Bristol Liberal Democrats have put their support behind a bill that will see the end of the Vagrancy Act – ending councils like Bristol from putting homeless people behind bars for begging.
Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West & Abingdon, has introduced the bill that will end the criminalisation of rough sleeping. The Dickensian Vagrancy Act of 1824 has been used by multiple councils across the country as they seek to hide the homelessness issue, rather than finding more practical and humane solutions.
Liberal Democrat councillors are proposing the largest budget amendment ever submitted to Bristol City Council which will see £50M of borrowing slashed from the Mayor's plans and a programme to invest in vital services including parks, libraries and social care.
The amendment will be heard at Bristol City Council’s budget council meeting on the 20th February where the Mayor will try to win support for his budget and five-year financial plan.
Cllr Anthony Negus responds to misleading statements from Bristol's Cabinet Member for Housing.
I am sorry that there has been some concerns about my housing questions to Cabinet last week. The first was about the new housing company which we broadly support as it can deliver a wide-ranging of affordable housing types. The second was about the poor state of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) nationally, but particularly in Bristol. The Lib Dems are in favour of social housing and building more. The point of my question, but not the un-matching answer that was given by Cllr. Paul Smith and then widely picked up, was to highlight factors that made social house-building very difficult to achieve and, particularly, sustain in Bristol.
Following the reprieve granted to the library service last month, it has become clear that this is not, in fact, reviewing all the options at all. Lib Dem Cotham Councillor, Anthony Negus, explains:
The mayor and the executive member are not, as they have announced, making use of the libraries stay of execution to re-examine different ways of maintaining any more than their originally chosen ten libraries.
You may have seen from the media that the chief executive officer of Bristol city council left in September. She was Bristol’s third CEO since Marvin Rees was elected mayor in May 2016. Liberal Democrats are concerned about the process leading to her recruitment and about the payment made to her when she left. Graham is leading on a Petition about this. Go to www.taxpayersmoney.weebly.com for more details and to sign the Petition.
Liberal Democrat councillors, who along with many resident groups have led the opposition to the Mayor’s library closure programme, have welcomed today’s statement that the decision to proceed has been halted to consider other options.
Cllr Anthony Negus, Chair of the all-party library scrutiny group, said: “It is a good sign that the Mayor is listening at last to the consultation, the many thousands of people who signed the petitions and our motion passed by full council. I welcome this move and will be contacting the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to offer ways in which the whole council can contribute to an alternative and sustainable way forward.”
At last night’s full council meeting, the Lib Dem’s motion calling on the administration to explore mutual ownership models for the library service was passed after a passionate debate before a packed public gallery, and followed the success of three separate petitions calling on the council to rethink its proposals to close 17 of the city’s 27 libraries.
During the debate, Lib Dem Councillor Anthony Negus argued passionately for the retention of the city’s library network, saying “We have only one chance to get this right. If we lose the libraries now, we will never get them back.”
Today Bristol City Council will discuss a last ditch rescue plan for 17 Bristol libraries threatened with closure put forward by Liberal Democrat councillors.
The Full Council meeting is expected to be crunch time for Bristol’s libraries with three major petitions as well as other smaller petitions calling for the Mayors proposed closure programme to be halted.
But Liberal Democrat Councillors have secured the council’s Golden Motion and used this to put forward an alternate plan to mass closure. You can read it here.
In an unprecedented step, Bristol’s three opposition parties have united in calling on the Council’s External Auditor to step in and investigate the circumstances surrounding the controversial departure of the former Chief Executive, Anna Klonowski.
The City Council's Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) meeting on Thursday night was very interesting for a number of reasons. Specifically the report on the sustainability of libraries prepared by the Task and Finish Group chaired by Lib Dem councillor Anthony Negus was endorsed by all the members of OSMB and even praised by the Cabinet member with indications that it will be listened to, including the advice that it would form part of the report to Cabinet and that some money had been found for some initial consultancy work on examining this as a viable option.