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Question responses from Metro Mayor candidates

We and our event partners are working to ensure all West of England metro mayor candidates have the strongest possible environment sustainability policies. Ahead of our sustainability hustings event on 25 April, we sought responses on two questions from the six declared candidates on behalf of the 800 member organisations of Bristol Green Capital Partnership and the over 25,000 individual members of our event partners in the region.

The responses received from candidates are published below in alphabetical order by first name.


Aaron Foot, UK Independence Party

1) Why should the members of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Avon Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth vote for you as West of England metro mayor? (max. 250 words)

I want to champion a new era of democracy. By protecting the Green Belt.

Britain’s greenfield sites of forest and fields are part of the make-up of this great nation and we must not under any circumstances build on these precious areas. Outdoor leisure is a big part of many people’s lives and we must not take this great piece of Britain away. We can build new houses on the many disused brownfield sites across the region without harming our beautiful natural spaces in the process.

2) During preparations for Bristol’s European Green Capital Year in 2015, five themes emerged as being particularly important for our future: Energy, Food, Nature, Resources and Transport. If you are elected, how would you address these issues, and with what priority? (max. 400 words)

After winning Green Capital of the year in 2015 we need to further improve on Energy, Food, Nature, Resources and Transport.

This can be done with implementing Direct Democracy. People should be allowed to choose their own destiny, and future.

Let’s all take a moment and think about what voters want. I can say for sure that voters don’t want more layers of bureaucracy – we just want our taxes spent on the things we need like roads and health. Sadly, this is not happening in councils. 539 council bosses were paid more than the Prime Minister last year, one of whom was paid over £600k! This is a waste of your money and it is simply wrong.

“Direct Democracy can and will deliver outstanding levels of service and ensure all voices are heard”

“Let’s champion change on May 4th”

If you agreed with what I’ve said here and think, like UKIP, that it is time for a new era of democracy in the West of England, vote for me – Aaron Foot, as your new West of England Mayor on May 4th.


Darren Hall, Green Party

1) Why should the members of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Avon Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth vote for you as West of England metro mayor? (max. 250 words)

If elected as metro-mayor, I would like to see BGCP established as a region wide membership organisation acting as an advisory group and critical friend to both the West of England Combined Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership. It is critical that we extend people’s understanding of the green agenda as being broader than ‘low carbon’, ensuring that every aspect of the region’s business and spatial strategy is viewed through the lense of sustainability and resilience.

In doing so, I would highlight the successes of businesses that are already working to improve their profits through energy efficiency, waste reduction and staff engagement, and promote the efforts of those commercial and social enterprise that aim to balance people, planet & profit.

I would ensure that the Partnership’s joint endeavours play a greater part in influencing the region’s agenda, e.g. the inclusion of the Good Transport Plan in the integrated transport authority strategy, as part of an overall process of positioning the West of England as a global leader in the next generation of smart cities.

As the former manager of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership I have a unique insight into its background, constitution and aims. I project managed the team that won the EUGC 2015 award, and was Executive Director of Big Green Week.

2) During preparations for Bristol’s European Green Capital Year in 2015, five themes emerged as being particularly important for our future: Energy, Food, Nature, Resources and Transport. If you are elected, how would you address these issues, and with what priority? (max. 400 words)

My top priority from your list is transport, but I would like to add housing to it! Although prioritisation is often necessary in order to direct capacity and resources, the green agenda is ultimately a systems approach, and you can very rarely tackle one aspect of it in isolation. In that regard, I would plan to bring a ‘one planet living’ approach to all aspects of the role.

It is imperative that we tackle the housing crisis within a generation, and to do so in ways that reduce our carbon footprint at the same time. Evidence proves that the best housing also incorporates nature, green space and food growing into the overall design, helping to build strong, healthy, child-friendly communities. Bristol & Bath host some of the best architects and developers in the UK, but our current system just seems to produce ‘indentikit’ boxes. I will work with public sector land-owners to commission next generation community developments that are genuinely affordable to buy and run. Other areas are already doing it, so why aren’t we?!

In doing so, we must also tackle the region’s congestion & air quality issues and the best way to do so is through better public transport, and increased investment in cycling and walking. The Partnership’s Good Transport Plan is first class, and I would ensure it is central to any future proposals.

Better use of resources are a huge economic opportunity, and we should be capitalising on our innovation, creativity and research expertise to create value from waste as well as including reuse at the design stage. Bristol & Bath can become a global leader in the next generation of smart urban living, developing the ‘circular’ economy to demonstrate that growth can be maintained at the same time as reducing our impact on the planet.

Underpinning all of this is the energy system that powers our lives. The South West is blessed with almost limitless natural energy from wind, solar and tidal sources. If the money currently set aside to subsidise new nuclear was spent on renewable energy projects instead we wouldn’t need to take the irresponsible gamble on Hinkley. Energy storage is another significant opportunity for our scientists and engineers to tackle, and we have the skills and expertise to be at the cutting edge of the smart cities agenda if we choose to put it front and centre of our economic strategy.


John Savage, Independent

1) Why should the members of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Avon Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth vote for you as West of England metro mayor? (max. 250 words)

I have had a long-term commitment to helping the Region achieve its carbon reduction targets and preserving its environmental assets:

In the 1990s I chaired the Bristol Energy and Environmental Trust and in my vision for the Region published in 2010 (‘2050 High in Hope’) I identified moves towards a reduction in carbon emissions, greater use of renewables and the need to preserve and indeed enhance our natural environment.

My transport remit as Metro Mayor will include the setting up of a combined transport authority which will facilitate a more accessible, efficient, less polluting and better integrated public transport network.  I will encourage a more joined up approach to cycling provision.

There will inevitably be growth in employment and homes in this region over the coming decades.  The challenge is to ensure that it is properly planned, in the right places, is of good quality and has high environmental standards.  I will prioritise brownfield land for development and require new developments to include all necessary facilities and be linked to a high-speed bus or tram within a 10 minute walk.

The natural environment in this part of England is a great asset which enhances our lives and must be preserved. There are opportunities to improve both its quality and its recreational benefits quality – e.g. on the Dundry slopes, or in areas of green belt of lower landscape and environmental quality.

We have experienced environmental bodies in the region who I will listen to and be guided by.

2) During preparations for Bristol’s European Green Capital Year in 2015, five themes emerged as being particularly important for our future: Energy, Food, Nature, Resources and Transport. If you are elected, how would you address these issues, and with what priority? (max. 400 words)

Not all of these fall within the direct remit of a Metro Mayor – certainly initially and will therefore depend on my use of ‘soft power’ with the authorities.

Priority 1: transport

My transport remit as Metro Mayor will include the setting up of a combined transport authority which will facilitate a more accessible, efficient and better integrated public transport network. I will expect all busses to be hybrids and in due course all-electric busses will be the norm. My proposed trams on key high usage routes, essential if we are to have the necessary future capacity, are themselves energy efficient and more sustainable long term as they have a much longer life than a bus. These measures will also reduce emissions and air pollution. I will encourage a more joined up approach to cycling provision.

Not all journeys can be by walking, cycling, bus, train or tram, but with additional Park and Ride facilities to Bath and Bristol (much delayed by current fragmentation) we can significantly reduce commuting car journeys and associated pollution.

Meanwhile I will use some of the additional funds to subsidise a 1-day per week offer to enable all to use the busses, thereby reducing congestion by 15% and demonstrating to commuters the benefits of public transport alternatives to the car.

Priority 2: energy

In my housing strategy, I would require all new homes to be low energy. I would encourage initiatives that help businesses to reduce their energy requirements.

I would support initiatives for power generation from lagoons in the Severn Estuary and other renewable sources.

In my support of the local economy I would encourage the low-carbon sector.

Priority 3: nature

In my review of development to cope with the growth in housing and employment land I would look to preserve and enhance our landscape assets.  I would take the advice of experts in this field and support initiatives that will ensure a viable future for our natural environment, encouraging its bio diversity and its educational benefits and with good accessibility for all.

Priority 4: resource

We must reduce waste and I will support measures that do that.

Priority 5:  food

As part of a strategic view of land being considered for new development I will ensure that its productivity for local food production is fully taken into consideration.


Lesley Mansell, Labour Party

1) Why should the members of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Avon Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth vote for you as West of England metro mayor? (max. 250 words)

I shall protect the West of England’s natural beauty, aspiring to responsibly and sustainably use its resources to create a low carbon economy with social justice at its heart. I have pledged to investigate the viability of tidal lagoons and sea turbines around our coastline, use planning powers to oppose all fracking applications, and set up a commercially attractive regional energy company to encourage investment into carbon free energy sources. These policies show my unwavering commitment to renewable energy. The first step towards this will be to establish cross-regional governance to deliver an affordable Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel Energy Strategy.

In addition, I will encourage all authorities to move to ‘clean vehicles’ and strive to make the West of England Combined Authority run on clean energy only by 2050.

When working with local authorities and communities, I will promote recycling, setting a target of 55% for all waste by 2020. Further to this I will encourage businesses to become ‘Green Workplaces’ through cutting energy and carbon use, investing in green technology, encouraging working from home and car-sharing schemes.

Finally I will tackle urban pollution by creating a Clean Air Zone and ensure ‘Green’ criteria are applied to all funding grants awarded by the Metro Mayor office so that our air is safe to breathe and we stop the current unsustainable damage to our economy.

2) During preparations for Bristol’s European Green Capital Year in 2015, five themes emerged as being particularly important for our future: Energy, Food, Nature, Resources and Transport. If you are elected, how would you address these issues, and with what priority? (max. 400 words)

Firstly Transport. I will lead on transport to ensure people can get to work and get around, better. I know from personal experience that too many of our roads, buses and trains are over-crowded, inflicting daily misery on commuters and leisure travellers alike. Congestion damages our local economy and air quality. I will bring stakeholders together to improve planning and new infrastructure.

Secondly energy. as I have said I will to investigate the viability of tidal lagoons and sea turbines around our coastline, use planning powers to oppose all fracking applications, and set up a commercially attractive regional energy company to encourage investment into carbon free energy sources. The first step towards this will be to establish cross-regional governance to deliver an affordable Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel Energy Strategy.

On resources, I will responsibly and sustainably use the West’s resources to create a low carbon economy with social justice at its heart. I feel that the West of England Devolution Agreement will provide opportunities for local leaders to solve local problems, taking power and resources back from central government, and using it to improve our region. I will push for decisions to be taken closer to the communities they affect, bringing influence and resources to local people.

When it comes to food and nature I will be using extensive planning powers to protect out countryside and wildlife. Living in Radstock I know how important nature is to people’s daily lives – and seeing any damage to it would be disastrous. I will encourage healthy eating in schools by rolling out the current partnership programme schools have with local farms. I will bring together the three local authorities in the WECA as well as North Somerset to share best practice on the themes of food and nature, as well as other sustainability policies.


Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat Party

1) Why should the members of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Avon Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth vote for you as West of England metro mayor? (max. 250 words)

The election of a “Metro” Mayor for the West of England is an exciting opportunity to take our region forward. We will have new powers and new sources of money so that we can make the big decisions locally, rather than asking for permission or funding from the government in Westminster.

The Mayor will be able to invest in the local economy. I will invest in cheap start up space for new businesses and social enterprises.  I want to encourage tech and digital entrepreneurs, the fast growing industries of the future.  I will also support those businesses that are developing a low carbon, sustainable economy.

I will set aside land for new homes that are affordable for purchase and rent, safeguarding the green belt. Homes should be built to the highest sustainable standards, reducing carbon emissions and fuel poverty.

I will use new transport powers to regulate all bus providers, enabling a common method of cashless payment.  This will cut journey times and improve air quality. I will also reopen suburban rail stations.

This is a big job, needing someone with the right mix of political experience, personal skills and good ideas to make the most of the opportunity.  I am the only candidate to have served as a minister in the government, as well as an MP and councillor. This knowledge and experience will enable me to lead our region to a prosperous and sustainable future.

2) During preparations for Bristol’s European Green Capital Year in 2015, five themes emerged as being particularly important for our future: Energy, Food, Nature, Resources and Transport. If you are elected, how would you address these issues, and with what priority? (max. 400 words)

I have published a detailed manifesto, setting out my vision and policy priorities.  It covers how I would grow the regional economy in a sustainable and socially just way.  It also sets out how I would use new powers to deliver a public transport revolution and to build affordable new homes in balanced and sustainable communities.  The full document can be read at http://www.stephenwilliams.org.uk/mayor_manifesto

I have ruled out setting aside land for fracking and want the region to focus on a low carbon future.  I will work with the Welsh government to harness the clean energy of the Severn. I want local people to have a direct stake in the ownership of sustainable energy companies.  I also see a big role for social enterprises in retrofitting our existing housing stock, making homes more energy efficient.

I have long supported the promotion of locally sourced food and will make this one of my key economic objectives.  There is an opportunity both to deliver a strong circular economy here in the West of England and also to promote our rural products to the rest of the country.  I support land use allocation policies that promote biodiversity.  I will require housing developers to plant a range of tree varieties, to support pollinators.  I will also seek ways of increasing tree planting along highways as a contribution to improving air quality.

The way that I can have most impact on improving air quality is through a dramatic switch to public transport.  I will make buses more attractive to passengers by speeding up journeys through cashless payment.  This will ease congestion on our main routes such as Fishponds Road or Gloucester Rd, improving air quality.  I will also require bus operators to switch from health damaging diesel to cleaner fuel.  In the short term this could be bio-methane, until the cost of electric powered buses falls. I will also seek the power to impose a charge on diesel emitting commercial vehicles that enter a clean air zone for both Bath and Bristol.

I will work with Network Rail to quickly re-open suburban rail stations, such as Ashley Hill.  I will also re-open lines to passenger services, with the priority being a Bristol Circle Line, running through north Bristol and Filton Airfield and along the Severn Beach Line.  I will continue support for measures that increase the uptake of cycling.


Tim Bowles, Conservative Party

1) Why should the members of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Avon Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth vote for you as West of England metro mayor? (max. 250 words)

I am passionate about our region and that’s why I’m standing to be the first West of England Mayor.

I have combined a successful business career with a long record of public service as a local councillor and will use my skills, experience and determination to improve our region.

As a region we have a unique opportunity to make decisions locally and invest in driving our economy, providing more jobs, improving our skills and deliver the infrastructure we need for the future.

Success brings demands for more housing and pressures on our transport infrastructure.

I will adopt a better approach to development so homes are built in the right places, protecting our green spaces and prioritising urban regeneration.

I will improve our region’s rail system, providing new stations and increasing existing services and will connect different forms of transport, provide improved strategic bus services, smart ticketing and invest in key road network improvements.

By tackling the region’s transport problems we will start to tackle the poor air quality that many of us experience.

We must ensure our rural economies have broadband and other infrastructure they require to continue to succeed.

We need a strong local voice to champion our region. I will be a Mayor who will get things done.

2) During preparations for Bristol’s European Green Capital Year in 2015, five themes emerged as being particularly important for our future: Energy, Food, Nature, Resources and Transport. If you are elected, how would you address these issues, and with what priority? (max. 400 words)

Though the Mayor has limited powers in certain of these areas one of my key priorities is to encourage and support a diverse economy across the whole region and this would allow me to help local businesses develop in the renewable energy and food sectors.

The majority of our regional employers are small businesses – I will be focused on helping our small businesses succeed and will champion small business and start up companies in the production of sustainable energy equipment. The region has a vibrant and growing food industry with a wealth of small specialist manufacturers that we must develop as part of our economic growth plans whilst my plans to protect the greenbelt will benefit our farming community and increasing numbers of local growers and producers.

In my role as Chairman of my Parish Council I have been active in supporting and developing woodlands in my community.

We have invested in creating a Community Woodland and over many years I have championed the work we do locally to protect and enhance this woodland – I have lead on having this listed within our local authority Policy, Sites and Places Plan to protect such important sites for the future.

We fund and manage three other Nature Reserves in our and will shortly be taking ownership of an additional nature reserve. I am very proud of our local community woodland in Winterbourne and the many other native trees we manage on our public open spaces and I hope you will see this as a record of positive action on my part.

I recently met the Woodland Trust and support their Protect, Restore and Create initiative something that I have been actively applying for many years in my current position and which I will champion if elected as West of England Mayor.

As Mayor one of my key priorities is to address the transport issues across the region by providing a combination of solutions. I will work to reduce traffic congestion by developing attractive alternatives investing in new rail, cycling and bus alternatives whilst improving traffic pinch points and providing new strategic roads to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

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