Labour in Bristol have ripped up the Mayor’s proposals for spending extra cash, believing that totally different priorities are needed for some of the city’s most vulnerable, for reshaping libraries and to ensure that the Green Capital Year leaves a lasting legacy.
“While crippling cuts have been imposed on the City Council by the Coalition government we must spend any extra resources as best we can. At the moment the Mayor has vague proposals to implement his commissions’ findings and no-one is sure what Bristol’s Green Capital legacy might be. Labour has clear priorities,” says Cllr Helen Holland, the Labour leader.
Labour will halt the £500,000 cuts to parks maintenance planned by the Mayor by using Green Capital legacy funds.
“We find it astonishing that in Green Capital year the city’s parks will be hit hard, and our park keepers laid off. We know that park keepers bring real value to our parks, working with local groups, ensuring that scarce resources are best used, and helping to reduce anti-social behaviour in green spaces,” says Cllr Holland.
Labour will also amend the capital budget diverting funds from the next phase of Residents’ Parking Zones to invest in a new Hartcliffe Recycling centre.
“The Mayor seems determined to plough on with Residents Parking even in areas where there is currently no problem, whilst doing nothing to improve recycling. We know that recycling rates are lower in the south of the city and the promised Hartcliffe Way Recycling Centre would boost Bristol’s recycling rates, which have recently reduced. That would mean a real Green Capital legacy for decades to come,” says Cllr Holland.
Other money allocated to implement the Mayoral Commissions Labour believes needs to be better targeted.
“We know that the Mayor’s Fairness Commission had real concerns about isolation amongst older people, so stopping the Mayor’s proposal to prevent Diamond Card pass holders from using community transport needs to be an immediate priority,” she says.
Thousands of people across the city have engaged in the consultation about the future of the library service, but are concerned about the threat of cuts. Labour’s additional money will fund the changes needed, enabling our libraries to modernise and provide better services to communities.”
Labour would also spend money on extra funding for transition at the BUSH respite care home, extra support for the Welfare Rights and Money Advice Service reversing the Mayor’s proposed cuts to these services, and ensuring that residents get the right help to get benefits they are entitled to.
Labour would also fund an increase in the council apprentices pay and conditions of service to bring them up from £2.80 towards a Living Wage.
“Labour believes that members of the Mayoral Commissions would welcome specific funding to help deliver their ideas, and help the vulnerable who are being left behind by the current cuts,” says Cllr Holland.
Labour are also not impressed by the allocation of £100,000 to be spent on celebrations for the Bristol 800 celebrations.
“It does seem frivolous to be spending money on celebrations while people are suffering. Labour feels we should stave off cuts to crime reduction projects involving PCSO patrols, domestic violence and hate crimes,” she says.
Finally Labour feels that the Mayor has simply delayed any progress on replacing the East Bristol swimming pool. Speedwell was closed in 2005. A replacement pool, attached to the Brunel Academy school, has been an aspiration ever since. Labour will press for the proposed swimming pool to be moved up the priority list for the capital investment programme.
“Labour has different priorities from the Mayor. The coalition government austerity programme limits what is possible but we have sought to help the low paid and the vulnerable where we can, to ameliorate what many see as a threat to our libraries and to identify a lasting Green Capital legacy. This is the approach we offer to all Bristol citizens in spite of financial constraints,” says Cllr Helen Holland.