Migrants, mostly from the European Economic Area (EEA), make up a significant percentage of privately renting tenants in Bristol. Many struggle with high and increasing rents as well as sub-standard living conditions, and due to their often precarious living circumstances may be reluctant to come forward to report problems or seek support, which can also lead to homelessness. Green Councillor Cleo Lake has raised concerns at new funding received by Bristol City Council which she fears could be used to further marginalise vulnerable and homeless migrants, betraying Bristol’s status as a ‘Sanctuary City’.
£180,000 from the Government’s Controlling Migration Fund is going to the City Council to address migration (which includes people coming from the EEA) as well as a further sum of over £300,000, ostensibly to focus on rogue landlords. This will be done through a scheme where migrants are encouraged to report inadequate living conditions – but in doing so may then face deportation.
Through this fund not only will immigrant rough sleepers be supported to ‘accept offers of reconnection’ to their native lands, but the Home Office will also fund random raids of properties based on citizen ‘tip offs’ to deport immigrants under the guise of outlawing rogue landlords. To quote the BCC website:
“The officers will work with partners including Avon and Somerset Police and Immigration Compliance Enforcement (ICE) to identify properties where there are likely to be high levels of exploitation and trafficking. Officers will carry out proactive inspections of these premises, using our powers of entry to gain access to all dwellings.…It is estimated that approximately 1,200 inspections will be undertaken over the two year period, equivalent to approximately 312 streets being covered across the city.”
Cleo Lake, Green party councillor for Cotham, posed a question at Cabinet on August 15th concerning the number of immigrant rough sleepers, requesting a breakdown of:
- Place of origin
- Immigration status and outcome
- How many people were been brought off the street through the City Initiative
Councillor Lake says the follow up answer she eventually received gave her cause for concern:
“EEA rough sleepers seen regularly by Bristol Outreach are ineligible to access supported pathways off the streets. Without realistic potential to find or sustain work e.g. because of substance misuse, many in time will accept an offer of reconnection. Once a client consents, it is more efficient to employ our written protocol with the Home Office to facilitate voluntary administrative removals. This joined-up approach provides the Home Office with valuable intelligence about potential returnees…. funding also provides for a full-time Bristol City Council Streetwise Officer specifically to:
• build a stronger intelligence picture of migrant rough sleeping
• liaise with ICE and Police to target detention of individuals subject to enforced removal
• liaise with Outreach around supportive interventions/voluntary reconnection”
Commenting on the response, Councillor Lake said:
“The data given suggests that the vast majority of rough sleepers are UK citizens. Out of a recorded 295, 148 were recorded as ‘white British’, 8 as ‘Black’ or ‘Black British: African’ and 97 were ‘Origin Unknown’. The information goes on to suggest that there will be a target of “64 reconnections per year (total for enforced/voluntary administrative removals, voluntary reconnections), pro rata for first year.
“Human trafficking and exploitation is extremely concerning and must be confronted, along with rogue landlords which the information suggests go hand in hand with this exploitation. It is only right to target rogue landlords – they are a blight on our community and should be challenged across the board. However homeless people are, by the very nature of their being, extremely vulnerable, and should have our unconditional support.
“Whilst I do not condone illegal migration I am minded to also reflect on the reasons that people risk their lives and often put themselves into severe debt to come to the UK. Whether it’s to seek asylum, opportunity or to join family, Bristol is supposed to be a City of Sanctuary but it seems to me that there is a danger of a lack of separation between vital support and immigration enforcement which could jeopardise that City status. Support for homeless migrants or those living in substandard accommodation cannot come with the threat of deportation or we risk further marginalising some of the most vulnerable people in society. I hope that positives do come out of this but I will be watching closely to see what is really happening.”
NB: Bristol was officially recognised as a City of Sanctuary in 2011 – for more information see https://bristol.cityofsanctuary.org/
Greens refuse to vote for Labour’s cuts budget
At today’s budget Full Council meeting in Bristol City Hall, the city’s Green Councillors have refused to vote for the Labour Mayor’s austerity budget that proposed cuts of £34 million across Bristol, including library and public toilet closures and a large funding cut to Adult Social Care.
Raft of Green amendments passes at Budget Full Council
Bristol’s Green Councillors are celebrating today as all but one of their budget amendments at today’s Budget Full Council were passed.
Plot to ditch EU food standards threatens South West producers
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has warned of a plot by leading rightwing Brexiteers to ditch EU food and safety standards that would allow the import of US meats, drugs and chemicals currently banned in Britain.
New report on ‘Britain’s broken housing market’ & lessons from other EU Countries
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has launched a report she commissioned on the UK’s housing crisis.
“Build children’s homes instead of sending children across the country”
Green Councillor Eleanor Combley has submitted an amendment to the Council’s budget, calling for two specialist children’s homes to be acquired for children with complex needs. Councillor Combley said: “Bristol’s current children’s homes are too large and unspecialised for children with complex social, emotional or mental health needs, so these children are often sent to homes far from the Bristol area. We know that for most children in care it is better to be closer to home, near their family and communities and where they can be supported by local social workers. In Bristol 1 in 10 children in care are placed more than 20 miles from their home.”
Green councillor welcomes additional landlord licensing proposal
Below is a response from Clifton Down councillor Carla Denyer to the consultation on landlord licensing launched by Bristol City Council today (16 Feb. 18).
Greens offer budget alternatives after lack of "practical or moral leadership” from Mayor
In response to a lack of practical or moral leadership coming from the Labour Mayor’s Office, Bristol Green Party Councillors have today set out a series of suggested positive and progressive alternatives to the council’s annual budgetary hand-wringing process.
20mph proven to be safer in Bristol
An authoritative report produced by the University of the West of England and commissioned by Bristol City Council has demonstrated the safety of the city-wide 20mph zone. Greens are demanding that this should put to bed the debate about the impact of such limits.
Green amendment calls for property developers to fund homelessness prevention
At next week’s budget meeting at Bristol City Council, Green Councillor Carla Denyer will call on the Labour administration to increase emergency funding for some of the most vulnerable people in Bristol, and pay for it by raising charges on private property developments which block roads.
Brexit update from Bristol's Green MEP
A summary of the latest Brexit news from Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato
“Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past”– Bundred report one year on
12 months ago the damning ‘Bundred Report’ revealed financial chaos, collective failure of leadership and poor management at the Council. A year on, Green Councillors have written an open letter to the Mayor saying more still needs to be done if the Council is not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Councillors should give up parking perks to keep our parks ad-free
Green councillor, Eleanor Combley, is calling on colleagues from all parties to give up their free parking spaces at next week's budget meeting, saying the money saved could be used to protect our parks instead.
Bristol's MEP exposes the unholy alliance of ‘Bad Boys’ behind Brexit
Bristol's Green MEP Molly is today launching a website to expose the ‘unholy alliance’ of men behind the campaign to leave the EU. The ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ website contains details of the coalition of ‘far-right ideologues, climate change deniers, tax-dodging foreign billionaires and specialists in voter manipulation’ who successfully persuaded a majority of the public to vote to leave the EU.
How many times will the police get away with misusing tasers?
Green Party Councillors have responded with shock and dismay to the news that a man with autism was tasered by police in Bristol. The man was charged with assault, before the case collapsed after his mother submitted CCTV evidence which called into question the police officers’ account of the incident.
Green Group leader responds to increase in rough sleeping figures
This year government estimates of rough sleeper numbers rose for the seventh consecutive year. Councillor Eleanor Combley responded to the situation in Bristol.
Job: Junior Constituency Assistant for Molly Scott Cato MEP in Bristol
Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's MEP, is looking for a Junior Constituency Assistant in her Bristol Office
Green Councillors horrified by out of the blue fines to dog walkers
Redland Green Councillors Fi Hance and Martin Fodor have been contacted by a number of residents left upset and distressed after having been issued fines of up to £100 for letting their dogs off the lead on Redland Green. These appear to have been issued by Kingdom, the council’s so-called litter police.
Greens say we all need to challenge airport expansion
A consultation currently underway on plans for the expansion of Bristol airport is due to end Friday 26th January.
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.