Greens to lead Bristol City Council with Lib Dem support

GREEN councillors will lead Bristol City Council, in partnership with the Liberal Democrats, following their local elections victory.

Southville ward councillor Tony Dyer (pictured above) will be the party’s first ever leader of the authority, with fellow Green Heather Mack his deputy.

The group became the biggest in the chamber, with 34 members, after gaining 10 seats at the polls on May 2 – just two shy of an overall majority.

Greens will chair six of the eight new policy committees being set up to run the authority following the switch from the mayoral system of the last 12 years.

The Lib Dems will take up the other two, while all parties will hold vice-chair positions.

Labour says today’s announcement confirms their prediction five days ago of a Green/Lib Dem coalition struck in a “backroom deal”.

The Greens, however, say the new committee system has no official administration or opposition, because it is designed so that all parties work together.

The group also says Labour declined to accept the two policy committee chair roles which it was entitled to, based on the number of councillors each party has.

The new leaders and key positions will be formally agreed at the annual meeting of the full council next Tuesday and comes after lengthy talks between the groups over the past fortnight.

First Green council leader is ‘humbled’

Cllr Dyer said: “I am humbled to have been chosen as Bristol’s first Green council leader and will do all I can to help tackle the challenges facing Bristol.

“Working with other parties and the communities that we serve, we can deliver on our promises and put social and environmental justice at the heart of all decision making over the next four years. 

“Our manifesto promises hope and action on key areas that matter most to the city, like housing and transport. Turning that hope into action starts now.”

Cllr Emma Edwards, who will remain as leader of the Green group, a separate role to that of council leader under the authority’s constitution, said: “I am delighted that we have reached an agreement on how the city will be run for the next four years.

“The council will be led by Greens and will involve representatives of all parties, with the aim of making the best possible decisions for the people of Bristol.

“The start of the committee system, voted for by the people of Bristol, marks a new era for politics in this city.

“This Green group, the largest that has ever existed, is committed to a positive, progressive, transparent and inclusive council and the people of Bristol clearly feel the same. We will work tirelessly to uphold these values.”

Bristol City Council’s Green group of councillors after the elections of May 2

Labour pledges to be a ‘critical friend’

Labour says that, while not forming part of the administration, it will take all its seats on the policy committees and “work collaboratively with the administration on shared priorities”.

Group leader Cllr Tom Renhard said: “We have always been clear throughout that, as the largest party, the Green Party have a mandate to lead Bristol City Council.

“As they fell short of an overall majority, they have offered senior positions to the Liberal Democrats in a backroom deal.

“Whilst the Green Party/Liberal Democrat coalition will form the administration in Bristol, Labour will be critical friends of their administration.

“We will assess their policies on a case-by-case basis, supporting and strengthening those that are for the good of our city.

“The Green Party and Liberal Democrats have both offered plenty of criticism but rarely offered any solutions to the challenges facing Bristol.

“It’s now up to them to take the reins and face up to our city’s challenges and opportunities.

“We welcome Cllr Dyer’s commitment to introduce other parties’ manifesto pledges and will continue to make the case for the progressive policy platform that Bristol needs, such as over 3,000 new council homes, a public transport overhaul and investment in our parks and green spaces.

“Labour councillors will serve as vice-chairs of a number of policy committees, a role that functions as the lead scrutiny member.

“We’ll hold the administration to account, improve their policy proposals and keep their committees on track.

“We will also chair a number of regulatory committees, including a development control committee – a role the Green Party tried to block – as well as the audit, human resources and licensing regulatory committees.

“We have a fantastic cohort of hard-working, dedicated councillors and we look forward to announcing our full leadership team in due course.”

Greens lead transport, housing, social care and children committees

Greens will chair the transport and connectivity, homes and housing delivery, adult social care, children and young people, and environment and sustainability committees.

As council leader, Cllr Dyer will be at the helm of the strategy and resources policy committee.

The Lib Dems will chair the economy and skills and the public health and communities committees.

Under the council’s rules on proportionality, the Conservatives are not entitled to any policy chair positions.

Labour has 21 of the 70 seats in the chamber, having lost two in the election.

The Lib Dems gained three, taking them to eight, while the Tories saw their 14 members halved to seven.

Both Knowle Community Party seats and the two independents’ were taken by the main parties.

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service