General election preview: Bristol West
VOTERS go to the polls on December 12 for the country's third general election in less than five years.
Both seats in the St George and Redfield area - Bristol East and Bristol West - are currently held by the Labour Party.
In Bristol West, the national Unite to Remain pact between the Liberal Democrats and Greens means that the Lib Dems are not standing a candidate in a seat where they had an MP less than five years ago.
The Greens have made Bristol West, which includes areas of Whitehall and Redfield in the council's Easton ward, a top target and launched their national election campaign in the constituency.
But they face a huge task in trying to overturn the Labour majority of 37,336 from 2017, when Thangam Debbonaire won almost two out of every three votes cast: 47,213 from a total turnout of 71,608.
In fact, in 2017 it was the Conservatives rather than the Greens who came second in Bristol West, where the Brexit Party is also fielding a candidate at this election.
The Greens were second in 2015, the year that Labour took Bristol West from the Liberal Democrats, who had held it since 2005.
Labour held Bristol West from 1997 to 2005 but before that the constituency, whose boundaries have shifted significantly over the years, had been solidly Tory since 1895.
The boundary between Bristol East and Bristol West runs from Robertson Road in the north, along Thurlow Road and Greenbank Road to the junction with Gordon Road, then along Whitehall Road, Lyppiatt Road and Avonvale Road to its junction with Netham Road, which it then follows to the Feeder Canal.
Bristol West covers an area from Hotwells, Clifton and Ashley Down to Spike Island, Redcliffe and St Philip's.
The deadline to register to vote in the election has now passed. Anyone who wants to check they are on the register, has not yet received a polling card or has any other queries about voting can call the council's electoral services department on 0117 922 3400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Voice has asked every candidate nominated in the constituency to tell us about themselves and their aims.
They are included here in the order they will appear on the ballot paper.
Suria Aujla – Conservative
"I AM a Legal Executive and studied Law at the University of Wales. I worked alongside the Citizens Advice Bureau, voluntarily assisting individuals and groups with Employment Law matters. I then went on to work at the Financial Ombudsman Service, adjudicating complaints to reach fair decisions.
"I was born and raised in Wolverhampton, however after marriage, my husband and I chose to make South West England our home. I studied my Masters at the University of Law in Bristol West, following which I now work at a law firm within the constituency.
"I am of Sikh faith, and my local Gurdwara also borders the constituency, so I spend a lot of time in the area.
"I am a Councillor and Governor at a school for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. I regularly support charity events, participate in environmental regeneration programmes, and have provided support to young adults in their search for employment.
"I want to use my skills to help the people of Bristol. I will be an MP that will stand up for you in Parliament whilst being a champion for the community. We need to honour the referendum result and then get on to other issues."
Thangam Debbonaire – Labour
For the 25 years before she became an MP, Thangam combined work as a professional musician with a career in ending domestic violence. In 1991, she moved to Bristol to be the first ever National Children’s Officer for Women’s Aid.
Thangam became MP for Bristol West in May 2015 – the first BAME woman MP the South West region has had – and was re-elected in 2017. In Parliament, as Labour whip for three years, she has helped to stop Brexit three times. She chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees whose influential inquiry in 2017 has directly improved the financial security of refugees.
Thangam was one of the first MPs to call on the government to act on our climate emergency, leading to the world’s first net-zero carbon legislation. She successfully campaigned to ban letting agency fees, regularly calls for better funding for schools and the NHS, and works with organisations to help make Bristol an autism-friendly city. She launched the Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform which has succeeded in shifting Labour’s policy on drug use. Current campaigns include a travel fund for the families of children with cancer.
She is a passionate supporter of the arts, culture and science.
Carla Denyer – Green
"I AM standing to represent your views in Parliament, and my top priorities are: Yes to Europe, No to Climate Chaos, An End to Austerity.
"I have been a Green councillor since 2015, working on issues including affordable housing and fossil fuel divestment. Last year I proposed the first Climate Emergency motion in Europe, committing Bristol to go carbon neutral by 2030. This started a wave of motions across the country, with nearly 300 local authorities following suit.
"I am an engineer who worked in the renewable energy industry, specialising in offshore and onshore wind. I moved into politics because I wanted to change the world faster than one wind turbine at a time, and I believe I am doing that with the Climate Emergency movement.
"Greens have a very good chance of winning in Bristol West. Under the ‘Unite to Remain’ agreement, the Liberal Democrats have stood aside, so that the Greens are the only Remain party standing in Bristol West. Conservatives have no chance of being elected in this constituency, so it’s Green or Labour in Bristol West, and with no risk of letting anybody else in, on December 12 you can vote for what you believe in."
Neil Hipkiss – Brexit Party
"I SPENT my 35-year career in the TV industry in Bristol, for the BBC and other companies. I stopped working full-time a few years ago and sadly this meant I needed to leave Bristol, but still I work part-time and I still come to Bristol most weeks. I would love to be able to move back into the City one day.
"I was politically homeless when Theresa May couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver Brexit. I, like many of you, felt betrayed, so I joined the Brexit Party and applied to be a candidate for Bristol. To my joy I was selected.
"I would like to see a clean Brexit, or at least a Brexit where there is a fixed end to the Transition Period of December 2020.
"Beyond Brexit I want to see change in the political make-up of our country, for example: a proportional representation voting system; an end to party hopping; investment in the regions rather than London, paid for by scrapping of HS2 etc, and a revision of the foreign aid budget; scrap interest on student loans.
"If you wish to respect the vote of 2016, then please vote for me. We need to make our voices heard."