BRISTOL GREEN PARTIES
Notes from meeting held on Monday 6th October, 2003
At County Sports Club.
(The draft of this was circulated with a request for corrections. Since none was received this can be assumed to be agreed correct.)
Members present: Charlie Bolton, Christine Bridges, Graham Davey, Bob Helson, John Lucas, Stephen Petter, Daniella Ridichi, Keith Wiltshire.
"A GREEN VISION FOR BRISTOL"
The meeting had been called under this title to discuss our vision for Bristol, in part in preparation for two of our members who are to join a panel of representatives of other political parties to present their ‘visions’ to a school.
We agreed that John Lucas take the Chair.
1. We introduced ourselves and hence our own ‘visions’ by each recounting why he or she had joined the Green Party. All expressed deep concern about the physical environment, "the rape of the planet". Other concerns were for: peace, animal welfare, economic justice, the organic movement, and transport systems. One expressed support for EU legislation while others considered the answers lay in localism. One said he retained left wing views while others regarded themselves in the middle of the left right dichotomy, or that it was not relevant. Several had Labour Party backgrounds, others Liberal (Democrat) and Conservative. Three expressed religious motivation.
2. We then discussed aspects of the Green philosophy that most concerned us in the context of Bristol. The first and lengthiest discussion was on local transport. Keith Wiltshire told us of his concern that suburban railways are at present severely restricted by one of two bridge at a botleneck being unsafe. There was general discontent with the bus services, and the lack of a convenient central hub or interchange. Land near the railway station that would be suitable was to be developed for other purposes, as had former railway land at Bedminster. It seems that Bristol region needs to have a Public Transport Executive a single authority for co-ordination and improvement.
We discussed bio-diversity, such as alterations to open spaces to encourage wild life and flora. Also street trees and flowers. This tied in with a desire for more traffic calming.
It was pointed out that the GP is not anti-car as such, but against the inappropriate use of cars. The imbalance between high initial or fixed costs and low mileage costs of running private cars needs to be redressed by introduction of congestion charging as a matter of urgency.
We identified a need for greater encouragement of small businesses, for instance occupying former industrial premises. However it was also pointed out that support for cultural activities can lead to economic revitalisation.
We discussed Bristol’s abysmal education record. Its causes include the large number of private school places. We discussed whether these should be discouraged gently for instance by removing their favourable tax status, or whether more direct methods should be used. There was a call for an end to Education Action Zones (handing schools that perform badly to commercial organisations) and to excessive testing. Education should be ‘value-led’, to develop citizenship and co-operation. Schools (and indeed all local authority establishments) should discourage employees from coming to work by car.
Concern was expressed over the need for more social housing. At present there are 19,000 on the waiting list. Oxford Council (on which there are several GP members) has insisted that 50% of all new housing be ‘affordable’, as against a (new) national target of 20%. We discussed land value taxation.
We briefly discussed the need for PR voting systems, preferring the Added Member method. We advocated the decriminalisation of (some?) drugs. We call for much more re-cycling in Bristol, including collection for composting (or wormeries) and including facilities for passing on large items such as furniture. We advocate more community centres. We call for an end to the closure of post offices.
3. After this discussion there was only one other item of business, arrangements for the triple meeting on 28th at Redland Quaker Meeting House. Charlie Bolton agreed to publicise it and to maintain contact with our visiting speakers. Graham Davey agreed to Chair it.
The meeting closed at 2205.