Anyone who follows the trials and tribulations of Bristol’s local politics is already familiar with the Mayor’s hostility towards questioning, and inability to tolerate any form of criticism.
As a case in point, Marvin was so prickled by a petition about air pollution at Full Council this week that he managed to attack the NHS itself for causing deaths from air pollution.
The lead petitioner, a doctor, asked on behalf of 70 health professionals:
“We would like to know how the inaction on cleaning up our air is justified, and what equalities focused measures the Mayor is considering alongside the clean air zone to mitigate its costs for those who can least afford them, are contributing the least to the problem, and who are suffering the most”.
After some condescending deflection, and a mandatory ramble about Labour’s green credentials [sic], Marvin responded in fairly typical Marvin style by going on the attack:
Here’s a transcript of Marvin’s retort:
“The NHS generate 5% of all road journeys in this country, ok? So this is on NHS’ own numbers, right? They contribute 735 deaths from air pollution. They lose, they cost us 8,884 life years, contributing 85 deaths and 772 major injuries, and they create £650 million pounds of demand on NHS services. So I would say as an NHS professional what would also be good is don’t wait for the Council. The NHS is a massive institution , it’s a sovereign body. Look at your own transport plans, I’d be interested to know what ‘s going on inside the NHS, what you’re doing around transport plans to take the burden you bring onto our roads.”
As you can imagine, standing up at Full Council to deliver a petition and ask a supplementary question is an intimidating position to be in. But to be a doctor in the NHS, and have the Mayor of Bristol respond by blaming the NHS for air pollution deaths, shortened lives, road accidents, and lost money? That’s horrific.
Horrific enough, that even Labour Councillor Mark Bradshaw called on twitter for Marvin to apologise. Fortunately, Green Councillor Jude English was able to apologise on the Council’s behalf:
There is no sign that any such apology will be forthcoming from the Mayor himself; he is only able to perceive of himself as the wronged party in any and all disagreements. But if you’re on twitter and you want to let him know you’re displeased, you could always give this a retweet:
Trying to be clever by arguing the NHS is responsible for a proportion of the very deaths the doctor in front of you fights to prevent is the sort of sophistry I’d expect from a Tory Health Secretary, not a Labour Mayor.