Independents offering Bristol's voters an alternative to old party politics
SEVEN candidates are hoping to break the mould of party politics in Bristol – by standing as independents at the local elections in May.
They have stepped forward following the setting-up of an umbrella group called Independents for Bristol which offers support and advice but does not draw up policies or try to influence how candidates should vote on any issue.
Stephen Perry, spokesman for the group, said the candidates had not been vetted in terms of policy but simply their passion for representing their communities.
He said: "They are people who have come forward and clearly demonstrated they are already doing a tremendous amount in their own communities and want to represent them.
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"They would never have thought of standing to become a councillor in the past because they have never wanted to engage in party politics."
Mr Perry said although the newly-elected mayor, George Ferguson, was an independent, they were not affiliated to him in any way.
But Mr Perry said he believed Mr Ferguson's election did signal a sea-change in local politics.
He said he expected to see councillors be given more powers to get on with looking after their wards instead of trying to control or deliver party political policies.
One of the candidates, John Hickey from Bishopston, said: "I was intrigued by the fact that we seem to have had a changing of the guard.
"We want to show there is an alternative voice that can be heard.
"We want to offer people an alternative to the party political system."
Oliver Mochizuki, 35, a film producer from Horfield, said: "I am obsessed with politics and working in my local community but I have never wanted to get involved with a political party.
"When I heard about Independents for Bristol, I just felt that this was a breath of fresh air for the city."
Helen Mott, 43, a specialist in equalities from Westbury-on-Trym, said: "I have never been involved with a political party because I am more interested in looking for consensus.
"I never thought I would be picked to stand as an independent until this umbrella group was formed but I really feel that my work in the community during the past ten years has been an apprenticeship for this role."
Karl Belizaire, 33, from St Andrew's said he believed many people felt disenfranchised from becoming a councillor because they thought the only way to get elected was to become a member of a political party.
Jason Budd, 29, who lives in Sea Mills, said: "I think that a directly-elected mayor has dramatically changed the role of being a councillor.
"The time is right for councillors to be community champions for the areas they represent."
Brenda McLennan, 41, from Clifton Wood, said: "I've never been one for party politics but I have done a lot of community work and it made sense to stand as an independent."
Christine Townsend, 41, from Clifton, said: "I want the voices of young people to be heard and I want them to be motivated about the community in which they live.
"I've never wanted to get involved with party politics because I think you get schooled to think in a particular way."