CITY councillors have condemned the violence and brazen crime that erupted in the city.
Bristol City Council leader Barbara Janke, Labour leader Peter Hammond, Tory leader Peter Abraham and Green Party leader Tess Green spoke with one voice to criticise the disorder.
They said there was no excuse for copycat behaviour that had occurred in London and paid tribute to local people who had helped to minimise the trouble.
They said: “The disturbances in some parts of Bristol overnight, following the weekend violence and looting in north London, are shocking, yet relatively isolated.
“We’d like to thank local people for their cooperation in helping minimise the disorder.
“In the past, we’ve found that this kind of violence has been from a small minority of opportunist anarchists seeking to capitalise on unrelated circumstances elsewhere, and to bring violence to our city.
“Thankfully, the level of disorder in Bristol has not been of the scale of London. Of course, we want to do everything we can to prevent reoccurrence, and we look forward to perpetrators being brought to justice.
“We face a challenge as a city, but also as individuals, and we all have to rise to this challenge.
“We need to clean up, and reopen for business, allowing our shops and workplaces to carry on – all the more important with the wider worries about the economy. The council is already hard at work cleaning the streets.
“We know that people will rise to the challenge.
“There is no excuse, no justification for any kind of copycat behaviour.
“It’s too easy to blame young people, the majority of whom are of course blameless; we need to find those actually responsible.
“We pay tribute to both the Avon Fire Service and the Avon and Somerset Police, who have struck a good balance between sensitive community policing and a firm, highly visible presence to crack down on last night’s disorder.
“They, the fire brigade, the ambulance service and also some city council staff are doing a great job under tough circumstances.
“Bristol is a safe city, with levels of crime falling year on year.
“Every Bristol resident can do their part – by working together to make sure that the life of the city is not disrupted and continues in the normal way.”
Lib Dem councillor Jon Rogers, who represents Ashley ward which includes St Paul’s and Stokes Croft, said: “This is totally unacceptable behaviour by a small minority. My initial impression is that the police have been proportionate and effective in Bristol last night, but I would support stronger measures if necessary.
“The community has rallied round to help the clean-up, working with council officers and police to return the streets to normality, but there has been a significant disruption to lives and livelihoods of many residents and businesses. We all have a responsibility for helping halt these disturbances.”
His Ashley ward colleague Gus Hoyt (Green Party) spent yesterday morning speaking to people who had been affected in St Pauls.
He said: “There’s been everything from reactionary views like ‘send them to boot camp’, to kids saying ‘what do you expect, there’s nothing for us’.
“It would have been nice to think the last riot in April was the last one. It’s becoming a national trend.”
Lib Dem Dr Mark Wright who represents Cabot ward which includes the city centre, said: “The damage in Bristol was a disgrace.
“Fortunately it wasn’t on the scale of the shocking criminality in London, but even so ordinary people’s livelihoods are being wrecked.
“It seems that violent anarchists and common criminals are unwittingly working together on social media to generate these disturbances – the violent anarchists want to fight the police and burn big businesses, while the thieves just want to steal stuff.
“To my mind this has gone on long enough, and the police tactic of ‘containment’ certainly isn’t working in London – it’s time to put the Army on standby in case the police need extra help.
“If the disturbances happen again, they should be forcefully broken up and the thugs be taken to jail for trial.”