Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Goings on at Bristol City Council

I gather the Lib Dems have now taken 'control' of Bristol City Council after tonight's Budget meeting, where the opposition parties united to vote down Labour's waste scheme. No doubt they will make as much of a hash of it as they did last time. Still, only three months till the local elections.

Here's the resignation statement, hot off the press:

Tory and Lib Dem Alliance forces Labour Resignation at Bristol City Council

Amendments to Labour’s Budget at Bristol City Council from the Lib Dems, which aimed to derail the city’s waste strategy, were backed by the Tories – and Labour decided they could not push forward a policy with which they fundamentally disagreed.

The waste strategy is agreed council policy and is also agreed by the West of England Partnership comprised of Bristol and the Conservative led authorities of South Glos, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.

The Liberal Democrats challenged Phase 3 of the Waste Strategy, and gained Conservative support for that amendment.

The Labour administration had no alternative but to resign believing that the consequences of pulling out of Phase 3 would put an impossible financial burden on Council Taxpayers and will force cuts in other services.

When the Tories joined with the Lib Dems to force through their amendment it left the city of Bristol without any plan for dealing with the city’s waste and with no real funding for any alternative.

Despite advice from officers that the council will now face compensation claims from neighbouring councils this irresponsible amendment was passed – and could cost the council up to £6m a year over 24 years.

In resigning Cllr Holland said: “We believe that more than the waste strategy is at stake here - we are proud of the work we have done to transform the city council in the last 20 months building better relationships with partners and giving confidence in Bristol to government and other funders.”

The concern about the impact on confidence in Bristol is an important point. I know that Bristol - and Helen in particular - was well regarded in Government circles, not just by politicians but by civil servants too. We've been the beneficiaries of this, winning extra funding or being chosen to run pilot schemes because the Government trusts BCC to deliver. Will the Lib Dems be able to rise to the challenge? I doubt it.


Anonymous said...

I think the problem was that Labour - and Helen in particular - were not well regarded in Bristolian circles ...

Kerry said...

Rather a cheap shot. Does Barbara Janke inspire confidence in you?

Chris Hutt said...

Are you sure that BaNES were party to the incinerator scheme? I read somewhere else (Pete Goodwin's blog) that they wisely stayed out of it.

Anonymous said...


Bristol Dave said...

Barbara Janke doesn't inspire confidence in me, but neither did Helen Holland who seemed barely able (along with Jan Ormondroyd) to string a sentence together coherently.

I'm just glad it removes power of congestion charge schemes (if even temporarily) from Mark Bradshaw, who I find detestable, and unspeakably arrogant in denying Bristolians the right to a referendum.

Paul said...


The decision did not just kill off the terrible incinerator idea but also all other ways to deal with waste other than burying it in the ground. Some of us were promoting anaerobic digestion which is incredibly environmentally friendly, now we have only landfill on the agenda - we expensive and very nasty.

Anonymous said...

I love the way that the Lib Dems think waste disposal strategies and the intricacies of PFI funding streams are a sure-fire populist vote-winning cause.

Does anyone outside a small circle jerk of obsessive local Lib Dems and Greens understand the first thing about any of this?

Aren't most people just looking on and thinking this is petty and irrelevant Bristol party politics as usual?

Especially if you consider that last week the Lib Dems could have brought Labour down on the issue of primary education and schools.

This is a genuinely populist cause that an awful lot of people are concerned about and are willing to throw their vote behind.

Do people care about this whole incinerator thingy in the same way?

Where do the Lib Dems get their political advice from?

Kerry said...

"Does anyone outside a small circle jerk of obsessive local Lib Dems and Greens understand the first thing about any of this?"

Paul seems to...

Chris Hutt said...

"Does anyone outside a small circle jerk of obsessive local Lib Dems and Greens understand the first thing about any of this?"

Spot on BB. I can't see why it should even be a matter to be dealt with by local authorities. Large scale waste disposal regulation and control should surely be handled at national government level.

Glenn Vowles said...

'I can't see why it should even be a matter to be dealt with by local authorities. Large scale waste disposal regulation and control should surely be handled at national government level.'

This is a very long way from being a green view Chris. Centrally imposed 'solutions' are all too often inefficient, in effective, costly and unsustainable - how can locals 'own' that which they are not responsible for and have not had input into??

Chris Hutt said...

Glenn, the locals are responsible for producing the waste in the first place, so they have first option on tackling it, or having "an input" as you say.

If despite this they insist on disposing of such unsustainable volumes of waste then the problem gets passed down the line towards the centre.

It doesn't make sense to leave highly complex and technical issues to be decided on the outcome of local political wrangling which is mainly about pre-election positioning.

Paul said...

I hope Glenn is not proposing that we start landfills in our gardens (those of us lucky enough to have them).

I wonder if there is any scope for community owned energy generating anearobic digesters

The Bristol Blogger said...

"I wonder if there is any scope for community owned energy generating anearobic digesters"

I wonder if you need to get out a bit more Paul?

Why on earth would I, as a member of a community, want to run and own an energy generating anearobic digester? (Let's assume for a minute I have the foggiest idea what it is).

TBH I can think of much more interesting things to do with my time than sit around being paid nothing to help run a chronically underfunded Neighbourhood Energy Generating Anearobic Digester Steering Group - along with the usual suspects - discussing the minutiae of absurd local government waste guidelines and central government funding streams.

For many of us, this is a good working definition of hell.

Kelvin Blake said...

Well..... if this is not an advert for an elected mayor I dont know what is.

I disagree with the Labour Group walking away. Whilst I understand it I dont agree with it. Politics is about dealing with difficult issues and situations. There is so much more to do between now and June and they should have continued. They could then put their programme to the electorate then and await the outcome of the election.

The Tories have acted terribly and not in the interests of the people of Bristol. Playing games all in the effort to position themselves for the forth coming local and general elections.

The Liberals have been trying to conduct the orchestral from the cheap seats which is completely unacceptable. Lets see what they will do but their record in office is questionable to say the least.

It's a shame that the abilities of our local politicians do not match the people of Bristol ambitions.

We need to change the system and thats why I want an elected mayor for Bristol.

Glenn Vowles said...

No Chris, we need community-based solutions (such as Pauls 'community owned energy generating anearobic digesters')not central imposition. Ask yourself why no politicl party is advocating what you suggest!

Not for the first time you seem to think the individuals/households are totally responsible for and able, alone, to fully tackle their impacts - its pretty self-evident that they cannot.

We need a whole range of policies at all levels to get proper solutions. Individual households are not fully responsible for overpackaging of products for instance or for the use of masses of plastic...just as they are not fully responsible for living far away from their place of work....

Local politics currently has many problems and is in need of reform but its an insult to both councils and local people to talk about 'highly complex and technical issues'. This is the talk of a technocrat not a green.

Kerry said...

I'm not keen on elected mayors. People seem to vote for personality, not politics, and end up with monkeys and Boris.

But I really think we need all-out elections, every four years. I gather that if a certain majority of councillors (two-thirds?) agree to it, it can happen, but not before 2011.

Anonymous said...

apropos Paul and Vowlsie.

Is there some requirement that if you're from South Bristol and want to be in politics you must be demonstrably bonkers?

Yes Kelvin. Elected mayor who employs their own senior officers is the way to go.

Kerry said...

This Lib Dem councillor's blog is worth reading for a laugh - http://emmabagley.blogspot.com/ - at 11.46am the Lib Dems refused to back a Tory no confidence motion in the Labour leadership on the grounds that "We believe residents should decide in a few months' time who will run the City. Let the ballot box hold the key!" Fifteen minutes later, the Lib Dems were running the council.