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Bristol needs an elected Mayor

April 30, 2012

I will be voting Yes in Thursday’s referendum on whether Bristol should have a directly elected Mayor.  The debate over the last few months has persuaded me that Bristol will have a stronger voice both in London and on the international stage if a Mayor acts as our ambassador.  It is that outward facing role that has swung me from being a sceptic to an enthusiast.

Successful cities around the world are led by strong, accountable mayors.  Their strength and accountability stems from the fact that they are directly elected by the citizens of their cities. They work alongside city councillors representing communities that make up their cities.  But it is the Mayor that is the public face of the city to their national governments and also within the network of global cities with which they compete.

It’s often been said that American Presidents wonder who to speak to in order to get the view of Europe.  British Prime Ministers must think the same of Bristol, with our city spread across four separate local councils.  With a directly elected Mayor, there will be no doubt in Downing Street who will be the “go to man” in Bristol.  The fragmentation of government in Greater Bristol is a big problem.  We could squabble for years on how to shift around the city boundaries.  But with Bristol having a directly elected Mayor it would be crystal clear to everyone who speaks for the city.

A Bristol Mayor would lead the case for investment in the city’s bus and rail networks, including routes from Portishead, Keynsham and Filton.  The Mayor of Bristol would lead the team of businessmen and councillors from across the Greater Bristol area when showcasing the area for trade and new jobs.  The Mayor should have a good relationship with councillors and communities across the Bristol City Region.  The next step in the democratic renewal of Bristol would be to have a Mayor elected by the whole of Bristol.

A successful Mayor of Bristol would not be some independent one man band, micro-managing every local issue.  There will still be an important role for our seventy city councillors, from whom the Mayor would have to choose a cabinet to run the key city services.  My membership of Avon County Council in the early 1990s taught me that more can be achieved by working with councillors from other parties.  A Bristol Mayor would do well to pick the talent that is available on the city council benches from all parties, in order to fill the mayor’s cabinet.

Bristol’s Mayor, alongside other city mayors, would be a national figure on a parity of esteem with many central government ministers. The Prime Minister himself made this clear when he announced that he would create a national cabinet of city mayors, which he would chair.  City mayors would have a major say in driving forward economic growth in the country’s regional economic powerhouses.  It is vital that Bristol has a mayor sitting at this top table.

Bristol has always been an open, outward facing city.  For centuries we have traded with all of the known world.  Bristolians themselves are drawn from many nations.  The Mayor of Bristol would be the face of the city to the rest of the world.   An elected Mayor would be able to devote their time to making the case for Bristol, with decision makers at home and abroad.  Bristol is a thriving successful place, the foremost of English regional cities.  With a new City Mayor, it could realise its full potential and take its rightful place at the world top table.



The referendum votes will be counted on Friday 4th May, from 10am onwards at the Ashton Gate football ground.  Result likely early afternoon, depending on turnout.  As only yes or no piles to count and no other ballot papers it should be a very easy count to conduct…

72 Comments leave one →
  1. deanpalmer permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:28 pm

    I have no desire at all to give political parties any more sway/power whatsoever than they already have.

    Were it being proposed that Bristol should have an elected Mayor on the proviso that they do not have political party affiliation then I’d be more than up for the idea. But since that’s not the case I will be voting no (and, naturally, I hope many others will do the same).

    • April 30, 2012 3:37 pm

      I fail to understand how the Mayor would be the ‘go to man(!?)’ for Bristol, when the person wouldn’t represent all of the city. Isn’t that just a bit dismissive of those not covered by the City Council? At the moment, I’m planning to vote ‘No’, purely on the basis that I do not believe the argument has been won.

      • April 30, 2012 3:48 pm

        @ Jo – there is no doubt at all that a directly elected Mayor of Bristol would have a huge amount of national credibility, far more so than whoever chairs a committee these days in South Gloucestershire!

    • April 30, 2012 3:46 pm

      @ Dean – I can’t think of a successful city mayor from elsewhere in the world who is not also a fully networked member of a national political party. Even Bloomberg is a Republican in New York.

      • Roger Levett permalink
        April 30, 2012 3:56 pm

        Ken Livingstone was very successful when he first took office owing nothing to Blair’s Labour Party which had tried to keep him out. I suspect he’d have kept more radical momentum and won in 2008 if he hadn’t rejoined Labour and been tarred with their brush.

      • deanpalmer permalink
        April 30, 2012 3:58 pm

        Bloomberg left the Republicans in 2007 if I’m not mistaken….

    • Ralph permalink
      May 1, 2012 9:37 am

      I agree with Dean. The mayor would just be another fat-cat politician. All this talk of having an ‘independent’ mayor. The fact is that all of the political parties will put up candidates, and no doubt one of them will be elected, probably Labour. No thank you.

  2. John Rippon permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:40 pm

    Good for you Stephen! My postal “YES” vote has already been posted. See you Friday at the Pizza evening.

  3. Jonathan May permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:29 pm

    “There will be no doubt in Downing Street who will be the ‘go to man’ in Bristol…”

    “A successful Mayor of Bristol would not be some independent one man band…”

    I see you’ve already decided there should not only be a mayor, but that this mayor should also be male…

    • April 30, 2012 3:44 pm

      it’s an American expression used in the context of an American analogy. Please let’s focus on the arguments, not the semantics of political correctness.

  4. April 30, 2012 3:41 pm


    I think that political parties are certainly going to be interested in what a Mayor does, will hope to get their nominees elected and will try to influence a Mayor’s policies once someone is elected. But the little evidence we have is that Mayors have an independence from the party line that a Council Leader does not. The (admittedly very different) case of London shows how awkward a Mayor can be for their own party. Ken and Boris have both been thorns in their own parties’ sides when it suits them. The four year term and the two thirds majority needed to block a Mayor’s budget are a potential problem (see Doncaster), but party domination, I would argue, is less worrying.

    I tend to think “Could the government of Bristol be any worse?” and the fact that I’m unsure of the answer makes me want to consider my answer to the question “could it be any better?” The answer to that one is “probably”, so my inclination is to vote YES

    The most important factors will be the qualities and values of the candidates.

    • April 30, 2012 3:54 pm

      @Sam and Dean – a directly elected Mayor would indeed be able to act independently of a political party on the city council. For a start, they could appoint Lib Dem, Labour and Tory (poss Green Party too) members to their cabinet. They would be secure for 4 years. The current Council Leader has to win a group leadership election, in theory every year, where the only electors are the councillors in their group. A Mayor would be able to act in the wider interests of the city, without worrying whether a decision encourages a councillor to switch support to an internal rival.

      • deanpalmer permalink
        April 30, 2012 4:00 pm

        An MP can act independently of a political party if they so wish, but they tend not to as it’s better for their career if they follow the Whips.

        I see your points, but at the end of the day the disenfranchisement with political parties (which have little, if any, difference between them these days) isn’t going to change my mind on this.

      • Roger Levett permalink
        April 30, 2012 4:02 pm

        ‘Could’ isn’t really very reassuring. Ken Livingstone did involve progressives from other parties, while Boris Johnson has been aggressively tribal. I’d be more impressed with this argument if there was going to some mechanism to ensure that a mayor didn’t appoint an administration solely from his/her party.

    • rosemary permalink
      April 30, 2012 6:12 pm

      ‘“Could the government of Bristol be any worse?” and the fact that I’m unsure of the answer makes me want to consider my answer to the question “could it be any better?” The answer to that one is “probably”, so my inclination is to vote YES

      The most important factors will be the qualities and values of the candidates.’

      I’m with you here, Sam. And I’m stuck. Here’s why:

      Would a mayor have got away with allowing the desecration of College Green?

      On the other hand, would a mayor have got away with desecrating the Bath Path?

  5. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    April 30, 2012 4:00 pm

    Hi Stephen. How am I supposed to make a decision when I have not seen anywhere explaining what powers this person will have? How do you know a mayor will be all those things you claim, without knowing the candidates, let alone who will be elected? George Galloway proved in Bradford that any group who get their act together can get their “man” elected. How about a football club mascot, is that feasible? Also, if the mayor can pick his Cabinet from the cllrs. he could actually pick all from the smallest party. How democratic would that be if at present he picked 5 Tories and the 2 Greens? Sorry, but being an old cynic, I’m voting No.

  6. smoothsilk permalink
    April 30, 2012 4:09 pm

    I am with you on this one Stephen. I voted Yes.

    I love Bristol & wish so many times the Council was sharper & got things done. So much of our Council Tax is wasted on badly designed schemes. We need someone male or female with talent, vision, focus & a strong will.
    Who ever decided to site the new Bus Station where it is instead of next to Temple Meads must be mad.
    Lets hope we get a person of high caliber to be Mayor & make a difference in Bristol & surrounding areas.

  7. Helen Leach permalink
    April 30, 2012 4:16 pm

    Does a potential new mayor have to be a “go-to man” who leads businessmen? Where you use more gender neutral language, (to be fair that’s true of much of the article), it is easier to concentrate on the points you are making. I’m not usually excessively p.c. but as a woman who is in business this rankled a bit.

    • April 30, 2012 6:49 pm

      Helen – I’m normally quite punctilious about such things! The phrase is in inverted commas and was being used to demonstrate my American based analogy of who does the President call? The Mayor will be the recognised voice of Bristol, whether speaking with a female or male voice!

      • Helen Leach permalink
        April 30, 2012 7:14 pm

        Yes, I didn’t think it was deliberate. Back to the main issue, do you think a Bristol mayor have an impact on our transport issues? This would influence me strongly in my vote.

      • Ralph permalink
        May 1, 2012 9:35 am

        The Council doesn’t really have any power over transport at the moment, and the Mayor would only inherit the same power (or lack of) that the current Council Leader has.

        Tackling Bristol’s transport problems needs support from the three surrounding authorities (N. Somerset, South Glos, Bath & NE Somerset) because many bus/rail services cover a wider are than just Bristol. Bristol City Council is in favour of a Transport Authority, but the other councils (North Somerset in particular) have blocked this. I see no reason why a mayor would change that situation.

  8. Roger Levett permalink
    April 30, 2012 4:17 pm

    Stephen, if the main purpose of the mayor really will be to compete with other mayors and cities to bring in economic development, I fear we are setting ourselves up for a re-run of the vainglorious grandstanding and auction of bribes to investors that made the Regional Development Agencies a dreadful waste of time and money until central government belatedly housetrained them. Only maybe at a more amateurish and parochial level: more like Scotland’s Local Enterprise Companies, who were played off against each other for years by canny inward investors who would harvest the incentives and then move on to Wales or Ireland, closing the plants so expensively subsidised.

    I’m afraid I find this post of yours one of the most persuasive arguments I have yet read AGAINST more elected mayors.

  9. Rusty Roberts permalink
    April 30, 2012 4:59 pm

    Where’s the Pizza evening being held please

  10. Roger Prentice permalink
    April 30, 2012 5:14 pm

    Would a mayor have the power to reverse Bristol City Council’s war against anyone that has to drive in the city? Not everyone who lives here is able-bodied enough to cycle or rich enough to afford FirstBus.

  11. Philip Morris permalink
    April 30, 2012 5:33 pm

    “A Bristol Mayor would lead the case for investment in the city’s bus and rail networks, including routes from Portishead, Keynsham and Filton. The Mayor of Bristol would lead the team of businessmen and councillors from across the Greater Bristol area”
    So Mr Williams reading your blog am I to understand that we are we going to have a Mayor for GREATER BRISTOL AREA, if so I doubt if the die hards N.I.M.B.Y.’s of North Somerset will argee to it, it is because of them we lost Avon.

  12. JohnW permalink
    April 30, 2012 5:40 pm

    ‘Go to man’, ‘one man band’, ‘businessmen’
    I don’t want to be too PC about this, Stephen, but you get the point?

  13. spamsucker permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:19 pm

    I was in favour of a Mayor but hearing that you and your boss Cameron are in favour have turned me against the idea. I don’t want to give some one-percenter like you the power to make me homeless (I am a council tenant) and I prefer a bunch of bickering incompetents to some ex-businessman with dictatorial powers. So congratulate yourself, Stephen – I will be voting no.

  14. April 30, 2012 6:59 pm

    I’m very disappointed with the weak argument for the ‘yes’ vote. I can’t believe the Lib-Dems are promoting this, or is it a 3 line whip? What a shame Stephen. On this issue certainly, the Dems have lost my life-long support

    • May 1, 2012 1:46 pm

      A1 – individuals within the Lib Dems and Labour are in the yes and no camps. Neither party has a “line”. The Tories seem to be 100% for. The 2 green party cllrs are against.

  15. RogerG permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:26 pm

    Why do I feel this is yet another instance in which voters are going to be taken for a ride?

    Voting for an elected mayor becomes equivalent to voting for an X-Factor contestant – but in this case the winner gets to do what they like for a whole 4 years at our expense. It will be just another branch of political show business, as it has already become in London.

    It cannot be more democratic to give one person all that power, with no chance of influencing them for 4 years. In our ward at least, the local councillors are very aware of local problems, wish to deliver the best for local people, and regularly have to stand for re-election so we can vote them out if they don’t. It seems they, and so we, will become powerless to fight for our local concerns if we choose to have a directly elected mayor.

    I will be voting NO.

    • April 30, 2012 10:58 pm

      That’s interesting. Do you think that Ward Councillors will do less for you once a Mayor is in? I have a feeling they might need to do more.

      Point taken about Show Biz. But Ken and Boris have both done a lot – to delight their supporters or annoy their opponents. So once we vote YES in the refrerendum, we have to hope there are some effective people to choose between in next year’s vote. I believe that Mr Williams might be one.

      The Council will be blighted all that year, of course: “Waiting for The Mayor”

    • May 1, 2012 10:38 am

      Roger – the mayor would be elected for a four year term. Ward councillors are also elected for four year terms. There is no difference in your ability to hold them to account. All that changes is that each Bristol elector would have 3 local politicians to hold to account every four years, rather than the 2 that they have at the moment. (plus the MP and MEPs and hopefully elected Lords in due course)

      • RogerG permalink
        May 1, 2012 11:55 am

        In the current system, in 3 out of 4 years electors are able to replace a local councillor in each ward, which can potentially change the makeup and hence direction of the council.

    • May 1, 2012 11:52 am

      Well done Roger G!

      • May 1, 2012 1:49 pm

        afraid that’s not accurate – Bristol has 2 councillors per ward, not 3. Bristol elects a third of the council in geographic slices of the city in 3 years out of 4. No other big city uses such a system. Elections every other year (liek Cheltenham) would be better.

  16. Jonathan May permalink
    April 30, 2012 11:09 pm

    I think this is at best a distraction and at worst a mechanism to avoid any serious reform of the political and social power base in the UK.

    The bigger question is how to devolve much more decision-making to regional and local authorities and away from central government. The whole “mayoral” debate is merely a way of generating a greater perception of independence whilst actually entrenching the power of the wealthy – those who can afford media influence and control.

    I will be voting no, but it doesn’t really matter what I vote because the Evening Post has already decided Bristol is voting yes.


  17. Rob Cousins permalink
    May 1, 2012 7:32 am

    If this argument for having an elected mayor at local level stacks up then surely it is also the case at national level. Let’s not forget that we do not vote for a prime minister in this country. A prime minister is chosen by locally elected MPs. (despite how parties and the media like to portray it). Does America not know who the goto Man in the UK is? How rediculous…..a leader of a council chosen by his fellow elected representatives should have just as much clout as our prime minister. This is simply an argument for parties to garner more political control in a single seat and will push us ever closer to voting for personality rather than a broad range of policies and looks on paper to be less democratic and removing levels of accountability. Moving more power to a single person no matter if voted for or not, is not the way we should be going in this country. I will be voting ‘NO’ on Thursday.

  18. robertjessetelford permalink
    May 1, 2012 10:49 am

    I will be voting “No” for the reasons detailed here:

  19. Jennie Naidoo permalink
    May 2, 2012 8:26 am

    I love the way it appears to be a foregone conclusion that the mayor is a MAN!! that says it all … what seems to be being said is let’s have another fat cat MAN to sit at high tables with the other fat cats, spinning the deals and excluding the vast majority of society – just what we don’t need – so I’ll definitely be voting no

    • rosemary permalink
      May 2, 2012 12:24 pm

      Whose foregone conclusion, Jennie?

      Fat or not, I would like a local person with a real attachment to Bristol and its heritage. At present we have a system whereby the centre is neglected by councillors who are busy looking after their own wards. The Leader of the Council, although a woman, often gives the impression she is the Leader of the Council for Clifton, not the historic City of Bristol. This problem is not unique to her, and remember we had a female leader before her who was just as attached to her part of the city.

      I repeat, would a mayor have got away with what the present Leader of the Council allowed to happen to College Green?

      If, however, we were to get a philistine mayor, then worse damage could be done.

      So the choice remains – go on letting the once proud city centre be blighted by drink, pollution, and squalor, with traffic as the single biggest obstacle to improvement, or take a leap in the dark.

      Other cities all over England have got their act together and beautified, calmed, humanised, and restored their centres without changing their systems of government. So what is wrong with Bristol? Why the blindness to the possibilities? And would a mayor help?

      • rosemary permalink
        May 2, 2012 3:39 pm

        PS Congratulations Stephen on giving a clear lead. It is always good to know where an MP stands as well as sits.

  20. Chris Bury permalink
    May 2, 2012 2:45 pm

    I have read all the comments and I do agree with most of them, but I have already voted yes. I wonder whether a new elected mayor will have more powers than the last; bless her. She and a majority of us, were against the Tesco branch in Cheltenam Road and the oil powered power station in Avonmouth. So were the majority of the councillars.

    But both were over-ruled by the almighty minister in the big smoke and we are stuck with it.

    • May 3, 2012 9:38 am

      You forgot to mention the two Costa Coffee shops on Clifton Down and the bottom of Gloucester Road who both defied both planning permission and local pressure groups and opened anyway!

      • Chris Bury permalink
        May 5, 2012 3:02 pm

        so sorry Al. Getting old and forgetting the whole pic huh?

  21. rosemary permalink
    May 2, 2012 4:06 pm

    Could you please confirm Stephen, on Paul’s point, that the first job of a new mayor would be to draw up an individual deal with Whitehall about what their new powers would be? These would vary from one city to another. Any city which finds itself with a weak mayor, or no mayor, may find the devil takes the hindmost.

    Our main problem is transport, and this is where a strong mayor could tip the balance. Whitehall would no doubt take pleasure in saying no to a city which lacked leadership. This is a race between ten provincial cities as much as anything else, and the other nine could well have loud voices when putting their plans to Whitehall, even if we decide not to.

    • Chris Bury permalink
      May 5, 2012 3:08 pm

      This is a fine point rosemary. How are we going to get more power for the local people who live the life in the community. In all the ‘democratic’ world there is less and less power in the individual. I do understand that for every policy issue there will be people who will be against it, but will there be someone counting the majority and give the ok for the majority’s selection. I hope you get my gist ere.

  22. May 2, 2012 8:29 pm

    After appointing a team of councillors (hopefully drawing on cross party talent) to head the key services I think the second job would indeed be to meet with the Cities Minister and thrash out a great “City deal” for Bristol.

  23. rosemary permalink
    May 2, 2012 9:04 pm

    Besides transport, the other extremely urgent matter to be thrashed out with a reluctant and impecunious government is the speedy provision of all those missing primary schools.

  24. EmmaGx permalink
    May 3, 2012 1:34 am

    So I don’t understand why we can’t have a “City Deal” with more powers for the current council instead of having an individual mayor?

    And … is the Mayoral referendum being voted on by Bristol City, or Greater Bristol? … and will the Mayor be for Bristol City, or Greater Bristol?

    … seems the council wouldn’t have nearly so many problems if someone saw sense & moved Bristol’s boundaries to cover the whole of Bristol.

    • May 3, 2012 2:34 pm

      Emma – yes, it would be good if the city boundaries were extended first. But there is zero chance of South Glos, North Somerset and BANES councillors giving up significant chunks of their territory. It is more likely that a Bristol Mayor would be able to persuade central govt to either move the boundaries or, perhaps more likely, agree that the Mayor of Bristol is the lead politician on transport and economic development in the Greater Bristol area.

      • smallartuk permalink
        May 4, 2012 5:13 pm

        People in North Somerset were not given the right to vote in the mayor referendum… why should you expect us to accept your mayor’s dictatorial rule over us? It seems to me that Bristolians are deciding the future of a hell of a lot of people outside the city boundaries who, in many instances, have absolutely no interest whatsoever in city matters.
        I’ll be looking for a new home if my area gets sucked up into Bristol….I want nothing to do with it.

  25. Jon Rogers permalink
    May 3, 2012 7:08 am

    I started out pretty agnostic, but having listened to arguments for and against, I have voted “No”.

    I was particularly persuaded by two blog articles from colleagues Alex Woodman and Neil Harrison

    Polling stations are open from now until 10pm tonight. Whatever your views, do vote!

    If you have a postal vote you can still vote by taking it to the polling station.

    • May 3, 2012 3:07 pm

      I’ve just voted at same polling station! Turnout less than 150 people at about 3.15pm.

      • Paul Bemmy Down permalink
        May 3, 2012 5:07 pm

        Hi Stephen. I woke my Polling Station staff early afternoon and they said it had been very quiet. A question. I did not have to take my polling card with me, as instructed on such card, so what stops some other person voting on my behalf?

      • smoothsilk permalink
        May 3, 2012 7:17 pm

        Why is voting not held in places the people visit like supermarkets, I am sure that would get things going Stephen.

  26. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    May 3, 2012 8:41 am

    “cross party talent”. So where is this hiding now?

    • May 3, 2012 2:35 pm

      There are good and talented people in all three main parties. There are also not so good people in all three…

      • Paul Bemmy Down permalink
        May 3, 2012 5:10 pm

        Never “do” humour on line. It never works. Politicians quite rightly think you are serious. I actually know some good cllrs. I have one.

  27. rosemary permalink
    May 3, 2012 12:37 pm

    That’s Bristol for you Paul. And where is the talent for the mayoral contest, come to that?

    Like you, I am fearful that we could get someone put in by one particular group; or someone who thought a city centre bristling with skyscrapers was desirable and impressive.

    But where are we getting at the moment? Decay and decline seem to be the order of the day, with nothing being done about pollution, drink, rubbish, and congestion, or about the lack of good schools.

    Building Cabot Circus and the Environment Building rather than nurturing lovely old streets like Old Market, Gloucester Road, and Queens Rd/Park Street, and, as Smoothsilk says, putting a bus station by the railway station, were the height of irresponsible folly. The excuse, as always, was “jobs” – but why not employ people to look after and make the most of what we’ve inherited? And, by the way, why not train and employ Bristolians? When Cabot Circus was built, so many languages were spoken on the site that a special cantata was written in celebration. Great fun, and very moving, but was that importation of building talent the object of the expensive public project? Better not to start on the wasted opportunity of the Harbourside.

    Other cities now seize the opportunity of guarding and enhancing the attractive bits the tourists want to go to, and residents and business then benefit too.

    Making the most of our historic city depends entirely on what sort of mayor we get, but the council just isn’t doing the job at the moment.

    • Paul Bemmy Down permalink
      May 3, 2012 5:23 pm

      “put Bristolians first”, is that legal. Sounds abit like “British jobs for British workers” which the whole country, bar one, knew was certainly not. You are right about protecting what we have been left with. The people I know who have visited, rarely come for the shopping. I actually know some who regularly travel 100 miles to go to the Hippodrome or Colston Hall, which would shock some, and an American lady I recently met described the place as “having an edge”. Not exactly sure what she meant ( generational difference ) but as she was from New York, I took it as a complement.

  28. deanpalmer permalink
    May 4, 2012 4:43 pm

    From the BBC:

    “Mr Williams added that “possibly I might be interested” in taking on the extra responsibility.”

    Suddenly it all makes sense. He wants more power over us all.

    Well do remember to resign your seat before you run Stephen. It’ll be fun to see you on the unemployment line….

  29. smoothsilk permalink
    May 4, 2012 7:51 pm

    Well Stephen, the opportunity is now there for the Bristol Mayor who ever they may be, to show all the sceptics & others that the idea of a Governor/Mayor is a sound & badly needed one.
    Preferably they should have lived here for sufficient time to have absorbed the ambiance & have loads of common sense & listening skills plus a modern view for our future.
    I will watch with much interest who gets on the list of candidates & who is finally chosen.
    Will there be any local TV debate I wonder?
    I noticed that Waitrose give a plastic green tab at the checkout to vote for which Charity or good cause is running at the time, usually 3 different ones.
    Perhaps if this type of scheme was extended to other supermarkets, for the Public to give their view of the named candidates, it would be an opportunity for people to feel included, & voice an opinion & meet the proposed Mayor’s. I think that lots of people don’t vote as its all made so bureaucratic & remote behind closed doors. The system of voting needs to move on as well.

    • rosemary permalink
      May 4, 2012 8:46 pm

      Interesting that people said no in the immaculately well run cities of Birmingham and Leeds, but yes in the shambles of slovenly maladministration that is Bristol. The small self selecting electorate which comes out isn’t stupid.

      So here’s an opportunity to put things right, without competition from those justifiably proud cities. Let’s make the most of it.

  30. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    May 6, 2012 10:00 am

    Hi Rosemary. I voted no, but as you say, with the way things have turned out, it should be an opportunity to take advantage. If, as the yes campaign claimed, we will have the advantage of the Gov. ear, will no longer have competition from the “no” cities when it comes to funding and have Gov. promises of even more money now we have said yes, and it is worth in total £1 billion as claimed in the EP, it really looks like happy days whoever is the new mayor.

    • rosemary permalink
      May 6, 2012 12:35 pm

      I agree Paul. And the government will want a green showcase of successful and prosperous mayoral government for other provincial cities to be envious of.

      So our next problem is, how do we find someone to work with them on that?

      Do you remember those days in the 1980s when Cardiff got all the money, while Bristol and Gloucester were neglected, in an attempt to keep Wales sweet and loyal? It just went straight from London via a dedicated minister based there. My teaching friends in those days couldn’t get over the contrast when they went across the bridge to teach; and we noticed the civic pride in the environment, with museums and art galleries open on Sundays (which they weren’t at that time here), and well kept parks and streets.

  31. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    May 6, 2012 4:11 pm

    I don’t think there is a personality type figure who will feel the bill, so my guess is it will be between the person who gets the Labour ticket and the person who gets to represent the Merchant Venturer/ business community who will have plenty of financial backing. Please let me be wrong!

    • May 6, 2012 4:53 pm

      I would imagine the Labour candidate will run on a coalition govt bashing ticket. But whoever wins, they will need to establish a good working relationship with the Cities Minister for at least the next 3 years, ie most of their mayoral term. Let’s hope it’s not a Labour mayor…

      • Jonathan May permalink
        May 6, 2012 5:07 pm

        Let’s hope it’s someone who cares. Ie not a career politician, or a wealthy political sellout.

        There are plenty of people in Bristol who would do the job well… but they will take a LOT of tempting to take on such a thorny crown.

  32. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    May 7, 2012 9:46 am

    George Galloway and the Harlepool football mascot have shown that if you can get a large enough group to vote on not traditional political issues you can win. I don’t see that situation here, but then they did n’t see the other two coming either. How about a promise of a new Arena. Thats sure to get a few votes.

  33. M.Evans permalink
    July 24, 2012 1:09 pm

    Stephen, whilst you and your colleagues are a very competent councillor’s I would like to see more candidates from the world of big business allowed to go forward for the job as Bristol Mayor and not political people put forward by their party. Someone who is used to dealing with all aspects of running big business.

    This person should have the experience of dealing with international companies. This would encourage & entice big companies to move to Bristol. Opening up the market in all aspects of the business and financial world. I feel swapping a councillor to a Mayor is no different than the situation we are in now. Bristol needs a strong person with the acumen to put Bristol first without political intervention.


    • Ralph permalink
      July 24, 2012 2:21 pm

      Stephen is not a councillor, he is a Member of Parliament.

      Nobody is stopping ‘more candidates from the world of big business’ from putting themselves forward. But political parties can’t force people from business to stand.

      The Council isn’t a business – it is a complex democratic institution running hundreds of different services accountable to the people of Bristol.

    • July 26, 2012 3:46 pm

      M Evans – the Mayor will need a breadth of experience. Business and private sector experience would certainly be an advantage – there are far too many people in politics who have had no existence outside the political bubble. But this doesn’t mean “someone from the world of big business” has all the necessary qualities either. On that basis you would hand national government over to the CBI. A good politician (and this includes so called “Independent” ones) has a range of skills and experiences to offer. I would say that the biggest attribute we are looking for is someone who knows and loves Bristol, has a compelling vision of where to take the city and the character to work with others to change that vision into action.

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