In this hazy twilight between the old administration and the new one, we have a chance to look at what’s important in the council without worrying about what colour suit the politicians will be wearing.

There are two important questions in a democracy:

  1. Who benefits?
  2. How?
A person thinking of what they’re typing on their laptop

I say that these are important questions in a democracy because the implication of ‘rule by the people’ assumes that each person has an equal chance of being heard and of being treated equally.

When these two principles fail, we ask why, how, and to whose benefit?

In order to ask these questions, we…

You may think that I’m being snide in thanking the current Labour mayor but I’m really not. Marvin Rees, seemingly the very antithesis of Jeremy Corbyn who played a great part in getting him elected, has probably helped us awaken more as residents than the man who turned the other cheek.

Many say about Corbyn that he was too nice. If he had been more ruthless and got rid of the right-wing faction of Labour and the traitors on the inside then we would have had a chance at something in 2019. We could have had a chance of change.

During a pre-election interview with the Nicky Blackmarket Show, Marvin Rees explained how protestors who had recently come out to the streets to protest the policing bill, were privileged activists.

He said, “When you had the smashing up of the town centre, I said there were some ‘privileged activists’ down there. The guy from 24/7, the editor down there, said it like I’d said a swear word.”

Martin Booth, editor of Bristol24/7, did indeed ask the question at the mayoral hustings on 29 April 2021. …

The mayor is campaigning on a platform of “no cost to the taxpayer” for the YTL arena in Filton. However, this claim does not reflect reality.

A tweet from mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees saying: “Full steam ahead for Bristol’s 17,000+ seater arena, Europe’s greenest ever, all at no cost to the taxpayer. Pleased to see that @YTL_Arena are investing £3m+ in Park and Rides, Electric Vehicle charging, shuttle buses, cycling, and A38 improvements.
A tweet from mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees saying: “Full steam ahead for Bristol’s 17,000+ seater arena, Europe’s greenest ever, all at no cost to the taxpayer. Pleased to see that @YTL_Arena are investing £3m+ in Park and Rides, Electric Vehicle charging, shuttle buses, cycling, and A38 improvements.

Bristol taxpayers have already paid millions for YTL’s arena. We will continue to pay millions for years to come.

Let me list all the associated costs that I know of so far. They are not exhaustive and the £216.5m I have established is not the final cost.

YTL planning permission for Filton Arena

For YTL to get planning permission in Filton, Bristol City Council officers had to solve a conundrum. The Temple Island site could not be available for use…

The mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, showed clear disdain for political processes at the full council budget meeting on 24 February and instead praised his ‘city partners’ for getting together to fund a one-off laptop distribution without argument.

In an astounding attack on democracy, the mayor said: “I see a flurry of additional meetings being called at the moment — two extraordinary full council meetings, four call-ins, extra HR committees — which I fear is more about using the internal processes to clog things up and make noise that may or may not win a headline than it is about…

Land and port owners, who donated heavily to the Tories, will reap the major benefits of #freeports. They’ll benefit from a host of measures such as:

  • tax credits,
  • generous capital allowances,
  • reduction of stamp duty and business rates, and
  • local relaxations of environmental protection & planning laws.

For residents, freeports will instead bring harmful effects.

They will

  • Reduce tax revenue,
  • Lower wages,
  • Lower environmental protection, and
  • Decrease regulation.

For the economy, there will be negligible impact. “Research by Sussex Uni’s UK Trade Policy Observatory suggests that Government plans to build a network of freeports to books post-Brexit Britain will have…

There’s an emergency scrutiny meeting on the city’s Clean Air Zone on 2 February 2021 (Groundhog Day). It is too late to ask questions of the meeting but I have put some comments together for committee members to consider.

  1. Which Index of Multiple Deprivation data is the technical team using? A new set of measures was released in October 2019, which was just days ahead of the 5th of November 2019 cabinet meeting where the CAZ was decided on. I asked at Cabinet which year’s data was used and did not get a reply. …

On the website advertising Avonmouth to big warehouses and businesses, there is a note describing the types of companies that would benefit by moving their businesses there:

  • Warehousing and storage
  • Large scale distribution and logistics
  • Environmental technologies
  • Heavy industry and manufacturing

Companies are advised that the area has a “highly skilled workforce”.

The area in question is Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston and many of these types of companies have already moved in. The ward is the biggest in Bristol but has some of the highest reported health issues, lowest social provision, high unemployment, low skills and some of the lowest…

In February 2020, Cabinet approved L&G’s plans to start work at Temple Quarter for their mixed-use scheme. The following month, YTL were given planning permission to build their 17,080-capacity arena on their site in Filton.

One man’s involvement in that permission, cost Bristol City Council £239,000 a year and ensured the viability of both of these projects. Thanks to the Freedom of Information requests by journalist Joe Lloyd and lawyer Freyja Hardy, among others, we know a lot more about how these two projects came to pass.

That man responsible for much of the management and planning successes, was arena…

As part of his mayoral campaign, the mayor gave two interviews to Christ Church in Clifton on the same day.

The following video clip of the audio recording mentions how he uses and deals with his faith in politics. It is from the session called 10 Gathering.

I have written two stories on the mayor’s links to Evangelical churches in the UK and the US. …

Joanna Booth

Freelance journalist and book editor.

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