Bold leadership needed for a fairer and greener future20 April 2020
Only 9% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the Covid-19 outbreak is over, according to a recent YouGov poll.
The threat caused by the pandemic is so enormous and immediate that we have been forced, as a nation, to change our behaviour on a scale normally only seen in wartime. And some of those changes, while designed to fight the virus, have shown us some extraordinary possibilities amidst the horror.
We have seen enormous community spirit and are much more likely to be talking to our neighbours and helping them out. Our air quality in Bristol is now legal, and we can hear the birds sing. We are exercising more, both on foot and by bike.
End to short-sighted thinking
People want to see leaders who can capture the positive changes that have come from this disaster. But the current mayor seems likely to rush headlong into business as usual when the lockdown ends and if he does, we will lose these benefits. He has already postponed the roll-out of the Clean Air Zone until spring next year and has said that the car-dependent Filton arena will be central to our economic recovery.
This is short-sighted thinking that doesn’t recognise people’s desire for change. It risks losing the things that are already making our city a better place.
Real change needs bold leadership
Real economic recovery needs to come from creating green jobs in energy efficiency, home insulation, green technologies and by investing in sustainable and active travel. In short, our post-Covid-19 recovery needs to put people, health and the environment at the heart of the economy.
We have a unique opportunity to seize this moment and make the changes we’ve seen stick. We need leaders who understand this and are prepared to prioritise and invest in all our futures.
A greener and fairer future
The Bristol Green Party has already asked that road space is given over to pedestrians, runners and cyclists during lockdown. We should extend these measures and make them permanent, investing in measures to prioritise cycling and walking for local journeys around our city.
I would invest in our communities, making sure that local charities and neighbourhood groups have the resources to provide high quality care for our elderly, young and vulnerable.
I would lead us towards a green economic recovery, investing in insulating our homes and building new council homes.
The pandemic is horrific. The suffering is appalling. But we must not ignore the glimpse that it has given us of a better future. If we want to keep the benefits of lockdown once it lifts, then the moment to make these changes is now. If we delay, we return to a ‘normal’ that people don’t want and that the city doesn’t need.
We need a greener city, and a fairer one. And a mayor who will take bold action to make it so.