We have had enough of quarrelling politicians
By The Bristol Post | Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 05:00
YOU have given much publicity to the election of a mayor for those citizens who live within the city boundary, namely about 400,000. How about those of us who live in the greater Bristol area, an additional 500,000?
The mayoral hustings in the chapel at Arnos Vale Geoff Gollop, Daniella Radice, Tim Collins, Neil Maggs, Jon Rogers, George Ferguson, Mike Norton (chair), Marvin Rees, Tom Baldwin, Owain George and Stoney Garnett
The new mayor will have sweeping powers for only half the population of greater Bristol. We count ourselves as Bristolians but we have no voice in the election.
All I can say to those lucky enough to have a vote is, for heaven's sake, don't vote for a politician. We have had enough of quarrelling politicians in this city. Vote for an independent candidate, preferably George Ferguson, who seems to be tailor made for the job.
(a Bristolian, born in St Andrews)
ONE in a red hat, one in a top hat and one in red trousers. The novelty candidates are wearing thin, as are the fact that they are decidedly short on policy. This is an election to run the city, not the council but only one candidate understands that fact. Marvin Rees consistently talks about big city management, big ideas and big ambition. However, his bread and butter policies are impressive too and leave the other candidates trailing. 4,000 affordable homes, more childcare, a Living Wage and a Bristol food badge to champion local produce. I'm ignoring the novelty and voting Marvin Rees for real leadership.
IS it only me that recognises that what Mr Ferguson has been saying that he would be a non-political independent mayor is a load of nonsense? It will be impossible for any mayor to get policies through without sufficient levels of support from Bristol City Councillors all of whom are members of political parties. How does Mr Ferguson plan to get his polices agreed if he doesn't work with the political parties on the council? It's my view that Mr Ferguson would have to be very political and do some very shady deals with some of the parties on the council to get his polices agreed, not that I've seen any yet. How can Mr Ferguson be independent if deals are done and promises are made in return for party political support?
Marvin Rees is the only candidate that has a clear plan for the city with the ability and political support to deliver his plan through the institutions of Bristol. Mr Ferguson's claim that he would be an independent non-political Mayor is just a shallow myth.
National Executive Council Member
Communication Workers Union
I ATTENDED the hustings at the Memorial Ground and was shocked by the standard of the candidates, a number of whom struggled to speak in a coherent way.
I was heartened that most of the plausible candidates, who were able to string a sentence together, were willing, if elected, to pool talent from across the parties. However, the Labour candidate, Marvin Rees, refused any such notion. He categorically stated that, if elected, he would only have labour councillors on his cabinet. Surely, that flies in the face of democracy and an elected mayor of whatever persuasion should use the best councillors to suit the important posts. If you vote for Mr Rees there is no point in voting for any councillor, of any other persuasion, other than Labour, as the people running the city will be Labour only.
He is obviously intelligent and sounds good but most of his answers seem to be that he would engage with the agencies. He has little experience and therefore you wonder about his ability to manage the job properly.
Additionally, despite the complete mess the Liberal Democrats have made of the road system under the direction of Tim Kent, Jon Rogers refused to rule out re-appointing him in the transport position, should he be elected.
Mr Ferguson, who seems to have spent lots of money on his campaign, was unimpressive and appeared to be unable to hold the line on questions.
I worry greatly about the outcome of this election and hope that we get a level-headed mayor who takes all matters and talent into consideration, for the benefit of this great city.
Whoever the successful candidate is they will presumably have to interface with major institutions nationally. To do this they will need to smart, measured and have a broad breadth of experience.
I hope I am proved right to vote for a mayor in Bristol when I contemplate the possible result ?
WITH so much being said about the virtues of independent candidates and with even the Conservative and Lib Dem mayoral candidates minimising their party allegiances, I'd like to say a word in favour of political parties, which emerged for very good reasons. These are not dangerous secret organisations, wielding power over their members. They are groups of ordinary people who care about their society and who know they will achieve more if they get together with others who share their aims and values. Our society is too big for us to know the candidates personally but when you vote for a Labour, Conservative or even a Lib Dem candidate you have a broad idea of what they stand for. You know if they will share your views on a range of different issues. You can even guess how they might react to future events. You get the occasional surprise and disappointment, of course, but, unlike with independents, you know – more or less- what you are getting. You are not buying a pig in a poke.
WE live in a world where knowledge is the main asset we have. In Bristol we need to make the most of this by engaging the talents and an abilities of everyone. Bristol is a very divided place where this does not always happen. Marvin Rees in his bid to become mayor has shown he understands that we mustn't leave communities which have so much to offer, out of the local economy.
Do you remember the boxer Marvin Hagler? He had a nick name 'Marvellous Marvin'. Should the Labour candidate become the elected mayor of Bristol you could all be shouting that's marvellous Marvin, pay rise for council employees, council tax freeze, new stadiums for both football teams, new arena, and the Commonwealth Games are heading our way, and that's just for starters. Fantasy island methinks.
In her letter (The Post November 12) Kerry McCarthy states that George Ferguson's Bristol 1st campaign 'lacks the momentum it needs at this late stage'. I would add to this 'or so the Labour party would like you to believe'.
Only on Monday, leading independent politicians in the form of Martin Bell, Siobhan Benita, Liam Fogarty and Pippa Goldfinger came to Bristol to share their experiences and endorse George Ferguson's mayoral campaign.
They were truly an inspiration. I only wish more people had been able to hear them speak at the special Tobacco Factory event.
Interestingly, all of them described mud being slung at them by their opponents, and attacks made on their credibility – just as George Ferguson has been crawled over constantly by every political party since the day he declared he would stand (with the exception of the Greens, for which they should be applauded).
In addition, in describing George's campaign as 'purely media-based', Ms McCarthy insults the efforts of the huge 'volunteer army' Bristol 1st has built, from scratch, with more than 400 local people regularly out leafleting and 1,000 active supporters. Many of these are people never before involved in politics (like me), those disillusioned by the big parties and those that simply see an independent mayor as a fantastic opportunity for Bristol to finally achieve its potential.
It suits Labour to imply that the Conservatives are the real threat. They know that, in reality, only voting for George Ferguson will stop Labour.
I would urge anyone that wants this to be the exciting opportunity for Bristol that it should be not to vote for the one party that intends to appoint only members of their own party to the Cabinet eg Labour. This would be a tragic waste as it will not allow other talented, passionate councillors the chance to play a key role, and it will not allow the change that Bristol so desperately needs to take place.
There are two candidates in this election who really care about green issues and sustainability. Marvin Rees and Daniella Radice.
For me Marvin gets my first preference. He plans to make Bristol a zero food waste city and work with groups like food cycle and Fareshare to ensure food wasted at supermarkets is redistributed to those in poverty. He also has the most credible policy in dealing with fly tipping: introducing free kerbside collection of bulky waste.
Student Enterprise advisor/Ashley Resident
Students at Bristol colleges that were hit hard by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative removal of EMA will benefit if Marvin Rees is elected Mayor. His learning fund will help them afford studies and his Bristol Leadership Programme is already helping inner city kids career and higher education help that currently only private schools provide.
President, University of Bristol Students' Union 2011-2012
I welcome Marvin Rees's pledge to introduce a learners' support fund now that the Conservatives and Lib Dems have scrapped the Education Maintenance Allowance. Marvin shows he understands how important it is for youngsters whose parents are not well-off and how important it is for Bristol to have a well-educated work-force.
Kerry McCarthy misses the point in her criticism of George Ferguson's Bristol 1st party (The Post November 12).
All new parties start somewhere –
Bristol 1st is fresh, new and different, and – unlike most of the other candidates – George Ferguson has a real track record of tangible achievement for Bristol. He has made good things happen like The Tobacco Factory and will make many more good things happen in the future. He is a "do-er".
Unlike the party candidates, he is not beholden to some big party machine – he is independent and can speak his mind. Bristol really, really NEEDS an independent Mayor, not a party puppet. Look where the main parties have got us to date – it's a record of failure.
Anyone who cares for their own and Bristol's future can put George Ferguson as a first or second preference and know he will do a great job.
Colin Sexstone says the Commonwealth Games could land the city with a big bill. I for one, as a City fan, was glad to see the back of him at Ashton Gate. He and his preferred candidate are both 'no can do ' people while Marvin Rees' ambitions are plain for everyone to see. Two stadiums, an arena, 4000 affordable homes, more childcare, a Living Wage and now a big idea that can really put Bristol on the map. As Mr Sexstone himself finally admits in your article, "It's a very laudable idea and I would love to see the games in Bristol". Here's an idea; Vote for Marvin Rees.
It seems quite clear that an elected mayor will need to 'seek powers' from outside authorities in order to proceed with 'an integrated transport system'.
If this is the case, shouldn't people living in those surrounding areas be given an opportunity to vote in the forthcoming election?
How many more 'powers' will the elected Mayor be seeking over the next four years? The empire building has started before the pulling stations have been opened.
I find myself agreeing with the letter written by Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy in Monday's Post – the Tories are stronger than expected in the Mayoral race.
Supplementary voting (the system implemented for the Mayoral and PCC elections) is certainly throwing a spanner in the works for the tacticians working for all political parties. With the election the first of its kind in Bristol, no one really has a clue how it is going to play out. We don't know if there will be a clear winner gaining 51% of the vote, or if the outcome will be decided by collating the second preference choices. This coupled with the many independents, means it's anyone's guess.
The Liberals, according to the last week's opinion polls, have sunk and dampened by feeling of dislike of Mr Clegg and are struggling even to inspire their own to vote.
With a strong personable candidate, Labour in theory should do well. Marvin's issue is that Labour did not want an elected mayor. How can Labour expect to encourage their voters to get out and vote in a system they do not believe in. We also must not forget the mess that Labour left Bristol in last time they were in power.
Instead of all this speculation, let's look at the facts. The Tories have historically a very slick, well oiled election machine. They are incredibly effective at getting out the vote from their loyal supporters. This is especially true with postal voters and on a cold mid November day the turnout at the ballot box will be low, placing further significance on the Postal Vote and aiding the Tory cause.
So if like me, you like to bet on an underdog with a decent chance – my money would be on the Tory dark horse.
The mayoral election campaign has provided a wonderful opportunity to debate the issues facing Bristol. I've been very impressed by Marvin Rees's plans to increase the number of primary and secondary school places. I understand he also will introduce a learners' support fund to assist those worst affected by the government's abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, a loss that has struck the disadvantaged in Bristol very hard.
As a university lecturer I am more than pleased that Marvin intends to work with both UWE and Bristol University in stimulating innovation and improving Bristol throughout his term. Contrary to what Charlotte Leslie asserted at the Watershed recently, the public sector does create wealth, and the city's two universities are a proud example of this.
Dr Alistair Clark
Bristol was the only city to choose to have a mayor and now we are able to decide who we want to run the city.
It's an important and powerful role and must not be taken lightly. The winner will have the responsibility to lead Bristol into brighter economic times, encourage investment, improve the environment and overhaul transport.
Most importantly, the mayor must be experienced in the workings of local government and the workings of business. It's not a question of thinking up new ideas and telling the council what to do – as any councillor knows, leadership in College Green means walking a tightrope, navigating conflicting interests and managing expectations.
For Bristol to succeed, we must encourage businesses to move here. To do this, the mayor must have an understanding of what makes businesses of all sizes tick. Creating jobs is the single most important role for a mayor, as it improves lives and brings in the revenue to do everything else.
Transport in Bristol desperately needs rethinking. Cheap, accessible public transport and safe cycling routes are key to getting the city moving, but at the same time, we cannot penalise motorists unnecessarily.
The mayor must also strive to reduce the rich-poor divide in our society, to look after the elderly and ensure that our children receive a world-class education in their local school.
I passionately believe that we have a duty to preserve the environment for future generations – for me, the mayor must protect green spaces, safeguard nature reserves and rare species, improve recycling and facilitate us all to reduce the carbon footprint of the city.
Only one person standing for mayor possesses this vision and the qualities to see them through. Bristolian born and raised. Geoff Gollop is an accountant, with a sharp understanding of business. As a councillor, he exercises diplomacy and scrutiny and is familiar with the workings of the Council House and the people within it. Geoff has successfully reversed bad transport decisions made by the Council, he's championed families who have needed additional school places and worked with local communities to save green spaces when the council wanted to sell them off.
To make Bristol stand out from the crowd, direct access to Westminster decision-makers is also crucial. Boris has done this for London and only Geoff Gollop can too. I have no doubt that, in the future, when other cities see how successful having a mayor has been for Bristol, they will want their own. But while we're ahead of the curve, we must make the right choice and elect someone who knows what they're doing. Which is why I will be voting for Geoff Gollop to become Bristol mayor.
Chairman, Bristol West Conservatives