Last night Bristol’s Labour cabinet passed a regional transport plan that Greens warned is incompatible with the climate emergency and may be illegal under the UK’s climate commitments.
Greens, environmentalists and transport experts had previously lobbied West of England Councils to amend the new Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP) as it committed millions of pounds to roadbuilding and widening projects but did not reserve funding for public transport, walking and cycling. Yesterday Green councillors warned that the plans may even be illegal after a legal precedent set by the High Court’s decision to reject a third runway at Heathrow. North Somerset council had pledged to amend plans before they were approved at the regional authority but Bristol’s Labour cabinet ignored calls from activists to do the same.
"The ‘Paris Agreement’ on climate change that the UK signed up to in 2016 must be taken into account"
Green Councillor Steve Clarke chairs WECA’s Overview and Scrutiny committee, which on January 31 called for the authority to reassess major schemes in the light of the Climate Emergency. Before the meeting he warned of the legal risk, saying:
“The decision by high court judges to rule out Heathrow’s planned third runway has set a legal precedent – the ‘Paris Agreement’ on climate change that the UK signed up to in 2016 must be taken into account in major infrastructure decisions. Therefore the Joint Local Transport Plan, which is coming before Cabinet this evening, may now be illegal if it is not amended or updated before being approved. This is because it contains major road building provisions but it does not appear to have taken into account the legally binding provisions of the Paris Agreement.”
During the meeting Labour’s transport lead Kye Dudd acknowledged the concerns of campaigners, suggesting the plan would be “reviewed straight away” after it had been approved by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). However he did not provide further information as to what that review would target or when it might take place. Once approved the plan will have statutory force and reviewing or changing it would be a lengthy and complicated process.
XR “reserves the right to call a judicial review”
Referring to the Heathrow decision, an Extinction Rebellion (XR) representative in the public gallery stated that XR “reserves the right to call a judicial review” on the plans if they proceed, threatening legal action under the precedent set by the Heathrow decision.
Labour’s former Transport lead Cllr Mhairi Threlfall agreed with Greens and other opponents to the plan. She said that as a document the JLTP was “a little bit meaningless” and that once approved it would be a statutory document – her recommendation was to strip out the problems in the document before it was agreed.
"No amount of spin or PR from the Mayor can hide the gap between his words and his cabinet’s actions on climate change."
Green Councillor Carla Denyer had lobbied the Mayor to amend the plan two weeks before the meeting. At Cabinet she asked the Cabinet Transport lead to commit to scrap climate-damaging road projects in the plan before approving it but did not receive a direct answer. Responding to the outcome outside the meeting, Councillor Denyer said:
“Just last week the Mayor tweeted his support for Greta Thunberg – but today his cabinet refused to commit to removing new road building from the regional plan. Cabinet member Kye Dudd’s comments initially seemed positive, saying that Bristol City Council would push for a review of the plan in light of the Climate Emergency. However, when I asked if he would explicitly commit to scrap the road building and widening plans in the Joint Local Transport Plan before it is approved by WECA on 20th March, he declined to answer. When pressed, he tried to deflect the question by pointing out that the new roads planned are outside the Bristol City Council area. This is true, but beside the point.
Bristol’s Mayor has substantial power, as one of the four members of WECA, to make the decision on the JLTP for the whole region. When WECA declared a climate emergency last July, Marvin Rees said that it must focus on the “less glamorous” details of how the region’s carbon emissions could be reduced – this report is the perfect example of that. But Mayor Rees and his Cabinet have chosen to stick with business as usual instead of using their power to tackle the Climate Emergency – not just for Bristol but the whole of the West of England.
The plans noted at Cabinet this evening will increase congestion on local roads, increase carbon emissions, and may even be illegal as they’re out of step with the UK’s Climate Commitments. In good faith, I emailed Marvin Rees last month about the report, ahead of cabinet deadlines, so that he would be best able to prepare for it. No amount of spin or PR from the Mayor can hide the gap between his words and his cabinet’s actions on climate change.”
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
‘Protecting renters’ shouldn’t mean that renters pay more
Green Councillor Carla Denyer has responded with alarm to Labour’s ‘five-point plan to protect renters’, which would require struggling tenants to take an economic hit, rather than landlords.
Trace every case of coronavirus to save lives
Bristol’s Green Party councillors have called for a new local emergency workforce to “contact trace” new cases of coronavirus to be ready for when the country emerges from lockdown. They call for a local system of testing, contact tracing and quarantine which would enable us to take control of the deadly coronavirus, save lives and avoid further lockdown. The call follows a Green report (1) on the issue published earlier in the month and increasing calls from public health officials for Government to rethink its centralized approach which puts too much focus on a tracing app without the wider system of support needed. (2)
“People need clean, safe air now more than ever” - Greens call on Mayor to rethink delays
Bristol’s Green Councillors have questioned the Mayor‘s calls to delay the start date of Bristol’s Clean Air Zone next year, pointing to mounting evidence that air pollution is linked to greater fatalities from Coronavirus
Green Councillors: more funding needed for coronavirus support
Bristol Green councillors have joined Green councillors from across the country demanding urgent funding for local authorities to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Coronavirus: Bristol Greens call for calmer streets and more space for social distancing
Bristol’s Green Councillor group have today (Wednesday April 15) called on Bristol Council to look into road space reallocation and traffic calming measures to combat coronavirus.
Information and support in Bristol
Coronovirus (COVID 19) – what we all need to know We must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home). If you have to go out stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people. Wash your hands as soon as you get home. Do not meet others, even friends or family as you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
We will continue to work hard for you
We have all been affected in different ways by the coronavirus pandemic, but it is the most vulnerable across our city who continue to be impacted the most.
A defunct plan for a bygone era” - regional authority approves road-building plans
Last Friday (20 March) the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) approved a transport plan that will fund new road building projects across the region but commits no funding for public transport or walking and cycling schemes.
Greens: 'lift the ban' on asylum seekers working
Green Councillors call for end to illogical ban on asylum seekers supporting themselves
Council heading in wrong direction on climate emergency
Over a year after Bristol Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency, Green Councillors say the Labour administration are making a series of bad decisions that will only make the emergency worse.
Mayor's inaction on air pollution - plans delayed again
Letter on the Mayor's inaction on air pollution from Green Group leader Eleanor Combley