Bristol mayor George Ferguson holds first open public question time session
A DIVERSE variety of questions were put to George Ferguson as he held the mayor’s first open question time session.
Anyone could attend the event at City Hall tonight with about 50 people taking up the opportunity to see the mayor answer unrehearsed questions from the general public.
Topics ranged from the Greater Bristol Bus Network to foster care to whether he could save Filton Airfield.
Mr Ferguson was also asked whether the number of councillors on the city council should be cut from 70 to 35, and was given the chance to explain more about his plan for “car free” Sundays in some parts of the city centre.
He was also approached by people who used the opportunity to ask the mayor if he would visit their charity or community project.
Martin Gosling, who said he was from Yate but visited the city regularly, asked a question which Mr Ferguson described as being the “biggest single issue in this city”.
Mr Gosling asked how the Greater Bristol Bus Network could be made more viable, and how people could be made to stop parking their cars in the bus lanes.
Mr Gosling said seeing a warden enforcing the rules of the bus lanes would be akin to seeing an extinct dodo, and described the lanes as “linear car parks”.
Mr Ferguson told Mr Gosling he had his “huge sympathies” and explained that he had even seen skips parked in the bus lanes.
He said: “We have got to get so much more radical about the way we deal with the buses.”
Another question put to Mr Ferguson was from Bishopston resident Barry Cash, who asked whether it was possible to save Filton Airfield in a bid to create 10,000 jobs.
Mr Ferguson said saving the airfield was beyond his control, but commented that the plan to build houses there seemed like a “relatively short term solution”.
“We are in grave danger of losing that resource,” he said.
“It’s sad but true that we are likely to lose Filton Airfield.”
Asked by Richard Posner whether the number of city councillors should be reduced from 70 to 35, Mr Ferguson answered: “I think 35 would be radical and I am prepared to be radical - lucky for the councillors it’s their decision, not mine.”
Jane Miller asked about the aborted BRT2 scheme through the Harbourside. She thanked Mr Ferguson for his part in getting it stopped but asked when residents would see alternative plans.
Mr Ferguson said an alternative plan would be put forward in May but said it could take many years for the scheme to come to fruition.
Anna Rose, from St Paul’s Learning Centre, asked Mr Ferguson how the city’s adult learning service could become self-funding, while Adrian Clark, from Bedminster, asked how the city could support former armed forced personnel.
A foster carer called Helen, who did not want to reveal her full name or where she lived, told the mayor that not enough was being done to support fosterers in the city.
She said there were only 350 foster carers working for the council, while there were 850 placements needed.
Helen said that foster carers already working with the council needed more respect from the authorities.
Mr Ferguson said he was interested in taking up this issue and even agreed to spend a day in Helen’s life.
The session over ran by half-an-hour as Mr Ferguson tried to get round everyone who wanted to ask a question.
He said he felt the session had been a success.
“It hasn’t been overly political,” he said.
“It’s been genuine people coming here to ask genuine questions.”