Mark Bradshaw’s open letter to George Ferguson

George Ferguson
Mayor of Bristol
City Hall
Bristol BS1 5TR

Monday 26th November 2012

Dear George,

I felt I owed you a formal response to your offer to take up a cabinet role and, for openness; I am making this letter public. Contrary to some daft views I’ve heard and read, my belief is that participation in cabinet is not about personal ambition or ‘being paid’, but is about what you can do for your city. I also take the view that being in cabinet does not prevent effective and constructive opposition: those of us who have served in minority cabinets know this to be the case, particularly from our own benches!

We discussed in outline what the role might involve and I said that, subject to NEC approval, I would be willing to accept and join your interim cabinet until May 2013 with responsibility for transport, infrastructure, planning, regeneration and housing. Not sure what the portfolio title would have been!

Unfortunately, in light of the NEC ruling yesterday, it is now not possible for me to join your cabinet as a Labour councillor. I regret that the party has reached this conclusion but I reluctantly accept it. Therefore I have decided, with a heavy heart, to decline your offer.

I was elected as a Labour councillor and, as such, willingly agreed to abide by the rules of the party, which include the need for national consent before entering into shared or ‘rainbow’ administrations. Perhaps such rules now need to be re-examined but that’s not one for me.

I appreciate the many messages, including from my Bedminster constituents, asking me and Labour to join the Cabinet. I consider my constituents to be an accurate barometer of the growing mood towards greater cross-party working and away from what some call ‘tribalism’. I view their judgement to be the more representative of the current situation in Bristol and so I am sorry that this will be one of the very few occasions in six years as councillor that I will not be following their advice. For a community-based councillor, this is not something you do lightly.

I welcome your commitment to introduce a Living Wage for council employees, albeit over a longer period than I would have preferred and I encourage you to move faster in taking more people out of working poverty. We agreed on a large expansion in the number of affordable homes being built and action to tackle our acute transportation problems. I also wanted to press you, again, within cabinet, on the urgent childcare issues facing Bristol and on action to tackle rogue private landlords; all were highlighted during Marvin’s campaign. And, of course, I want you to work hard to protect the vulnerable from damaging cuts to services upon which they rely.

It is on transport that I had hoped to contribute most effort working towards retaining the funding originally for BRT won by Bristol and the city region. My view is that BRT (especially BRT2) is now a lame duck project with virtually zero public credibility. For BRT to be successful, self-evidently it would need to attract people to using it. This is essential to making a real difference to tackling congestion and widening travel choices.

As a city, we need to be bold and innovative about investing in local rail and instigating better quality, more reliable and affordable express and local bus services. We also need to make our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. I wish you well in your discussions with Ministers.

I will continue to offer my views, whether or not I have a role on the Council. I am sure we will agree on some things and not on others, but I genuinely wish you and your cabinet well in the huge task you have ahead.

Best wishes,


Mark Bradshaw
Councillor for Bedminster
Bristol City Council

2 responses

26 11 2012

The death throes of the ancien regime?

26 11 2012

I sympathise with your response Mark. I am confident that you would have been able to work FOR the interests of our City if you were part of this new set up. The body that has influenced you to withdraw does not, in my opinion, deserve your loyalty and will not get mine.

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