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Thursday, 15th Feb 2018

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.[1] These are alternatives that opposition parties cannot implement. Only the current Labour administration has the power to do so [2].

Green Cllr Carla Denyer said,

“This year Greens have worked hard to find £1million of amendments to the Mayor’s budget. This includes additional funding to help those at risk of homelessness, build better children’s homes that cost less to run, and prevent advertising billboards being introduced in parks.[3] However, £1million is a drop in the ocean for a Council whose annual revenue budget is £355.8million. So, we are this year calling for more ambition from the Mayor’s Office in tackling austerity. We offer some principled and practical ideas that only the current Labour administration are able to implement. The question is whether they are willing to.

Bristol’s Labour administration has the power to bring in, or at least push for, progressive proposals such as:

  • A Progressive Council Tax – investigate extending the use of the existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme in an innovative way to increase Council Tax for the top 10%, reducing cuts to frontline services, while protecting the majority of tax payers from increases.
  • A charging Clean Air Zone and/or Congestion Charge Zone – to tackle the crumbling financial situation and the biggest public health issue we face
  • A Workplace Parking Levy – to encourage the step change in transport modes Bristol needs to see, modelled after the award-winning scheme in Nottingham
  • A Tourist Tax – a small levy on the cost of hotel rooms, which helps to pay for infrastructure and attractions that the tourists use.

Opposition councillors do not have the power to bring these ideas forward, as they involve longer time-scales than are allowed for opposition budget amendments. The Mayor does have the power but seems unable or unwilling to. The lack of action coming from the Mayor’s Office is becoming deafening. The Mayor is now nearly 2 years through his 4 year term and Bristol wants to know if he will be brave enough in his next 2 years to think big and deliver on the positive anti-austerity vision that he supposedly stands for.

The Greens are the party of long-term progressive politics, so we will continue pursuing bold ideas like these – we hope the Labour Mayor joins us.”

Notes

[1] For more details on the Greens’ proposals, see https://www.bristol247.com/opinion/your-say/blue-sky-thinking-not-allowed-frustrations-budget/

[2] The Council’s budget-setting process makes long-term thinking from opposition councillors impossible. In order to be considered eligible, all budget amendments must have a net financial impact of zero over the next 5 years, and preferably within 1 year. This means that any big proposals that take a few years to roll out, or require even modest investment in exchange for income downstream, are forbidden.

[3] The amendments are covered in more detail in these separate press releases:

https://bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/parks-ad-free

https://bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/green-amendment-calls-for-property-developers-to-fund-homelessness-prevention

[Children’s homes press release forthcoming on Fri 16th Feb]

and can be found in full here (pp451-462) https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=142&MId=2705&Ver=4

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