Ferguson sworn in as Bristol Mayor

20 11 2012

In his first day as Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson has changed the name of the Council House to City Hall, scrapped Sunday parking charges and asked to be paid his salary in Bristol Pounds. He also revealed that council cuts now in the region of £32m were “going to hurt”.

When Ferguson took to the stage at the Passenger Shed, Brunel’s original station next to Temple Meads, he gave a sometimes meandering but mostly well-received inauguration speech.

At 40 minutes in length, it put him almost but not quite in the same bracket as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez who has been known to talk non-stop for more than nine hours.

Ferguson called becoming Bristol mayor “the ultimate project”, with the aim of making Bristol “a better place”. Refreshingly, he said he would experiment in office and admitted that he would sometimes get things wrong.

Having expelled, according to some, rather a lot of wind, in his first mistake as mayor he then misattributed a William Arthur Ward quote to George Bernard Shaw: “’The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails.’ I will be adjusting the sails of maritime Bristol every week.”

Ferguson’s own soundbites came thick and fast, in front of an audience which included civic dignitaries such as the Lord Mayor, High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant, a few of Ferguson’s defeated mayoral candidates, former council leader Simon Cook whose old office he now resides in, and a number of councillors perhaps hoping to join the mayor’s “rainbow” cabinet.

At the moment, it is unlikely that this cabinet will include any Labour members, with Labour instead providing an opposition rather than Ferguson’s aim of cross-party support.

On Twitter, Marvin Rees’ campaign manager Kevin Slocombe wrote: “Seems to me people are confused thinking Bristol voted for cross-party working. It didn’t -it voted to STOP Labour. Time to stand and oppose.”

And Dave Wilshire, secretary of the Bristol branch of the Communication Workers Union, said: “No true Labour Councillor would be a part of the Ferguson cabinet.”

Ferguson ended his speech by saying the oath made by young men of Athens when they became citizens: “I shall not leave this city any less but rather greater than I found it.” Thanks to That Politics Thing for the Photoshop skills.

Can Ferguson bring an arena to Bristol?

19 11 2012

George Ferguson is being officially sworn in as Bristol’s mayor today in Brunel’s Old Station next to Temple Meads. As an oath, he has chosen the words that the ancient Athenians said: “I shall not leave this city any less but rather greater than when I found it.”

Just a few hundred yards away from where he will say this oath is an area of Bristol which Ferguson hopes he will be able to transform in his time as mayor.

His architecture firm have previously drawn up plans (right) for the derelict Royal Mail sorting office, comprising a mixed use development (right) of office, retail, residential, leisure and student accommodation in what is currently a ghastly welcome to visitors to Bristol by train.

Empty for the past 15 years, the building is currently owned by developers Kian Gwan Land, who have a PO Box address in Jersey.

Another site near to the station is the land off Bath Road long earmarked for an arena and which the now defunct South West Regional Development Agency spent £13m purchasing and clearing in preparation for one, which currently houses a few polytunnels.

Speaking after his election last week, Ferguson said: “We need to deliver a really significant project we can all be proud of and I am absolutely determined to deliver an arena for Bristol. It’s disgraceful that we have to go elsewhere to see the big acts. But it will be more than a building, it will be about what Bristol stands for. So let’s make a Bristol which everyone feels part of.”

If our new mayor brings an arena to Bristol, it could be his greatest legacy.

Name the Bristol mayoral candidates

24 10 2012

Thirteen of the 15 Bristol mayoral hopefuls turned up on College Green this afternoon to be officially announced as candidates. Among their ranks was one pink suit, one red hat, one pair of red trousers and one green dress. Your task for tonight: name the candidates. Thanks to @stevenmorris20 for the photo.

Clue: Here is the list of the 15 candidates that we published on Monday