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.

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".

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:

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:

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.

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:

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.

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 ( ) 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:


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

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:

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:

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

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.

16. Bristol Half Marathon - Sunday 23rd September

Because of the event there will be a number of road closures, shown
in the guide here: . Should you have any
questions or require access pre event start please email the organisers
and they will assist where possible:

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

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

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.