Green councillors have challenged the Mayor over comments made during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, when he implied that responsibility for the project’s cost increases lay with Councillor Charlie Bolton, who sat on and chaired the Scrutiny Commission for some of the period since the start of the project.
Councillor Bolton (pictured campaigning against MetroBus in 2014) said:
“The funny thing is, the questions I asked are out of a genuine desire to understand what’s going on with MetroBus, and how major project spend is controlled generally. I wasn’t looking to ‘score points’ – so I was surprised that Marvin went on the offensive and seemed to try to flip responsibility for MetroBus onto me.
“I have consistently opposed MetroBus - in 2010 I was the only councillor to vote against the project in Full Council. I wasn’t a councillor when the project was approved; I spoke against the destruction of ‘blue finger’ land when it went through planning. I raised the issue of the MetroBus at two scrutiny meetings as well as at cabinet – without ever getting a response. I might add that three members of Marvin’s cabinet were also on scrutiny with me during the time he mentioned.”
Councillor Bolton challenged the project in a public forum statement in August 2014, arguing that “it seems to me that it is highly probable that we – the taxpayer – will end up footing the bill when the project becomes significantly overspent”. (see statement here)
The Cabinet papers discussed at the meeting showed that the increased spend on MetroBus would cause other planned transport projects to be stopped, including train station upgrades, minor traffic schemes and bus priority measures. Green councillor Carla Denyer raised this in the meeting and asked which projects would be stopped. She also queried whether any assessment had been made of the equalities impact of the cancellations, given that transport projects to improve disabled accessibility may be among the scrapped projects. However, she was told that this information was not yet available as no decisions had been made on which projects to scrap.
Leader of the Green Group, Councillor Eleanor Combley said:
"When the Mayor was asked questions about MetroBus, I was astonished that instead of answering them he chose to attack Councillor Bolton for supposedly not having challenged the project enough in previous years, despite the fact that Charlie has long been one of the project's most vocal critics. The Mayor may feel we "have the tiger by the tail" and personally I agree that at this stage it makes sense for us to try to make the best possible success of MetroBus, but being committed to finish the project doesn't mean we stop questioning, debating, trying to learn lessons for the future, or looking at alternatives like whether the Mayor could approach the West of England Combined Authority to at least partially cover this new overspend.
"But there’s a wider issue here which is that when asked tough questions – in this case about what processes he would implement in the future – the Mayor often seeks to blame the previous administration or the person asking the question. It’s time he accepted that having been Mayor for well over a year now he has to step up and take responsibility.
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’.
Green councillor presses Mayor over continued payout secrecy
Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke has twice pressed the Mayor to establish the full truth behind the payment made to departed CEO Anna Klonowski.
Green Councillor asks Mayor to justify payment to former Chief Exec
Councillor Paula O'Rourke, Green Party Councillor for Clifton and member of the Council's HR Committee, has contacted the Mayor to raise concerns and request more information over a payment made to the former Chief Executive Anna Klonowski following her resignation.
Greens successfully lobby for transparent planning
After successful lobbying by Green councillors, Bristol City Council is to make its planning process more transparent.
Video: Caroline Lucas on Mayor Marvin Rees u-turn on Council Tax Reduction Scheme
In a short video Caroline Lucas MP, responds to the news that the Mayor will not cut the Council Tax Reduction Scheme in Bristol, for this year. Caroline she says she is "delighted" the Mayor backed down on his plans but it "beggars belief that a Labour administration was even contemplating hitting the poorest families hardest".
Greens welcome Mayor's u-turn on council tax scheme
Greens welcome Mayor's u-turn on council tax scheme
Green MEP challenges Bristol & South West MPs; "back a ban on Nuclear Weapons"
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has today thrown down a challenge to the region’s sitting MPs to back a ban on Nuclear Weapons. The challenge comes after none of the regions MPs backed an Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by Green Party Co-Leader, Caroline Lucas MP .
We must "Stop Brexit" says Bristol's Green MEP
Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP and Green Party speaker on Brexit, has reaffirmed a commitment to a ratification referendum at the Party’s conference in Harrogate and has told members it is the best way to reverse the decision to leave the EU.
New figures show unsafe and illegal air pollution “getting worse” in Bristol
New official government figures submitted to the European Commission, show that the government has failed to make any significant progress in tackling air pollution since a court ordered it to 18 months ago.
Council refusing to explain legal basis for its council tax consultation
Bristol’s Green councillors today called on the council to provide evidence to support its decision to continue with a controversial consultation on cuts to council tax support.
Green Cllr raises concerns over Council and Home Office targeting of migrants
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’.
Bristol's Green MEP condemns ‘deplorable’ violence against LGBT community
Bristol's Green MEP condemns ‘deplorable’ violence against LGBT community in Azerbaijan
Government running scared of its own Brexit impact studies
Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP, who has been challenging ministers to release secret government studies into the impacts of Brexit, has accused the government of running scared of its own findings.
Tell the Council to protect city's poorest, say Greens
Tell the Council to protect city's poorest, say Greens
Election Candidates for Bristol West
We're getting prepared for future elections - Local and National, starting with selecting candidates for Bristol West
Wind power is cheaper than nuclear
MEP challenges South West MPs to unite against Hinkley and embrace a new ‘Green Industrial Revolution’
Councillor Cleo Lake speaks at Saturday's march against austerity
"End austerity now, or else. Stop the cuts now, or else. Social justice now, or else. And I predict that the ‘all else’ will be boycotts, strikes, and a return to the Occupy movement."
Decision on Broadmead redevelopment delayed following opposition from Green councillors
After local campaigners and Green Party councillors successfully highlighted the air pollution and traffic impacts of the proposed development plan, a City Hall planning committee rejected the proposed car park and its access through Brunswick Square.
Join us in protest against austerity: an open letter to the People of Bristol
On Saturday 9th September, Green party members will be joining Bristolians from many different organisations and none, to stand up for our city and call for an end to austerity.
Council to go ahead with controversial Council Tax consultation
Almost three weeks after Bristol Green Councillors raised the possibility of the Council’s consultation on cuts to the council tax reduction scheme potentially being illegal, the Council has responded.