Profile of Labour’s candidates for the Bristol mayoralty: Peter Hammond

Amanda Ramsay on the leader of Bristol city council Labour group, Cllr Peter Hammond, one of Labour’s mayoral short-listed candidates.

Campaign literature has been arriving at Bristol Labour party members’ homes for weeks now, glossy leaflets, letters and round-robin emails. One says: “There’s a big chance that November’s election will be won or lost in the next fortnight, depending on who wins the selection, so I hope we choose wisely.

Indeed, once the postal ballot result is known, expected 15 June, whoever Labour chooses will become the favourite to win in November, say Ladbrokes.

According to the bookies, former Labour councillor Kelvin Blake tops the poll at 5/1, councillor Peter Hammond comes in joint second at 6/1 with former MP Dan Norris, while councillor Helen Holland ranks 8/1 and NHS manager Marvin Rees is at 12/1.

Which one of these five short-listed candidates will be best capable of cutting it as Bristol’s first mayor?

“Words are fine,” Hammond says, pointing to his record as former leader of Bristol city council and current leadership of Labour’s 21 councillors. “But only actions change things. Under my leadership we have promoted a living wage, fairness at work, changed the council’s pay policy and fought for an ambitious new council-led housing programme.”

A local councillor for St George West ward in Bristol East, Hammond is an FE lecturer, has worked in the past on the railways and in a small business. He is also a director of Bristol Community FM, one of Bristol’s community radio stations.

“Between 2001 and 2009 I was a member of council cabinets,” he says of his time on the council scene, “and was leader for a short time. I dealt with services for both older and younger people – the largest spending departments – and instigated Bristol’s complete rebuilding or refurbishment of our secondary schools worth in excess of £250 million.”

Hammond says it’s time for a change in Bristol. He has reportedly said:

“I don’t think the council is currently demonstrating leadership on anything. I don’t detect someone speaking for Bristol politically.

On the schools issue there has been no leadership, it’s like being washed over by the sea. Transport – they can’t get that right. Those are the two key issues Bristolians care about.”

Whoever wins in November will have a huge budget to manage and much expectation to fulfil. Hammond says: “I know about council budgets, essential as the new mayor elected in November will have to publish a draft budget within weeks of election!”

Hammond has designs on setting-up an innovation, skills and sustainability board, bringing together business, trade unions, science and others to create new jobs. His other priorities are housing, transport, education and care.

Homes for Bristol is another pledge, to build 5,000 extra new sustainable homes by 2017, while on transport he says: “I will demand a new integrated transport board for Bristol within a regional transport framework and put public accountability and service instead of private profit at the heart of our transport system.”

Hammond wants to introduce a living wage for council workers based on a maximum 10:1 pay ratio an election pledge.

In fact, Bristol Labour group adopted a fairness commission policy this year, under Hammond’s leadership, but Labour’s attempt to incorporate this into the council’s pay policy was rejected by both the Tories and Liberal Democrats at March’s council meeting.

“So now both coalition partners in Bristol are on record as opposing fair wages for council employees,” Hammond explains. “We are continuing our work around the national living wage and council apprenticeships and should be bringing forward proposals soon.”

Hammond speaks of: “Tearing down barriers to education and training because young people need skills to succeed in today’s employment market – I will demand further government money to end Bristol’s primary school places shortage. I will expand the support Labour has already obtained under my leadership this year for young people no longer entitled to the education maintenance allowance.”

Hammond on the campaign ahead: “We must unleash the spirit of creativity that makes Bristol stand out. We must unite our different communities with a common goal of mutual benefit, through reducing inequality, promoting local leadership across Bristol and crucially ensuring local community decision-making is effective and important.”

These sentiments echo the words of Labour’s general secretary Iain McNicol, who said this weekend: “The Labour party is not simply an organisation which achieves change by winning elections; we are also a community organisation which works with local people to achieve change for themselves.

“We seek power to change society based on our values, but we must realise that the party should be committed to doing this regardless of whether there is an election around the corner. Only a Labour party based in communities, taking action that resonates with and delivers for local people will win us the next election.”

Amanda Ramsay is a former Labour councillor and cabinet member

Labour Party candidate for mayor TULO Hustings Thursday 31 May 745pm?, open to all Labour party members and political levy payers. The Brunel Room, Armada House, Telephone avenue, Bristol BS1 4BQ.

Bristol Labour party mayoral selection official hustings: Friday 8 June at the Greenway Centre, Doncaster road, Southmead Bristol BS10 5PY from 6.15pm to 8.30pm. Bristol Labour party members wishing to attend MUST email or phone 0117 972 9447

Find out more on follow Peter on @peterh4bristol and the Bristol mayoral debate on @Mayor4Bristol1

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3 Responses to “Profile of Labour’s candidates for the Bristol mayoralty: Peter Hammond”

  1. swatantra says:

    Good to see some Cllrs throwing their hat in the ring and not the usual MPs pushing themselves in; but not many seem to have served on the Police Authority, and so haven’t that much experience of ‘the police’ structure and admin.

  2. swatantra says:

    … and hey wouldn’t have had to be on the Police Authority if they were going for Mayor and not Police Commissioner! However, how are the Mayor and Commisioner going to work together? And should we have had a system like London’s where The Mayor is ‘above’ the Police Commissioner. The Tories are hoping it’ll all come out in the wash, but I doubt it.

  3. swatantra says:

    I guess in a County like mine where the Tories always have and always will have a majority, our candidate will be a token candidate and will have zilch effect on policing policy. Its completely unfair FPTP which means essentially your vote is pretty worthless because its not going to effect the outcome at all. But I guess I’ll have to vote in Nov just for appearances sake. There must be a better way.

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