As somebody who has lived in Bristol their entire life, is involved in their local community and who runs a local business I can see first-hand the benefits that George Ferguson has brought to Bristol as mayor. He understands the concerns of people from every part of Bristol.
Bristol is moving forward and this is a place where entrepreneurship flourishes. This city has allowed me to achieve a number of personal and professional milestones, such as setting up my first business venture at 17 and becoming the city’s first ever Muslim councillor in 2005. I am so pleased that we now have leadership in local government that matches the aspiration of so many Bristolians, like myself. We have all seen what George Ferguson has done for Bristol over 50 years and in the last three as Mayor. Unemployment in the city is falling and companies now see Bristol as a smart place to do business.
We do have a great story to tell here and people shouldn’t forget that. It is important that we work together to make sure that everyone gets to hear and participate in this. To be successful in business and as a social entrepreneur you must have an understanding of the community you work in and have a stake in it. I have always taken this very seriously and I have achieved this through the work I have done with Bristol East Traders and other groups that have helped regenerate parts of this city.
As a former councillor I can recall the difficulties in local government. Often some politicians would choose to compete in political point scoring rather than focusing on delivering the polices that this city so desperately needs. Things are changing in local government and George has shown that he has the experience and innovation to reinvent the way that local government works. I do not want to see us where we were before and a victory for Labour would mean that Bristol would go backwards and the good work would be undone.
As someone involved with a number of community groups in Easton and the rest of the city, I was surprised when it was announced that the Labour Party had selected Marvin Rees as their mayoral candidate again. It is clear that in 2012 we made a choice, that we wanted independent leadership at Bristol City Council. After a three-year absence from our local community and politics Marvin has decided to turn up again with the assumption that he can just walk into the mayoral office.I do understand that not every single person in Bristol is going to agree with all of the policies that George Ferguson has introduced. However, it is a far cry from where we were before when nothing was getting done and there was not accountable leadership here.
Compassion and entrepreneurship is what drives Bristol. Over the last few months, in response to the refugee crisis, it has been overwhelming to witness civil society in action here. As Chairman of the Easton Jamia Mosque I made a 230-mile trip to Calais to witness the atrocities that asylum seekers in Calais are suffering and provided people with tents, sleeping bags, stoves, food and other essential supplies. It was reassuring to see that back in Bristol George Ferguson was banging the drum for our city as a city of sanctuary and leading the national debate in response to the refugee crisis – as the Government dithered about how to respond. This is the type of leader that I want to see, somebody who can make big decisions and understands every part of this city. I do not want Bristol to be represented by a politician who not only lacks leadership but still has not decided whether he wants to openly support his own party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, or not. As we see more devolution and further cuts we need leadership that can make sure the most vulnerable are protected and our economy continues to thrive.
In May we face a simple decision. An independent candidate who has the experience of fifty years working, living and representing this city or a party candidate, who just shows up when it is election time with a manifesto that is written in London.