Hall packed for chance to quiz the candidates
AROUND 200 people packed into Holy Trinity Church in Hotwells to hear what 11 of Bristol's mayoral candidates could offer them.
Most of the church's pews had been taken ten minutes before the event started and so the organisers, Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association, had to bring in extra chairs.
Eleven of the 15 candidates standing for the position attended.
They were: Marvin Rees (Labour), Jon Rogers (Liberal Democrat), Geoff Gollop (Conservative), George Ferguson, (Bristol 1st), Daniella Radice (Green Party), Neil Maggs (Respect Party), Tom Baldwin (Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition Against Cuts), Tim Collins (Independent), Dave Dobbs (The Birthday Party), Owain George (Independent) and Philip Pover (Independent).
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Each candidate was given one minute by chairman Dennis Gornall to tell the audience who they were and what they wanted to do for Bristol. Members of the public were then invited to raise a hand to ask the candidates a question.
The first question asked of candidates was what the powers of the new mayor would be, and whether they would be able to do anything they wanted.
Dr Rogers said that he would be looking at having the same powers as the current leader of the council but would want more power over transport, similar to that of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.
Mr George drew laughter from the crowd when he suggested central Government could have "created a monster for themselves" if an independent candidate won the position.
"I would be able to simply walk up to Whitehall and kick the door until I got some answers," he said.
"As far as power is concerned, I will take it, and then I will take some more."
Respect party candidate Neil Maggs surprised the crowd when he stood up and spoke loudly and animatedly.
"The mayor should have the ability to stand up and shout the odds," he said."
Another question asked was how the new mayor would stop big corporations dodging taxes.
Mr Ferguson said he would try to get businesses into Bristol whose profits benefited the city.
"We see far too many businesses that come and monopolise the city but then take their profits elsewhere," he said.
"I won't name any of them now – other than Tesco."
Mr Gollop said he would lobby central Government to tighten tax rules.
Another member of the public asked the candidates whether they supported the controversial BRT2 project – a rapid transit scheme between the park and ride site at Ashton Vale and the city centre.
Mr Ferguson called the scheme "botched" and said he would be calling for an urgent review if he got the job.
Tim Collins (Independent) drew applause from the crowd when he said he had signed a petition against the scheme.
"If you want to show off Bristol to the world, don't do it with a bendy bus," he said.
Mr Rees said he too would review the scheme but said it would be important not to lose funding from Government.
Mr Maggs again drew laughter when he said he would scrap the scheme.
"If I got the job BRT2 would be in the dustbin by half past nine on day one," he said.