Questions to the Mayor from February forum

At the BCR CP Public Forum on 22nd February 2018, many people expected to hear from the Mayor, Marvin Rees. He was not able to attend, but Cllr Nicola Beech, Council Cabinet member for Strategic Planning, stepped in at short notice. We subsequently discovered that the Mayor’s office had tried to inform us he couldn’t attend on 5th February, but via an intermediary who didn’t forward the message to us (and who has apologised for not doing so).

At the meeting we collected a number of questions from the audience that Cllr Beech promised to pass on to the Mayor. These are the questions, with the answers received subsequently.

Q1 to Mayor: Please give an explanation of how communities will be able to have a say in traffic and transport decisions.

(Answer from BCC Neighbourhood Management Team, 10th April 2018)
Colleagues in highways will be making available a list of priorities drawn up by taking account all the available information and feedback from local communities. If local areas want to pursue highways projects as part of the local CIL process they will need to select from this list. We are working with highways to ensure this is available at the earliest possible opportunity.

There are three reasons for this change of approach a) significantly reduced officer resource to work on proposals with communities/ward Cllrs b) significantly reduced capacity to deliver schemes b) there is no longer allocated funding to support feasibility studies. This means where highways projects are taken forward the team need to be confident about delivery and cost.

We welcome all efforts by the community to improve the local area and we want to support this effort.  We appreciate this is a big change in the way we work and we welcome your feedback to ensure we have the right systems and procedures in place. Our aim is to provide a consistent and clear process and make this available on the website for everyone.  If you have specific issues which you are not able to progress please do contact your ward councillor or let us know.

Q2 to Mayor: When will council reach steady state and when will we be able to work with council officers to achieve things locally?

(See answer to next question)

Q3 to Mayor: How can communities now get answers and hold people from the council to account without the NPs?

(Answer from Mayor Marvin Rees, 28th March 2018)
I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns about the transformation of neighbourhood working. We recognise the value of engaging with communities on issues that affect them. To meet the challenge facing the city and build a more sustainable future, we need to re-shape our relationship with the people of Bristol.

I want local communities to have a say and to be empowered to take decisions in their local area. As a city we need to develop a better understanding of what residents in communities are best placed to do together, what communities can do with the right help and what needs to be done by the council and others. This is why we are changing the way we work. 

Q4 to Mayor: What is the process proposed for CIL allocation decisions and community involvement in those decisions?

(Answer from BCC Neighbourhood Management Team, 10th April 2018)
The funding for community meetings which the Council is providing through Councillors can support the working relationship between communities, councillors and officers, and identify projects for potential CIL funding. See https://www.bristol.gov.uk/en_US/people-communities/funding-local-projects-community-infrastructure-levy-and-section-106-agreements

Local Councillors have been briefed about this process and requested to set up conversations with their ward communities to identify local priorities which they then take to their Area Committee to consider for funding.

(See also our latest BCR post on the CIL proccess)

The Bishopston and St Andrew’s traffic and parking group are working with councillors to raise local highways safety issues. In December they met with Cllr Mhairi Threlfall and made suggestions on amendments.
Q5 They wanted to ask the Mayor

  • how to take this work forward?
  • what are the next steps?
  • how do we keep on top of safety issues?

(See answer to next question)

Q6 to Cllr Mhairi Threlfall: What is the process for ensuring better quality road repairs including failure of service providers’ repairs after excavation works?

We also added this question to Cllr Threlfall (Cabinet Member for Transport):
We are also not clear on how local residents are expected to report traffic issues which might be addressed by highways schemes and therefore get on to the list of proposals. The Traffic Choices website still describes the previous process involving Neighbourhood Partnerships.

(Answer from Cllr Threlfall, 13th April 2018)
It is best to direct your questions to your local councillors in the first instance – each area and ward are running their activity differently as it is member led process and I can’t answer your questions on their behalf. They can seek clarification from officers for you if they need it on the process, or ask me to chase responses if they don’t receive them.

In terms of reporting transport or traffic issues, these can still be reported via the Council’s webpages and hasn’t changed, or via fixmystreet. You can find out more info on what issues have previously been flagged via Bristol’s pin point site, selecting from the drop down menu on the left hand side.

The community asked Cllr Beech to take back their concern about the lack of information about why the Mayor had failed to attend this community event or apologise. Cllr Beech was asked to press the Mayor for an explanation for this perceived lack of respect for the BCR community.

(Response from the Mayor’s Office, 12th March 2018)
…we advised on 5 February that the Mayor was unable to attend due to an urgent change in the diary and passed on his sincere apologies. I am sorry that this was not communicated to the group, but would like to assure you that the Mayor does not ignore the concerns of the BCR area. The Mayor’s diary is very challenging to manage and unfortunately on this occasion he could not attend the meeting, but was glad that Cllr Beech could represent him as a member of his Cabinet.