The day after he voted for a council motion supporting a Temple Meads location for Bristol's Arena, the city's Labour Mayor has scrapped the project altogether in a Cabinet meeting.
During the debate in the extraordinary Full Council Meeting of Monday 3rd September, Greens and other councillors made the points that the Temple Meads arena was confirmed to be affordable by the KPMG reports that the Mayor commissioned, is deliverable within a few years and accessible to people from all parts of Bristol. They also raised numerous concerns if the project were to be abandoned by the Labour Mayor, including the risk of potential legal challenge and financial damages to the council, the lack of good alternative sites and likelihood that any alternative arena would not be deliverable due to planning and other obstacles.
The following is a statement on the decision taken at Cabinet of 4th September, by Green Group leader Councillor Eleanor Combley.
Mayor's arena decision shows contempt for democracy
After months of back and forth, this is what we know:
- The temple quarter arena is affordable, can be delivered within 3 years, and it is the best location for an arena according to the Mayor and councillors. It would support city centre businesses and put Bristol on the map, as the Mayor himself said in 2012.
- Thorough plans for alternative developments on that site do not exist – all we have at this stage are pretty drawings and a lot of hype from the private sector. L+G, the City’s supposed benefactors here, are currently fighting the council’s minimum affordable housing targets on a nearby site, proposing to build just 4 affordable homes out of 120. This shows just how unlikely it is that we can trust them to deliver affordable housing.
- These alternative proposals could also be built in a number of locations around the city, while a city centre arena can only go ahead at the Temple Meads site.
- Once this site is sold Bristol is unlikely to get any arena for many years – there are a serious number of legal, planning, and other issues in the way of a Filton location.
- If an arena were eventually built at Filton it would create enormous congestion and transport problems in the north of the city and drain business from the city centre.
For the avoidance of all doubt, the motion passed in Full Council yesterday evening, which the Mayor voted for, reads:
"This Council believes that the best site for Bristol’s Arena, for the benefit of Bristol as a whole, is Temple Island in the centre of Bristol and that the decision taker should be guided by the vote at this meeting."
Most people reading those words would therefore have expected the Mayor to respect the democratic process, be guided by his councillors (and his own) votes and keep the Temple Quarter arena project instead of abandoning it for as-yet non-existent mixed development plans, gifting public land and assets to the private sector.
Unfortunately it is increasingly clear that this Mayor has complete contempt for democracy – whether it’s the manifesto pledge he was elected on to “complete the new city Arena and enable it to be accessible to all communities”, the votes of councillors, including his own, at two separate meetings, the views of 10 out of 11 of the chief scrutiny committee, or the popular opinion expressed through online polls, petitions, and hundreds of public statements submitted to council meetings – at the end of the day the only view that matters to Marvin Rees is his own. Leadership surely means listening to others and not being afraid to change your mind if the evidence points another way – yet instead of putting Bristol first the Mayor has spun every which way in trying to present a decision he took months ago in secret as fair and transparent, and quell disagreements within his own party. The most recent of these efforts was his attempt to reframe last night’s motion and vote as being about the best site ‘in an ideal world’ rather than in this world, to try and allow him to say one thing on Monday and do the complete opposite on Tuesday.
First the Temple Island arena was too expensive. Then an alternative project emerged to muddy the waters, owned by a company with links to many of the senior officers around the Mayor. Finally, after reports showed the Arena Island site to be both deliverable and affordable and the cost of the project shrank, it was deemed too risky, despite there being no evidence provided to support this. The Mayor seems to have got his economics mixed up with the Conservative government – at times of uncertainty we should be investing to support the city economy – we have seen on the national stage that austerity policies do not work.
Let’s be clear: at cabinet today the Mayor has betrayed the spirit of his vote yesterday and acted against the best interests of the city – putting short term savings before long term gain, putting the private sector over a publically owned arena, and abandoning his manifesto commitment to deliver an arena for Bristol by 2020.
At Bristol’s ‘Climate Emergency’ council meeting, Labour and Conservatives vote against action on fossil fuel divestment
Green councillors in Bristol last night charged Labour and Conservatives with ignoring the Climate Emergency, as they voted together to amend a Green Party motion calling for fossil fuel divestment, rendering it ineffective.
“We can’t afford to wait any longer” – Greens respond to Council’s Climate Emergency report
With Extinction Rebellion actions hitting headlines in cities across the UK, Green Party councillors in Bristol last night called on the Labour Mayor and council to show greater urgency in tackling climate change.
Greens say Mayor’s climate plan lacks ideas and emergency
Bristol Green Party has welcomed the Mayor’s new plan to address the Climate Emergency, but says that the plan lacks substance or the urgent action needed to address this pressing issue.
Bristol Councillor who kicked off UK Climate Emergency to represent city at climate event
Carla Denyer, the Green Councillor from Bristol who proposed the first Climate Emergency motion in the UK in November 2018, will be taking part in a ‘high level roundtable’ as part of London’s Climate Action Week.
“Heads L&G win, tails the Council loses” - Greens on Mayor's Temple Island plans
Green Councillors have condemned proposals from the Mayor to hand key public land on Bristol’s Temple Island site to financial services company Legal & General, through an agreement which avoids the usual legal process.
Mayoral candidate challenges “expensive giveaway” of arena site
The Green mayoral candidate for Bristol, Sandy Hore-Ruthven, is challenging the Mayor over proposals to pay a major financial services firm up to £120 million to develop the former arena site at Temple Island, without guaranteeing social return for the city.
Green Councillor brands Council Air Quality plans "shameful"
At at cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Green Councillors challenged the Labour Mayor's lack of detail and evidence to support new air quality proposals.
Action on Climate Emergency (ACE)
Bristol Green Party’s Action on Climate Emergency group, campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of climate change.
Green Councillors press for WECA to take action on Climate Emergency
After launching a Climate Emergency at Bristol Council last November, the first of its kind in the UK, Green Councillors are today calling on the region’s West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to recognise a climate emergency.
Make local plan fit for a changing climate say Greens
More than 6 months after Bristol Council passed a Green Party motion to declare a climate emergency, Green Councillors are now calling on the Council to recognise this in its plans for the future.
Greens top Bristol election results showing Green city swing
Last night the Green Party topped European election polls in Bristol, contributing significantly to the re-election of Green MEP Molly Scott-Cato in the South West. Members say the result indicates a Green swing in the city ahead of the local and mayoral elections next year.
Bristol Councillors give thanks to Green Lord Mayor at final meeting
Councillors celebrated the hard work and positivity of Green Lord Mayor Cleo Lake during the ceremony that saw her step down at the end of her year in office.
Greens back Youth Climate Strike against airport expansion
Caroline Lucas spoke in support of another Youth Climate Strike taking place in Bristol this Friday 24 May, this time protesting the expansion of Bristol Airport.
Bristol Greens call for ban on dangerous pavement parking
Green Councillors in Bristol have contributed to a House of Commons Inquiry into pavement parking, highlighting the dangers and accessibility problems it causes and calling for a ban to be legally enforced.
Green Councillor shows flaws in plans for polluting gas plant in heart of Bristol
A Green Party Councillor has hit out at plans to build a gas generator plant in Bristol, raising concerns about high levels of air pollution on a site close to a nursery.
European Election Campaign & Hustings
The European Election campaign is underway. Learn more about our candidates and where to see them in hustings around the region.
Bristol Green Group response to Climate Change report
“Both Conservatives and Labour are now talking the talk on climate change, but they need to follow it up in their actions. This is an emergency and it’s not enough to talk about the climate – we have to do something about it."
Council risking deaths and crime with proposed cuts to drugs programme
A Green Councillor has raised concerns about Council proposals to cut prescription services for vulnerable drug users in Bristol
Making Steps Towards Carbon Neutrality
Green councillors have welcomed the first steps at Bristol Council towards work for Bristol to go carbon neutral by 2030.
South West Greens launch ‘re-elect Molly’ European election campaign
The Green Party in the South West today launched their European election campaign. The Party will push for the re-election of Molly Scott Cato, who has a strong track record of achievement in the European parliament and is a leading and well-respected voice of opposition to Brexit both within the South West region and nationally.
Open letter to EU citizens in Bristol
Leaders of the opposition parties in Bristol joined together today to send an open letter to EU citizens living in Bristol.
Bristol Greens welcome Magid Magid
Green Councillors and candidates in Bristol are today (8 April) hosting Magid Magid, Green Lord Mayor of Sheffield
Green Councillors welcome landlord licensing extension
A cabinet meeting on Tuesday 2 April approved extension of Bristol Council's landlord licensing scheme to 12 wards in Central Bristol. Green Councillor Carla Denyer welcomed the decision.
Green Councillors condemn Mayor’s delay on clean air action
After repeatedly missing air quality deadlines set by the national government, Bristol’s Labour administration has gone back to the drawing board. The Council now expects to submit a final clean air plan a full year after the original deadline.
Bristol’s twin city in Mozambique devastated by cyclone – how you can help
After Bristol’s twin city Beira was devastated by a cyclone, a fundraising campaign has been set up by our city’s twinning association to help rebuild Beira directly and sustainably.
Green letter re Brexit shambles
Letter re Brexit-balls
Mayor refuses to come clean on ex-chief executive pay-off
Green councillors have said they are concerned and frustrated that Bristol's Labour Mayor refused to answer questions at yesterday's Full Council meeting about the controversial pay-off of the Council's ex-chief executive. A report into the severance package found that there was a lack of transparency over the £196,000 pay-off provided. The Mayor refused to answer questions from councillors and the public on why the administration chose to pay the full pay-off and why the payment decision did not go to the HR committee unlike other payments to departing senior officers.
Did Mayor lie about ex-chief executive pay-off?
Greens councillors will be asking the Labour Mayor next week why the Council’s ex-chief executive received a £196,000 severance package, half of which was discretionary, following a report that confirms their concerns over the process used and it’s lack of transparency.
Mayor must take action on fossil fuel funds
Green Councillors have submitted a motion to next Tuesday’s Full Council meeting (19 March) calling on Bristol’s Labour Mayor to meet with the head of Avon Pension Fund and discuss divestment of funds away from fossil fuel industries within 5 years. Despite a similar Green motion passed in 2015 (1), the Avon Pension Fund continues to hold significant investments in fossil fuel industries. A recent UN study found that resource extraction industries are responsible for half of the world’s carbon emissions and more than 80% of biodiversity loss. (2) Bristol’s branch of local government union UNISON (the second largest union in the UK) also backs the campaign for pension fund divestment.
Bristol Greens back return of student climate strike
Thousands of students are expected to strike over climate action once again this Friday 15 March in Bristol. Green councillors welcomed the news and praised young people for putting the Climate Emergency on the agenda.