South West Metropolitan Mayor Elections 4 May 2017 – the relevance to the environment
On 4th May 2017, people in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset Council areas will be voting for a new West of England Metro Mayor. Whether you agree with the creation of another layer of bureaucracy or not, the elections are important.
The new Metro Mayor will have overall responsibility for housing, transport and skills for the whole area, giving a sewn up approach to policy across the region. These issues impact massively on environmental issues.
On 18th March 2017, on my way into Bristol to pick up my Grandmother (Nanu) and leave for our holiday to France, we picked up Misty Hutton from Avon Wildlife Trust so she could film a video of my and also my Mum. We went to Victoria Park in Totterdown, where I talked about the upcoming elections and my thoughts about which issues were important and why.
I talked about how transport policy would impact on pollution and without better public transport traffic and pollution would not improve in Bristol. In relation to housing, we have to avoid building on all brownfield sites, as these are the green spaces that are accessible to people living in areas of deprivation within the cities. Skills are important because Bristol is a hub for nature and environmental organisations including media and yet there is no training available enabling people who live in the area to get those jobs. So mostly jobs were being filled by those from outside. We need training for young people living here to enter these sectors.
I also urged people to vote. After the environmental hustings, which I listened to on Ujima Radio, I recommended Darren Hall (Green Party) 1st choice and John Savage 2nd choice based on what they said. Environmental issues are very important. The Tory candidate (Tim Bowles) won, who to me seemed to have very little real interest in the environment and was more focussed on business and homes.I also thought that he was arrogant and rude to the other candidates, which to me is not a positive attribute. He showed no cohesive plan that would make any difference to major issues such as pollution resulting from traffic. This is something that used to be a city issue, but the residue from traffic pollution on the main roads through the Chew Valley is a big issue in the countryside now. He seemed to have no real interest in the environment which is demonstrated by his manifesto. This is what he says about himself in the Evening Post:
Tim Bowles, Conservative – Age: 57
Occupation: Business development manager in the exhibitions and events industry and councillor
Message to voters: “I will continue to improve our economy to ensure we offer long-term and sustainable futures for everyone.”
“I will use my business experience to help provide the skilled workforce our businesses need and use my professional expertise to promote our region within the UK and worldwide.”
“I will adopt a better approach to development so homes are built in the right places, protecting our green spaces and prioritising urban regeneration.”
“I’m determined to make real improvements to transport by improving our region’s rail system, providing new stations and increasing existing services.”
“Our region covers a large area, we must ensure our rural economies are given the support they need and provide the broadband and other infrastructure they require to continue to succeed.”
“We need a strong local voice to champion our region. I will be a Mayor who can work with today’s Government, our local MPs and Councils and who will get things done.”
He did not mention the environment once, did not talk about pollution or any other huge environmental concerns for those living in this greater Metro Mayor area. I think his focus is on money, homes etc. Where he talks about protecting green spaces, there is no backbone to the comment, it is meaningless without it. When he was talking about the hustings I felt that he had nothing much to say about the environment and he was pretty poor. That is my view and I am sad that he won the election, as it means that important issues relating to the environment will not be tackled whilst he is in office in relation to transport, housing and skills.