Sep 2018 - Cabot eNews
September's edition of Cabot eNews.
In this edition: _________________ 1. Mayor cancels city centre arena! 2. Council admits it failed the city's most vulnerable children 3. Bristol Council votes against second Brexit referendum 4. Tower Blocks or No Tower Blocks? 5. Baltic Wharf Caravan Site update 6. Albion Dockyard back in action 7. Bristol "Underground" timescale doubles to 20 years 8. Ashton Metrobus route running! 9. New city centre parking rules in force 10. Chocolate Path update 11. McArthur's Yard demolition: foot-way and access 12. Some Spike Island RPZ signs are wrong! 13. Council drops St George's Road pedestrian crossing 14. Council's auditors query payment to ex Chief Exec 15. Pressure for Air BnB "exclusion zones" 16. Bristol Half Marathon - Sunday 23rd September 17. Doors Open Day 14-16th September 18. Radical Absolutism: Linking Meat, Abortion and Murder 19. Local exhibitions _________________ 1. Mayor cancels city centre arena! The Mayor, Labour's Marvin Rees, has cancelled the planned Bristol city centre arena. This was after months of speculation, and it was also the day after the Council - including Mayor Rees and his Labour colleagues - in a rare emergency Council meeting voted unanimously that the best place for an arena in Bristol was the proposed site in the city centre, next to Temple Meads. https://tinyurl.com/ycs6en3l The Mayor says he will consider other locations for an arena in Bristol, but given that the current arena plans had been over a decade in the making, the future looks bleak for any arena now. Mayor Rees was elected on a manifesto that included delivering the Temple Meads arena as a key promise. Not only that, but the campaign to get a Mayor for Bristol in the first place heavily pushed the idea that a Mayor was necessary to provide the leadership that would finally get the arena built. In the end it was a Mayor who killed it. The previous Mayor, George Ferguson, described the cancellation as "lunatic". https://tinyurl.com/yd6me73a A leaked Council report says that the compensation bill to the jilted arena builder, whose contract is now breached, could run into millions of pounds: https://tinyurl.com/y86zzym2 Analysis done by the Lib Dem group suggests the Mayor may have acted illegally in scrapping the arena without getting it passed by the Council first, because it was written into the Council's planning policy and planning policy cannot be changed unilaterally by the Mayor - it can only be changed by a majority vote in the Council chamber: https://tinyurl.com/y9onf6xu The Mayor's decision had been "called in" by the Lib Dem and Conservative parties. Will go through another round of scrutiny and debate, which ultimately the Mayor can ignore again if he wants to. _________________ 2. Council admits it failed the city's most vulnerable children Bristol Council has been defeated in the High Court in a remarkable case brought by parents of children with "Special educational needs" (SEND). This was relating to a £5m budget cut that was sneaked into the Council's 2018 budget by the Labour administration, hidden from councillors scrutinising the budget, and not consulted on as legally required. In a scathing judgement, Judge Cotter said the Council had "no regard" for children's welfare and was only interested in balancing the books. https://tinyurl.com/yc6kn8oe Following this catastrophic judgement, the Lib Dem group brought a motion to Council calling on the Mayor not to appeal against the decision, to come back with a revised budget plan that restores the funding, and to develop an action plan to improve the outcomes for children with SEND throughout Bristol. I'm pleased to say the administration admitted it made a serious mistake, and the motion won all-party backing, including from the Mayor: https://tinyurl.com/yc3mx2hj _________________ 3. Bristol Council votes against second Brexit referendum The Lib Dem group brought a motion to Council in July calling for the Mayor to lobby government for a referendum on the final Brexit deal that the Prime Minister secures with the EU. However, the majority Labour group deleted the key request for the referendum, and instead called for a meeting with the region's politicians to discuss Brexit concerns. The amendment was met with frustration and described as "epically meaningless" and an "emasculation". A few weeks after the vote, over 1,000 people attended a rally in the city at the Colston Hall, organised by the campaign group People's Vote. Speakers included Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, Labour's Stephen Doughty and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato. https://tinyurl.com/yapz2pyq _________________ 4. Tower Blocks or No Tower Blocks? Having consulted on the Mayor's plans for lots more tall buildings across the city, the Council has produced the final "SPD" draft. To everyone's amazement, the draft SPD greatly strengthens the encouragement of tall buildings by the city. This is despite firm rejection of the new policy on tall buildings by 85% of respondents during the first consultation ( https://tinyurl.com/y9eo3ab4 ) and despite a clear statement by the planning officers at a June presentation that the emphasis on tall buildings would be taken out of the SPD and deferred until the later City Plan. You can see the new draft here: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/urbanliving More: https://tinyurl.com/ybyhrg7s _________________ 5. Baltic Wharf Caravan Site update The Council has let out some details of its plans for the Baltic Wharf Caravan Site. This site was originally allocated for a new school under Mayor Ferguson, but the Labour administration has decided it should be used for housing instead. The draft plan is now for about 120 flats, with 40% of those set to be "affordable" homes. There will also be some commercial/leisure use. The commercial/leisure uses would be along the waterfront, with flats behind and above. The estimated build time is from spring/summer 2020 to spring/summer 2022. _________________ 6. Albion Dockyard back in action After years of neglect, the historic Albion Dockyard - between the SS Great Britain site and Bristol Marina - is now back in use for repairing ships. The dockyard dates from 1820, and while it was derelict there was real concern that it could decay and become unusable. In future it is planned that the SSGB operation in partnership with Bristol City Council will be able to enable public access to the dockyard so that people can see and learn about maritime engineering skills. https://tinyurl.com/y85fobyb _________________ 7. Bristol "Underground" timescale doubles to 20 years Bristol's proposed future underground metro system is now 20 years away, according to a new Council report. In a frankly ridiculous speech last year, Mayor Rees said he intended to deliver a three-line underground tube system for Bristol "within 10 years" (i.e. much quicker than the vastly simpler Metrobus system) for just £3-4 billion (i.e. 20x more than Metrobus), although he doesn't have any money to do it. However, during a recent Council scrutiny meeting the new plans were ridiculed, and a more reasonable projection is that of the similar London project, Crossrail - which took 20 years to plan, another 10 years to build, and cost £15 billion. _________________ 8. Ashton Metrobus route running! The M2 route started running on 3rd September. The service goes from Long Ashton Park and Ride to Temple Meads, along Cumberland Road, every 10 to 12 minutes. Timetable and map here: https://tinyurl.com/yac2t6yf _________________ 9. New city centre parking rules in force Sunday and evening parking charges came into effect in Bristol city centre from 3 September. The new charges apply across all pay and display machines in the Controlled Parking Zone area, which mostly covers the city centre. I opposed these changes, as they will harm small business and make life more difficult for central residents and their guests, but they were imposed anyway by the Mayor. _________________ 10. Chocolate Path update The Council has set aside £4m for analysis and fixing the Chocolate Path. There is comprehensive information in the Cabinet decision that allocated the money, at item #13 on this page: https://tinyurl.com/y7mzhggb _________________ 11. McArthur's Yard demolition: foot-way and access The McArthur's Yard site next to SS Great Britain is being redeveloped. This has implications for the path around the site to Hanover Place. Due to the hazardous nature of the site and the existing buildings, the path will be shut at times for safety reasons. The contractor has been urged to keep closures to a minimum. The Pedestrian footpath route will be remain open during initial works, however the footpath will need to be closed during subsequent works during working hours for about 5-6 weeks, which will occur between October and November. Finally, I have lodged a complaint about the proposed early start times for construction (which was 7.30am). _________________ 12. Some Spike Island RPZ signs are wrong! The new RPZ times are now in force on Spike Island. I have notified the Council that a couple of signs did not get changed (Sydney Row and Hanover Place) and there is an incorrect one on Cumberland Road. They are on the snagging list for all the RPZ areas, and expect these to be corrected by October. _________________ 13. Council drops St George's Road pedestrian crossing I was very annoyed to find out that the Transport Department has dropped the planned St George's Road pedestrian crossing. This scheme was being progressed as part of the new neighbourhood funding mechanism, and was due to be voted on by the 13 councillors covering the new enlarged neighbourhood area when we set transport priorities. However, the Transport Department have cut it even before it got to the voting stage, apparently because it isn't one of their own priorities. We are trying to understand how this was possible. _________________ 14. Council's auditors query payment to ex Chief Exec The Council has been criticised after it missed its legally-set final accounts deadline. The external auditors, BDO, had not filed the relevant reports, but they said they were waiting for clarification from the Council relating to a controversial £70,000 payout to a chief executive who resigned last year after seven months in post. BDO said there was a "legal interpretation matter" over the nature of the contract and payment, which was roundly criticised by the Lib Dems and others on the Council when it was discovered, but defended by the Mayor. https://tinyurl.com/y94mhgep _________________ 15. Pressure for Air BnB "exclusion zones" The head of Bristol Hoteliers Association has called for Air BnB "exclusion zones" in the city centre. Air BnB has in recent years started causing considerable problems in some central blocks of flats, and I agree that exclusions zones might be necessary. https://tinyurl.com/y9c6p8uh _________________ 16. Bristol Half Marathon - Sunday 23rd September Because of the event there will be a number of road closures, shown in the guide here: https://tinyurl.com/ybh8kptt . Should you have any questions or require access pre event start please email the organisers and they will assist where possible: email@example.com _________________ 17. Doors Open Day 14-16th September A chance to visit venues usually closed to the public, and discover hidden things of interest. More information and map at https://bristolopendoors.org.uk _________________ 18. Radical Absolutism: Linking Meat, Abortion and Murder This is nothing to do with Harbourside, but I recently got an article published in the excellent online culture magazine 'Areo'. The article is an examination of the troubling connections - in terms of both philosophy and tactics - of the "Meat is Murder" and "Abortion is Murder" movements, and the implications of this for the future of both. Please do have a read: https://tinyurl.com/y8w6ymcq _________________ 19. Local exhibitions Bristol Museum & Art Gallery * Clowns: The Eggs-hibition - 29 Sep to 6 Jan 2019. Tumble into the wonderful world of clowning, explore what makes a great clown and step into their gigantic shoes. * Masters of Japanese prints: Hokusai and Hiroshige landscapes, 22 Sep to 6 Jan 2019. This will explore the radical developments in landscape prints made by two of Japan's best-loved artists. Spike Island * Benoit Maire: Thebes, 6 Oct to 9 Dec. Benoit Maire can be described as a visual philosopher, taking inspiration from a range of disciplines including geometry, sociology and mythology. _________________