Bristol Lib Dems propose a £40m change to Mayor’s budget, prioritising public transport and cutting congestion and air pollution.
The Mayor’s budget faces several amendments but the boldest is the one from the Liberal Democrats, looking to invest nearly £40M extra into measures to improve sustainable transport, reduce congestion and cut air pollution in Bristol.
The proposal is slightly smaller than the Liberal Democrats’ record-breaking amendment last year. It pledges a huge investment in creating a major fund to support initiatives encouraging bus, cycling and sustainable transport use. It is being earmarked as a means to accelerate progress on several projects including park and rides, dedicated cycleways, rail, and a major Metro Bus expansion. It will not be available for road expansion or road building projects.
It also offers a new youth travel card service for passengers in Bristol up to 25 years old. This would extend the current 30% discount across all participating bus companies, currently available only to under-21s on First buses. The Liberal Democrats are aiming to encourage more young people to use the bus rather than personal cars.
The Liberal Democrats are also calling for the council to put their weight behind a London-style bus franchising system for Bristol. The campaign ‘Take Control of Bristol’s Buses’ has already over 3,000 signatures and is expected to be brought before the council soon. The fund would provide for Bristol’s streets and pavements to be kept clear and safer to improve this and encourage pedestrian use.
Last year the Liberal Democrats proposed over £50M of changes to the mayors budget seeing more investment in libraries and parks paid for from extra tax receipts from developers. The motion was backed by other parties but Labour used their majority to vote it down. Nevertheless, throughout this year they have put extra funding back into parks and libraries and adopted the extra tax receipts from developers as the Lib Dems proposed. Why won’t they accept sensible proposals?
Cllr Anthony Negus, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Bristol City Council, said:
“Improving transport, reducing the city's congestion and cleaning up air pollution is the top priority for Bristolians, but we have seen little real action from the Mayor on any of these.
“That is why our budget proposes a step change – encouraging young people to use buses rather than cars, campaigning for a franchise scheme in Bristol to ensure our buses are run for the public good and creating an investment fund to get big projects underway for bus, rail and cycling so we can provide decent alternatives to congested traffic everyday.”
Cllr Tim Kent, Bristol Lib Dems Finance Spokesperson, said:
“We have made positive and bold suggestions once again identifying funding not used by the Mayor which we can instead invest in our city and people.
“Last year he and Labour councillors voted down our amendment in the chamber ignoring sensible suggestions by other groups only to find themselves dragged into court by local residents and be found to have acted illegally.
“This year we once again offer a practical amendment, which would create a catalyst to attract transport investment. I hope this year Labour councillors will put politics aside and support this sensible opportunity for real improvements.”