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Archive for April, 2011

To see the original story on the EP website, click here

On May 5 voters will choose 24 councillors to represent them on Bristol City Council. Over the next month we will look at all of the wards that are being contested, and all the candidates that are chasing your votes. Today it’s Cabot.

IF there’s one ward where the row over tuition fees could play a part, it’s Cabot.

Traditionally a Liberal Democrat stronghold, the party has held the seat for more than 15 years.

Two issues that are beyond the control of local party members could change that.

The increase in tuition fees is the most obvious example, a policy which could be punished by the area’s large student population.

According to the latest statistics there are 13,211 residents, and more than half of them are aged 16 to 29-years-old.

Cabot has the highest number in that age group in the city, with 7,684 living in ward.

That is largely thanks to the high levels of student accommodation and the inclusion of the University of Bristol.

The other national issue is the effect of the coalition government. With many Lib Dem voters angry that their vote last May was essentially used to prop up a Tory government, there could be a backlash in areas such as Cabot.

The ward covers the whole of the city centre, including Broadmead, Kingsdown and Harbourside.

It is bordered by Castle Park in the east to Tyndall’s Park in the west, Cumberland Basin in the south to the edge of Cotham in the north.

Locally the issues are much as you might expect for a major city centre – crime and parking.

Cabot has the highest crime rate in the city. This is perhaps inevitable as it houses the most popular part of Bristol’s night life. But since 2001 crime has dropped dramatically – by a third in less than ten years.

City council plans to cut back on funding for police community support officers may not find favour though.

The authority said it was planning on reducing its £1 million contributions towards PCSOs by £139,000 for the 2011/12 financial years as part of a £28 million programme of cuts.

It is fair to say though that regardless of such cuts most of the police resources in Bristol will always be focused on this part of the city.

The other ongoing issue for the ward is parking. The city’s first Residents Parking Zone pilot was introduced in Kingsdown in January

Last year there was much debate over exactly how many people really wanted it.

Public consultation showing the narrowest of margins of support – 0.6 per cent – but further statutory consultation showed 42 were in support and 995 were against.

There were allegations of fraudulent results and the council rejected a number of the responses before agreeing to go ahead with a pilot.

Despite protests from no to RPZ campaigners at the time, there has been little objection since the scheme was brought in three months ago.

Next: Clifton and Clifton East

Candidates for Cabot ward

Name: Liberal Democrat

Alex Woodman

Age: 27

Lives: Brislington

Experience: Served as councillor since 2007

Occupation: Caseworker

What difference will you make: I will continue to work hard for people in Cabot, pushing for improvements to the local area and standing up for local residents.

Party: Conservative

Name: Iain Dennis

Age: Not given

Lives: Sneyd Park

Experience: Not given

Occupation: Director of a worldwide recruitment company

What difference will you make: Not given

Party: Green

Name: Ben Appleby

Age: 50

Lives: Kingsdown

Experience: Green Party election agent for Bristol West in the General Election 2010

Occupation: Financial adviser

What difference will you make: I hope to be part of a strong Green group on the council whose positive forward thinking attitude will influence future council decisions.

Party: Labour

Name: Ben Mosley

Age: 24

Lives: Clifton

Experience: First time standing

Occupation: Caseworker for Labour MP

What difference will you make: I will listen to Cabot residents. I’m campaigning for a green Bristol, fairer access to education especially after £9,000 tuition fees, protecting public services, safe streets, and better public transport.

Other candidates – no details given

Chris Farrell – Trade Unionists and Socialists Against the Cuts

Previous Results – 2007

Alex Woodman – Liberal Democrat – 1,005 (47%)

Christopher Gittins – Green Party – 430 (20.1%)

Iain Dennis – Conservative – 374 (17.5%)

Tom Fleuriot – Labour – 327 (15.3%)

Polling Stations

University Indoors Sports Centre, Tyndall Avenue

The Ark, Cotham Road South

Centre for the Deaf, King Square

Central Library, College Green

Spike Island, Cumberland Road

Waring House, Commercial Road

The Register Office, Corn Street

For a detailed map click here

Bristol City Council ward profile

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On May 5 voters will choose 24 councillors to represent them on Bristol City Council. Over the next month we will look at all of the wards that are being contested, and all the candidates that are chasing your votes. Today we look at two wards, Brislington East and West.

AS YOU drive into Bristol along the A4 Bath Road, it is hard to imagine that Brislington used to be a village outside of the city.

But now it is part of the suburban sprawl which stretches out from the city centre.

Brislington is divided into two wards – east and west – with Wick Road acting as the main boundary. The A4 therefore lies in Brislington West although it is hugely important for everyone who lives in this area of the city.

Many residents, no doubt, are disappointed that the Government’s spending cuts have seen plans abandoned for a link road between Callington Road and the big roundabout near the Sainsbury‘s supermarket at Sandy Park.

This link road would have utilised the disused railway line and eased the awful traffic congestion, particularly at the junction of West Town Lane with the Bath Road.

This junction has become a notorious bottleneck since the road layout was changed when the Lidl supermarket was opened and several sets of traffic lights were installed within the space of a few hundred yards. But it’s not only these very busy roads which grab the attention.

Just as important is the issue of speeding motorists along many of the residential streets where cars are parked on both sides of the road.

Full-time mum Kelly Boulton, 23, of The Rock, who has three children, would like measures taken to slow down traffic on School Road, a steep and busy road which links the Bath Road with Broom Hill and St Anne’s.

There are also traffic issues in Sandy Park, a popular local shopping centre which can still boast a post office – a service which is sorely missed by residents in Broom Hill.

Dinner lady Lesley Clatworthy, 60, of Eastwood Drive, who has lived in Brislington for most of her life, has seen many changes and said there is still some anti-social behaviour but it has “calmed down a lot in recent years”.

Jason Lear, 32, of Jersey Avenue, Broom Hill, helps to run a five-a-side football centre. He said Brislington fared well compared to other parts of the city. “I think it’s much quieter here,” he said.

No doubt residents in St Anne’s who fiercely protested against plans to sell off a strip off green space behind their homes in Newbridge Road will be making their views clear at the ballot box.

They mounted one of the biggest campaigns against the council’s green spaces strategy which aims to sell off parcels of open land to raise funds to improve parks and open spaces. Their protests led to St Anne’s being taken off the council’s sell-off list.

Brislington West is a safe Lib Dem seat but Brislington East has been somewhat of a battleground in the past. The Tories were stunned to lose the seat which was contested last year (there are two seats in each ward) and Labour will find themselves in a scrap to hold on to this one which was last fought in 2007. It was won by Labour’s Simon Crew but he took it with only 85 votes so the Tories have all to play for.

Next: Cabot ward


Candidates for Brislington East


Party: Labour

Name: Mike Langley

Age: 55

Lives: Fishponds

Experience: Councillor before at Frome Vale 1990 to 1996

Occupation: Retired bus driver and union rep

What difference will you make: I’m backing local people to save our green space especially between Broomhill and Victory Park and to convert the old Mission building in Rochester Road as a community centre.

Party: Conservative

Name: Lara Cozens

Age: 42

Lives: Brislington

Experience: First time standing

Occupation: unemployed

What difference will you make: By winning the seat I would make sure the voice of Brislington East is heard clearly, and spoken in Bristolian.

Party: Liberal Democrat

Name: Pauline Allen

Age: 57

Lives: Kingsdown

Experience: Second time standing

Occupation: Rsearech scientist

What difference will you make: Fight on behalf of the citizens of Brislington East, on issues that concern them. Do all I can to preserve and enhance the community.

Other candidates – no details given

Robin Whitlock – Green Party

Martyn Ahmet – Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts

Mark Smith – UKIP

Previous Results – 2007

Simon Crew – Labour – 1,258 (42.1%)

James Stevenson – Conservative – 1,173 (39.2%)

Roger Norman – Liberal Democrat – 286 (9.5%)

Ruth Cormack – Green – 271 (9%)

Brislington East Polling Stations

Brislington East: St Anne’s Infant School, Langton Court Road entrance; St Anne’s Park Primary School, Lichfield Road; St Peter’s Methodist Church Hall, Allison Road; Holymead Infant School, Hollywood Road.

Brislington West: St Anne’s Junior School, Langton Court Road; Holymead Junior School, Rossall Road; St Christopher’s Parish Hall, Hampstead Road; Bristol Sports of Performing Arts, White Hart Lodge, Brislington Hill; Hungerford Community Centre, Hungerford Road.

To see polling stations on a map

Bristol City Councils ward profile

Brislington West Candidates

Party: Liberal Democrats

Name: Jackie Norman

Age: 60

Lives: Brislington

Experience: Ward councillor since 1999

Occupation: Part time market research interviewer

What difference will you make: Within the Brislington Neighbourhood Partnership, I’ll continue to listen to how local people think we should spend local money.  On the council I’ll represent Brislington West residents’ priorities.

Party: Labour

Name: Liam McDonough

Age: 34

Lives: Brislington

Experience: Second time standing

Occupation: Works in catering

What difference will you make: Councillors should be more responsive to local people – footpaths at Water Lane need repair – long overdue, a wheels park at Arnos Court, restore the cuts to PCSOs.

Philip Collins
Party: UKIP
Age: 47
Lives: Brislington
Experience: Second time standing
Occupation: Driver
What difference will you make: I will put the local community first. We need to stop putting so much money into Europe – charity begins at home.

Other candidates – no details given

John Yeandle – Trade Unionists and Socialists Against the Cuts

Lucy Mackilligin – Green Party

Colin Bretherton – Conservative

Previous Results – 2007

Jackie Norman – Liberal Democrat – 1,150 (41.5%)

Colin Bretherton – Conservative – 807 (29.1%)

David Naismith – Green – 451 (16.2%)

Brian Mead – Labour – 362 (13%)

Brisington West Polling Stations

St Annes Junior School, Langton Court Road

Holymead Junior School, Rossall Road

St Christopher’s Parish Hall, Hampstead Road

Bristol Sports of Performing Arts, White Hart Lodge, Brislington Hill

Hungerford Community Centre, Hungerford Road

To see polling stations on a map 

Bristol City Council ward profile

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See the original story on the EP website

On May 5 voters will choose 24 councillors to represent them on Bristol City Council. Over the next month we will look at all of the wards that are being contested, and all the candidates that are chasing your votes. Today is Bishopsworth.

POPULAR Kings Head Park in Bishopsworth was in danger of being one of those green spaces where some of the land was at risk of being sold off to developers.

But last December, the park was one of nine green spaces which was removed by the ruling Liberal Democrats from the council’s sell-off list.

Residents who live near the park were understandably relieved but they are under no illusion that green-belt land near their homes is under increasing threat from the bulldozer.

You only have to look out over the border into North Somerset to see where developers wanted to build a new mini-town with thousands of homes, something akin to Bradley Stoke on the green fields below Dundry.

Yet there was probably a bigger issue for people in Bishopsworth, many of whom commute daily to work in the city.

They were furious when bus operator First removed the 52 service a year ago which provided such a transport lifeline. The axe fell on the route after the city council decided to withdraw its subsidy.

Bus users were delighted when private bus operator Andy Fear, who runs Citistar, stepped in to run the service. But he found he could not make it pay and it has now been taken over by Abus, which has altered the route and extended it to incorporate Imperial Park.

Bishopsworth is a typical Bristol suburb, mostly residential and with a mix of private and council housing. It has one of the lowest number of residents from ethnic minorities in the city. Most residents are therefore white British.

The main A38 Bridgwater Road runs diagonally across the ward while Bishopsworth Road also provides one of the key routes.

The council slapped a weight restriction on Bishopsworth Road some years ago to stop heavy lorries thundering through the residential area but many HGV drivers now use Highridge Green as an alternative route.

The issue has been raised at local Neighbourhood Partnership meetings and now the council is planning to monitor the frequency of heavy lorries on the route to see if another weight restriction is justified.

The increase in traffic on all our roads has seen the main Bridgwater Road become even busier. So much so, that people have spent several minutes waiting for a lull before crossing.

A new traffic island has now been installed near the South Bristol Crematorium to help people, especially the elderly, to cross the road.

There are five schools in the ward: the only secondary is Bedminster Down, which has been rebuilt and is now looking at the possibility of becoming an academy.

The four primaries are Bishopsworth CE VC juniors, Cheddar Grove primary, Four Acres primary and Highridge Infants.

There are some issues with drugs and anti-social behaviour which is mostly confined to the Highridge area. But generally speaking, crime figures are below average for the city.

In a council survey, 92 per cent of Bishopsworth people said they were happy while three-quarters said they were satisfied with their lives.

Next: Brislington East and West

Candidates for Bishopsworth Ward

Party: Conservative

Name: Richard Eddy

Age: 45

Ward: Bishopsworth

Lives: Headley Park

Experience First elected to serve the ward in 1992-95 and again in 1999 to the present.

Occupation: Freelance financial advisor

What difference will you make: I was raised, educated and live in the locality.  I understand, and have always represented, the views of Bishopsworth people.  Their priorities are my priorities.

Party: Labour

Name: Darren Lewis

Age: 28

Lives: St George

Experience: Second time standing

Occupation: Barrister

What difference will you make: People have to decide whether they want someone who just works hard or who offers a fresh perspective. They Tories have had their chance and failed.

Party: Green

Name: Barrie Lewis

Age: 64

Lives: Withywood

Experience: Has been standing for the Green Party for 25 years

Occupation: Voluntary work in mental health area

What difference will you make: I’m a local person so I know what’s going on and becoming a councillor will help me get things done in the community.

Party: Liberal Democrat

Name: Ian Campion-Smith

Age: 64

Lives: Redland

Experience: Has stood for council twice in Bristol

Occupation: Retired software and management consultant

What difference would you make: I have a vested interest that no other candidate has, I live here and therefore know the issues that need sorting first hand.

Previous Results – 2007

Richard Eddy – Conservative – 1,611 (57.8%)

Munawar Gondal – Labour – 653 (23.4%)

Barrie Lewis – Green – 347 (12.4%)

Lena Wright – Liberal Democrats –  172 (6.1%)

Polling Stations

Bedminster Down Secondary School, Tyntesfield Road entrance

Cheddar Grove Primary School

Bishopsworth Children’s Centre, Lakemead Grove

Withywood Centre, Queens Road

For a more detailed map click here

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See the original story on the EP website

On May 5 voters will choose 24 councillors to represent them on Bristol City Council. Over the next month we will look at all of the wards that are being contested, and all the candidates that are chasing your votes. Today is Bedminster.


BEDMINSTER is one of two wards where the election could be dominated by the ongoing row about Bristol City Football Club‘s new stadium.

Although the existing Ashton Gate site does not fall within the ward – it’s in neighbouring Southville – the proposed site of the new £92-million stadium at Ashton Vale does.

The battle lines have clearly been drawn – there are those who want the Ashton Vale fields to be used for the stadium and there are those who want it protected from any kind of development.

If you were just to look at the numbers, it’s clear what most people want.

More than 30,000 have signed an online petition in favour of the stadium, compared to around 1,200 who want the ground registered as a town green.

What’s not so clear is how many of the signatures on both sides come from the ward that Ashton Vale is actually in.

A brief look at both petitions shows plenty of people who live nowhere near the site – including Clifton and South Gloucestershire.

Any frustration on this issue could potentially favour the Greens more than any other party, as they are the only group to openly support the town green application and they have one seat in Southville already.

The effect the new Sainsbury‘s supermarket approved for the club’s current site at Ashton Gate could have on local trade is another ongoing issue for Bedminster and neighbouring Southville.

Although East Street and the busiest part of North Street aren’t actually in the ward, many of the people who use those shops are.

There are still concerns from traders that the new supermarket will damage local business although the council and the store say they will make efforts to avoid this happening.

Labour has held the seat for more than 15 years, though in 2007 it looked like their grip was slipping.

The Conservatives closed the gap but still came in second place by several hundred votes.

The Green Party took third, pushing the Lib Dems into a distant fourth.

The ward is bordered by the lower end of North Street to the north, Ashton Vale and the fields next to it to the west, South Liberty Lane to the south and stops just short of the Malago Greenway in the east.

According to the statistics, residents are not particularly impressed with the quality of the green spaces in their area.

The council has promised to improve parks in the ward as part of the £87 million improvement plan, and unlike other parts of the city Bedminster has none that will be sold off.

Next: Bishopsworth


Candidates for Bedminster ward

Party: Labour

Name: Colin Smith

Age: 62

Lives: Whitchurch

Experience: Councillor for Whitchurch Park 2002-06 and for Bedminster since 2007

Occupation: Has taken a sabbatical for a year to be Lord Mayor.

What difference will you make: I want to make Bedminster a better place to live by improving the few green spaces we have and help the local economy grow to create jobs for local people.

Party: Conservative

Name: Doug Newton

Age: Not given

Lives: Bedminster

Experience: Third time standing

Occupation: Chartered engineer

What difference will you make: I stand to guarantee Bedminster has a voice in the council – where any member see it as a place to drop unpopular building development and the planning department does not properly scrutinise developers.

Party: Liberal Democrat 

Name: Ian Cooper

Age: 45

Lives: Not given

Experience: Not given

Occupation: Bus driver

What difference will you make: Bedminster needs a councillor who is visible in the community and will work hard to help heal the rifts over the stadium application.

Party: Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts

Name: Robin Clapp

Age: 55

Lives: Bedminster

Experience: Third time standing in the ward

Occupation: Journalist

What difference will you make: A socialist and committed community activist, I will oppose all cuts to jobs and services as I did successfully in leading the 2008 campaign  to keep Marksbury Road library open.

Other candidates – no details provided

GreenParty – Cath Slade

English Democrats – Jon Baker

Previous Results – 2007

Colin Smith – Labour – 1,299 (38.5%)

Doug Newton – Conservative – 1,037 (30.7%)

Cath Slade – Green Party – 685 (20.3%)

Matthew Greenwood – Liberal Democrat – 353 (10.4%)

Polling Stations

Ashton Vale Community Centre, Risdale Road

Luckwell Primary School, Luckwell Road

Compass Point South Street School

Marksbury Road Library

South Bristol Methodist Church Hall, British Road

For a detailed map, see http://www.bristol.gov.uk/WardFinder/pdfs/bedminstermap-high.pdf

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http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/CULTURAL-QUARTER/article-3425807-detail/article.html

 

On May 5 voters will choose 24 councillors to represent them on Bristol City Council. Over the next month we will look at all of the wards that are being contested, and all the candidates that are chasing your votes. Today is Ashley.


UNTIL two months ago the fight for this seat would likely have been dominated by one word – coconut.

Rightly or wrongly the race row involving the Liberal Democrat councillor for Ashley Shirley Brown dominated much of the last two years of her political career.

But as the Evening Post revealed in February, Mrs Brown decided to stand down after eight years as ward member. That means there will be a fresh face representing residents on May 6.

When Mrs Brown – at the time Mrs Marshall – was first elected to the seat in 2003, the Lib Dems had a majority of 18 per cent ahead of Labour. This was drastically cut when the Lib Dems held the seat in 2007, as the Green Party came within 110 votes of taking it – around three per cent.

It would not take a large swing for them to win this time round, so this seat is one of the Greens’ best chances to gain a second seat.

Ashley is a diverse ward but the one thing you can almost guarantee is no one who lives there will say they live in “Ashley”. Instead they would talk about St Paul’s, St Andrew’s, Stokes Croft, Montpelier or St Werburgh’s.

The ward has one of the highest proportions of ethnic minorities in the city, with one in four people non-white.

St Paul’s and St Agnes are also within the ten per cent most deprived areas in England. Half of the people living in St Paul’s are “income deprived” and income deprivation after children is the worst in Bristol.

Crime is an ongoing concern for people in the ward and although rates have declined in the last ten years they are still above average for the city.

A series of high-profile violent incidents in the last year have kept St Paul’s in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

It is also home to many of Bristol’s more “bohemian” residents.

Residents living in and around Stokes Croft have branded the area “Bristol’s Cultural Quarter”. One of the most high profile issues here has been the battle against a Tesco in Cheltenham Road.

Thousands protested against the supermarket giant moving into the former Jesters comedy club but it is still due to open sometime this month and the frustration against the council could benefit the Greens.

Traffic is a problem too. Residents in the Hurlingham Road rat run have been fighting for a road closure for years, but people in neighbouring roads are opposing it as they fear they will simply inherit the problems.

One of the most obvious symbols of the run down nature of parts of the ward is Westmoreland House. It has stood derelict for decades despite repeated attempts to redevelop the site. The Lib Dem cabinet has given itself Compulsory Purchase Order powers to buy the site if progress with the owner cannot be made. Whether that’s too little, too late is up to the voters.

Tomorrow: Brislington East and West

 


Candidates for Ashley ward

Party: Liberal Democrat

Name: Waliur Rahman

Age: 26

Lives: Eastville

Experience: First time standing

Occupation: Development director for AISCO social enterprise

What difference will you make: I’m a really pro-active person and I would make things happen in Ashley. I want to listen to residents so issues are dealt with swiftly.

 

 

 

 

Party: Green

Name: Gus Hoyt

Age: 35

Lives: Montpelier

Experience: First time standing

Occupation: Part time builder

What difference will you make: I will combine my professional history with my academic knowledge to ask the questions concerning Bristol and sustainability that no-one else wants to ask.

 

 

 

Party: Labour

Name: Thangam Debbonaire

Age: 44

Lives: St Werburghs

Experience: First time standing

Occupation: Researcher, practitioner and trainer on domestic violence and gender equality

What difference will you make: I stand for justice and fairness for everyone in Ashley, quality education, protection for older people, good transport, Green Bristol, jobs and public services.

 

 

 

 

Party: Conservative

Name: Graham Godwin-Pearson

Age: 31

Lives: Westbury Park

Experience: Has stood previously

Occupation: Marketing consultant

What difference will you make: I’m campaigning for better access to education, public transport and to finally give Ashley a strong voice on the council.

 

 

Previous Results – 2007

Shirley Marshall (now Brown) – Liberal Democrat – 1,237 (37.3%)

Daniella Radice – Green – 1,127 (34%)

Ricky Nelson – Labour – 765 (23.1%)

Nyla Qureshi – Conservative – 182 (5.5%)

 

 

Council profile for Ashley ward

http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/content/Council-Democracy/Statistics-Census-Information/ward-finder.en?XSL=warddetail&WardId=1

 

 

Polling Stations

St Bartholomew’s Church Lower Hall, Walsingham Road

St Barnabas Primary School, Albany Road

St Werburgh’s Community Centre, Horley Road

Malcolm X Centre, City Road

St Pauls Community Sports Academy, Newfoundland Road

Detailed map – http://www.bristol.gov.uk/WardFinder/pdfs/ashleymap-high.pdf

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courtesy of Bristol City Council
The Migrant Rights Centre Bristol and Bristol City Council are launching a drive to improve access to healthcare for Bristol’s migrant community.

Working with local GP’s and migrant charities, the Migrant Rights Centre hopes to raise awareness of available health services and increase the accessibility of primary healthcare to all migrants in recognition on World Health day today.

Christien van den Anker, director of the Migrant Rights Centre Bristol said: “The UK is justifiably proud of the NHS and its guiding principle that every individual is entitled to free primary healthcare regardless of nationality or immigration status. We want to ensure that everyone in Bristol is able to access care and support from their GP’s when they need it.”

Graham Sims, deputy chief executive of Bristol City Council, said: “Bristol has benefited over many years from migration, economically, culturally, to take two examples, and we are committed to ensuring equality of access for all our citizens to services including healthcare. We support the campaign by the Migrant Rights Centre to raise awareness among all communities of services.”

Christina Gray, associate director of public health, NHS Bristol said: “The NHS is committed to ensuring equity and access to services for our diverse population. Public healthcare is in everyone’s best interests and we look forward to working with the migrant rights centre in taking forward this work.”

To launch the campaign, the migrant rights centre is inviting Bristol GP’s to participate in a policy discussion on increasing the accessibility of healthcare to migrants in Bristol next month.

Anyone interested in this campaign or in the work of the migrant rights centre Bristol can email info@migrantrightscentre.org.uk

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http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Bristol-City-Council-election-predictions/article-3422597-detail/article.html

On May 5, voters across the Greater Bristol area will go to the polls to elect representatives who will be making tough decisions about which services to cut and which to preserve in the coming years. Local government reporter Sam Rkaina looks at what might happen in Bristol.


BRISTOLIANS could be forgiven for having election fatigue.

Like waiting for a bus – though perhaps not in this city – it seems that barely has one gone past that another comes along shortly after.

The system of electing Bristol City Council by thirds means there’s a local election every year for three years then a year off.

Throw in a General Election every five years or so and a referendum on the Alternative Vote and people may well be sick of putting Xs in boxes.

It doesn’t help that Bristol councillors do not have the best reputation in the world.

Residents who brave the lengthy full council meetings every month frequently walk away in despair and exasperation at what they’ve seen.

Debates frequently descend into the kind of tedious political point scoring that Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg promised to do away with.

Councillors on all sides doggedly stick to party lines on almost every topic and that’s when the insults start flying.

In the last two years alone, two councillors have faced suspension for making either alleged racist or homophobic comments.

The Tories have been accused of being Nazis, there have been three party walkouts in the last six months and they’ve all accused each other of being hypocrites over the green spaces sell-off plan.

The “coconut” comment that started it all

While there are many who won’t welcome a hung council, it’s likely that’s exactly where we’re headed on May 5.

There’s even the chance it might actually force them to work together better.

The current makeup of the council is 38 Liberal Democrats, 17 Labour, 14 Conservatives and one Green.

The Lib Dems only have to lose a few seats to drop below the 35 threshold that gives them an overall majority. Frankly, it’s not looking good.

On paper there are plenty of traditionally “safe” Lib Dem seats like Clifton, Cotham and Cabot.

For the first time though, they’re having to fight a war on two fronts. Labour and the Conservatives may be used to answering for their national party’s policies in government, but the Lib Dems aren’t.

These elections are the first since they did a “deal with the devil” and brought the Tories back into government after 13 years.

The amount of anger among Lib Dem’s more left wing supporters on this cannot be underestimated.

You only have to look at the absolute drubbing the party received at the Barnsley by election last month – the Lib Dems didn’t even get their deposit back.

Then there’s the row over tuition fees. Increasing the maximum universities can charge is exactly the kind of policy that appalls your average Lib Dem voter.

Bristol West MP Stephen Williams has already taken a huge amount of flak for his stance on this.

There’s every chance Lib Dem supporters either won’t turn out to support their party or they’ll vote for a minority party like the Greens in protest.

The Green Party have a real chance to make gains in May – don’t be surprised if they walk away with two more seats to add to the one they already have in Southville.

Locally the Lib Dems have enjoyed the benefits of a majority to push through their policies but that has come at a price.

There’s no better example than the ongoing controversy over the £87 million parks improvement plan.

The Lib Dems say selling parts of more than 40 open spaces  is the only way to raise enough money for upgrades to more than 150 others. Thousands of members of the public disagreed but feel their concerns are not being listened to.

By sticking with the land sales policy despite the public backlash, the Lib Dems have effectively given the opposition parties an open goal, electorally speaking.

But there have also been successes for the Lib Dems that will no doubt fill their campaign leaflets in the coming months.

Arguably the biggest ace the party has to play locally is that their handling of the budget.

There’s no doubt people will be affected by £28 million of cuts being made this year, it would be impossible for them not to be.

But unlike cities like Manchester or counties like Somerset, Bristol is not looking at thousands of job losses, or libraries closing.

Public anger at Bristol City Council cuts

The introduction of 20mph zones in east and south Bristol has proved popular, and Bristol has been named as one of the best placed cities in the country to recover from the economy. Recycling rates continue to among the best in the country and the council is promising landfill will be a thing of the past within three years.

But there can be little doubt the May elections are the biggest challenge the Bristol Lib Dems have faced since they came to power in 2009.

It’s not just the Lib Dems who will be tested though – the city council itself will also come under the microscope in May.

The handling of last year’s Bristol elections – both national and local – was widely perceived as a farce.

From votes being mixed up because the wards sounded similar to names out of a hat being used to choose the councillor for Avonmouth, there were a lot of red faces at Council House that night.

All eyes will be on the officers to see if this time round they actually can organise a certain kind of an event in a brewery.

BRISTOL PREDICTIONS

A hung council: 1/100

The Liberal Democrats increasing their majority: 500/1

The Green Party gaining at least one more seat: 5/4

Council leader Barbara Janke holding onto her Clifton seat: 1/1

All of the election counts running smoothly on the night: 1,000/1

The Tories and the Lib Dems forming their own Cameron and Clegg style local coalition: 5,000/1

For the full list of candidates go to:

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Bristol-City-Council-local-election-candidates-revealed/article-3418164-detail/article.html

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