Nov 2017 - Cabot eNews
November's edition of Cabot eNews.
In this edition: _________________ 1. Council's 2018 Budget consultation 2. Mayor U-turns on cuts to council tax help 3. Council passes Lib Dem save libraries motion 4. Mayor's Park's budget cut reduced (a bit) 5. More Cumberland Rd closures from 20th Nov 6. West of England "Joint Spatial Plan" passed 7. Cumberland Basin development plans 8. Mayor puts Arena on review 9. Jacobs Wells Baths Update 10. Council achieves carbon target years ahead of schedule 11. Former Chief Exec took massive payout from Council 12. Clifton and Harbourside Neighbourhood Forums 13. How to spend £257k of Neighbourhood money? 14. Council to enforce fines for littering 15. Grants for tackling homelessness 16. Harbour cleanup Sunday 19th Nov 17. Brandon Hill nominated for award 18. Bristol named UNESCO City of Film 19. Autumn Cabot News out #. Cumberland Rd Closure text _________________ 1. Council's 2018 Budget consultation Labour Party Mayor Marvin Rees has now released his draft budget plans for 2018. Although the overall budget cut is driven by unnecessarily harsh Tory government cuts, the decision of where and how to cut is local. The Mayor's cuts includes closing most of the city's libraries and cutting most of the budget for parks. The 2018 Budget consultation will be open till January 29th, and can be read in public libraries, and online here: www.bristol.gov.uk/corpstrategy _________________ 2. Mayor U-turns on cuts to council tax help Back in the summer Mayor Rees proposed cutting the level of Council Tax Relief (CTR), which helps people unable to afford their council tax. His reason for this was to help avoid cuts in services, but the people who rely on CTR are the very poorest in the city. All of the options he proposed involved some level of cutting the benefit. The Mayor came under huge criticism from Housing charities, and from the Lib Dems who pointed to a recent Supreme Court ruling that a London council had acted illegally by not offering residents a "no CTR cut" option in their own consultation. In November, the Mayor made a welcome U-turn and announced that CTR was safe "for this year at least". However many are still concerned at the Mayor's exact wording indicating that the city's most vulnerable households could be under threat again in the near future. We will keep up the campaign to keep CTR safe. _________________ 3. Council passes Lib Dem save libraries motion In an emotional Council meeting, the Mayor was delivered his first defeat in the Council chamber, on his plans to close most of the city's libraries. A motion by Lib Dem councillor for Cotham ward, Anthony Negus, was passed by a single vote after a handful of Labour cllrs abstained and all the other parties supported it following Anthony's passionate speech. The motion calls on the Mayor to investigate the cross-party supported idea to "mutualise" the library service with volunteer support instead of shutting most of it down. Campaigners have been exasperated by the Mayor's refusal to consider these plans, despite them costing no more money than his own plans to close most libraries. Unfortunately, under the mayoral system the Mayor is allowed to ignore most votes in Council, but I hope this will cause him to re-think. More: http://tinyurl.com/ybras4l2 _________________ 4. Mayor's Park's budget cut reduced (a bit) A key item in the budget consultation is that the Mayor has bowed slightly to opposition to his plans to cut the entire Parks budget and make them "cost neutral". Almost no one believed that this would ever be possible without wrecking all our parks, and he is now saying that the budget will be cut by "only" three-quarters. While this is a step in the right direction, it is still almost certainly undeliverable and will result in lasting harm to our green spaces. You can take part by completing an online survey on the council's Consultation Hub here: www.bristol.gov.uk/parksconsultation _________________ 5. More Cumberland Rd closures from 20th Nov Metrobus works and closures on Cumberland Rd have been causing chaos in recent months. Although the end is in sight - Metrobus starts in early January - the Council dropped another bomb just a few days ago by announcing with just 5 days notice that Cumberland Rd will be resurfaced from Monday 20th Nov until Friday 15th Dec. This will mean rolling closures; although the works will be done at night to minimise impact during the day (though it will likely mean noise at night!) I don't understand why the Council left announcing this so late, as it's a major job and they must have known the dates weeks ago. I have already complained about this lack of notice, and asked questions about how people living in cul-de-sac roads like Gas Ferry road will be able to get in and out at night if their section is closed. The Council's response to my questions is quite long and I have included it in full at the end of this email. On the plus-side, Cumberland Road has needed resurfacing for a very long time, and this should make the road smoother and quieter to drive along. _________________ 6. West of England "Joint Spatial Plan" passed The Joint Spatial Plan by the four West of England councils setting out future development across the Bristol region till 2036 has been passed by councillors. The Council voted for the final draft of the West of England Joint Spatial Plan, which will be published next week for public comment before it is submitted to the Secretary of State for adoption. I and most Lib Dem cllrs voted against the plan because of the silly proposal to build thousands of new homes in the least accessible and least sustainable part of Bristol - in the hills beyond Whitchurch. The plans acknowledges that this area has terrible infrastructure, and so proposes a new ring-road to get there! I believe any such "urban extension" should be at the hugely more sustainable location of Ashton Vale, which already has 4 major roads, a railway, Metrobus, cycling routes, and is much near to the centre. The public will have until 10 January to comment. The Plan will be published online on 22nd Nov at www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk _________________ 7. Cumberland Basin development plans The mayor has announced he has big plans for the Cumberland Basin. I wrote to him asking for an urgent meeting to ask questions and so he could brief me and I could then bring clarity to concerned residents. Sadly, the Mayor's response was simply one line: "These plans are in an early stage, but once things have become further developed I would of course welcome your involvement." I have told him I think that's a pretty poor response to a constructive offer. More: http://tinyurl.com/yc7howbx _________________ 8. Mayor puts Arena on review Earlier in the year the Mayor put the planned Bristol Arena on hold while costs were reassessed. Now he has put the whole plan in doubt by suggesting that maybe it should be built in Filton instead! It seems to me that the project is increasingly likely to be abandoned. More: http://tinyurl.com/yb2g6w4w _________________ 9. Jacobs Wells Baths Update In a pleasant surprise, the Jacobs Wells former baths could be restored to full working order as public baths! A preferred bidder, national charity Fusion Lifestyle, was recommended and has now been endorsed by the Council. Fusion's plans are to provide a swimming pool and a range of leisure and community facilities as part of the restoration. The final decision on whether to grant the lease will be made by the Mayor in 5 December. I very much hope this comes to fruition and look forward to a historic building being saved for the local community. _________________ 10. Council achieves carbon target years ahead of schedule Bristol Council has achieved its carbon cutting targets three years ahead of schedule! Some credit must go to the current Mayor, and previous Mayor Ferguson...but of course I will point out that the strategy and targets were put in place by us Lib Dems when we ran the Council until 2012 :-) The Avonmouth wind turbines, solar panels on schools and council buildings and renewal of street lighting were all features of the five-year Energy Strategy commissioned and signed off by the Lib Dem Cabinet in 2011, which committed the Council to millions of pounds of money-saving investments in low carbon technology. More: http://tinyurl.com/y7vspzsu _________________ 11. Former Chief Exec took massive payout from Council You may recall last month I reported that the Council has lost it's 3rd Chief Executive in 16 months. Since then, scandal has erupted when it emerged that the departing chief took a "golden goodbye" of up to £92k - despite quitting of her own accord! In a rare move, all the opposition parties on the Council (Lib Dem, Conservative, Green Party) have called for an independent investigation into how and why the "golden goodbye" was paid. The scandal has even featured in Private Eye magazine! There is an online petition calling for an independent investigation: www.taxpayersmoney.weebly.com _________________ 12. Clifton and Harbourside Neighbourhood Forums After the Mayor's abolition of the Neighbourhood Partnerships and Forums, there has been discussion as to how the very useful forums might be continued. Last week I joined the Clifton and Clifton Down Forum to speak in favour of a proposal to add the Hotwells and Harbourside area to that forum. I believe that doing so would add to the sustainability of the structure and help the Harbourside area continue to have a place for community discussion. I'm pleased to say the proposal was unanimously supported. The idea is to have three meetings per year, and the first will likely be in April, when planning work has been done. I will report more details in due course. _________________ 13. How to spend £257k of Neighbourhood money? Following the abolition of the Neighbourhood Partnerships, there is £257k of money left to be spent, probably on community projects across the city. The Council would like to know what you think about what to do with the money. There is a dedicated survey questionnaire for this: http://tinyurl.com/y79rhhag _________________ 14. Council to enforce fines for littering People caught dropping litter in Bristol could face fines of up to £75 as part of a new enforcement campaign. From next month, tougher enforcement measures will be put in place to target people who persist in dropping litter, leaving dog mess behind or defacing property with graffiti. Street-cleaning currently costs £6 million per year and last year around 7,000 tonnes of waste was collected from street cleansing rounds. Some people have said that this is heavy-handed, but I disagree - I say this is welcome and long overdue! Bristol is a beautiful city but has long had a problem with trash on the streets. It's time people learned that it's simply unacceptable to throw rubbish and leave junk for someone else to pick up (at Council Tax payers' expense). More: http://tinyurl.com/y9drxu3l _________________ 15. Grants for tackling homelessness Quartet, which manages the Mayor's Fund, is encouraging bids for up to £2,000 for grants to develop a long-term strategy, finding and supporting innovative solutions to homelessness in Bristol. There is approximately £16,000 in the Fund. The Mayor's Fund for Bristol Grant is targeted at small organisations with charitable aims where a small amount of money can make a significant difference. Applicants must be based and working in Bristol. Here is a link to the details: http://tinyurl.com/ybv6kcov _________________ 16. Harbour clean-up Sunday 19th Nov This month's Harbourside clean-up is this weekend - Sunday 19th Nov at 2pm. If you want to help, more details here: www.facebook.com/CleanUpBristolHarbour _________________ 17. Brandon Hill nominated for award Brandon Hill is one of the 8 parks in Bristol which have been nominated for the Fields in Trust Award of UK's Best Park 2017. This is great news, and reflects well on the Friends of Brandon Hill, who put in so much volunteer effort to keep the park in great shape. The winner of UK's Best Park 2017 will be announced at the Fields in Trust Awards at Lord's Cricket Ground on Wednesday 29th November. It is unfortunate that Bristol's parks are under such threat at the same time as being up for awards. _________________ 18. Bristol named UNESCO City of Film Bristol's reputation as a world-leading film centre has been recognised with the announcement that it has been named a UNESCO City of Film. The bid included the input of leading lights from across the city's film and TV sector from production, education, screen heritage and exhibition, including Watershed, Knowle West Media Centre, Calling The Shots, Aardman Animations, BBC Bristol, Encounters Festival, Bristol Festivals and many more. It is a designation for the city and not a single year award meaning that Bristol will be known as a city of film for many years to come. _________________ 19. Autumn Cabot News out I am starting to deliver the autumn edition of Cabot News to 3,000 letterboxes across Hotwells & Harbourside ward with the help of my band of local helpers. If we miss your door for some reason, you can download it here: www.markwright.info/201711_Cabot_News.pdf Delivering so many leaflets is tough work and takes up a lot of our time. If you would like to help by delivering to a road near you, please reply and get in touch ASAP - we are always very pleased to have a bit of extra help! _________________ #. Cumberland Rd Closure text Here is the full Council response to my questions regarding the Cumberland Rd Closures: == Dear Councillor Wright, I do appreciate your concerns relating to the late notice provided relating to these works. Due to other on-going jobs on the road which relate to Metro Bus, we have been holding off for some time to gain possession of the road in order to complete the surfacing and are still programming around remaining items. We have a meeting on site this Friday with our surfacing contractor and Officers who are managing the Metro Bus scheme to finalise things. We are under pressure to complete the work ahead of the launch of Metro Bus and hopefully before the weather deteriorates, as that can cause serious issues relating to the laying of hot bituminous material. The work will progress from the Smeaton Road end of Cumberland Road and progress over a period of four weeks toward Wapping Road. The work will take place from Monday 20th November and hopefully be completed on Friday 15th December. The work will be from 7pm each evening, on Mondays through to Friday, so there will be no work starting on Saturday or Sunday evenings. To accommodate the work the road will be closed, but initially this shouldn't present any actual access issues, other than having to follow a diversion route depending on which way people are travelling. As we work past junctions, there will possibly be problems relating to access which we will assess this Friday during our meeting on site. Following that we will ensure that residents are advised if and when access issues may be encountered. With respect to the parking, it is unlikely that permission will be granted for residents to use adjacent zones, as most are already at capacity. I am talking with the RPZ team, who are currently estimating the number of parking places effected, which will determine the effect on residents in that area. I am aware that everything seems last minute, but that has been caused due to delays of other works including that of utility companies which are out of our control. I will endeavour to keep you informed as things develop. _________________