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:

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:

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.