George Ferguson: "I'd wear blue trousers for Rovers"
MAYORAL candidate George Ferguson has revealed he would be prepared to ditch his trademark red trousers for a blue pair if he watched Bristol Rovers play football.
The titbit was divulged as eight of the probably 15 candidates took part in a Bristol Mayor Election Question Time last night at the Greenway Centre in Southmead.
After answering questions on mainstream issues such as care services, unemployment, the environment, traffic and housing the final question – of whether candidates would rather be on the sports field or in the bar watching it – was a surprising curve ball for the mayoral hopefuls.
The official list of participants in the election on November 15 was set to be unveiled at noon today.
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Last night Geoff Gollop (Con), Marvin Rees (Lab), Jon Rogers (Lib Dem), George Ferguson (Bristol 1st), Daniella Radice (Green), Neil Maggs (Respect), Tom Baldwin Trade Unions and Socialist Coalition) and Tim Collins (Ind) all took part in the event.
More than 150 people turned up to listen to their answers - but the candidates might be perturbed that the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for a man congratulated for losing two stone on a fitness course at the Doncaster Road venue.
After the two-hour event Southmead residents had mixed feelings.
Retired Joan Bennett, 71, said: "I thought it was interesting and I have almost made my mind up. I felt their responses were genuine and although I was against having a mayor I will vote because I feel women should always vote."
Sylvia Smith, 72 and also retired said: "I feel like they are all saying the same thing. I just can't help feeling it is going to end up being a popularity contest in the end."
Alan Piper, 67, is the chair of the BS10 Parks and Planning group in Southmead.
He said: "I think every candidate answered the question the same way and feel like they don't really answer the question at all. I am in favour of a mayor but was not convinced by any of them on that platform tonight."
The first question of the evening asked the candidates what qualified them to be Bristol's mayor.
Most candidates pointed to the fact they grew up in Bristol with Mr Maggs pointing out he had "300 years of Bristol in him" and passionately wanted to address unemployment and care services for the elderly.
Mr Rees said he had experienced both the "best and worst" of the city and worked in a variety of jobs helping him know what it takes to banish inequality and poverty.
Mr Gollop said that he understood that Bristolians were fed up of being ignored by the council.
"The role of mayor is to listen to what people are saying," he said.
Mr Ferguson said he was committed to making Bristol great, and making it England's second city.
Mr Baldwin, who said he was standing to defend "ordinary people", was passionate in answering a question on cuts to care services.
"These cuts are an example of local government doing central government's bidding," he said. "One of my first priorities would be to reverse these closures."
On the issue of transport and unemployment Mr Rogers again reiterated his pledge to introduce £1.50 bus fares, giving figures on how it could be done, and underlined his determination to improve care services on offer despite recent cuts.
All candidates agreed it was important they fostered better relations with neighbouring authorities for the benefit of Bristol and agreed that open spaces needed to be put in the hands of "vital" neighbourhood partnerships and not sold off.
Ms Radice highlighted the importance of planting more trees in communities to protect them from flooding and global warming.
Mr Collins consistently pointed to his work as a councillor for Southmead in the 1990s when he said he always battled for what was right.