May 6th, Bristol will be going to the ballot box. Below are the response from mayoral candidates to our open letter. Responses are being added as they arrive in the order that they arrive!
Stephen Williams (WECA)
Thanks for your email. I am of course standing for West of England Mayor, so am concerned with air quality in Bath and the many towns in the region, as well as Bristol. I am delighted that my Liberal Democrat colleagues in Bath & NE Somerset Council have introduced the first Clean Air Zone outside London. My manifesto https://www.stephenwilliams.org.uk/manifesto has dozens of ideas for making our region more sustainable. It got a 12/12 top marks rating from Friends of the Earth.
Sandy Hore-Ruthven (Bristol)
Thank you for taking the time to write and I am in absolute agreement that this is a priority for me. Globally, climate change is the biggest issue we face and I have almost daily conversations with residents in the city centre who are effected by poor air pollution – many who have health conditions have days they do not go out if the pollution is bad. Clean air in Bristol will tackle both of these issues.
I am fully supportive of the Clean Air Zone – we called for it over 3 years ago and the city, business and residents are suffering as a result of the Mayors indecision and now rapid introduction that leaves little time for people to plan.
I would also look to tackle the issue of wood burners which I understand contribute up to 1/3rd of our particulate air pollution.
Engaging people through consultation and campaigns is a key part of our plan and ensuring any measures ‘stick’ and are accepted by the population.
There are also a number of long term infrastructure changes we are looking to make such as improved public transport, cycling and walking that should reduce car use in the long run.
Please do have a look at my manifesto at http://www.sandy4mayor.co.uk for more information.
Thank you again for raising this as a key issue.
Dan Norris (WECA)
Thank you for your email.
I want to preserve our natural environment while championing the wellbeing and happiness benefits of green space and ensure current and future generations can benefit from better air quality.
As Metro Mayor, I will explore the potential of Clean Air Zones, taking targeted and unified action to improve air quality, and steer the Walking and Cycling Plan to boost health and wellbeing, reduce air pollution, and mitigate climate change. I also plan to make the West of England the Bee and Pollination Capital of the UK.
Please refer to my website for further details about my policy proposals.
Tom Baldwin (Bristol)
Thanks for your email and I’m sorry it has taken me a few days to get back to you.
I agree with most of the policies you have laid out in your bullet points. I do however have some disagreements with the plans for the clean air zone as currently put forward. These centre around the fact that the proposed charges are flat rate, a regressive tax that doesn’t take into account people’s ability to pay and in fact hit those who can’t afford to buy newer cars. I am completely committed to reducing car journeys but as I mention below we need affordable and reliable alternatives to driving, without which some people will have no choice but to drive.
I think that dealing with dirty air requires political representatives that will stand up for ordinary people and not for the interests of the big businesses which have been so environmentally damaging. Things like a programme of public works to create jobs by increasing renewable energy production and increasing the energy efficiency of buildings would be hugely positive. We stand for a publicly owned public transport network, run as a service and not for profit in order to ensure a quality, reliable and cheap service that would be a real alternative to driving. We also support more active travel – walking and cycling – by ensuring the necessary infrastructure and safety measures are in place. We need more council homes that people can afford to live in and we need to fight to protect jobs and services so that people live close to where they work and the amenities that they need to access. That would reduce the length of journeys people take and mean that many more of those journeys could be made on foot.
As with many of the issues we face, cuts to council funding make it harder to deliver these policies that we need. The approach of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is not to accede to demands for cuts but to put forward budgets based on the needs of Bristol, drawn up through a democratic process of discussion throughout the city. We need a mass campaign to challenge the government to return the money stolen from local councils in a decade of austerity and to be able to deliver on people’s needs and wants. The spending to deal with the Covid pandemic weakens the economic case for austerity, the money is there in society to deal with things that are considered a priority. Clean air must be considered a priority.
Let’s push for clean air in Bristol together.