May 2017 - Cabot eNews

May's edition of Cabot eNews.

In this edition:
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1. Metro Mayor...and General Election too!
2. Last chance to register to vote in June's General Election
3. Prince Street Bridge to open to pedestrians and cyclists Monday
22nd May!
4. Outcry over chop of tree maintenance
5. Cyclist/Pedestrian improvements
6. Metrobus update
7. Bristol 10k disruption
8. Government awards cash to tackle homelessness
9. Licensing issues
10. Neighbourhood Partnership news
11. Parks Byelaws come into effect
12. Bristol Older People's Forum
13. Local exhibitions
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1. Metro Mayor...and General Election too!

Just a few days after the last Cabot eNews went out, PM Theresa May
stunned the nation by calling a snap General Election. Before the
General Election was called, all the experts were predicting Lib Dem
local election gains across the country; but since then the UKIP vote
has collapsed towards the Conservatives, and the Labour Party has been
boosted a bit as well. In Bristol this overshadowed the Metro Mayor
election, changing the dynamic in the election dramatically.

As a result, on May 4th, what was expected to be a close Lib Dem/Tory
result across former Avon was in the end was a very close 3-way result:
Con 27%, Lab 22%, Lib Dem 20%. The result didn't change in the "second
round", which the Conservatives won. Although the result was a huge
increase in the Lib Dem vote since 2015, I really think that if the we
Lib Dems had just squeaked into second place instead of Labour, we would
have won in the second round as we are more "vote transfer friendly"
than Labour under Corbyn.

We will hopefully hear in due course what infrastructure plans the new
Metro Mayor, Tim Bowles, has for the wider area.

As for the General Election, personally I feel it is totally unnecessary,
and a pretty naked attempt by Theresa May to eliminate any opposition to
her plans for a very Hard Brexit. In Bristol West, having been fired up by
the Metro Mayor campaign, former MP Stephen Williams is standing again in
an attempt to win his seat back from Labour's Thangham Debonnaire. I've
worked with Stephen for over a decade while he was local MP and I local
councillor. There is a very real chance that the coming parliament could
be even less liberal than the brief last one, and only more Lib Dem MPs
can prevent that...so I am backing his campaign to win!

You can find more info about his campaign and policies here:

www.stephenwilliams.org.uk

www.facebook.com/StephenWilliamsPolitician
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2. Last chance to register to vote in June's General Election

The deadline to register to vote in June's General Election will
pass at midnight on 22 May. Registering to vote can be done in
minutes online using a PC, laptop, phone or tablet by visiting
www.gov.uk/register-to-vote with a National Insurance number and a date
of birth. Anyone who is unsure whether they're registered or not should
call Electoral Services on 0117 922 3400 to check if they still need
to register.
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3. Prince Street Bridge to open to pedestrians and cyclists Monday
22nd May!

The structural refurbishment works have now been completed, and the City
Docks Engineers have fully tested and recommissioned the operational
movements of the bridge and are now satisfied that it can be reopened to
the general public. Further monitoring and testing will now take place
before scaffold is removed, and the bridge can be reopened to southbound
traffic movements out of the city. The southbound-only traffic route
is likely to be in place until at least summer 2018, at which point the
Mayor will review the usage of the bridge.

The cost and ridiculous delays on this project will soon be examined by
a Council scrutiny committee, after I asked for it last year. The papers
can be seen here (meeting date delayed): http://tinyurl.com/kces4hx

I'm quite pleased to see that only southbound traffic will be permitted as
a trial, as this is something I recommended to the Transport Department
a year ago. It should help cut congestion in the centre by allowing
another exit from the Centre without providing another entrance; and it
will also avoid the issue of deadlocked traffic on the bridge when the
directional traffic lights change during stationary traffic.

Finally, a cycle improvement scheme on Prince Street connecting Cumberland
Road to Baldwin Street and Broad Quay will begin this month.
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4. Outcry over chop of tree maintenance

There has been strong opposition to the Council's plans to axe 3/4 of
the tree maintenance budget. The Cotham Lib Dem councillor, Anthony
Negus, complained at a Cabinet meeting that tree maintenance budget -
which would see only essential works ever done - would very quickly lead
to much bigger costs as thousands of trees would get out of control and
potentially dangerous.

The current plans are:
* No pollarding of street trees or removal of epicormic growth around
the tree.
* Emergency cover outside normal working hours is no longer being provided
* Tree management will be limited to felling to address safety risks
* No planting of street trees, either replacement or new, even when
cost neutral

These decisions were taken with no consultation with stakeholders, who
would quickly have pointed out that this will cost much more money in the
medium and long term. In the face of strong opposition from tree groups
and parks groups, the Mayor has said that the Council will "look again"
at the impact. More: http://tinyurl.com/mrofnhv
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5. Cyclist/Pedestrian improvements

As part of the Cycle Ambition Fund programme, the Council has been
investigating ways to improve the walking and cycling legibility
and atmosphere within the City Centre. The proposals aim to improve
the natural legibility of key areas responding to comments made on
the "Bristol Bugbears" website. There will be improvements to the
shared-space and cycle paths on both Queens Square and College Green,
to more clearly segregate cyclists from pedestrians to reduce conflict
where possible. This is good news, although I have repeatedly made the
point to the Council that the problem is often one of excessive cyclist
speed around pedestrians, more than anything else.
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6. Metrobus update

Approximate dates:
* Ashton Avenue Swing Bridge restoration complete - bridge will reopen
later this month
* Announcement of MetroBus operators - June
* Bathurst Bridge due to open - August
* Unveiling of brand, logos, buses, iPoints etc, - August
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7. Bristol 10k disruption

I received a number of complaints about the Bristol 10k race and the
disruption it caused. While on the one hand, events such as this help
put Bristol on the map and bring in business, there has to be balance in
the amount of inconvenience it causes to residents and businesses. In
particular the road closures in the central area where there is often
little scope to take alternative routes, are a real problem. I always
make the point to the Council that major road closures for events
(including the Portway) should be rare.
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8. Government awards cash to tackle homelessness

The Council has received a £2.5m grant from the Govt to tackle the severe
homeless problem in the city. The money is split into: £925,000 grant
for prevention will seek to identify those at risk of homelessness,
trial early intervention action and focus on addressing root causes;
£382,866 rough sleepers grant to tackle rough sleeping; £1,125,000
will be allocated to tackle long-term rough sleeping in Bristol. More:
http://tinyurl.com/ldykzmx

On this subject, the Council is trying - but struggling - to contain
the rough/tent sleeping on both the New Cut and on Brandon Hill. The
Council's strategy is with the police to tackle locations first where
there are cases of ASB, which currently means more Brandon Hill than
New Cut. The department is woefully under-resourced, so hopefully the
above grant will make a good difference.
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9. Licensing issues

I objected to the lateness of the "Grillstock" music licence. The
application had originally requested that the live-music main-stage go
on until midnight on Saturday! As a result of my objection, Grillstock
have brought the application in to 11pm.
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10. Neighbourhood Partnership news

The Central, Clifton and Harbourside NP Environment group is looking for
a) new projects to consider, and b) new members to help. Typical projects
are listed below. If you are interested in either, contact Chair, Fraser
Bridgeford: fraser.bridgeford@btinternet.com
* City centre street tree planting
* Installation of step handrails
* Education of traders on the positioning of euro bins and other waste
* Upgrading of park pathways and lighting
* Removal of graffiti and graffiti prevention
* Creation of new replacement playground / play equipment
* Education of traders on the use of 'A' boards
* Installation of historical interpretation signage
* Provision of youth facilities
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11. Parks Byelaws come into effect

The new parks byelaws were recently passed by the full Council
and came into force on April 28th. Full details can be seen at
http://tinyurl.com/ltn4qdb . As a result of the new rules, BBQs
are now only allowed in a small part of the park, shown here:
http://tinyurl.com/kn6s5nm
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12. Bristol Older People's Forum

The BOPF produce a quarterly newsletter, and you can see the spring one
here: http://tinyurl.com/lwkh79l . Their website is https://bopf.org.uk
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13. Local exhibitions

Spike Island Arts Centre, until 18 June:

* Giles Round: They bow. Curtain. No applause. "For his exhibition at
Spike Island, London based artist Giles Round draws on his professional
experience as an exhibition designer to theatricalise the standard
systems of display employed by galleries and museums."

Andrea Luka Zimmerman: Common Ground. "The first UK solo exhibition of
artist, cultural activist and filmmaker Andrea Luka Zimmerman. Central to
the exhibition, Zimmerman's essay film Estate, a Reverie (2015) tracks
the long drawn out closure of the Haggerston Estate in East London and
the utopian promise of social housing it once offered."
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