Ferguson’s first mayoral Question Time

5 03 2013

About 50 people turned up to City Hall to be in the audience for George Ferguson’s first mayoral question time. Not a ringing endorsement of opening up the building formally known as the Council House and the politics that goes on inside to the masses. Yet Ferguson will not care unduly.

When questioned by Eugene Byrne in this month’s Folio magazine about his perceived poor mandate because of the low turnout in first the mayoral referendum and then the mayoral election, he responds with the words: “To that, I say bollocks.”

He was on his best behaviour last night in what was a pilot event that was webcast live as well as recorded for posterity in case anyone wants to relive the moment when the mayor admitted that any building on Filton airfield was beyond his powers to stop, or when he advocated we all bring sofas, music and circus to his proposed car-free Sundays in the city centre.

As his right-hand woman Zoe Sear and Bristol City Council head of communications Peter Holt both furiously tapped away on their iPads, Ferguson answered the questions thrown at him from bus lanes to foster caring. When he didn’t know the answer, he simply started to talk about things that he did know.

“My goodness this is great,” Ferguson said as a sea of hands shot up and he paced up and down the stage as if talking to an audience of five thousand rather than fifty.

Whether our esteemed mayor himself talks “bollocks” remains the opinion of some in Bristol. As a first experiment in open democracy, this was a success. As how to ensure questions from the audience were heard by people viewing online it seemed a failure. And as a mayor committed to building an arena in Bristol where the likes of two-hours-late-on-stage Justin Bieber could play in the future, it was punctilious.

George Ferguson's first mayoral Question Time


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