My manifesto for Southville

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Steve Clarke (Green Party candidate for Southville) personal manifesto

This document is intended to tell something about who I am, what I believe in and what I will do when I am Green Party councillor for Southville.

Who I am.

I am Bristol born and bred, married with two daughters and live in Hamilton Rd Southville, which I love because it is such a strong and vibrant community. I used to be a commercial lawyer so I really understand the drivers for the business world but I shudder at the economic and social inequality I see in Bristol.

 I decided that the best way for me personally to help limit our negative impact on the planet was to try and directly influence behaviour change in my own community.

Subsequently, I co-founded the Bristol Pound to take advantage of the ‘local multiplier’, shorten supply chains and encourage people to ‘shop local’. It has been a huge success and we supporting 25 other areas to launch similar schemes. I remain Financial Director. I am also a director of Big Green Week and have had significant roles in the Happy City Initiative, Caring at Christmas and various other social projects including an education project in Nepal which I launched.

What I believe in.

Bristol can be a prosperous city without destroying the planet and Southville can lead the way.

  • There is a real opportunity for Bristol to lead the way in creating thousands of green sustainable jobs by incubating green technologies, retro-fitting carbon saving measures and making the city a wonderful place for ‘clean’ industries to come and thrive.
  • Bristol’s high streets (including our own excellent North Street) can become even more diverse, independent and downright quirky. The Bristol Pound and other initiatives can help this, but local independent businesses have to be encouraged and nurtured by the council.
  • Bristol has amazing resources in terms of libraries, swimming pools and other local facilities (including our own Bedminster library and Bristol South swimming pool) and these should be nurtured and invested in rather then there being talk of reduced level of services and other cuts.
  • Employers in a thriving city like Bristol should be paying the Living Wage as the default position. My own organisation (Bristol Pound) is a Living Wage Accredited company and others should follow. Bristol City Council should only deal with suppliers who pay the Living Wage.
  • Bristol has got huge disparities in income levels and other social indicators within its boundaries; a real ‘tale of two cities’. However, studies from around the world show again and again that more equality means more prosperity for all and increased social cohesion.
  • Bristol should be the social enterprise capital of the UK. Social enterprises and other alternative forms of business organisation such as Co-ops, are basically normal businesses but with ‘added heart’; they consider people and the planet as well as profit. The council should use the many empty office spaces to help these businesses start up and thrive; especially in the more disadvantaged areas of the city where a new business means paid jobs, less dependency on benefits and real pride in local achievements.
  • We should make sure that all companies which benefit from the people and facilities of our city make their contribution; stop the tax evaders! I support publicly naming them so Bristolians can make their disgust known by boycotts and other peaceful actions.

Bristolians should be able to travel by public transport that is frequent, affordable, integrated and reliable.

  • With the current congestion on the roads; train is best. I want Ashton Gate station (on the Portishead line) to be re-opened. This could serve the revamped football stadium as well as the local community. I also want more stopping trains to Parson St and Bedminster.
  • There should be a direct bus between Southville and Temple Meads (as the Greens have been saying for some time).
  • There needs to be more discussion with the local community about the impact of the new stadium on parking in the area. This will have a huge impact on the communities in Southville on match days but there has been little discussion about what to do about it.
  • I support the re-nationalisation of the rail franchises as the contracts come to an end as this will bring them back into public ownership and cost very little. Lets take ownership back where it belongs, get real investment that we can all benefit from (rather than just the shareholders) and make a system fit for the 21st century rather than the 19th.
  • I want the real costs of Metrobus/BRT to be reassessed and made public so that a rational decision on its future can be made. At the moment all we are hearing about is massive unspecified over-spends which mean that huge amounts of money will be diverted from other budgets. There will also be enormous adverse side effects from the current plans including the impact on cycle and pedestrian access caused by new layouts.
  • I want cycling to be promoted and encouraged with new improvements in BS3 including safe cycling in East St. However, I want the views of walkers to be taken seriously as well. I have been commuting by bicycle for 25 years and understand how much improvement there has been in that time, but I recognise that real anger can be caused by a minority of thoughtless cyclists. The rules of the road (and the pavements) should be upheld.
  • The work that Greater Bedminster Community Partnership are doing on safe walking and new greenways should be properly supported and funded.
  • I support the 20mph limit in Southville and Community Speed Watch.

Bristolians deserve decent, green and affordable homes.

  • Bristol is a rich city and should be building more affordable homes. It is a disgrace to the city how few are built at the moment and this has led to many other knock-on social and financial problems.
  • When they are built they should be on brownfield sites (including infill) rather than greenfield ones outside the current city boundaries. This would have the added benefit of allowing more people to walk and cycle to work.
  • Bristol should be taking the opportunity of its year as European Green Capital to undertake a massive retro-fit programme of ‘house-greening’ measures. More jobs, lower bills, warmer houses, less carbon; what’s not to like!

Bristol Children need good schools as a right.

  • When I grew up in Bristol the standard of education offered in the state system was a disgrace. It is improving but still needs massive investment.
  • Class sizes are still too large; as we have become richer as a country the numbers in classes seems to have got bigger. The average numbers for primary schools is 25 and we have the 5th highest average class sizes (out of 33) in the developed world.
  • Parents need more say in the way their children’s schools are run and need to be encouraged by all means possible to become more involved.
  • I have personal experience of special needs provisions in Bristol’s schools and they are still under-resourced.
  • Schools are a community resource and should open to community and leisure uses wherever possible.
  • The loss of part-time nursery classes in local schools is a real loss to working families and I support the development of new facilities in Southville to help with childcare.

With the potential provided by the European Green Capital year, Bristol has a historic opportunity to show the UK what a sustainable urban area might look like. This means real, satisfying and sustainable jobs in renewable energy; it means a city with a sense of pride and it means a new form of democracy where the trust is rebuilt between the citizens and the electorate. The Greens are the party that can provide the leadership and representation that will take us there. Vote for us in May 2015!

 

 

Stephen Clarke

21/11/14

 

stephen.clarke@bristolgreenparty.org.uk