Following tonight's overwhelming defeat of the government's Brexit bill, James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:
"Parliament has delivered its verdict on the Brexit deal and it is overwhelming. This deal is wrong for Bristol and wrong for Britain.
"The only way forward now is to give the people the final say on the deal through a people's vote with the option to remain in the European Union. Liberal Democrats have been calling for it from day one and we will continue to lead the fight in Parliament, Bristol and the country.
"Our MP and the Labour Party needs to find their backbone, drop their plans to deliver a Labour Brexit and join me and the Liberal Democrats in calling for a People's Vote.
The government has lost by a majority of 230 and a vote of no confidence in the government has been called for Wednesday.
Bristol Liberal Democrats have criticised the City Council's handling of Bristol Energy, after the community energy company posted over £11million in loses for 2018.
Whilst the idea was conceived in 2010 under the Liberal Democrat administration, due to implementation delays under the Ferguson administration it was launched to much fanfare in 2016 by Mayor Rees. The company is funded by taxpayers and has yet to place a profit.
Cllr Tim Kent, Lib Dem Councillor for Hengrove & Whitchurch Park, said:
"This could be the largest financial mess in the history of the council. Possibly dwarfs even the Bundred Report.
"It would appear very unlikely that the tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers loans to the company will ever be repaid.
"Liberal Democrats demand better. It's important to encourage community energy schemes and diversify the energy market, but when you're playing with taxpayers' money, you need to make sure you have a plan to make a profit. We are yet to see that plan."
The Liberal Democrats want to expand community energy schemes, encourage councils to develop community energy saving projects and local electricity generation and promote city-scale demonstration projects in electric vehicles and clean energy and continue to back new entrants to the energy market, aiming for at least 30% of the household market to be supplied by competitors to the ‘Big 6’ by 2022.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has died, aged 77, following a short spell with cancer.
Paddy Ashdown served as MP for Yeovil from 1983-2001, before becoming the UN High Commissioner to Bosnia & Herzegovina. Paddy more than doubled the number of Lib Dem MPs during his time as leader and will be remembered for his integrity, compassion and optimism.
Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader, has said:
"He inspired the Liberal Democrats from a polling position he famously described as ‘represented by an asterisk’, to become a formidable campaigning force, doubling the party’s representation to 46 MPs and laying the ground for the strength which later took the party into government."
"He will be sadly missed in all parts of politics and Parliament."
Stephen Williams, former MP for Bristol West and colleagues with Paddy, added:
"This news makes me very sad and tearful. So many memories. At a time when liberalism was on the floor he picked it up, marshalled its forces, gave orders and sent us into battle with so many victories as a result."
James Cox, Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, also added:
"Paddy was a hero. He saved Liberalism in Britain, he stood up for the underdog and won and was one of politics' greatest thinkers. His voice of reassurance, hope and justice is needed now more than ever. Thank you, Paddy, for everything. We will miss you."
Andrew Brown, Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol South, commented:
"The party and the country has lost a statesman, at a time when people of his calibre are in short supply."
On online book of condolence has been set up. Please feel free to add your comments to it: www.libdems.org.uk/book-of-condolence-paddy-ashdown
The Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has today announced its intentions to introduce nationwide weekly food waste collections.
The move follows the example of several local authorities, such as Bristol, as a means to increase recycling rates and reduce landfill emissions.
This development has been welcomed by the Bristol Liberal Democrats, who have pointed out the environmental damage and economic cost that has been enforced on the country whilst it waited to follow Bristol's example.
Cllr Gary Hopkins, Deputy Leader of the Bristol Lib Dem Group and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Waste & Environment in 2006, said:
"The Liberal Democrats introduced weekly food waste collection to Bristol in 2006. Many, but not all, councils have since followed, but in those 13 years how many tons of methane, which is 23 times more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2, have been pumped into our air and how much energy has been wasted producing fertilisers that we have recovered from waste food?"
The Local Government Association warned the plans ‘need to be fully funded’. Latest figures show 248 out of 326 councils in England — 76 per cent — have only fortnightly rubbish collections.
Every year, it is estimated, the UK wastes 10 million tonnes of food with a value of over £17 billion. It is associated with around 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Environmental groups have given their measured support for the scheme but have raised concerns over the perceived reliance on 'voluntary' measures.
Defra has said they will seek to address all raised concerns during the consultation in 2019.
Govt immigration plan 'threatens the heart of Bristol'
The Home Secretary has announced his intentions to cut the number of EU nationals migrating to the UK by 80% as part of the government's post-Brexit immigration shake-up.
The move has been heavily criticised as an extension of the controversial 'hostile environment' toward migrants. The government is expected to publish its long-awaited immigration white paper by the end of the year, which is already set to include a new minimum salary of £30,000 a year.
The plans, as outlined by Bristol-raised Sajid Javid, would see high-skilled migration from the EU fall from 14,000 to 11,000 a year. Meanwhile, medium-skilled migrants are set to plummet from 18,500 to just 4,500 in the government's attempts to reach its own targets.
Responding to the announcement, James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West said:
"To want to actively deter high skilled people from contributing to our country is ridiculous and tells the world that far from opening ourselves up, Britain is closed for business.
"EU nationals, including those who earn less than the arbitrary minimum, work for our digital industries, our NHS, our schools and higher-education sector.
"An immigration system based on ideological prejudice rather than the needs of our communities threatens the heart of Bristol. We are a city which is strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them.
"Liberal Democrats demand better. Our immigration system should be fair and indicate the ambition that we have for Bristol and for the country. The government hasn't learned the lessons from Windrush and the livelihoods of my constituents are once again being put at risk by the very worst of our politics.
Mayor accused of 'cover-up' over CEO Payout
Mayor Marvin Rees has been accused of a 'cover-up' over the payout to former Bristol City Council CEO Anna Klonowski.
The accusations come after a peculiar series of events at Tuesday’s Full Council meeting. At the meeting, Graham Donald, who started a petition for a full council debate over the CEO payoff, commented that the Mayor failed to answer his question and his supplementary.
Graham also noted that his question, which had been 'forgotten' from the last council meeting despite being submitted before the deadline, had also been edited. The question itself then appeared on the monitors in truncated form, unlike every other question which was asked. It was also noted by others that no paper copies of Questions from the public were available in the gallery, unlike most other previous meetings.
Responding to this Graham Donald, local Westbury-on-Trym & Henleaze campaigner, said:
“This all looks like a cover-up to me. Why was I not allowed even to mention Anna Klonowski’s name in my Question, despite this issue having been in the media for months – where did this new rule come from?
"The Mayor told me in March that the payment to her was £70K and required by her contract, but the city council’s auditors say that it wasn’t contractual and we now know her departure cost Bristol £98K. Why these differences? The Mayor just responded by attacking the auditors.
"When I asked the Mayor what lessons might be learnt in the recruitment and management of senior officers, we were treated to a speech about how much he had improved the city council’s governance and management. I do wonder if he’s living in a parallel universe.”
Following the Prime Minister's intention to delay the meaningful vote in Parliament on the Brexit deal, Bristol West Parliamentary Spokesperson James Cox has joined Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable in calling for a vote of no confidence in the government.Read more
Liberal Democrats Home Affairs Spokesperson and former cabinet minister Sir Ed Davey MP joined Bristol West Prospective MP James Cox on a visit to Bristol Drugs Project to look at the drug and addiction-related issues faced in Bristol.
Bristol Liberal Democrats are putting pressure on Bristol Labour MPs to back a People's Vote on the Brexit deal as constituency polling suggests that support for remaining in the EU has increased across the Bristol.
The Survation poll, which was commisioned by Channel 4 and is the largest and most comprehensive poll since the referendum, has found that support for leaving the EU has fallen across Bristol, and with support for the Prime Minister's Brexit deal in a minority.
Constituency estimates have now been published and show a clear swing from Leave to Remain. Bristol West remains one of the highest Remain-supporting constituencies in the country, with just 16.72% of voters wanting to leave the European Union. Despite this, Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire has consistently opposed a People's Vote.
James Cox, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for Bristol West, said:
"The numbers show very clearly that support for remaining in the EU has not dimmed but has grown in Bristol West. When I talk to people on the doorstep, they are very clear about their vision for their country. They want young people to have good opportunities, refugees to be welcomed not vilified, and for us to work with our neighbours to tackle climate change. I share that vision, which I believe will only be realised if we stay in the EU.
"Despite this, we have an MP who openly backs a Norway-style deal over a People's Vote. This is completely at odds with what is right for her constituents and what her constituents want. Bristol West wants a remain-supporting MP, not a soft Brexiteer. It's time Labour MPs stopped helping the Conservatives deliver Brexit and joined us in stopping it."
Bristol South had the highest leave vote in the city, with 47.1% of voters backing Leave. However, the poll now suggests that this number has shrunk to just 40%, with 60% now in favour of remaining in the EU.
Andrew Brown, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for Bristol South, said:
"The data suggests that as the reality of Brexit has become clearer, people who previously voted leave are switching their view, with only 4 in 10 people in Bristol South now supporting leave. It is time for people to be 'given back control' of the Brexit process and for Karin Smyth to support a People's Vote."
The data also suggests that support for the Prime Minister's deal is in a significant majority in Bristol, with an estimated just 39.2% supporting the heavily criticised deal.
MPs will be voting on Mrs May's deal on December 12th, with all Bristol's MPs expected to vote against it.
In response to the Council's Libraries Strategy, Bristol Liberal Democrats leader Cllr Anthony Negus has made the following statement:
"Bristol Lib Dems welcome the prospect of a Libraries strategy – but despite the title, this is not what Cabinet approved last week. Instead, there will be conversations with people interested in each of the present library buildings. We heard variously that libraries are to be community-run, maintained as an overall city-led and paid-staff run service (with some exceptions!) There was the talk of trusts, asset transfers and even commercialisation but too little on what libraries should be for. The University of Bristol believes their £80m investment in a new library will pay dividends. The Lib Dems are proud of the four new libraries we created and the role we have played in Scrutiny and in Council to make the Mayor think again about our library service. But last week it was said that there was no guarantee of money to sustain our 27 libraries until 2020, and there was no vision or leadership for a long-term plan beyond that date.
"My request for at least a minimum delivery standard across the entire system was not answered and the executive member regularly said that libraries should not be seen as buildings. This flags up the concern that they will go virtual (online). Rather than sustain and improve our delivery of this essential service, existing library buildings will be seen instead as a soft touch for asset-stripping or downgrading to something immediately wanted by a local group rather than needed for the long-term by the wider community. One of the Cabinet has made it clear her preference to demolish her local library and replace it with housing.
"Some will see this as a popular proposal and look good on local leaflets but, to use the Mayor’s term for building an arena in Bristol, this would be a vanity project built over the wreckage of a public offering of long-term skills and learning to the community. As anyone who has listened to the Cabinet webcast will know, my intervention highlighted this known political mission and I stick by it. Reversing Austerity should start with a vision for the future and move on to delivering better opportunities for all. Personal growth is the most valuable kind.
"There are a large number of community buildings provided over many years as a panacea for deprived areas by previous Labour administrations which are now underused or falling into expensive disrepair. The Lib Dems support much of the current administration’s attempts to build new affordable and Council housing alongside private dwellings by agreements with developers. We are also keen to see bold civic enterprise in better use of redundant city-owned assets alongside those of other public bodies. Active library buildings are a long way down this list. If we want to deliver essential housing then we can do this more effectively and in greater numbers elsewhere.
"Bristol Lib Dems have suggested a vision that sustains its library service to be fit for future benefits. We will look imaginatively to modernise, relocate, co-locate and even to accept revenue-earning features. But our sustainable model will not asset-strip Bristol’s vital resources for short-term headlines. Bristol demands better."