This week we invite the six top mayoral candidates: George Ferguson (Independent â???? Merchant Venturer); Geoff Gollop (Conservative); Neil Maggs (Respect); Danielle Radice (Green); Marvin Rees (Labour) & Jon Rogers (Liberal Democrat) to answer questions about planning, development and housing in Bristol. What will they do to solve the property gap in the city with 14,500 people, or 4% of the cityâ????s population, on the housing list and 1.75 million square feet of empty office space?
Other candidates include Tom Baldwin, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition; Tim Collins, Save Filton Airfield; Spud Murphy, Former Conservative Councillor and Philip Pover, Access To Green Space. Definitive list out at Bristol City Council website on Tuesday 23rd October.
First hour: Bristol mayoral debate concentrating on housing. Mayoral candidates with their visions for the city and their ideas on housing â???? Bristol First, Independent: George Ferguson (Merchant Venturer), Conservative: Geoff Gollop, Respect: Neil Maggs, Green: Daniella Radice, Liberal Democrat: Jon Rogers, (Labourâ????s Marvin Rees pulled out on the day of broadcast). Mike Birkin from South West Friends of the Earth asks how candidates plan to cope with Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Picklesâ???? policy to have central government deciding on local planning issues? Discussion about Bristol General Hospital Developers, City & Country Group, who have decided not to include any affordable housing in their conversion of the hospital to luxury housing. Saying they will leave the place empty and derelict unless council planners agree. Jenny Allen from The National Housing Federation (NHF) asks how candidates intend to work with other local authorities: South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset Councils, to integrate housing policy? Discussion on plans for mass house building over Filton airfield once BAe Systems sell it off. Tony Crofts from his Clifton Housing Co-op asks why there are 40 acres of empty office space in the city, why is the construction industry failing to deliver housing and could this empty property be converted to housing? Candidates puzzle over how companies can afford to keep these buildings empty, is it a tax write-off? Contribution via a July recording of absent Labour candidate Marvin Rees who has promised to build 4000 social housing units in Bristol (we were hoping to ask him how he intends to fund this) but realised this afternoon he had double-booked with this Foyles bookshop event which began at 6pm.??
Second hour: Councillor for St George East Ron Stone has a proposal borrowed from Manchester City Council for pension funds to finance social housing built by local authorities and housing associations. As Ron was taken ill last night this question is put by Old Labour Oxford economist Martin Summers. Acceptance that building social housing would be good for employment, for the economy and for social cohesion. Bristol people talk to Marina Morris on the streets of the city giving their opinions including that the council is corrupt or should be dissolved and others saying they did not know an election was taking place. Keith Cowling from the Bristol Community Land Trust asks how candidates are going to help local people with the skills and who want to, to become their own developers? Why are they not using this route to build affordable housing? Explanation from Keith of what a Community Land Trust is and projected deal to provide new affordable homes at Eastville Park off Fishponds Road. Green candidate Danielle Radice points out that a Central Government Treasury proposal called the â????City Dealâ???? is taking ??£1 billion of city council assets and around 180 land and property assets out of local authority management and handing it to a quango to be known as Public Property Board [PDF] run by the business fraternity through the Local Enterprise Partnership. The question being how will the mayor make decisions about public land when itâ????s being managed by this new quango and out of his or her control? Simon Bale from ISR, Churches for Work and Social Justice, asks how the candidates plan to house homeless people who are mentally ill or addicted to drugs and alcohol? Tony asks candidates to sum up with a question about central governmentâ????s new benefit cuts: a benefit cap, bedroom tax, withdrawal of council tax relief and the Universal Credit which will replace housing benefit. It is predicted that 171,000 single parents nationally will be forced out of their homes so how are the cityâ????s most vulnerable going to cope?