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Today Labour and Green councillors joined forces to save the Mayor from the people of Bristol. The Liberal Democrat motion, to give the people of Bristol a referendum on the Mayoral system that was voted on today lost by 11 votes, after Labour & Green councillors voted against it (with some Green councillors abstaining), meaning the motion didn't pass.
The Liberal Democrats have been listening to local people, whose frustration is clear with the Mayor, his failures, and the lack of accountability and democracy in the Mayoral system. 77% of the people of Bristol feel the elected Mayor isn't improving the leadership of the city, and we feel they deserve the chance to scrap the Mayor if they want to.
While we want to offer a special thanks to the two Labour rebels that broke the Labour whip to vote for democracy and their residents, we are disappointed that Green councillors chose to vote against or abstain on the motion, even though their national party policy is to scrap directly elected mayors.
The Bristol Lib Dems are immensely pleased that Cllr Mark Wright’s motion to end the cladding scandal in Bristol has been unanimously passed at Full Council this afternoon with cross party support. This motion is an important first step to ending the cladding nightmare for thousands of Bristol’s residents.
The motion calls on Bristol City Council to officially back the #EndOurCladdingScandal campaign, to provide more training to Cllrs and staff to allow them to assist residents and leaseholders with all matters relating to ESW1 forms, and to lobby MPs & the Govt to devolve powers to Bristol Council and to obtain the funds to fix the issues locally.
The Bristol Lib Dems will continue to fight for affected residents, through lobbying our MPs, working with the Lib Dem parliamentary group, and working with local residents’ groups to do what we can to alleviate the pain that they are suffering. We promise to continue fighting tooth and nail until this injustice is righted.
In his speech proposing the motion, Cllr Mark Wright (Hotwells & Harbourside) said ‘the vast majority of flat owners affected by this are not penthouse owners, they are very ordinary people who bought fairly ordinary flats right across Bristol. Many of them spent all their savings doing so, and they were told by every organisation along the way that their flats were safe. They clearly never would have bought the flat if they’d known they were going to get hit with a bill for 20, 30 or even £40thousand - money that most of them simply don’t have.’
Alex Hartley, Lib Dem candidate for Hotwells & Harbourside, who has been running the campaign on the cladding issue said ‘I am so pleased that this motion has been passed by Bristol City Council. This is the first step in ending the cladding nightmare for Bristol’s residents. I would like to thank Cllrs of all parties, as well as Mayor Rees, for putting party politics to one side, and choosing to back the Lib Dems’ motion today. I will keep fighting for local residents on this issue.
The Liberal Democrats have condemned the Conservative Government’s plans to reform the planning system, arguing that proposed changes will do nothing to alleviate the housing crisis in the West of England.
Local Liberal Democrats have chosen two-time MP for Bristol West, Stephen Williams, to contest the election next May for the important post of Mayor of the West of England.
In choosing such a strong candidate, the Lib Dems are sending a clear message that they are taking this election very seriously and they believe they can win.
Stephen Williams said "This election really matters to people's everyday lives because the mayor decides where a lot of money is spent to improve buses, cycling and other ways to get around, new housing and creating new jobs.
Lib Dem candidate and equal rights activist Tara Murray said;
‘I want people to see beyond this statue being taken down by protesters. This statue was a symbol of how Bristol as a city still venerated a slave merchant that ruined tens of thousands of African lives and made his money off the backs of these slaves to step up the financial and aristocratic ladder of his time. The actions during his lifetime should’ve been rebuked and for a city with such vigour, multiculturalism and diversity it made no sense for us to still have him at the heart of our city. The people felt they needed to do something as there was a lot of uncertainty around this topic. The history will not be lost with him being removed, what happened is ingrained in the history of the slave trade and of the city but the removal of the statue signifies us as a community ending the acceptance of these matters and growing forward as a community. This act has now added a new chapter on the history of Bristol and will hopefully educate all that don’t know and will help more people understand the comparisons from late 17th century racism and racism in today’s world.'
Pointing to the contribution of EU nationals working in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine urged the Government to “show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives."
Of the 32,530 EU nationals across Bristol who have applied for permanent residency, only 16,430 have been granted settled status.
2,690 EU nationals living in Bristol have applied to the Home Office scheme but are still waiting for a final decision to be made. Another 13,090 have been given only temporary Pre-Settled Status, meaning they will have to reapply within five years or be forced to leave the UK.
Although the Home Office has announced a one-year visa extensions for certain health and care staff, the Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their campaign to give all health and social care workers on the frontline of this crisis indefinite leave to remain.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. NHS staff, social care workers and other health professionals are putting themselves in harm’s way each and every day to keep us safe.
“The Government has a chance to show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic."
Liberal Democrat Mayoral Candidate for Bristol, Mary Page added:
“Bristol is a dynamic, internationalist, modern city which so many people have made their home and added positive value to our cultural mix. Too many EU nationals in Bristol are deeply anxious about their right to stay, like them I wasn't born here but equally like them I've made this wonderful city my home. With the uncertainty of both Covid 19 pandemic and Brexit, it is disgraceful to leave them in legal limbo like this.
“We are a city of sanctuary and have opened our heart and arms to welcome all, which we can see that with acts of Covid kindness to support everyone regardless of their status. Families and children must not be made to live under a cloud of uncertainty any longer. The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for EU citizens by fighting to guarantee their rights to live and work in the UK and make a positive contribution to our shared society.”