Potential elected mayor candidate George Ferguson has said he will save the city £3million in his first term in office, should Bristol vote ‘yes’ in tomorrow’s referendum and then choose him to be the city’s leader.
Architect Mr Ferguson added he was convinced he would be able to secure extra cash and powers for the city, after discussions he has had with cities minister Greg Clark in the last month.
His claims come 24 hours before Bristol votes in the referendum to decide if the city should have a directly elected mayor.
Yesterday, it was reported that Bristol could gain up to £1bn in extra funding if its people vote ‘yes’ tomorrow. A partnership of politicians and business leaders from Bristol have been in talks with the Government over the so-called City Deals and the outcome is likely to hinge on the result of Thursday’s vote.
Under the scheme, Bristol would be given the power to take control of its finances and transport and would be looking at a pot of £1bn to pay for vital improvements and public schemes.
However, as the vote approaches a former Lord Mayor believes the ceremonial post might eventually be scrapped if there is an elected mayor to run the city.
Alderman Royston Griffey, former Labour councillor for Hartcliffe, said it was “almost inevitable” that the centuries-old post would be lost because there was so much confusion over the two mayors.
Meanwhile, writing in Bristol24-7 today, Green Party councillor Gus Hoyt said an elected mayor provided an “illusion of democracy” and would still have to go “cap in hand” to central government for more cash and powers.
With the vote too close to call, Mr Ferguson has added a final pitch to persuade people to back the new position.
“I shall be producing a full manifesto in the lead up to the Mayoral election campaign in the Autumn, however in order to refute the nonsense that is being issued by those who see the prospect of a directly elected mayor as a threat to their political influence I make just two promises at this stage,” he said.
“Firstly I shall put Bristol first in all my considerations, and shall rise above the petty party politics that has for so long held us back from realising our full potential.
“Secondly I promise that I shall, through a combination of effective resource management and entrepreneurial activity, save Bristol’s administration at least £3 million in the first term of office.
“On top of this it is quite clear from my conversations with the City Minister Greg Clark, who I have met three times in the last month in both Bristol and London, that I shall obtain further resources and powers for Bristol and sit with those other cities in the ‘cabinet of mayors’.
“If we are not represented there we shall undoubtedly be left behind in that race for resources and influence.”
Voting begins tomorrow at 7am. Read our full archive of stories and comment articles on the elected mayor debate by clicking here…