Bristol Green councillors are demanding that the new Labour Mayor allows proper public consultation on the government’s proposed devolution deal for the West of England1. Greens see real devolution and joint working as essential, but have described the current scheme, which will be debated by Cabinet and Full Council on Weds 29th June, as ‘worryingly flawed’.
Charlie Bolton, Leader of Bristol’s Green Councillors said:
“Council is being asked to agree a final deal and then put it out to public consultation. How is it a real consultation if there’s no opportunity to change anything? We’re calling on the Mayor to ensure that people’s views are actually taken into account as part of this process.2
“The “take-it-or-leave-it” approach central governmant has taken on devolution is not encouraging. Throughout this process, councillors have been presented with proposals as a fait-accompli. We need the consultation to be meaningful. We’re not really sure who the government actually is at the moment. We don’t know who is making decisions right now, or who will be responsible for delivering on the promises this deal makes.”
Tony Dyer, Green Party national spokesperson for Local Government said:
“A more joined-up and integrated approach is vital to improving our regional infrastructure. We urgently need better transport solutions, increased delivery of decent housing that is genuinely affordable, and investment in the skills and education needed for the future. These are things the people of Bristol have consistently asked for.”
“Prioritising short-term economic growth is inherently risky. We absolutely need to create jobs, but in sectors that are actually growing and sustainable – low carbon engineering, innovative technologies, and the high tech/creative sectors. This is why the Greens have submitted an amendment3, calling for clear commitments that address inequality and demonstrate that environmental sustainability will be central.”
“We need a joined up approach to our region’s future. We need the infrastructure investment included within this deal, but we also need to ensure that the people whom this infrastructure is intended to benefit have a real say on how it is delivered. This deal must not be another wasted opportunity.”
The proposed ‘West of England deal’ is a devolution agreement currently being negotiated between the government and the leaders of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Glos.
Green councillors have submitted a statement to Cabinet and Full Council outlining their concerns with the deal.
Green councillors have submitted an amendment to the deal, calling for equality and environmental sustainability to be prioritised throughout and for improved accountability and scrutiny.