‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.'
This is part of the preamble to the constitution of the Liberal Democrats and the reason so many of us were angry this week when MPs at Westminster voted not to offer free school meals to vulnerable children during the school holidays.
Andrew Vanrey, Lib Dem candidate for Brislington West, said, ‘As a recipient of free school meals when I was younger, I know what a difference it made to my mum, who was struggling to raise three kids on her own’. Jos added, ‘It’s truly shocking that in the 21st century, we still have millions of children living in food poverty’.
Following the reckless vote in Parliament, the Bristol Liberal Democrats wrote to Mayor Marvin Rees imploring him to explore the possibility of Bristol City Council paying for free school meals for poorer families instead.
'Both Crispins Fish & Chips and The Loddeka have pledged to support those eligible for free school meals. Thank you'
The toppling of Colston’s Statue represents a watershed moment in our city’s history. In recent years the statue, which sat in Central Ward, had been the focus of several community campaigns and petitions to either move the statue or remove it completely. The Bristol Liberal Democrats believe it is wrong for Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees to take credit over this issue, while his term has been marked by silence and inactivity with regards to it up to now.
Bristol Central Ward bares many marks from Bristol’s Slavery legacy. From the former docks where human cargo was traded to the Seven Stars Inn where abolitionists plotted the trade’s demise. Compared to other Wards in Bristol a disproportionately high number of street names in Central are named after slaves and slave traders. It is the position of Bristol Liberal Democrats that if we are to avoid unilateral public actions such as the forcible removal of Colston’s Statue, we as a city need to address this broad question with an open and inclusive political process that takes account
The Bristol Liberal Democrats have been vocal in advocating a Citizens Assembly, to draw on a broad spectrum of Bristolian citizen’s opinions and expertise to address this issue. However, after initially hopeful responses from Bristol Liberal Democrat Councillors, the Mayor released plans for a commission that seems to have advocated the use of an largely academic and political panel over citizens engagement.
Of course, academic expertise on this subject is needed and welcome. We are pleased to see the inclusion of David Olusoga, a local historian who has done much through his work in broadcasting to broaden the discussion of the slavery of legacy locally and nationally. However shunning community engagement comes with potentially great costs. Without a broad participation by Bristolians in this process, they may lose faith in it and whatever conclusions it may reach.
The Bristol Liberal Democrats have written to Mayor Marvin Rees imploring him to explore the possibility of Bristol City Council paying for free school meals for poorer families now that the government has voted down Marcus Rashford’s campaign to stop child holiday hunger.