Is the council tax reduction scheme back on the cards?

There has been an increase of 500% in claims of the council tax reduction (CRT) scheme according to Cllr Dudd, speaking at the Cabinet meeting on 28 April 2020.

Two weeks previous to that Bristol247 wrote: “Since mid-March, the applications for reduced payments have gone from an average of around 100 a week to 642 in the past week.”

Might the council be looking to reduce it again, however?

CTR is on the agenda for the Overview of Scrutiny and Management Board meeting on 8 July but there is no information as to why. The report won’t be published until 6 July, however. Papers to scrutiny should be made available a week before the meeting but that is not happening. They are being published on 6 July only because the matter is due to go to Cabinet the following week.

The council tried to reduce the council tax reduction scheme in 2017 for the year 2018/19. After much campaigning by opposition groups and Acorn, the idea was abandoned.

While noting that the consultation itself states: “Councils are required to review their CTR schemes annually and consult on any proposed changes to them.” The council had initially decided to not retain the option as it had been.

“Options were taken to Executive Board for approval and it was decided that the council would not be consulting on the current scheme as an option due to the council’s current financial position.”

At the time, ITV West reported that: “The Mayor of Bristol says changes must be considered but the most vulnerable people will still be protected.

‘We are facing some of the most difficult decisions on how we fund public services in Bristol’s history. All the options presented recommend continuing to support those in severe financial need and take into account the need for a discretionary fund and some protections for those worst off’. [ITV]

We don’t yet know what will come to OSMB on 8 July but the three options suggested initially for the CTR are listed in the following consultation document.

  1. Make a 25% payment mandatory for those on CTR
  2. Make a 7.5% payment mandatory for those receiving CTR
  3. Develop a banded scheme with various options ranging from payment of 25% to 75%.

The deadline for any public questions to OSMB were due 2 July so it is not possible to ask about it. I have lodged a formal complaint about the lack of reports and timely information.

Review: The Criminology of Boxing, Violence and Desistance by Deborah Jump

Boxing is “the only sport where you have two doctors on hand, a resuscitation team on standby, and an ambulance outside” (Roger, 63, retired boxing coach). It’s also being promoted as the sport that will help young men desist from violent crime. How can this violent sport help in preventing violent crime?

I come to Jump’s work via the filter of Loic Wacquant’s Body & Soul, an ethnographic research study on, as he described it in a lecture, ‘a skinny French white guy in South Chicago’s Black neighbourhood learning to box’.

Wacquant (2004:31) referred to boxing gyms as ‘islands of stability and order’, in that they ‘protect an individual from the street’ and ‘act as a buffer against the insecurity of the neighbourhood and pressures of everyday life’. Wacquant believed that boxing gyms helped to regulate men’s lives, when disorder and delinquency engulf it.

When I discovered Wacquant at university, we weren’t yet as a society at the stage of promoting boxing as the answer to social ills. As that focus has increased, however, Deborah Jump’s book The Criminology of Boxing, Violence and Desistance provides an in-depth and very specific look at the merits of it.

In Bristol, we have had the election of a mayor who has said, “Boxing was a big part of my teenage years and taught me discipline, self-control and how to overcome set-backs”. This has been almost as prominent as Banksy’s painting of the door to the Empire Fighting Club and subsequently providing them with quite a boon. The mayor has proudly brought boxing into City Hall.

He has also made the front pages of the local press by bullying a member of the media, has said that activists can expect to be ‘tackled’, and has aggressively rebutted an NHS doctor who had brought a petition to City Hall about the air quality that is killing 300 a year; so much so that councillors approached the doctor afterwards to offer their apologies for his behaviour.

While the paradox is fresh of how violence can fight violence, let’s look at how this text can help us understand boxing and its potential.

Jump, a senior lecturer in criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University, a former youth worker, and a youth offender manager addresses this question. Can boxing turn men away from violent crime?

The biggest contradiction seems to be about helping men avoid violent crime in an environment that suggests violence is the answer. As she writes:

the masculine cultural values transmitted in the gym environment, especially in relation to homophobia, hyper-masculinity and the accomplishment of such through ‘masculinized vocabulary’ (Deuchar et al 2016) are not necessarily conducive to desistance from crime.

“I argue that the enclave of the gym and the majority of its
members are actually compatible with violent criminogenic attitudes,
especially those that pertain to the defence of masculine ideals. “

Jump questions common tropes that suggest boxing is a panacea for all social ills, and she unpicks the criminal justice responses to youth crime and the well-intended misgivings that boxing is the cure.

policy makers and parents, as well as criminal justice agencies, believe that the structured disciplining environment of the gym is enough to combat criminogenic attitudes and violent behaviour.

She dispels this myth.

She proposes that boxing is a convincing ‘hook for change’ (Giordano
2002), and the appeal of the gym is undoubtedly a powerful one.
However, more needs to be done to challenge the masculine discourses present within the gym environment. She does this by revealing the fragility of the narratives.

She suggests that the appeal of boxing lies in its ability to generate a “defence against male anxiety and vulnerability, and that the environment itself is tailored to the prevention of repeat victimisation.”

“In other words, the attendees are not just there to become boxers, they are there to sequester any form of male vulnerability and victimisation behind physical capital and gloved fists.”

In her 2016 article: They didn’t know whether to ” fuck me or fight me ” : An ethnographic account of North Town boxing gym, she writes: “The ‘habitus’ of the boxing gym enabled most men to view violence as an acceptable solution to a problem.” A particularly striking point is made in relation to the people she met at the boxing gym: boxing was “employed as a resource to command fear.”

Men’s identities are stripped down and examined. The intention of some seeking the boxing gym is to hide their weaknesses and to find affirmation. In relation to this, Jump writes:

Certainly, the concept of ‘hardness’ sits neatly with psychoanalytical object relation theories, whereby some men are endowed with fragile self-boundaries and a deep ambivalence towards intimacy, and will defend against this exposing vulnerability, by disguising it behind a carapace of muscle and bodily capital (Wacquant 1995b).

Jump’s text starts with a history of boxing, and its masculine traditions, starting from its Spartan usage to train men in between battles, and ending up in the use of it as a sport with a particular appeal in relation to class. She then provides ethnographic case studies of boxers she was able to approach and interview as part of her research.

The ethnographic chapters provide insight and a lens through which we can hear the boxers speak for themselves. Jump highlights her own effect in the interviews while simultaneously drawing out the messages from her case studies. We learn about the roles of the gym members and particularly the influential position of the trainer at the gym.

Her conclusions are useful to note. “Not every sport provides the same outcomes in terms of pro-social development, and desistance from crime.” There is also an argument to be made that “sports – particularly violent, combative ones – reinforce a sense of hegemony and promote attitudes favourable to violence, especially when concepts of status or winning become threatened.”

In boxing, violence is specifically linked with winning and this is imperative in “maintaining valued identities and status-forming attributes” such as respect, honour and status through violence. This mentality fostered through such sports, normalises violence as an everyday occurrence.

How does that help individual growth and change, however? One suggestion is that change can’t come without a ‘redemption script’ (Maruna 2001).


This is a process where previous behaviour becomes acknowledged and worked through, and subsequently ‘knifed off’ as a part of oneself no longer valued.

In boxing, however, violence and physical status are valued so it is difficult to cut off this identity because as Jump puts it, “young men often draw upon the social capital that violence can offer, regardless of whether or not they take it ‘out of the ring’.”

In practice

There are three detailed case studies of interviews Jump has with Frank, Eric, and Leroy. Their families, histories and experiences at the gym are approached and used as context for how they see boxing. Jump sets out the theories and approaches she will be using in the first chapters of the book, and then examines them in relation to people she has interviewed.

Reality comes up against theory.

The reality is that boxing is appealing for men, as cited in this text, and the way it is used to gain respect and promote fear. Physical toughness and bravery are noted as boxers revel in being perceived as fighters. Not only does it come with a sense of “satisfaction and pride for those who participate, but also adds to the element of danger and masculine prestige contained in the image.”

Winning is associated with violence, and preparation comes from the establishment of physical capital — one’s body.

The preening and manly display, coupled with the psychological realisation of physical capital, was carnivalesque at times – and, in some respects, grotesque, as some men would approach their bodies with a dysmorphic lens. Put simply, the investment in the body as a structure was extreme. Some men would push their desire for bodily perfection to bizarre lengths, sometimes culminating in vomiting after workout sessions or, as with the case of Eric, starving oneself to “make weight”.

In the gym as well, there was a hierarchy based on physicality and the “Bouncers and professional boxers were at the top of the hierarchy,” which seemed to be determined by the “participants’ capacity for violence”. Those with the most physical capital had the most power.

The main premise of Jump’s book is examining the notion that boxing can help men desist in violent crime. While there are female boxers, Jump herself notes that her ability to participate in the boxing environment was limited by being a woman.

Her text raises some important questions about ‘how’ boxing is meant to help with violent crime, and the limitations of just funnelling violence into a specific environment without the ability to transform it.

When you are taught that winning is important and that violence and physical capital are the primary methods of winning, then how can you go from that to cooperation and change?

Jump’s ideas on boxing being part of “boys’ socialisation through sport, competition and success, bodies, emotions and pain, domination of women, and aggression and violence” are important to note.

There are female boxers and the London 2012 Olympic Games were the first to feature women’s boxing. Jane Crouch, the first officially licensed British female boxer in 1998, who has won numerous world titles lives in Bristol and has just had autobiography optioned into a movie. Bristol is also known for its female pugilists who used to fight at the side of the Hatchet and inspired the novel The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman.

It feels there is more to be explored about boxing but Jump does a great job of focusing on only her remit. She doesn’t get distracted and she answers the questions that need answering.

Boxing can help provide a source of belonging, loyalty and support, and is helpful in breaking down barriers in segregated communities. The strenuous exercise also provides rewards and benefits to self-esteem. However, it is not possible to separate the benefits of the sport with the masculine discourses and physical risk.

When advocating boxing as a solution, it is also important to understand the underlying cultural messages transmitted in hyper-masculine arenas and to provide young men with positive role models who they can identify with.

The Criminology of Boxing Violence and Desistance by Deborah Jump is published by Bristol University Press.


Will the council be spending another £90k on monitoring mentions of the mayor on social media?

“The Council is planning to develop additional Deliberative Democracy work in 2020/21 to further strengthen public engagement,” states the Q4 Performance Report that is going to scrutiny in July. Previous ‘democracy work’ by the council has meant the mayor paying £90k of public funds to check what people were saying about him on Twitter. I thought I should follow-up.

The email to democratic services has been published below. The rest of the post is a roundup of some highlights.

The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board is meeting on 8 July 2020 and the agenda is available here.

The last item is the Performance Report (PR) for Quarter 4. It includes various interesting updates.

Air Quality — As XR activists sit on top of City Hall and are ignored by the mayor, we learn that the number of deaths attributable to air quality have increased since 2017.

SEND — The targets for Education and Health Care Plans are well-below target with only 10 being issued within 20 weeks. This does not mention the quality of the plans or whether they will be appealed, and if indeed they mean that the child has a school place.

The Affordable housing target is well-below what was desired. Only 113 affordable houses build in Q4.

The Housing Festival Ltd gets a mention [or is it Monastery 2.0?].

The council are apparently benefiting to a sum of over £500k on the work that it has been doing. Note that the Housing Festival has so far been paid £225k by Bristol City Council with only £115k of that from a WECA grant for innovation.

I would have liked to ask a few questions of OSMB but was limited to two. i chose to ask about Impact Social and deliberative democracy because I have lodged a complaint with the ICO about the refusal of my subject access request by the council, and about the council’s lack of GDPR notice.

Hi Democratic Services,

In the Performance Report published for the OSMB meeting, the text to item:WC4 BCP533 Increase the percentage of people who feel they can influence local decisions (QoL) states the following: ” the Council is planning to develop additional Deliberative Democracy work in 2020/21 to further strengthen public engagement.”

Residents already know about the £90,000 paid to Impact Social for monitoring social media (with no clear GDPR specification), and the £8000 a year to Delib Democracy for a platform for the Citizens Panel. In addition to the Quality of Life Survey, would you please let me know:

1. What is the additional Deliberative Democracy work in 2020/21?

2. Whether the Impact Social contract is being cancelled or renewed in September 2020?


You can see further information about Impact Social at this link: https://medium.com/@jo.stillawake/has-the-bristol-mayor-learnt-the-wrong-lessons-from-cambridge-analytica-a17b26421ff1

Thank you,

Joanna

How many deaths are acceptable?

The following is my question to Cabinet on 28 April about the Clean Air Zone that the mayor wants to postpone:

In January, young Rife journalist, Deqa Hassan wrote about the silent voices in the green movement. She talked about white liberal middle-class people dominating the discourse on the environment, and those who are absent. Sometimes individuals are represented but never communities. She is talking about unheard BAME communities, and the privileged people who can avoid the externalities of the effects of pollution.

In Bristol, the silent voices are those overrepresented in the death counts such as in Lawrence Hill that has a ‘very much higher than average BME population as % of the total population’. First, it was deaths from air quality – 7.5% of deaths in Lawrence Hill, and 6% in Central ward. (According to the Bristol City Council Equality Impact Assessment on the clean air zone https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/documents/s48444/CAZ%20EQIA%20Final.pdf ) These are the highest proportions in the city.

Now we can add Covid-19 deaths to those lists of sick, silent and dead voices.

We already know that the deaths of around 300 Bristol residents could be attributed to air pollution each year. Now, research has identified a link between air quality and Covid-19 fatalities in Italy and in England, (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.16.20067405v2.full.pdf) .

In Rife magazine, Hassan raises her voice to say: “In Bristol, Fishponds, Stapleton and Easton suffer from the worst air pollution in the entire city. These areas house a lot of Bristol BAME residents and they lie along and collect emissions from the M32. I’ve been given accounts of white colleagues who have changed their cycle routes to and from work to avoid Easton in order to save their lungs just a few minutes in that area, yet BAME families live and work in this pollution every single day.” https://www.rifemagazine.co.uk/2020/01/who-are-the-silent-voices-in-the-green-movement/

Her call is being ignored, however.

According to the latest CAZ update going to Cabinet on 28 April 2020, Mayor Rees has written to Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport to “urge the Government to rethink the implementation of Clean Air Zones and the disastrous effect that complying with the timeline, as set out within the legal Direction, will have on businesses in Bristol during this unprecedented time of uncertainty for them.”

Any postponement of the CAZ as requested by the mayor of Bristol will result in additional deaths not only from air quality, but quite likely from Covid-19 as well. The additional deaths are more likely to be from BAME communities.

My question is: How many deaths are acceptable for the mayor of Bristol, in order to avoid the “disastrous effect” that complying with the timeline will have “on businesses in Bristol”?

Will the mayor listen to James Durie, director of Business West and chair of the One City’s Economy Board, who says that in recovering from coronavirus and stimulating our regional and national economy, we must “put the need for clean air at the centre of how we do it”?

 

 

Has the mayor learnt the wrong lessons from Cambridge Analytica?

 

On February 19, I revealed that Bristol City Council had contracted for £90,000 with a social media company called Impact Social so they could analyse what was being said about the mayor.

There are three issues with this contract: 1) the cost is very high for a time when the budget had just been cut by £33 million; 2) we don’t know what the purpose of the data collection was; and 3) there seems to be no clearly presented GDPR notice about how this data is to be/being used and for how long it will be kept.

Apart from the exorbitant cost of the service in the midst of millions of pounds in cuts to the council, the purpose of the analysis remains a mystery.

[Keep reading at the following link]

View at Medium.com

Familiar names to the mayor of Bristol but no transparency

The mayor may be in breach of GDPR by not providing a transparency notice about his collection of public data.

mayor of Bristol

After this blog revealed that the council have contracted to collect social media information, concerns were raised about whether the mayor is collecting lists of residents who mention him or the Bristol City Council.

The report released to me in the FOI I submitted clearly showed that the data was collected in relation to the following search terms: “Marvin Rees” / “mayor of bristol” / @MarvinJRees / @BrisMayorOffice / “Bristol Council”. The search seems geared to return more information about the mayor than it does about the council.

Twitter handles are revealed in the reports.

 

Tweeters

So what does he do with the names?

At a recent Cabinet meeting, he seemed to know some residents names, despite them not being there.

“Martin Rands, there’s a familiar name,” he said to those around him. “Joanna Booth, that’s another familiar name.” He was referring to me because I had tabled a question about the Western Harbour at Cabinet on November 5.

 

According to David Traynier CIPP/E, CIPM, certified GDPR professional who uses the legislation as part of his work, the collection of social media information does fall under the remit of the GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018.

“If the council processes personal data, they’re required to make a privacy notice readily available (i.e. on their website).”

“It makes little difference that the personal data (names, handles etc) is in the public domain, anyone processing that data must still comply with the law to protect the data subjects (the people whose data is collected).

In practice, this means (under GDPR Article 5(1) ) the processing must be lawful, limited to the purposes for which the data is initially collected, use only the minimum of data necessary to the purpose, that the data must be accurate, only kept as long as is needed, and must be kept securely.

When not collecting data directly from data subjects, Article 14 requires that data subjects are informed of the processing but not if ‘the provision of such information proves impossible or would involve a disproportionate effort, in particular for processing for archiving purposes in the public interest.’

They would need to ensure they include details of what they do in a transparency notice that is readily available to the public.

Traynier goes on to say: “I think what they’re doing is lawful, providing they follow the required safeguards. It’s quite common now anyway, so uncontroversial. The key thing – aside from meeting the mundane requirements around security of storage/data retention etc – is that they only use the information for their stated purpose of democratic engagement and nothing else down the line.”

As noted in my original article, all three opposition parties, were surprised by news of the social media analysis and say they have not seen the reports.

If the council do not have a transparency notice about how they use this data then this could be a breach of GDPR.

Note that the local media picked up on the story the following day with no attribution to this blog or the research that revealed the contract and the data gathering. 

Bristol City Council have yet to respond to any of my questions.

How close an eye is the mayor keeping on Bristol’s residents?

Update: 10:06 20 Feb 2020

A Freedom of Information request by Ephemeral Digest has revealed that social media mentions of the Bristol Mayor and Bristol City Council go directly to the Head of the Mayor’s Office and to the mayor’s policy advisers.

Bristol City Council have paid £90,000 to social media company Impact Social so as to keep track of online platforms. The contract began on 1 March 2018 and is due to expire in September 2020 unless it is renewed.

IMG-4200 (1)

An example report from the 8th to the 10th of December clearly shows the users who have been Tweeting about any of the following search terms: “Marvin Rees” / “mayor of bristol” / @MarvinJRees / @BrisMayorOffice / “Bristol Council”.

Twitter users such as Liberal Democrat Party councillor Tim Kent (@cllrtimkent), @citizencaz, @keepbristoltidy, and @glutenfreescone were all listed.

 

Tweeters

The contract between the Council and the company states that it provides reports as “additional objective information and evidence base” so as “to inform corporate planning and organisational policy responses” and will be used “by the Policy Advisors and Head of Mayor’s Office”. “This is irrespective of who holds that office and information from the analysis will be available to anybody upon request.” 

There are monthly reports “offering sentiment, topic, author, source of story, location and trend analysis” are not “for the purpose of collecting personal data and shall not serve any party political purpose.”

Up to six in-person presentations are meant to happen to representatives of the Council including Head of Policy & Strategy and a representative of the Mayor’s Office.

Competency criteria in the contract, which may account for the £90,000 fee, include the ability to monitor all available platforms on social media, “analysis and interpretation that goes further than algorithms and includes interpretive analysis”.

The clients are meant to have “public sector / political experience / knowledge, understanding and competence”. They should also have comprehensive understanding of the role of Mayor of Bristol and Council policies.

The ability to segment users into specific groups and an understanding of crisis communications are also listed.

 

When approached for comment, Conservative Leader Councillor Mark Weston said:  “This is the first time I have heard of the company ‘Impact Social’ and, given the apparent cost of their contract and supposed non-partisan status,  I am surprised that these monthly reports are not more widely circulated or distributed.

“Whilst social media is an influential platform for public discourse, I am far from convinced that Bristol City Council should be commissioning such specialist analytics.

“This is not well-publicised support and so it is extremely difficult to assess whether or not such research really provides value-for-money to the taxpayer.

“It is just this sort of extravagance which makes people rightly critical of continuing local government waste and misguided spending priorities.

“The Mayor still has significant resources at his disposal and these should – whenever possible – be directed towards maintaining public services that people actually want or depend upon.”

Liberal Democrat leader councillor Gary Hopkins stated: “We knew nothing about this and it is quite staggering in its gall. The cost of the Mayor’s Office is quite appalling in any case and this is disgraceful. For the record,  the taxpayers of Bristol are not getting value for money.”

Green party candidate for mayor Sandy Hore-Ruthven said: “The current Mayor accuses Councillors and the media of chasing headlines and click bait on a regular basis. It turns out he is so concerned about those clicks and comments that he is prepared to spend £90k of taxpayers money to find out what you and I are saying about him. I can see no value to the city or its people of this contract to anyone but him. This is taken of money that should be spent on frontline services. Listening to people costs nothing and should be at the heart of all politicians work.”

mayor of Bristol

Bristol City Council is scheduled to vote through its annual budget on 25 February 2020.

At a Resources Scrutiny meeting Deputy Mayor Cheney and Mayor Marvin Rees highlighted the “significant funding cuts” to councils in recent years of 60%. “Mayor Rees referred to the 8 years of austerity that had been imposed on this Council by central Government.”

Bristol City Council have been approached for comment but had not responded in time for publication.

 

New knitting pattern: The Very Hungry Scarfapilla

[[Until January 21: Use code Twitter for a free copy of the pattern on Ravelry]]

 

I’d like to introduce you all to my new pattern, and the first one for 2020, The Very Hungry Scarfapilla.

 

In the same spirit as my Nice Cup of Tea shawl, I’ve used brioche and reverse stockinette for this design. I do tend to get obsessed with a pattern combination for a while and this time I thought I better write it up while I was enjoying it. If I can keep my mojo going, I’m going to make it into hat and scarf patterns as well.

Please see the rest of this post on my Joanna Booth Designs blog https://joannaboothdesigns.wordpress.com/2020/01/19/the-very-hungry-scarfapilla/

squidgefinal

The mayor’s air quality progress, as told to the world and an NHS doctor – 2019

The above is a link to the entire Full Council meeting.

The following link is for the 10 minutes that Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees aggressively responds to an NHS doctor about her request for him to help save lives.

A petition was brought to Full Council by a doctors Ellen Wood and Victoria Stanford. Dr Wood read out the petition that had been signed by 70 people: “Bristol Council is right to be concerned about the affordability of a clean air zone for its citizens, however, the mayor’s primary concern must be the devastating cost of air pollution to human health. We would like to know how the inaction of cleaning up our air is justified, and what equality focussed measures the mayor is considering alongside the clean air zone to mitigate its costs for those who can least afford them, are contributing least to the problem, and who are suffering the most?”

Rees:

“So um, it’s obviously a very timely issue, so just indulge me, I’ve got four points to respond to your paper. First of all, there’s been some misinformation around.”

— No, there hasn’t been any misinformation around. The media [[BBC, Bristol24/7]] and the government accurately informed the public that the mayor and his team had missed the legal deadline, and from the mayor’s plans, we know that the actual CAZ won’t be in place for at least a year after the deadline. By September 2019, Bristol City Council had missed a third deadline.

By May 2019 though, the outline business case was so incomplete that it was just a Gantt chart. That was the reason given for it not being released via an FOI.

Rees:

I don’t know where this idea is coming from that nothing is being done. We’ve got a whole docket and this is one of the points we made to the minister, and I think we need to be careful in listening to national government’s relationship when they say things about local government.

First point

We have at the moment, as Dave referenced earlier on, actually, (a) a bus still coming through that equality partnership, we’ve got the largest order of biogas busses coming through, that bus still will put us on track to having all of the buses in Bristol, 100% of the buses on biogas;

(b) we are investing through our development plan in the cycling and walking infrastructure;

(c) In the city plan, there is a particular track around the environment will have purchase across learning, education and skills, homes and communities, transport.
The fact that we have a specific board coming up around the environment that set out goals for Bristol for every year up to 2050 is some achievement, as has been recognised in other… around the rest of the country and so forth.

(d) And I’d also say that on Thursday when I go to our workshop on the industrial strategy, the local industrial strategy, as I shared with councillors earlier on, the point I’m going to be making is that that industrial strategy must hold economic inclusion, tackling poverty and inequality, but also sustainability; and when we build it into the plan that should go somewhere to anchoring in;

Second point

The second thing I’ll just raise is about the clean air plan. Now, there has been a delay in our initial submission to DEFRA but we’ve talked to the minister and JAQU about this ; we don’t have a government that’s actually wedded to deadlines in any meaningful way right now, and our point has been that this deadline has no bearing on the city’s ability to reach a compliance; so actually what we had was a red flag around the impact on the poorest people in Bristol , on the plans that are being brought forward, it’s incumbent upon us to have a look at the impact that would have had ;

Children are currently living  in areas with illegal air pollution. The compliance by 2030 is a legal requirement but the children suffering now are the mayor’s responsibility. He is absolutely wrong to ignore the effect this is having. The ultimate effect is around 300 deaths a year; 300 deaths in 2019, and 300 more in 2020. There will be no clean air zones until 2021.

Secondly, I’ll say in terms of what we are doing around trying to take mitigating actions around the poorest people ; we are part of UK 100; we’ve asked the government and I’ve sat around the table with Michael Gove along with Andy Burnham, Sadiq Khan, Andy Street from the Midlands, and we said to Michael Gove, we want to –this is before all this was in the papers, this is a year or so — we want to deliver air quality , but you can’t keep rolling down responsibility onto the cities without resourcing it.

This is true; it’s also interesting to note that both Bath and Birmingham City Council and, both members of the UK100, which also sat around the table and talked to Gove, put in place their CAZs last year. From Birmingham’s statement: “The Council submitted its CAZ Preferred Option Business Case to Government on 14th September 2018.”

UK100 write: “As well as taking action locally, UK100’s network is united in calling on the UK government to do more. This is a national problem that needs a national action.”

We need another billion and a half pounds in the clean air fund , and we need your national support for diesel scrappage scheme; that way we can support private citizens to move from diesel to electric vehicles , also we can work with our taxi fleet.

Third point

The final two things. I’ve got to take issue with the way this has been framed as well.

Air quality is a primary concern along with a number of other primary concerns. I’ve been at pains to say we don’t have a hierarchy of what we’re doing here. It’s air quality or it’s poverty or it’s poverty or it’s air quality. We’re trying to do them all at the same time.

As a health professional you’ll know from the Marmot review, and from the “If I could only do one thing” report about public health that socioeconomic factors are by far and away the biggest determinant of population health , and actually I had Duncan Selbie [https://www.gov.uk/government/people/duncan-selbie] here, just a week ago Monday, and he wrote to me yesterday and what he said was ‘in terms of delivering on population health’ and you’ll know who Duncan Selbie is right, the … yeah, what he said was ‘for children having the best start in life and being ready to start school are important and for young people entering adulthood with the resilience to thrive ; for adults it’s having a secure job , home, and at all stages the importance of friendship and belonging in life’. Essentially, economic growth creating new jobs that local people can get with health and well-being are two sides of the same coin. We are not trading off economic growth against the environment; what we’re saying is sometimes they clash but we have to deliver on all of those.. .the same priority.

On the same day that Duncan Selbie met the mayor (11 March) he released a report with a focus on what “local authorities can do to improve air quality, such as clean by design approach to planning, promoting investment in clean public transport and providing the infrastructure to promote active travel.” One of the recommendations was: “Redesigning cities so people aren’t so close to highly polluting roads”.

In March 2019, the local plan consultation and secret Arup report on Western Harbour we’re promoting building a dual carriageway through Hotwells and bringing more traffic and cars and noise and pollution closer to homes.

Another recommendation in the review released on the day Mayor Rees met Selbie: “discouraging highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas – for example, with low emission or clean air zones”

and what i would also say is there is a really political danger for the environment in further marginalising people from the economy. The kind of politics you make possible when people lose hope that they will ever get out of the spiral of poverty is an anti-environmental politics.

Fourth point

And final point, Lord Mayor, the NHS generates 5% of all road journeys in this country, ok? so this is on NHS’s own numbers.

They contribute 735 deaths from air pollution , they cost us 8884 life years, contribute to 85 deaths and 772 major injuries and create £650 million of demand on NHS services.

So, I would say as an NHS professional what would also be good is don’t wait for the council , the NHS is a massive institution, it’s a sovereign body.

Look at your own transport plans. I’d be interested to know what’s been going on inside the NHS, what you’re doing around transport plans to take the burden you bring on to our roads, and I would also be interested to know what you’re doing to ensure that you’re the NHS is transferring all its diesel vehicles over into electric or biogas [37:34]

 

Resolutions for 2020 and shining a light

I love resolutions. For me, they provide space for self-reflection and realignment with better strategies for getting through life. They also allow for awareness.

Awareness is about shining a spotlight on all areas and not just the ones we want to talk about. Therefore, I won’t pick my own categories to explore. If it was down to my initial thoughts I imagine it would just be family, writing and reading, and running. Instead, I’m using the 12 astrological houses that cover a much broader outlook on life.

One thing I never seemed to find time for last year was for setting up a Patreon for those wanting to support me on my writing, researching and knitwear designing journey. With these teeny tiny amount of time I’ve eeked out to write this post, I’ve also finally completed my setup. If you’d like to support me then sign up below or just visit to see what’s going on.

Become a Patron!

For now, I’m working on resolutions and awareness. Let me know if you’d like more information on what each of the houses stands for and how you can use them.

House 1 — Outlook and appearance

  1. Investigative — asking questions; actively
  2. Streamlined — running, being more active, fewer hours sitting down
  3. Brighter coloured hair
  4. New trainers

House 2 — Finances

  1. Start posting a monthly yarn subscription service on Etsy
  2. Article commissioning — pitch articles monthly
  3. Editing at more organised times to allow for other work (10a to 3pm? 9.30am to 2.30pm? something to work on)
  4. Publishing a knitting pattern at least once a month
  5. Building up mailing list by posting once a week
  6. Pitching one knitting article a month
  7. Setting up a Patreon and WordPress.com site for patterns
  8. Work on financial stability
  9. Financial freedom
  10. Think of a monthly amount to earn?
  11. I’ve been using Plum (affiliate link) for regular tiny savings that have added up. Super helpful.

House 3 — Communications

Journalism

  1. Write about local action actions and how they exercise their authority
    1. Glyphosates
    2. £500 spending
  2. Pitch articles
  3. Find commissioning editors — get to know them

Writing

  1. Screenplay of the Thin Blue Line
  2. Write a fiction book — 1912
  3. Publish a book (the knitting book, probably)
  4. Blog posts — at least once a week.
  5. Set up and promote my Patreon [the year of creating and crafting!]
  6. Mailing list — regular posts

House 4 — Home

  1. Replace carpet with floorboards
  2. Get rid of unnecessary items in the flat — aim for more space
  3. Curtains for two windows
  4. New bunk beds

House 5 — Knitting

  1. Publish the Advent Calendar pick and mix as a book
  2. Write a press release and send it to knitting magazines
  3. Create one new pattern a month
  4. Build up my knitting mailing list
  5. Get to know knitters on Ravelry
  6. Work on my Joanna Booth Designs website

House 6 — Health, routines, service

  1. Regular intake of vitamin D and iron
  2. Running regularly
  3. Sports massages once a month
  4. Foam roller
  5. Meal planning
  6. Organising cupboards in kitchen
  7. Run 25-50 miles a month
  8. Finish couch to 5k
  9. Run two half-marathons
  10. Run one marathon
  11. Run six park runs
  12. Do three exercise classes a week
  13. Log each activity on Strava.

House 7 — Relationships

  1. Finding a good babysitter
  2. One date night/lunch a month

House 8 — Zen practice

  1. Read through each Cheri Huber book again
  2. Meditate — starting with five minutes a day and aiming for twenty
  3. Make space for the zen podcasts; four a week
  4. Read the Buddha, Geoff and Me again
  5. Read Ram Dass
  6. Read the Compassionate Revolution

House 9 — Culture and higher education

Selfie PhD

  1. Publish an article about my selfiePhD
  2. Show up with the skype calls
  3. Maintain the SelfiePhD blog with at least one post a week
  4. Read and makes notes on at least four articles a week — to begin with

Reading/literature

  1. Read the world in 2020

Research

  1. Further studies into NLP and hypnosis
  2. Bristol novel/literature
  3. Bristol knitting heritage
  4. Local council and property developer literature

Videojournalism

  1. Finish my NCTJ video-journalism course
  2. Work on my documentary –
    1. Interviews with Conservative and Labour cllrs
    2. interviews with officers
    3. Put clips together and storyboard it

House 10 – Business and professional outlook

  1. Make money from writing
    1. Pitch at least one article a month
    2. Write three/four articles a month — knitting, local government, book review, selfie PhD
    3. Publish one pattern a month
    4. Build up the Joanna Booth Designs business
  2. Literary agency work
  3. Editing
    1. Maintain regular hours
    2. Promote?

House 11 – Networks/groups

  1. Bristol Libraries Forum
  2. Western Harbour
  3. Local council groups
  4. Ravelry forums
  5. Indie publisher groups

House 12 – Hidden, institutions

  1. Research into prisons?
  2. Revive communications that have lapsed?

 

I feel like I should sign off with a conclusion but I’m not sure what I’d add. There are a whole host of things I want to add but I’m not sure where they fit in the pockets of the year. I want to work on my tiny habits, for example, which I found to be a way of getting me reading and writing a few years ago. They also got me started with cryptic crosswords that I always wanted to do but never got around to starting. Not sure where I’d add that in my items.