Having had the grand global green sustainable smart city visions courtesy of the progressive parties, it’s time for the Tories to enter the election fray as their manifesto finally appears.
At just ten pages long, they’re doing us, at least, one massive favour. By way of comparison, the Green’s Squire Bufton-Tufton treated us to 36 pages of his Clifton drawing room progessive piffle. The Tories, in contrast, leave few populist cliches unturned in a short booklet that’s quite hard to find and called ‘Our plan to build back better in Bristol’.
Big ideas are thin on the ground here. Apart from wanting to scrap the mayor and save money by not pissing millions up the wall on energy companies, there’s nothing much in the way of grand schemes to catch the eye. Instead it’s just a list of local bugbears with a few law ‘n’ order shapes thrown in
The most noticeable of these is a clear threat of some social cleansing: “Use the Council’s powers to move van dwellers to permanent sites rather than allow informal sites to develop on local roads.”
They’re also quite keen on having an ongoing passive/aggressive conversation about your your safety. “We want people to be safe and feel safe where ever they live”; “We will listen to communities on how to make neighbourhoods safer for all” and “We will work with the Police Commissioner to ensure safer streets across Bristol.”
All of which actually makes you start wondering if you are safe? Especially when their seemingly endless safety concerns are washed down with a further mild threat/message from their thuggish looking ex-squaddie Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, Mark Shelford. He promises with menaces to “drive down crime and make our streets safer.”
Although judging by Mark’s general tone and demeanour, it seems highly unlikely that our streets will be safer for anyone who wants to protest on them. The rest of the manifesto is lists, dog whistles and mood music clearly aimed south of Southville where the progressive manifestoes abruptly stop.
In the Tories’s words it’s a manifesto that “delivers on the basics that matter to our residents, prioritises funding for our communities and doesn’t ignore the suburbs”!
This means public toilets will be reopened; libraries kept open; the Jubilee Pool saved; pavement parking tackled; “more will be done to preserve and improve our local amenity such as the Western Slopes in South Bristol”; “licensing for all ‘houses of multiple occupancy’ across the city not just in certain areas” introduced; an “end to over-development of some of our key sites such as the Cumberland Basin and Hengrove Park” and “we will fairly distribute money across the City so communities have a real chance to improve their area rather than fighting over funding scraps.”
Will the public find this thunderously low key and ordinary municipal vision with a blatantly populist edge that promises to preserve services and protect communities more appealing than the progressive ‘big project men’ and their weird ‘visions’ that can only be delivered through large faceless corporations seeking profit?
We’re overwhelmed with choice at this election aren’t we?