By Eva Radhika Gurnani, News Editor
A Green Party motion has been approved opposing plans to remove crucial transport and city design teams.
Following opposition from Green councillors, UNISON members, and other campaigners in December, Bristol City Council called on the mayor to halt proposed cuts which would disband its city design team and transfer transport officers to regional authorities. All parties supported the motion except for Labour, which abstained.
The current Labour administration proposed this reduction and redistribution of staff as part of the upcoming budget, claiming it could save the council over £1 million. In December, however, Green Councillor Ed Plowden stressed the importance of the teams’ expertise and guidance as Bristol ‘heads towards Net Zero and transformational projects for the City such as Western Harbour and Temple Quarter.’
He also pointed out that, rather than cutting the council’s costs, outsourcing the functions would likely increase expenses and ‘hand the profit-making services straight to private consultancies.’
In light of the recent motion’s approval, Councillor Plowden stated:
‘I’m pleased Full Council voted for my motion this evening – I hope the administration will listen to the chamber and the many Bristolians and staff who’ve raised concerns about this, and pause the plans to consider them in more detail.’
‘It’s not too late for Labour to U-turn on these disastrous proposals. To proceed with this decision without thoroughly and carefully examining the impact and alternatives would be reckless and risk crippling Bristol’s ability to make transport improvements the city desperately needs. As union reps said in December these proposals could cost the council more money, open the door to privatisation of services and expose the Council to legal and financial risks.’
Seconding the motion, Green Councillor Emma Edwards said:
‘While WECA [the West of England Combined Authority] is the regional transport body, engaging in transport projects within it still requires expert officers at Bristol Council – and we need to keep an in-house team to design the future of our city and deliver for residents. Major cities around the UK, such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, are also part of larger bodies yet have retained these essential functions. I hope the administration will reconsider these damaging proposals which would set the city back years.’