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Bristol gets the right to turn its back on elected mayors

Bristol councillors have unanimously backed moves that could trigger a new referendum on the city's elected mayor.

A motion supported by all parties was passed with 100% support at last night's full council meeting - Bristolians now have the right to decide whether to keep elected mayors at all.

The post, currently held by George Ferguson, was created after a narrow yes vote in a referendum in 2012.

Ahead of the vote Mr Ferguson said he respected the choice of Bristol citizens, and stressed that the mayoral system is benefiting the city.

George Ferguson was elected in 2012. Credit: Rod Minchin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Bristol councillors to vote on elected mayor plans

Bristol councillors are expected to give their backing today to moves that could trigger a new referendum on the city's elected mayor.

A motion supported by all parties calls for the government to change a law which says Bristol can't have a fresh vote on the issue. The post of elected mayor was created after a narrow yes vote in a 2012 referendum.

George Ferguson, elected Mayor of Bristol in 2012. Credit: PA

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Will Bristol keep elected mayors?

It is only two-and-a-half years since people in Bristol voted to have an elected mayor run the city. But now councillors are expected to approve a resolution which could pave the way for another referendum - on whether to abolish the post.

They say the legislation which prevents a further ballot is undemocratic and should be changed, as our political correspondent Bob Constantine reports.

What does the current elected mayor George Ferguson have to say about this?

I respect the choice of Bristol citizens to seek the same rights and powers as those of other towns and cities currently governed by mayors.

However, it is absolutely clear that the Mayoral System is gaining huge benefits for Bristol and further boosting recognition for the city at a local, national and international level.

On being elected Mayor I was given a mandate by the people of the city, with a clear vision to take the city forward. To return to the alternative would be extremely damaging for Bristol, destabilising the decision-making environment and stalling progress towards the city’s goals.

While some politicians are still licking their wounds, recent research has demonstrated that the Mayoral model has vastly increased local people’s awareness of, and engagement with, the city’s leadership. How can that be a negative step?

This is constantly reflected in my personal experience of engaging with people on a daily basis across the city, and the level of interest in Mayoral Question Times, people taking part in radio phone-ins and web-chats, and of course through social and traditional media. More widely we’re also seeing far more national and international recognition and opportunities coming our way.

Ultimately, if it is a question of whether people should have the power to choose how they are governed, then from a purely democratic standpoint of course I would say yes.

– George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol
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Osborne announces stamp duty overhaul

Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans for a total overhaul of the "badly-designed" stamp duty system paid on the purchases of homes.

The reform will mean new marginal rates that the Chancellor says will mean a stamp duty cut for 98% of homebuyers.

  • No tax on first £125,000 paid
  • 2% on the portion up to £250,000
  • 5% up to £925,000
  • 10% up to £1.5 million
  • 12% on everything over that
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Air Passenger Duty to be scrapped for all children

Air Passenger Duty will be scrapped for all children by 2016, Chancellor George Osborne has announced.

George Osborne hopes his announcement will reduce the cost of flights for families. Credit: PA Wire

"We’re going to require airlines to list the charges separately from taxes on tickets, but I also want to reduce the cost of those tickets for families directly.

"From the 1st May next year, Air Passenger Duty for children under 12 will be abolished. From the following year, we’ll get rid of APD for children under 16 altogether."

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi tweeted: "Birmingham family with 2 young children welcomes cut in air passenger duty."

"They will save £170 on planned flight to Dubai."

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Fears that Hinkley nuclear plant is being delayed

The site for the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley in the shadow of the existing reactors Credit: ITV News

There are growing fears that the European Commission is delaying the building of a new power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It's still to sign off all the building regulations surrounding the project.

Today Labour south west MEP Claire Moody will meet the Commission to try to speed up the process.

VAT refunds for air ambulances and rescue helicopters

As well as VAT refunds, the Government has awarded £1m to GWAAC for the new air ambulance's first year in operation Credit: ITV News

As part of the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor is to announce VAT refunds for Search and Rescue and Air Ambulance charities alongside £7.5 million extra support for air ambulances.

The VAT refunds will be worth £25 million over 5 years.

It is in response to the service the UK’s Search and Rescue and Air Ambulance charities provide, volunteering their time and expertise to support to emergency services.

At the moment, most Search and Rescue and Air Ambulance charities cannot claim VAT back on their search and rescue activities but this means they will all be able to apply for VAT refunds for them as of 1 April 2015.

The Chancellor is also due to announce £1m for Great Western Air Ambulance, which will pay for the new helicopter's running costs in its first year of operation.

This is really fantastic news. The Great Western Air Ambulance [GWAA] does an amazing job, being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, saving lives, getting casualties to hospital quickly as well as being able to offer first class medical treatment at the scene.

This money, as well as helping with the cost of their new helicopter, will put the GWAA on a long-term sustainable financial footing which will enable them to continue their fabulous work for many years to come.

– Jack Lopresti MP, Con, Filton & Bradley Stoke
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