Well, what a week it has been. The results are in! It’s been an honour and a privilege standing for Portishead East ward in the North Somerset Council and Portishead Town Council By-Elections on Thursday.
Yes, I didn’t win the election, but I’m still a winner because I gave this a go. I stood up and said, ‘yes I’m deaf, but I can do this, and I want to represent the residents of the Portishead East ward’. I’m no different to anyone else, after all, and that was the important thing about my campaign.
Today, disappointingly leaseholders and residents have once again been let down by false promises of hope in Westminster, where the Conservative Party are ping-ponging with the lives and livelihoods of residents living with cladding and fire safety issues.
Paul Welton, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Portishead East commented: “Once again the Conservative Party have let down residents in Portishead East, happy to name local residents as a ‘case study for lessons learnt’, but unable to provide residents with the financial and emotional support vitally needed to provide an end to this Fire Safety Crisis. The Conservative Party need a loud message on May 6th that local residents are not happy with being ignored, used, and neglected. Until then I will continue to work with Cllr Huw James and Cllr Patrick Keating on North Somerset Council to raise the voice of local leaseholders to be their champion on fire safety issues.
Over seven buildings in Portishead East have been confirmed to have been affected by fire safety issues, estimated to affect over 1000 people. The leaseholders and residents living in these potentially dangerous high-rise homes continue to face costly fire safety bills, covering insurance, waking watch costs, and the costs of recladding homes.”
It’s no secret that congestion and long queues have long plagued Portishead, thought by some to be the ‘largest cul-de-sac in Europe’. To keep Portishead moving, we need to have a good transport system within the town with clear connections to nearby towns, Bristol, and the wider region.
We have the M5 motorway within reach, connecting Portishead to the rest of the UK, and whilst it's unreliable and often has delays, Portishead’s bus services have been widely recognised by Bus Operators to have the potential to really thrive. Residents in Portishead East ward face major issues with connectivity and transport, and I want to change this.
For the community in Portishead to thrive, we must empower our residents. We must enable them to be independent, ensure equality of opportunity, and remove any barriers in our town- including from poor design or implementation of projects and policies- which hinder people’s daily lives.
This does not only encompass providing better access for people with mobility issues. It includes having access to information, the ability to enjoy public spaces freely, efficient communication support, and access to a full education, including through high-quality SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) provision. Nobody should face exclusion or encounter unacceptable barriers to having their needs met.
It is hard not to feel helpless in the face of environmental crisis. A global challenge can seem huge and distant, disconnected from our real lives. Breaking free of that helplessness is not something any of us can do alone. The only way to meet the challenge is together. The only place to do it is here. I will be part of that. I am asking you to join me.
During my time studying landscape architecture, I saw how attention to seemingly small details transforms the way we experience and appreciate our outdoor spaces. It is also fundamental to how we protect them.
To create change at the scale we need, it is vital that we share the work. That means sharing the benefits too. We must make sure that all residents can access nature and that protecting the wildlife we love is at the heart of design. We need plentiful opportunities for every resident to appreciate, understand and share our wildlife and natural spaces so that the value of protecting these is relevant and meaningful to all.