Ex-planning consultant hopes to land mayor job on 'save our airfield' ticket
A FORMER Avon county councillor who specialised in economic development has decided to stand as an independent candidate in the race to become Bristol's first elected mayor.
Tim Collins, 49, a planning consultant who lives in Lockleaze, is standing on one issue – to save Filton Airfield.
He believes the airfield should be kept for repairs and maintenance of aircraft – not closed and used for housing – to help safeguard plane manufacturing in Britain.
Mr Collins said: "The people of Henbury and Charlton Mead don't want to see 2,500 houses built on the airfield.
"They are quite happy for it to be used as it is – not as a commercial airfield but for repairs and maintenance.
"If we don't keep assets like this, then we'll lose aircraft development and manufacture in Britain."
Mr Collins, who spent his childhood in north Bristol, can remember standing on the runway and watching Concorde taking off when she was built and tested at Filton.
He was a Labour councillor for Southmead ward from May, 1989 until March, 1993 for the former Avon County Council which was abolished in 1996.
During his term of office, he was a member of the economic development committee and chaired the planning, highways and transport committee.
But during his last month in office, he switched his political allegiance from Labour to Conservative.
He stood three years running (1994-1996) as Tory candidate for Eastville ward on the city council but failed to get elected.
In 1997, he stood as Tory candidate for St George East and in 1998, he failed to win Frome Vale by 300 votes.
Mr Collins said he has not been a member of a political party for the past ten years.
He had to give up his planning consultancy after he suffered a pulmonary embolism – a blockage of the main artery to the lungs – while on a flight to Berlin. He said he had recovered from his life-threatening condition but still had to take medicine.
He attracted publicity in 1989 when he asked Avon councillors if he could take his American girlfriend with them on a European trip to look at metro systems.
All but one councillor was against – although he was prepared to pay his girlfriend's flight and expenses – and he wrote to them all and wished them a happy trip.
Mr Collins is one of several independents who have thrown their hat into the ring to become the city's first elected figurehead.
Labour's candidate Marvin Rees, 40, a programme manager in public health for the NHS, who lives with his family in Easton, has emerged as favourite to win the election.
He is closely followed by architect George Ferguson, an independent, who is holding his first jamboree for supporters and to hear people's views tonight at the Creative Common Big Top next to Temple Meads railway station.
The Tories, Lib Dems and the Green Party are still going through their selection processes to choose a candidate.
The Respect Party has chosen retired teacher and asylum seekers' campaigner Paulette North.
Easton businessman Abdul Malik, a former Lib Dem city councillor, is hoping to win his party's nomination but would otherwise probably stand as an independent.
Other independents include Craig Clarke who led the storming of a hearing at Bristol County Court to evict Occupy protesters from College Green, former Tory councillor Spud Murphy, businessman Andy Thorne and cafe worker Eric Mutch who is changing his name to Mr Corrupt Self-serving Lying B'stard.