From Bristol Green Party
At Tuesday’s first meeting of the city council since the elections removed the LibDems’ overall majority, the new ‘green group’ of Cllrs Tess Green (Southville) and Gus Hoyt (Ashley) secured new commitments from council leader Barbara Janke in three key areas.
Addressing the meeting, Cllr Tess Green made special reference to government cuts in the Migration Impact Fund, which has given invaluable help to many newcomers anxious to learn ‘English for speakers of other languages’ or ESOL – and saved spending on translation services.
“The shortage of English teaching for speakers of other languages is an important issue for Bristol’s immigrant population, especially women, so that rather than remain isolated at home they are encouraged to learn english
and integrate. The skills of all newcomers to the City should be welcomed and language provides the key for people to use their skills rather than joining the unemployed.”
“We are concerned at the termination of the Migration Impact Fund which will remove current grant aid to students learning English, who have no other source of funding. As well as establishing the likely shortfall in funding, and lobbying the govt to restore grants, we would like this council to look at how the coordination role for English teaching for speakers of other languages can be widened to include ways of addressing the funding shortfall alongside other measures to help people become fully integrated into their local community.”
To applause from the public gallery, Cllr Green concluded by saying “The Greens look forward to co-operating, and finding some new solutions to the most pressing problems that face the city. And it actually seems this is what voters wanted, as they have presented us this opportunity to stop fighting and start working together”
Responding, Cllr Janke agreed to lobby government for the ESOL funding to be restored, to examine the gaps in this essential service, and to explore how they could be filled.
The two green councillors had also sought assurances that the controversial sell-off of green spaces would be suspended, and that the council should look more seriously at establishing an ‘all-city’ multimodal transport hub at Temple Meads, using the opportunity offered by the Plot 6 development site. On both these issues, the new administration has agreed to draw on the ideas of cross-party working groups to find ways forward.