Your say / Politics

‘Improving the quality of our environment takes courage’

By sandy hore ruthven, Monday Jun 24, 2019

The mayor’s speech on Clean Air Day is to be welcomed as a sign that Marvin has finally realised people care about environmental issues and that they should be given equal weight to the social problems we face as a city.

However, I think what he has not yet appreciated is that many of the solutions to our environmental problems are also solutions to our social problems.

Improving the quality of our environment is not rocket science but it takes courage. Prioritising public transport, cycling and walking means allocating more road space to these forms of transport.

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Experience from cities in Europe and the UK shows that when we do, not only do we improve the quality of our air and reduce our emissions but the benefits are felt by all be felt by all.

Inequality is reduced by ensuring everyone can get to work quickly wherever they live; young people can get to college; business benefits as time spent travelling is reduced; and those who are more isolated by disability or age can play a full role in their communities.

And while the mayor spoke about his future ambitions, his actions speak louder than his words.

He has avoided tackling the problem of Bristol’s filthy air for well over a year despite legal threats from central government.

Green Party mayoral candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven writes that Bristol needs to take bold action

The likely improvements to our health and our communities were barely mentioned in his recent air quality improvement proposals. Instead the public will be asked to comment on options that the city council’s head of paid service said may not even be legally compliant.

In contrast, the Greens have committed to investing £6.5m each year into improving our public transport on top of the West Of England Combined Authority and funding from central government.

By investing in our infrastructure we can make buses cheaper and more reliable, we can make cycling safer, and we can make walking more pleasant.

Bristol used to lead the way in tackling these problems but more forward-thinking cities like Birmingham and Manchester (both Labour-led councils with social justice as a priority) have leaped ahead and are reaping the benefits of equality, clean air, thriving business and more liveable cities.

If Bristol takes bold action now, we could lead again and make the difference to all of our lives.

Sandy Hore-Ruthven is the Green Party candidate for mayor of Bristol

Read more: ‘We can be a source of hope for our planet’

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