LEADER’S BLOG: Two months in – how are Green councillors taking to their new roles?

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I thought I’d start a Leader’s Blog to give a regular feel for what I and the other Green councillors are getting up to. We now have 14 Green councillors – a full 20% of the council – and this means that our seven new councillors have had a steep learning curve in the last two months. They’ve all jumped in with both feet, despite the majority having to juggle busy work schedules and social lives. (Yes, some councillors have social lives!)

With the mayoral election and the whole council (all 70 of us!) up for election in less than a year, there’s a lot to plan for and I know that Green councillors and party members are relishing the opportunity to campaign on local residents’ community issues and for the Green Party’s policies and values in the coming months. So without further ado, here’s a taste of what seven of our councillors have been up to…

Ani Stafford-Townsend Cabot ward, 2,916 votes (38.47%)
Ani was elected as the first ever Green councillor for Cabot ward. Pre-election priorities: http://robtelford.com/2015/04/05/bristol-west-10-minute-interviews-4-ani-stafford-townsend-cabot/
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=9
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/cabot
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Ani has found a large quantity of her time taken up by casework. Cabot has a severe lack of appropriate waste disposal for both residents and businesses – which is particularly unpleasant in the heatwave but it will be easier now that the council are bringing waste back in house.

Ani has been discussing homelessness and rough sleeping with agencies such as Streetwise and fellow councillors and hopes to bring some positive news soon. She has also been talking to small businesses about how they can be better supported. There is the potential for a BiD (Business Improvement District) for Old City and surrounding areas. Ani is working to ensure that all small businesses that want to be included are given the option.

Ani has also found time to set up monthly surgeries in the “ward corners”, the first of which was on Wednesday 1st July in WUF houses, Redcliffe. She plans to hold more in Kingsdown and Harbourside.

Ani also has one of the Green group’s two committee chairs. She chairs Development Control B Committee which deals with granting or refusing planning applications. In her own words…

“So far we’ve had one session of DC-B, with 4 fairly interesting and contested items. One item was for permission to build 5 new houses on land in Sneyd Park which backs onto the Avon Gorge Nature Reserve. The plot itself previously had permission to build 5 houses alongside the original 1970s development, but for various reasons the houses had never been built and the land was left fenced off for almost 50 years. The committee felt that rather than the site being separate from the reserve and having less conservation value as argued by developers, this created as a conservation site by default which must be protected. The motion was refused 6 votes to 5, thus protecting the site. On the same committee we also ensured that a garage conversion would never be given HMO status as a planning condition, ensuring that such builds do not result in area overcrowding. I have also requested that the impending Carriageworks application and also the Frome Valley development are heard in DC-B in order to ensure that the community are given the chance to be fully heard.”

Dani Glazzard Cotham ward 3,174 votes (42.90%)
Dani was elected as the first ever Green councillor for Cotham ward.
Pre-election priorities: http://robtelford.com/2015/04/05/bristol-west-10-minute-interviews-4-ani-stafford-townsend-cabot/ Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=9
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/cabot

Dani has taken a lead role in establishing the ‘Friends of Redland Library’, a group of local residents and library users, who want to protect Redland Library. She’s worked with this group to draft a response to the Future Libraries Consultation that reflects residents’ views and aspirations for the future of the libraries.

Dani has been working with Cotham’s neighbourhood officer to convene a Young People’s Working Group to engage young people in the neighbourhood partnership. Students from Cotham School and from the Youth Council came along to their first meeting to talk about how they would like to be involved in making decisions in their neighbourhood and what sort of initiatives might most benefit them.

Casework is helping Dani to find her way round the Council – from queries about chickens to planning objections and how to get double glazing in a conservation area!

Carla Denyer Clifton East ward, 1,945 votes (32.16%)
Carla was elected as the first ever Green councillor for Clifton East ward.
Pre-election priorities: http://robtelford.com/2015/04/12/bristol-west-10-minute-interviews-5-carla-denyer-clifton-east/ Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=30
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Clifton-East

So far Carla has been contacted about and already helped residents with:
> Housing issues for someone with mental health issues
> Residents’ Parking feedback (She has received the odd angry rant but many reasonable suggestions for improvements.)
> Helping a local business find funding for sustainability improvements.
> Attendance at local Residents’ Association meetings etc, and being available for questions.

Other issues from residents that Carla is starting work on now include:
> A safer road crossing for a local school
> Investigating the use of glyphosate (“Round Up”) by the Council
> Perennial problems with overflowing bins, noisy neighbours, student relations.

Carla thinks it’s important to balance between reacting to residents’ concerns and setting her own agenda. Her three priorities for Clifton East are:

  1. Better public transport and facilities for cyclists and pedestrians
  2. Better council services, especially addressing the lack of a community centre in the ward, and threat of closure to the local library
  3. Appropriate affordable housing for everyone

Carla has already been working hard on priority (2) by co-founding Friends of Redland Library with Dani Glazzard (Green Councillor for Cotham) and others, and submitting a joint response to the libraries consultation. She looks forward to getting started on the other two priorities soon.

Carla also has a seat on the following committees: Development Control B Committee, Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Commission, and working with Greens in the Place directorate on energy issues.

Anna McMullen Easton ward, 3,117 votes (47.21%)
Anna was elected as the first ever Green councillor for Easton.
Pre-election priorities: http://robtelford.com/2015/03/15/bristol-west-10-minute-interviews-1-anna-mcmullen-easton/
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=32
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Easton
Blog: http://annamcmullen.com/
annaredfieldAnna has been working on two areas in particular – sustainable living and the street environment.

Work on sustainable living has included: work with residents about the Warm Up Bristol scheme to insulate houses in Easton, including meetings with council staff delivering the scheme to encourage better service for residents and improvements to communication and problem solving; consultation with residents about getting some bike hangars installed in a few places around Greenbank.

Work on street environment: Anna has been taking part in a bin consultation and door knocking people to talk about litter and solutions near Stapleton Road; working on getting a fence replaced in Bellevue Park; sorted out some pest control to come to get rid of RATS (!) coming from a sewer on Eve Road; getting some signage sorted about caravans in central Easton, met the Playing Out team.

Coming up, Anna wants to do some bigger picture thinking about austerity, how we mitigate the worst in Bristol and how we oppose it through revenue raising to replace certain cuts or by challenging national budgets. Please get in touch if you want to work on this too: anna.mcmullen@bristol.gov.uk

Anna is also taking a seat on the following committees: Development Control A Committee, Public Rights of Way Committee, working with Greens in the Business Change directorate.

Martin Fodor Redland, 1,465 votes (36.19%)
Martin was elected as Redland’s first Green councillor in May 2014. He has recently been joined by Fi Hance, who decided to join the Green group from the Lib Dem group after the elections in May 2015.
Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=74
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Redland
Blog: http://martinfodor.com/

Martin’s main preoccupation is the future completion of the Bristol North Baths redevelopment (library, health centre, flats, toilets). Initially held up by quality issues necessitating a pause to construction, it is now way behind time and delayed latterly by the developer running out of cash to fund completion. Work is proceeding v slowly and there are now doubts on the planned move of the GP practice into the complex, which was the original rationale for the baths building to be turned over to a developer since it would remain a community facility.

Martin and Fi are also taking an interest in the work of the Business Improvement District where progress has been slow since the traders’ board was created for part of Gloucester Rd. They have both also been pursuing news of various traffic/highways projects in the ward due to very slow progress and the fact promised schemes for cycle safety works at the Zetland Rd junction have never materialised after funding was gained.

The Bishopston, Cotham & Redland (BCR) Neighbourhood Partnership (NP) has recently undertaken a ‘road safety’ action day dealing with drivers and cyclists’ behavior at junctions. A work programme is being developed for Sustainable Travel in BCR. A recent success is the Heatview project funded by BCR Green Capital grants. This has already (before the end of winter) mapped many homes across the NP for infra red images that can be used to reveal heat loss. The website www.heatview.co.uk can be used to check heat images against normal street view images and signposts help and advice on energy saving. It is being used to support a new neighbourhood energy group in the area that Martin is helping get going.

Martin is the Green lead on the Neighbourhoods scrutiny commission – which includes environment and leisure, housing delivery, crime and disorder, recycling, waste and environmental issues, neighbourhoods, and public health. Martin has led on input for the new civic year’s agenda, promoting a sustainable waste and resources focus for the review of waste and recycling services. He has emphasised  reduce/reuse/repair and recycle rather than means of recovering energy from residual waste. Martin has also advised on questions around the Bristol Energy Company and taken part in the approval for the new Bristol Waste Company at Cabinet.

On libraries, the committee is about to review feedback and proposals based on the second public consultation. Martin is the Green lead on the Development Control A Committee, which has so far dealt with the council’s response to developments at Filton Airfield. Martin also has the Green seat on the Downs Committee where he has worked with local parents on the Cycle Sunday events that now have created access to family cyclists on the Downs.

Redland councillors also have a regular column in two local magazines and are planning a new e-newsletter to local contacts we have assisted.

Daniella Radice
Bishopston ward, 1,256 votes (36.10%)
Daniella was elected as Bishopston’s first Green councillor in May 2013 and soon after became Green group leader. She was joined in May 2014 by Green councillor Tim Malnick. Daniella previously stood as the Green Party’s candidate for Bristol Mayor in November 2012, and she is now the Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, covering environment and leisure, housing delivery, crime and disorder, recycling, waste and environmental issues, neighbourhoods, public health and sports. Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=82
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Bishopston
Blog: http://bishopstongreencouncillors.info

daniellaDaniella’s main objectives for the year as Assistant Mayor are a good Green waste policy and some sensible changes to neighbourhood partnerships to make them better, involving the devolution of power.

A recent Cabinet reshuffle meant Daniella gained the sports portfolio. She has been to a meeting of the Sports Partnership, and will be focussing on grassroots participation, women’s sports and ensuring the partnership has good processes in place to ensure it is representative of the wider sports world in Bristol.

In her role relating to safer Bristol she has been involved in the implementation of the Counter-terrorism Bill, but it is called Building the Bridge in Bristol. This involves sitting on the Board and also helping develop  the Council’s thinking on how to tackle Far-Right extremism.

Finally, Daniella looks forward to the launch of the 50-50 campaign by the Lord Mayor on the 15th July, aiming to get women to make up 50% of Bristol’s councillors by May 2016. She has been chairing the group that produced the campaign through the Women’s Commission and working on it for the last few months. Keep your eyes open for further news and campaigning on women councillors in the next few months.

In Daniella’s ward, Bishopston… Tim is working with the Ardagh group, they are making good progress with the project and an initial expression of interest in community asset transfer has been made to the council. // A successful neighbourhood forum was held on the theme of secondary education – a subject close to many of our residents’ hearts. // Road safety, particularly around Ashley Down Road, as well as nuisance issues relating to noise and smells from local businesses continue to feature in the councillors’ casework.

Rob Telford Ashley, 1,223 votes (34.54%)
I was elected as Ashley’s second Green councillor in May 2013, joining Gus Hoyt. I am the current Green group leader. Councillor page: https://bristol.gov.uk/councillorfinder/?Task=name&CouncillorId=69
Bristol Green Party page: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/Ashley
Blog: http://robtelford.com/
Becoming the group leader has meant an increase in media requests, councillor group administration and invitations to public events. Balancing this with the needs of an inner city council ward is certainly challenging, but no two days are the same and I’m really enjoying it.

Ashley ward has recently had another Residents’ Parking Scheme implemented in Montpelier and there are renewed calls for schemes for St Andrews and St Werburghs as commuters’ vehicles spill into these areas.

Gus and I are potentially using the Mayor’s Parks & Play Fund to get some outdoor gym equipment in Albany Green, and there is a new community project being developed by Sustrans in conjunction with residents called “Imagine St Pauls”. There are fothcoming major planning applications at the Carriageworks/Westmoreland House site (St Pauls/Stokes Croft) and at the Brooks Dye Works site (St Werburghs).

I will be sitting on Overview and Scrutiny Management Board and Licensing Committee this year.

In two weeks: the other seven Green councillors will give their updates!


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