area to reduce carbon emissions.
Challenge to Bristol's MPs to unite against the folly of Hinkley
Bristol's Green MEP has accused government ministers of saddling consumers with higher energy bills because they have had their ‘heads stuck in the radioactive sand’ over Hinkley and has issued a challenge to Bristol's MPs to unite against the folly of Hinkley and back a renewable energy revolution.
Bristol MEP begins legal proceedings to release Brexit studies
Lawyers representing Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP, and Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project have written again to David Davis and Philip Hammond giving them 14 days to release in full government studies into the economic impacts of Brexit. If they refuse to make the documents publicly available, they will start judicial review proceedings in the High Court.
Green Party Cabinet Member represents Bristol at COP23 climate conference
Councillor Fi Hance today attended the annual COP23 climate conference in Bonn and spoke on behalf of Bristol. As Cabinet member for Energy, Cllr Hance was there to represent Bristol at the Climate event and was asked what action the city is taking on climate change.
Greens call on Council to support ‘Robin Hood Tax’ to fund public services
On the same week that Bristol hosts its annual Festival of Economics, Green Councillors in Bristol have put forward a motion for Tuesday’s Full Council supporting a Financial Transactions Tax, also known as a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ or ‘Tobin Tax’.
Greens challenge Mayor to protect Council Tax support until 2020 -- administration won’t commit
At Cabinet today Green Councillors challenged the Labour administration to commit to protecting the Council Tax support scheme for the remainder of the Mayor’s term to 2020.
Council must call in external auditor to shed light on CEO’s departure
In an unprecedented step, Bristol’s three opposition parties have united in calling on the Council’s External Auditor to step in and investigate the circumstances surrounding the controversial departure of the former Chief Executive, Anna Klonowski.
Bristol's Green MEP responds to #ParadisePapers leak
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, who is also a member of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers committee, comments on the latest big tax leak, the Paradise Papers saying: "These leaks offer another disturbing glimpse into the murky world of offshore finance, used by wealthy individuals and big business for tax evasion and tax avoidance".
Investigate Bristol links to alleged illegal spending by Leave.EU campaign says MEP
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset should investigate alleged illegal spending in the lead up to the 2016 EU referendum, claims Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP.
Going green: Bristol City Council smashes carbon targets
Green Councillor and Bristol City Cabinet member responsible for energy policy, Fi Hance, has today welcomed the news that Bristol City Council is ahead of its targets for reducing its carbon emissions.
Opinion: Why we need an 'Ad Free Bristol'
Writing in Bristol 24/7, Cllr Stephen Clarke explains why he thinks we need an 'Ad Free Bristol' arguing he "prefers a visual environment which reflects the unique identity of our city, the values of local communities, and the local economy".
Bristol's MEP demands to see official findings of investigation into Brexit Leave campaign
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, is demanding the Electoral Commission reveal the extent to which they have investigated alleged illegal spending intended to influence the 2016 EU referendum result. She has written to the Commission asking if their enquiries are now complete and, if so, asking it to publish the findings.
Green MEP to Theresa May "support an EU-wide suspension of arms exports to Saudi Arabia"
Following calls from leaders of four political groups in the European Parliament urging the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, for an EU-wide ban of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Green parliamentarians including Bristol's Green MEP Molly Scott Cato have written to the UK Prime Minister urging her to “immediately suspend all arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the human rights of the people of Yemen can be fully guaranteed”.
Green MEP defends Bristol's universities against ‘challenge to academic freedom’
Molly Scott Cato MEP, has made clear she will stand by universities in Bristol that refuse to respond to the request made by Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris, asking them for details of names of those ‘teaching European Affairs, with particular reference to Brexit’. The letter also asks for ‘the syllabus and links to the online lectures which relate to this area’.