Friday 13 May 2016

Rejoice: we have a new mayor!

So: we have a new mayor.

What's interesting about the results is the sheer number of people who turned out to vote -and the proportion of those voters who came out to vote out George. Given one of the aims of the mayoral program was to "increase engagement in local government", it has certainly met that goal, one way or another.

A lot of the city are clearly glad to see the back of GF. The big question is: which specific policies got people voting him out -or whether it was his general style of working: Unitarian decisions and dismissal of dissent- which got to people.

Marvin may end up following the Labour Party line -but that party does have a local organisation and many councillors -so there is a structure for propagating the issues and desires of part of the electorate up to the mayor's office.

He's promised to focus on those parts of the city which felt left behind, and address problems such as housing. Given the need to be seen to immediately fulfilling those promises, to deliver, expect work to start there. But given the lead time for such work, expect them to look for some low-hanging fruit elsewhere.

RPZ and 20 zones are in an interesting place here. They have proved controversial, especially the way the RPZs were rolled out. But at the same time, a lot of people in the zones are happy with the idea, albeit not the details: charges, times, disabled access. Tuning those is a simple way to be seen to be listening, without risking upsetting those in the core who are happy with them.

20 mph is also under threat. As with RPZ, the CAPEX is done: the signs and the paint. MR was not elected on a pro-speed platform and, with a large electorate within the inner city air quality "management" area, may be reluctant to upset those who see the benefit. Maybe he even recognises that trying to blame 20 mph for the city's transport woes is ridiculous. At the same time: the anti GF voters view it as part of the "war on motorists", and they will expect something in exchange for their vote.

The often cited proposal "make it purely round schools, hospitals and residential roads" will resurface, even if it misses out that most roads have residents, a continually jittering limit its actually harder to comply with, and that children walk and cycle to school on main roads too. Oh, and any changes to signage means more capital spending.

One tactic the mayor may try here is a discreet rollback of enforcement, though with the PCC being independent, that'll take negotiation.

The other pet peeve of the anti GF voters is all that money spent on cycling. Good news for them there: he didn't spend much. If you compare what Boris did in London over the last four years —the embankment, the bridges, Elephant and Castle— what Bristol got for their money is laughable. What is there? a segregated path that stops half way down Baldwin street and the continuing fiasco of that path near Bemmy.

The money, the effort, the time -and the road space- has gone into Metrobus, not bicycles. It's hard to see what worse MR could do here, short of taking away more space for BRT. We know someone still has their eye on the BBRP —fortunately the people of Easton love it enough to keep the buses out: if it was just the cyclists, it'd look like the M32, the centre and the Festival way do: roadworks for BRT.

Metrobus itself? Marvin supports it. Anyway, given how far it has gone, the current BRT fiasco routes may be considered too late to kill. All future work could be put on hold until it's seen how well it works out in budget as well a use. It would also have be on how well the Elf kingdom of Somerset and the Dwarf Mines of S. Gloucs step up to their bit. About what FirstBus and Wessex Bus deliver. And about whether well a transport authority spanning the CUBA region can kick FirstBus into the 21zt century: contactless payment for all journeys, tickets interchangeable with Wessex bus. It's even about FBus having buses waiting at Templemeads and Parkway for GWR trains from London.

Let's wait and see.

Monday 2 May 2016

Where is our election coverage?

People come up to us and ask questions. Usually we like them to say "would you like some more beer?", rather than the more frequent question, "Are you aware of the national speed limit in this country, sir?".

Most recently, people have been asking: "where is your electoral coverage?"

Well, we've been primarily leaving it to other reporting outlets, specifically the Bristolian and Bristol 24/7. If people are putting effort in to analyse voting records, do interviews and organise hustings, that's enough.

A more relevant question people ask us is: who should we vote for?

As the people printing the ballots, we can say "you can't vote for UKIP on our photocopies as he falls off the end". Which is ironic as the spherical model of the earth is one of those sciency-things that UKIP candidates argue about, along with Climate Change and Newton's Laws of Motion (especially the bit that says the kinetic energy in a collision goes up with the square of the velocity).

Instead you get to make your mind up, noting that as Tony Dyer is the only one ever to have bought team members (including the late Chris Hutt) beer, he's got a head start.

What we recommend is you, the voter, place the following items in the order you feel is most important.

[ ] Right to speed at 35+ mph through the inner city
[ ] Right to park where you want in the city
[ ] Fundamental issues in society

The Fundamental issues in society box can include: education; housing; the central-government imposed austerity program and the fact that it will get worse; how and why so few people brought up in Bristol are in science and engineering jobs in north fringe technical companies, Bristol's Air Quality Management Area and other environmental issues; Firstbus & Metrobus. All the things that matter to those people who don't recognise that the choice between 20 mph and 30 mph is the most important issue facing the city today.

Then choose a politician that appears to prioritise issues in an order closest to your own. That's your first vote.

For the second vote you decide who you don't want in: Marvin or George —and vote for the other. Clear?