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Bristol Lib Dems “confident” of council majority

May 27, 2009

Bristol’s Lib Dem leader says she is “confident” her party is on course for an outright majority on the city council after the council elections on June 4.

Barbara Janke told Original 106.5 she has high hopes of getting the four additional seats needed to run the council without support from any of the other parties.

The Lib Dems currently have 32 councillors, compared to 24 for Labour, 13 Conservatives and 1 Green. The figures mean no party can run the city on its own.

Barbara Janke said: “I think people are going to give us a chance this time to show what we can do and give us a working majority.”

She also claims the Lib Dems will not be as badly damaged by the MPs’ expenses scandal as the other two main parties.

She said: “On the performance of our local MP, Stephen Williams, people are satisfied that he is not one of the people who has been abusing the system.

“The wrath does not seem as much against the Liberal Democrats as against the other parties, particularly the party in government. A lot of Labour voters who have stuck with the party through thick and thin are not going to do so after this.”

The two main issues the Lib Dems are campaigning on are the economy and the environment. On green issues, she says she is confident voters will back her record of improving waste and recycling services in Bristol.

On the economy, she told Original 106.5:”Want to be confident that we have a strategy not just for supporting people who are unemployed and limiting the damage across the city. What they want is to be confident that we are attracting investment to the city and that there will be jobs in new technologies when we emerge from recession.

“Bristol is very well-placed to do this but it needs leadership and it needs confidence from the outside that however well the city is performing the city council is there leading.”

However, she claimed there was no magic bullet either to improve Bristol’s public transport or to reduce council tax.

On transport, she claims Bristol has few options to improve things as central government policy means the city is unable to borrow money for long-term plans or to raise its own revenue.

“I would be very much a champion for greater financial powers for Bristol to determine its own investment in transport. However, we’re not likely to get that so we will make the best of the funding allocation we have at the moment and make sure the new schemes – like Rapid Transit – are delivered on time.”

And she could make no promises on council tax, because of fears the government is storing up unpopular tax rises until after a general election.

She said: “Our policy is to cut the rate of increase in council tax. We did that by 5% when we were last in power and at the moment that is our policy.

“However, we don’t know what these big cuts are going to look like. The public sector spend is going to be hit very hard in future years.

“I think people are aware of that and that if we are frank and honest with them about the council’s finances we will get the co-operation we need to make the best of whatever the circumstances are.”

Audio: Original 106.5 is talking to the leaders of all the main parties on the city council this week. Today, Martin Jones interviews Lib Dem leader Barbara Janke.

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