It is a privilege to have been elected as a Councillor for Bishopston.
Although I thought I had a good chance of winning, it was still a surprise.
I’ve been interested in politics for a long time and have been a member of the Green Party for over 10 years. As an environmentalist by profession I have recognised that legislation and political leadership are essential in reducing the impact we have on the environment and that serious issues such as climate change can only be tackled through political decisions.
I am here to represent your views on the council as well as working towards making Bristol a more sustainable and equal city. So far I have been appointed to be the Green Party representative on the following bodies:
• Health and Wellbeing Board, a body set up under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. “This is a forum where key leaders from the health and care system will work together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population and reduce health inequalities. Board members will collaborate to understand their local community’s needs, agree priorities and encourage commissioners to work in a more joined up way. As a result, patients and the public should experience more joined-up services from the NHS and local councils in the future''. See: http://healthandcare.dh.gov.uk/hwb-guide/
• The Women’s Commission which has been set up to include key agencies in the city and will form working parties to look at various aspects of gender equality. It follows from the Mayor signing the European Charter for Equality between women and men.
• Development Control for the south and east of the city.
Something that really became clear to me when I stood as a candidate for the Mayor of Bristol is the lack of representation of women in this country in politics and in Bristol in particular. Following the May elections there are 20 women councillors out of 70 (28%). Women make up 51% of the population and I believe that the proportion of councillors should be similar. Earlier this year I formed a cross-party working group whose aim is to increase the number of women councillors in Bristol. We are looking at a number of ways in which we can encourage more women to get involved in local politics. If you are reading this and are interested, please get in touch!
I would like to emphasise to you how important both the Neighbourhood Partnerships and Bishopston Forum are. The Neighbourhood Partnership includes Bishopston, Cotham and Redland councillors and local community representatives, including a representative from the Bishopston Society. It considers a number of local issues, makes grants to local community groups and is consulted on matters such as the resident’s parking scheme. The Mayor is considering devolving more powers to the Neighbourhood Partnerships across the city so it is important that they are representative of their local wards.
The Bishopston Forum is a ward specific group. It meets quarterly and is a venue where people can network, hear speakers and talk to council officers about services. Recently the Police and Crime Commissioner came to talk about her priorities for Bristol. The session includes a chance to discuss important issues in the ward, get feedback on what has been done about issues raised in the past, and the Forum has the potential to become a dynamic and lively group.
Having campaigned on two recent planning applications, Gloucestershire County Cricket Ground and the Sainsbury’s store at the Memorial Ground, I take a keen interest in planning. In the few weeks since being elected, I have become aware of two proposed schemes in Bishopston to build houses in gardens. I am concerned about this trend in our already densely populated ward and I will be asking the planning department on guidance on how this can be discouraged through planning policy. Likewise, I understand that the planning policies regarding Gloucester Road were deemed inadequate by the Planning Inspector at the Costa Coffee inquiry. So I think that there is some work to be done on local planning policy.