22/04/2012 Sunday Politics West


22/04/2012

Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, including an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.


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Transcript


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In the west: In less than two weeks Bristol will

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vote on having a directly elected Mayor. But is Lord Heseltine right

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:01:48.:01:48.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1733 seconds

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when he says a Yes vote would help Welcome. Coming up: Bristol on the

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cusp. Thousands will vote in less than two weeks in whether the city

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should elect a mayor. Is Lord Heseltine right when he says a yes

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vote could transform the city? An interview with him coming up soon.

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I hope you are not too worn out after the London Marathon. It's

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exhausting sitting on the sofa, watching them. I am joined by two

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fine athletes to talk local politics. Charlotte Lesley is a

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boxer and Conservative MP. Labour's Dawn Primarolo knows how to fight a

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political scrap but now the days -- nowadays she is a deputy speaker in

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the House of Commons. Welcome to you both. Charlotte, the

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Conservatives are falling in the polls. Has the Prime Minister had a

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disastrous week? The country is in a mess after 13

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years of Labour. We've got a difficult job to do. We are not

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ahead at the moment. No surprises there. There is a long way to go.

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Is it one of those things, Dawn? Is this the start of bigger things for

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Ed Miliband? I think we have to wait and see

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where the government -- whether the Government's get a grip of being in

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government. They've had a disastrous couple of months and not

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just the Budget. It makes you think, did they have a list of people who

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they wanted to upset because those that they haven't is smaller, from

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granny tax to pass these two caravans. The problem is beginning

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to be the mantra that it was all the Labour government's fault and

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we are going to make the economy work has worn out. Unemployment is

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Unemployment is going down, actually.

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In Bristol, it is going up. The change was very small over the

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whole country. We are still at a 25 year high for Women in unemployment.

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Not at all. The reason we are in the mess we are in his governments

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have -- politicians have been doing knee-jerk politics and don't have a

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long-term plan for the future of this country.

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Our main story this week, does Bristol need eight directly elected

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mayor? The debate on both sides is hotting up ahead of the referendum

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on 3rd May. One of the main advocates is Lord Michael Heseltine,

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the man they used to call tar sand. He thinks that without a Mayet,

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Bristol will sink into the mud. It will just go on with the same

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problems it has now. The most acute one, there have been six different

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leaders of the council in 10 years. If you have that degree of chopping

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and changing, you don't get a coherent policy, you don't follow

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things through, you don't get decisions taken. There is a general

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disenchantment in the way the city is run.

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We need a city dictator, do we? I think that's silly. A phrase

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invented by those who try to protect their own power base. There

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has always got to be a job gone. Look across the world and show me a

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sophisticated economy like us with whom we have to compete which has

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not got a directly elected leaders in their major cities.

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Do you accept there is a risk, if Bristol were to decide to have a

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mayor, what if you get the wrong one?

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You can get the wrong end p, you can get the wrong chief executive,

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you can get the wrong council leader.

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You can't do anything about it, though.

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There is always a downside, risk, in human societies, papers are full

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of the downside risks. You say a mayor of Bristol might

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become a nationally known or even internationally known figure. Are

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you serious? I'm more than serious and that is

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the essence of the case. Bristol, along with other great English

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cities is fighting for inward investment, for higher standards of

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service, for the prestige of its environment. That is all tied up

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with having someone who represents that case, puts the case to the

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local people, and is elected by the local people. If they are so well-

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known, who is a fudge them? -- Dave Hodgson?

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We don't have them in the country yet.

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He is the mayor of... You have never heard of them. You are making

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my point. They don't have the power that is necessary to make the job

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worthwhile. This government is offering the chance to devolve real

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power. And have we got the calibre of people in Bristol, do you think?

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You asking that question terrifies me. Are you telling me there is no

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one in Bristol capable of leading Bristol? What has gone wrong in our

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society that cities that were world peacemakers 100 years ago are now,

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in your language, not even capable of producing a leader.

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I just ask you if you knew anybody. I believe the people of Bristol

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would recognise such a person if they emerged and whatever you think,

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the fact that there have been six different leaders in 10 years tells

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me something is radically wrong with the leadership of Bristol.

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Thank you, Lord Heseltine. Joining me is Bill Martin, and

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Alderman in Bristol and a former councillor and Lord Mayor. He is

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leading the No campaign in the city. You heard Michael Heseltine sailing,

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get a grip. -- saying. I think that is rich from Michael

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Heseltine. He took more powers away from local councils than any

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government before or since. What are they offering? We don't know.

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They have been on the website and query to what extra funding would

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be made available, what extra powers would Bristol get, and they

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won't tell us until not only after the referendum but after the

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election. Bristol has to plod along, just the

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way it has always done things? You say that. I don't think Bristol

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just plods along. It is a great city and I enjoy living here. It

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has got many things that keep people here. Also people come to

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our university and stay. A graveyard of ambition, some

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people call it. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean to say the council is

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particularly dynamic and in Wales, where they have a strong political

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voice, occasionally we miss out. I take that point but of course,

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Wales has greater powers in terms of the Welsh Assembly.

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You were offered powers and you are not taking them.

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We are not told what they are. Let's bring in are over two guests.

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A nice job for one of you? Know, find you.

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Not for me. I've got Bristol North West to take care of. I think the

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attitude we've seen is exactly why Britain is punching below its

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weight and maybe a few people in the council house like to think we

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are not but nationally, look at our transport record. We've got some of

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the lowest investment per head in the country in terms of the

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transport structure. I am a Bob Dylan fan. If he comes to the area,

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he goes to Cardiff. I want him to come to Bristol.

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But you are not a councillor any more. You have been complacent?

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That's not true. Basically, government has decided how much

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money local councils Gadd. Without money, you cannot build. There was

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an arena with the government in the south-west and the plug was pulled

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on it. That wasn't the city council's fault, that was the

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government. He said he was not going to go for

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it but are you in favour or not? In principle, I like the idea of

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Meyer's but let me be frank, there are no extra powers being offered.

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We are told to wait and see. Secondly, there are huge challenges

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that Bristol faces, things like housing and transport. The mayor

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would have power to deal with those. Thirdly, can somebody explain to me

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how concentrating all the power in one person who is there for four

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years will work? One city that has been there and

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got the T-shirt is Doncaster. That is up north. They've decided to

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have an elected mayor and it has been a roller-coaster ride ever

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Like Bristol, it's got some nice Georgian buildings and a few

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historic churches. Both places are at regenerating and benefit from

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attractive waterways but yes, it still seems bizarre to be looking

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at Doncaster in South Yorkshire. Of the 11 places that have had elected

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mayors for a decade, Doncaster is the most comparable to Bristol in

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terms of population and is also one of the most interesting. Mayors

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have proved controversial and politics has been bruising. When

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postal votes on 3rd May, people here will be deciding whether to

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get rid of theirs. Doncaster is the Labour heartland. One of its MPs is

:40:31.:40:35.

Ed Miliband. They dominate the council and won the first mayoral

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robes. There was shock in 2009 with the election of Peter Davis of the

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English Democrat party. A blunt Yorkshireman, he remains

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controversial. He likes to put the boot into political correctness and

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meddling bureaucrats. I was able to come in here and say, right, a new

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start. Let's clear the desk -- clear the decks and reduce spending.

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Let's make government more efficient and more people centred.

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One of his first savings was to halve his own salary. Now he is

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planning to get rid of most councillors. The people pick the

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mayor, not some cabal of councils in the background. There are far

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too many of them. 63 in Doncaster. They are impotent and they know

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they are impotent, which makes them frustrated. In the council chamber,

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I meet the chief troublemaker, Labour councillor Sandra Holland.

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It has been a nightmare. Not only has it been a challenged and tested

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our skills and abilities but I've got 44 Labour councillors who are

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passionate about Doncaster, passionate about moving it forward,

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and they feel terribly frustrated by having no say and no power in

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their town. She is campaigning for an end to

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elected mayors. It is wholly undemocratic and also

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costly because nearly half a million pounds is spent on a

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mayoral election every four years. That is money that could be spent

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on frontline services and all the assets that they say an elected

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mayor brings to a town can be done by a leader.

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Out on the High Street, I talked to a BBC reporter who has covered

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Doncaster's turbulent politics. What people here will tell you is

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the last 10 years, the town centre has been transformed but certain

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things such as children's services, another core service, have not been

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managed particularly well. The government is still helping to run

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the council. Among the 300,000 residents, there

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is plenty of knowledge and opinion about the mayor. What would your

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advice be to people in Bristol? Don't have elected mayors. They get

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all powerful. He's got a very strong personality,

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I know that. He is not a pushover. I think he is good for Doncaster.

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I would say be careful about who you choose.

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This is what I like about him. He does Staudt -- sort things out.

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The people will decide on 3rd May and in Doncaster, polls suggested

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support for keeping elected mayors but what matters most in -- is

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whose supporters will be bothered to vote.

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That is the experience in Doncaster. Dawn, the point you're making

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before the film, what is wrong with having so much power in one

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person's hands? I thought that the argument for

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Meyer's was about greater accountability and responsiveness

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to an area and the problem with a mayor is you have a mayor erected -

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- elected and a council with a democratic mandate. I would say

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that structures don't change things. The vision, the dynamism that Lord

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Heseltine speaks about is what actions do.

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If you do things by committee, things don't get done.

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That is absolutely not true, David. You have lived in the city as long

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as I have. Look at the great things that have gone on. The visions of a

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Labour council to say, let's develop the city docks. It was

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almost a vision to fill them meant with concrete, wasn't it?

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It was but it didn't happen. Do we need more elections?

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It is democratic because how many people vote for councillors? 800?

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1,000? You say that but the turnout for

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referenda for elected mayors is less than 30%. If it is a close

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vote it is something like 15 or 16% of Bristol's electorate is decided.

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We are going down a one-way street for an elected mayor. Other places

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can go back to the people and get rid of that office. We in Bristol

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are not being given that opportunity. I guess we would have

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to vote for the right person? But we still can't get rid of the

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Office of elected mayor. What is so interesting about

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Doncaster is actually, the vested interest in the status quo. They

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have had their world disrupted and they don't like it. If you ask the

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people of Bristol what they think of Bristol politics, they say it's

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a shambles. You've got party- political bickering, the colour of

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the city changes every so often. I didn't vote for the council leader.

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But you can vote them out. I think you should let the people decide

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but tell them what they are deciding on. Tell them what powers

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the Mail would need. Would they be able to run transport? How would we

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deal with the fact that so much that effects Bristol happens in

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south Gloucestershire? He once the local mayor to be like

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Alex Salmond. Certainly, demanding change.

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Forgive me but that is it. People are entitled to be treated like

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grown-ups when they are making a decision like this. Tell them what

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the powers are, how it would be different and how it would work.

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With the city Deal, you can do things over transport.

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But you can't. People were injured when the

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government says, you've got freedom. The key thing is this, you've got

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one person running the city who you can vote in and out. Which way do

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you think it is going to go, Bill? Let's be fair, the No campaign are

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fighting an uphill battle because the Conservative Party are fighting

:47:07.:47:11.

eight Yes campaign. They are bringing in the big hitters like

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Lord Heseltine. It is cross-party. On Monday, a more important party

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is coming. The Conservatives are bringing these people in.

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They want to win it. Party-political bickering has

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tracked Bristol down for so long. The Conservatives have rarely, if

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ever, controlled those cities in the normal democratic process.

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Thank you for joining us. Time for the round-up of today's week's

:47:46.:47:56.
:47:56.:47:56.

It is the end of an era as the Bristol Evening Post changed its

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name and cuts the Saturday edition of the paper. Staff protested

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against using -- losing 19 of its 57 staff. The controversial Tory

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leader of Somerset County Council has stood down to run as one of the

:48:13.:48:15.

government's new Police Commissioner's while in office he

:48:15.:48:19.

was responsible for driving through a cuts agenda to balance the budget.

:48:19.:48:23.

The West is the most successful -- successful region in the country

:48:23.:48:27.

for convicting those responsible for hate crime. Offenders who

:48:27.:48:32.

target victims because of their disability, race or sexuality will

:48:32.:48:37.

be brought to justice. Able to man who is fighting for the right to be

:48:37.:48:40.

killed by a doctor says the commission on assisted dying has

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let him down. Tony let Clinton has locked-in syndrome -- niggling son.

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He says the law needs to be changed to help people like him.

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That Was the Week in 60 seconds. Let's talk about the Evening Post

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and those cutbacks there. The Bath paper has gone to a weekly.

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It is a difficult situation when you've got a changing war --

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changing world and more people are going digital. Local papers are

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having to adapt and different industries are having to adapt,

:49:20.:49:24.

like the book industry. I hope with dealing like things -- with dealing

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like things like electronic readers, we adapt to.

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I know the Evening Post hasn't always been friendly towards you

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but it is a great paper with great tradition?

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I agree it's very sad. There are challenges to the media industry

:49:41.:49:46.

and newspapers in particular but they depend on advertising.

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Advertising is either going elsewhere or going down and I think

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that for Bristol, it is really important that we maintain at least

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a daily newspaper and I would be incredibly sad to see the slow,

:50:01.:50:06.

painful demise of the Evening Post. I think we are all agreed on that.

:50:07.:50:13.

Very quickly, go ahead. I think we over estimate how many

:50:13.:50:17.

people have digital access as well. That is all we've got time for this

:50:17.:50:23.

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