Bristol Green Party has today responded to the publication of an independent report (1) on the financial position of Bristol City Council saying it provides “further proof” that both local government finances and democracy are at breaking point.
The report, written by former Audit Commission Chief Executive Steve Bundred, found that the “underlying financial pressures were not of the council’s own making”. It goes on to cite the cuts to government grant income, combined with the increasing cost and rises in demand for council services, as issues directly impacting on how the council structures and funds the services it offers.
The report further highlights “a collective failure of leadership” in achieving past savings and in how the council managed the process, specifically highlighting the need for greater democratic accountability of officer reports.
Commenting on the report, leader of the Green group of councillors, Charlie Bolton, said,
“It would be easy for this report to turn into a blame game, but the term ‘collective failure’ is crucial here. This report is further proof that the council is an institution struggling under the weight of cuts and failing in part to adequately address them. Local government services and social care are being abandoned by this Tory government whilst it spends hundreds of billions of pounds replacing Trident, building a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point and building HS2. Bristol City Council has already suffered savage cuts – we have seen over £170 million of cuts by central government over the last 6 years and extensive job losses within the council. We are now approaching breaking point.”
He continued, “There are clear lessons to be learnt from this report and as Greens we will continue to put forward practical and principled responses and alternatives to the cuts (2) from redirecting business rates into social care through to increasing parking charges at some sites around the city. Everyone in Bristol relies on Bristol City Council services but it is the least well-off in our city that will suffer the most from this financial mismanagement. This is a crisis for all of us who rely on the services that the Council provides and one that Green councillors will do all within their powers to mitigate.”
Tony Dyer, The Green Party’s Local Government spokesperson and parliamentary candidate for Bristol South added,
“The content of today's report is disappointing but not wholly unexpected. I have been warning of the size of Bristol’s budget deficit for many months now (3). This report is further proof that the Single Change Programme was failing to deliver on its promised savings. It was also well known that council's scrutiny function is under-resourced and undervalued resulting in the councillors being inevitably marginalised, something which must now be addressed. “
Mr Dyer pointed out that the impact of the rapid turnover of financial officers at the council on the effectiveness of the council's financial monitoring was also entirely foreseeable.
“This report has added important details but the overarching problems affecting the council's performance have been long established.”
“The report makes useful recommendations to improve the ability of Bristol City Council to oversee delivery of its services, and some of these are already being implemented. But it would be foolish to pretend that, even if all the recommendations are successfully implemented, Bristol City Council will be able to deliver the level of public services required in the face of continuing cuts to local government funding.”
(1) The full report can be seen at https://documents.vuelio.uk.com/DocumentView.aspx?id=9a3ef588-96a5-4c73-96d4-7e06d67c4be4.pdf&token=1be9adaf-2b79-49c6-8673-48c1013e93cf
(2) The Green Group of Councillors submitted a document responding to the budget consultation outlining a series of policy suggestions. This document can be seen here http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/library/recent_work_/Green_councillors_response_to_the_corporate_strategy_consultation.pdf
(3) Green Mayoral candidate Tony Dyer warned of the scale of the financial challenges facing the council back in May 2016: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/mayoral-candidate-warns-80million-bristol-city/story-29254872-detail/story.html
(4) Contact details: for further information or to arrange interviews please contact Tony Dyer on email@example.com or ring 07729690245
Helping small businesses
Bristol Council is due to step back from levying street trading fees on businesses trading in suspended parking bays during the coronavirus outbreak. Instead of daily fees adding up to approx. £7000 per year, the council will instead request a yearly charge of just £100 for businesses that seek to take advantage of the social distancing measures imposed by the authority to trade in suspended bays. The move follows persistent pressure fro
Motion on reparations blocked as other parties refuse extra time
Cleo Lake's motion calling on Bristol Council to lobby the government over historic slavery reparations and support Bristol's black cultural centres has been dropped from a council meeting
Council to consult on planning changes to prevent overconcentration of student housing
Following three years of work by a cross party group of councillors, Bristol Council is consulting on a new housing planning policy designed to foster mixed and balanced communities
Enslavement reparations needed
A Green Party motion to be debated at next week’s Bristol Council meeting calls on the Council under the Mayor’s leadership to provide more support for black cultural centres in Bristol and 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.
Rebooting democracy in Bristol
Two female politicians from different parties have been working together to reboot democracy in Bristol. Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke and Labour Deputy Mayor Asher Craig are leading the ground-breaking new approach of using citizens’ assemblies to help Bristol emerge from lockdown.
Campaigning during COVID
Bristol Green Party statement on current campaigning
Drop street trading fees for local businesses
A petition is calling on Bristol Council to drop charges for local businesses trading in suspended parking bays during the coronavirus outbreak.
#GiveNTech to combat digital exclusion
Working with institutions like Avon Fire Authority and Bristol Waste, Cleo Lake’s #GiveNTech campaign to combat digital exclusion in Bristol been providing laptops to families and individuals since its launch in May.
Greens welcome 'Downs Loop' proposals
A public consultation is under way on proposals for traffic calming and turning worn paths into an accessible loop around the Downs
Citizens Assembly to steer Bristol Covid recovery
Following a motion proposed by Green Councillors in January, Bristol Council is moving forward with plans to carry out a Citizens Assembly
WECA transport plans must “walk the walk not just talk the talk” say Greens
Green councillors have said they are disappointed that WECAs cycling and infrastructure plan “lacks urgency and ambition”.
Greens welcome first steps towards addressing Bristol’s dirty air
Green councillors have welcomed the announcement that next week Bristol bridge, Baldwin Street and Union Street will be closed to through traffic and new bike lanes installed along Park Row, Upper Maudlin Street and Marlborough Street. The changes mark much needed first steps towards improving dangerous levels of air pollution in Bristol. They will also help people move safely about our city during the pandemic by making more room for walking and cycling.
Greens respond to Council licensing changes
Bristol’s Green Councillors have expressed solidarity with communities concerned about the loss of Cumulative Impact Areas, and promised to continue to support the residents they represent.
Greens support trans rights protest 18th July
Cleo Lake welcomes new statue on Colston plinth
Bristol’s former Lord Mayor and artist Cleo Lake welcomed the filling of a ‘political vacuum’ in Bristol by a black woman and black lives matter activist.
Mayor has questions to answer on investment in clean energy
Bristol’s Green Councillors say that the Mayor has tough questions to answer about the City Leap project, which was supposed to be delivering funding for clean energy across the City.
Green Budget Amendment creates more space for foster families
The first family is already benefiting from new rooms in a pilot scheme set up by Bristol City Council thanks to Green councillor Martin Fodor’s budget amendment, which pays for extra rooms in cramped council housing. Bristol has a shortage of larger council houses – the waiting list is twice as long as for smaller properties, and families needing larger homes have to wait for around 2 years.
Cleo Lake to ask Mayor to lobby government over reparations
At a Bristol Council meeting on Tuesday 7 July, Green Councillor Cleo Lake, activist and former Lord Mayor, will ask the Mayor to lobby the government to set up a commission to acknowledge, apologise and instigate reparations for the UK’s role in the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Africans.
Clean air is a right not a luxury
“Our right to clean air is as basic and important as our right to clean drinking water. It’s now nearly 4 years since the Council passed a Green motion calling for a Clean Air Zone and yet despite the Council spending millions of pounds on consultants, Bristol is no closer to clean, breathable air. After four years of failure from Marvin Rees to act on clean air, I fully support protesters taking peaceful socially-distanced action to voice their frustration at the city's continuing illegal and unsafe air quality and call on the Mayor to speak with the protesters to explain just how he intends to clean up Bristol's air, with the urgency that is needed."
Good progress on homelessness but MPs must do more nationally
Green councillor and Bristol West MP candidate Carla Denyer has praised staff at Bristol City Council for their work tackling homelessness during lockdown , but highlighted that some more radical changes are still needed to fix the UK’s broken housing system. Councillor Denyer has called on the Government to do all it can to support renters, but has also made a particular plea to local Labour MP and Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire to reconsider her party’s proposals , which seem to favour landlords over their tenants.
Green Councillor Carla Denyer named one of the top women in engineering
Green Councillor Carla Denyer has been named as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering for 2020 by the Women’s Engineering Society.
Bristol needs clean air now
As Extinction Rebellion gears up for a week of action and protests around Bristol’s illegal air quality levels, Green Councillors say clean air is now more important than ever. With growing evidence that dirty air exacerbates the impact of coronavirus and growing calls for a nationwide review on the Government’s air quality strategy, Greens say the time for talking is over – immediate action is now needed to clean up Bristol’s dangerous air.
Prevent a second wave of Coronavirus – give Bristol tools to track and trace
As lockdown restrictions are eased in Bristol, early evidence suggests the government’s ‘track and trace’ program is not reaching enough people to be effective.
Let this mark a new era for Bristol
Green Party Councillors in Bristol and the Green mayoral candidate join the voices calling for a new era to begin, now that Colston's statue, and the oppression it represents, no longer looks out over Bristol.
Safe streets needed now
As more people return to work and children return to school it is more important than ever that we have streets that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists and enable social distancing, Bristol’s Green Councillors have said.
Greens of Colour call for independent COVID inquiry to factor in institutional racism
Green Party demands independent BAME Covid-19 inquiry: The Green Party has backed calls for an independent inquiry into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic people. Greens of Colour chairperson Azzees Minott said: “The government’s inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME people has let communities of colour down.
Tackle rising unemployment with a Green New Deal
Green councillors have been calling for a ‘Green New Deal’ to reboot the economy, provide jobs and tackle the climate crisis. On 2nd June Bristol City Council's Cabinet meeting included the news that the Council is forecasting a funding gap of around £86 million as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is made up of a combination of loss of income and additional expenditure to pay for the response to the emergency. Unemployment is also forecast to rise steeply in coming months.
Bristol's carbon neutral 2030 target essential
Green Councillor Carla Denyer proposed Bristol Council’s original Climate Emergency motion – the first of its kind in Europe – in November 2018. She said: “Hidden away on page 107 is a warning that there is now a high risk of failure to deliver the Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. This is very concerning. We cannot afford to lurch from one emergency to another. Some form of Green New Deal is essential to help the city and country to ‘build back better’. A green recovery is the only way to deal with the huge economic challenges while tackling the climate crisis, creating security and leaving behind the inequality that has damaged our society for so long.”
Secrecy and concealment as Bristol Energy loses millions of pounds
Bristol Energy has lost tens of millions of pounds of Council tax payers money, so Greens ask why this week's Cabinet meeting will hold the discussion's on what has gone wrong in secret.
Cleo Lake launches #GiveNTech campaign to tackle digital exclusion
Green Councillor Cleo Lake has launched a campaign to redistribute unused IT equipment to tackle digital exclusion during pandemic