Mar 2019 - Cabot eNews
March's edition of Cabot eNews.
In this edition: _________________ 1. Bristol West dominates anti-Brexit mega-petition 2. Councillors force Chief Exec £100k pay-off scandal into public 3. Mayor passes 2019 budget 4. Clean Air Zone: What's happening? 5. Labour Mayor attacks nurses campaigning for clean air 6. Criticism of secrecy surrounding Cumberland Basin plans 7. Lib Dem 2020 Mayor candidate, Mary Page, will abolish own role 8. Take Control of Bristol's Buses 9. New Jacobs Wells Zebra Crossing delayed, again... 10. Labour could join support "Drug consumption rooms" to cut deaths 11. Road Closures on Anchor Road for Re-surfacing works 12. Join the Great Bristol Spring Clean 13. Developer appeals refusal 14. Council considering Thames-style tidal barrier 15. Historic Albion Dry Dock reopens 16. Broken lift at Brunel Quay 17. Bristol's central library will open seven days a week 18. Pride festival moves to Downs 19. Local exhibitions _________________ 1. Bristol West dominates anti-Brexit mega-petition Bristol West constituency has the highest proportion and highest number of signatures on the country's biggest ever internet petition. At the time of writing the astonishing petition has nearly 6 million signatures, just 35,000 residents of west Bristol area had signed, which is over a quarter of all living in the area! The petition calls for the revocation of Article 50 and and end to Brexit. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584 _________________ 2. Councillors force Chief Exec £100k pay-off scandal into public The Council's independent auditors have finally released their investigation into why and how the previous Chief Exec was paid £100k by the Council after she broke her own contract and quit after only 7 months. (To say the report was "released" is a bit strong, because most of the report is still secret!) After a fierce debate on the report, in which all opposition parties attacked the secrecy, delaying tactics, bullying and intimidation that have characterised the Labour administration's response to the pay-off scandal, and in which several leading Labour councillors finally admitted failings and committed to improve processes...the Mayor himself however utterly denied any failing or error at all in what was revealed to be his own personal decision to make the huge payment. A former Conservative Party leader in the city called the payment "Hush money", while the Green Party said there was a "truth vacuum" from the administration on the pay-off. The Lib Dem leader said that any non-Mayor leader would have been forced to resign by the council chamber because of the scandal, and only the fact that he cannot be removed or recalled has saved the Mayor. http://tinyurl.com/y4rm9lcz and: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-47622996 _________________ 3. Mayor passes 2019 budget The Mayor has passed his proposed budget with relatively few changes. All the big cuts were already announced last year, so there were few surprises. The Mayor rejected the proposed Lib Dem amendment, which would use capital reserves that are no longer required now that Metrobus is done and the Mayor has cancelled the Bristol Arena. The freed up money would have created a city fund to support initiatives encouraging bus use, cycling and sustainable transport use. This investment could have been a means to accelerate progress on several projects including park and rides, dedicated cycleways, rail, and a major Metro Bus expansion; it would not have been available for road expansion or road building projects. More: http://tinyurl.com/y643rsrz Because of the Mayor's rejection of our amendment we voted against the budget. Our suspicion is that the Mayor is keeping the capital reserves pot of cash for election year. The Green Party attempted to amend the budget to include a congestion charging zone in the city. Although we have no objection to the principle of congestion charges, the Lib Dem group joined all the other parties in voting against this because dropping a congestion zone on the road system now when the city is right in the middle of designing the much more urgent Clear Air Zone would be a huge distraction, and would cause chaos in all the traffic modelling already done to work out where and how to put the Clean Air Zone. When the already very delayed Clean Air Zone is done and in operation we can think about any congestion zone additions to it. More: http://tinyurl.com/y4xbdu2l _________________ 4. Clean Air Zone: What's happening? The Mayor has come under criticism from the Government and many other angles for failing to get Bristol's Clean Air strategy ready by the deadline. The Government has threatened legal action of the failure: http://tinyurl.com/y4h2qw5r It appears that he has U-turned over about a year of work on the zone, which has caused a huge delay that the Government is very unhappy about. The Mayor is concerned at the potential impact of his own original plan on the poor housing estates on the edge of the city - a concern that I share and appreciate. However, these issues would have been obvious from the very start, so why the Mayor let the process get almost to the end before deciding it's actually unacceptable, is a mystery. It now appears that any Clean Air Zone might not apply to cars and vans, but instead some vehicles might be banned from some parts of the city. But as usual, there is lots of secrecy so we don't really know: http://tinyurl.com/yxad8oqw _________________ 5. Labour Mayor attacks nurses campaigning for clean air Last week, 70 NHS nurses and doctors signed a petition calling for action from the mayor to tackle the "devastating impact of air pollution" in Bristol. But when a nurse stood up in public in the Council chamber to deliver the petition, the Mayor launched a bizarre attack on the NHS and its staff for being a "part of the problem". The attack left the Council chamber in stunned silence. I've got to say that in my 14 years on the Council I've never seen the leader - of any political colour - attack a professional for submitting a petition on something that everyone acknowledges is a serious problem. More: http://tinyurl.com/y4b4hdt3 _________________ 6. Criticism of secrecy surrounding Cumberland Basin plans At a recent meeting of the Council's urban development scrutiny committee, I raised the issue of the ongoing problem of trying to get any official information about the Mayor's plans for the Cumberland Basin. Other members of the committee agreed with me, and this was picked up by the local media. http://tinyurl.com/y39kmur2 and: http://tinyurl.com/y6o43m8e The consultant's report on future road/bridge options for the area should be released imminently. When it is, the Cumberland Basin Stakeholders Group intends to call a public meeting and invite the Council to answer public questions on it. _________________ 7. Lib Dem 2020 Mayor candidate, Mary Page, will abolish own role The Liberal Democrats have selected Mary Page as their candidate for the Bristol Mayoral elections in 2020. Mary works in communications and prior to that worked for many years in local government. Mary has been a strong critic of the Mayor and the Mayoral system and has committed to try to abolish the role if she wins it. Her key policies are tackling air pollution in Bristol, addressing the rising numbers of homeless people in our city, and introducing London-style bus franchising to Bristol. The government promised the Mayoral system would cost no extra and would result in new powers being given to us. Now the Mayor's office and staff cost several hundred thousand pounds per year, the new powers never turned up, and the mayor himself cancelled the Bristol Arena - the show-piece project that the Mayor was meant to be able to complete. Therefore Lib Dems will campaign to abolish the role, including Mary our mayoral candidate. www.bristollibdems.org/mary_page_mayor_candidate _________________ 8. Take Control of Bristol's Buses New powers are available to local councils to take control of local bus services. For some reason, all the Councils in the Bristol area have been reluctant to use these powers, despite calling for them for decades. A transport campaigner in Clifton, Max Langer, has started a petition that already has well over 3,000 signatures, which calls on the Mayors to use the new power quickly. It needs just a few hundred more sigs to force a debate in the Council, so please do sign it here: https://tinyurl.com/y6vlpod3 _________________ 9. New Jacobs Wells Zebra Crossing delayed, again... Annoyingly, the Council now anticipates this scheme is likely to commence on site in late April / May, and the works will take about 6 weeks to complete, as the contractors will not be able to work during the peak travel times of the day. _________________ 10. Labour could join support "Drug consumption rooms" to cut deaths The Labour Party has said "Drug consumption rooms" (formerly called "safe injection rooms") should be piloted in an effort to reduce the record number of drug-related deaths in the UK. This is good news, and the idea has been backed by the Lib Dems for a long time. Way back in 2006, I and the then Labour councillor for Lawrence Hill, Brenda Hugill, called a joint meeting of the local police and drugs charities to propose exactly this in Bristol. Unfortunately the police said categorically that they wouldn't cooperate with the idea, and it was blocked right there. So I'm very pleased to hear that the idea is now being revived and could be tested in Bristol, as these facilities work very well in other countries. http://tinyurl.com/y5fxyhay _________________ 11. Road Closures on Anchor Road for Re-surfacing works There will be road closures on Anchor Road (from Jacobs Wells Roundabout to the junction of Explore Lane) in order for re-surfacing. Closure 1 will involve the eastbound closure to traffic on Anchor Road, Closure 2 will involve the westbound closure to traffic. Closure 1: Sat/Sun 6/7th April Closure 2: Sat/Sun 13/14th April _________________ 12. Join the Great Bristol Spring Clean This year's "Spring Clean" runs from 22 March till 23 April. Bristol Waste Company and Bristol City Council will be supporting groups to take part in it. Find out how to get involved and reserve a kit: www.bristolwastecompany.co.uk/springclean In addition, the Bristol "Waste Nothing Challenge" is one year starting from 1st April 2019 where 50 households from across Bristol will challenge themselves to reduce the amount of waste they generate, working towards the ultimate goal of producing zero waste. Bristol Waste will support participants every step of the way with information, training and practical help. Find out more: www.bristolwastecompany.co.uk/wastenothing _________________ 13. Developer appeals refusal The developer of the site between Wapping Wharf and The Quays has appealed the planning refusal for a number of "Airbnb" flats. I helped vote this proposal down on the planning committee, for the reason that these short-term rentals are very disruptive to neighbours and this site is designated for residential. The case will now go to a planning inspector. You can submit your views on-line using the Planning Casework Service at: https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/CaseSearch.aspx and plug in the reference number APP/Z0116/W/19/3219735. Any comments must be submitted by 1 April. I hope the Inspector backs the Council's refusal. _________________ 14. Council considering Thames-style tidal barrier The Council has been working on a long-term flood prevention strategy for some time now, and one option that has emerged as a realistic possibility is a barrier (not a barrage) like the one that protects the Thames from flood surges. More details: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-47399897 _________________ 15. Historic Albion Dry Dock reopens The old dry dock next to the SS Great Britain site has re-opened after three years out of action. The Grade II Listed dock was started in 1820, and was in danger of structural damage if not brought back into use and repaired. It is now the biggest working dock in the city again. It's been taken over by the SS Great Britain Trust who have great plans for it in addition to building and repairing big boats. http://tinyurl.com/y32mmpw7 _________________ 16. Broken lift at Brunel Quay The public wheelchair/pram lift at Brunel Quay (opposite SSGB) has been broken for most of the time since the area was finished a couple of years ago. Mechanical failure combined with constant vandalism has crippled it, but I have been pressing the Council to get it up and working again now that the area is becoming popular as the last buildings nearby are finished. It is hoped that it will be ready for the summer season. In addition, the walkway from this spot to Capricorn Quay will be shut from 4th March and 16th April for resurfacing associated with the development adjacent. _________________ 17. Bristol's central library will open seven days a week Some good news: as a result of the overwhelming response to the recent consultation on libraries in the city, the Central Library will go back to being open every day. Credit to all the libraries campaigners who have fought for this, and to the administration for finally listening: http://tinyurl.com/y23oodc3 _________________ 18. Pride festival moves to Downs Good news here: Bristol Pride festival is moving to the Downs. The festival is a victim of its own success, and I have been saying for several years it is far too big for the city centre and needed to go to the downs. Well now it has, which is good news for Pride and for the Harbourside area. Also, in awesome news, Boney M will be performing at this year's festival, so I have already bought a ticket :-) http://tinyurl.com/yxbyukc7 _________________ 19. Local exhibitions Spike Island: * Paul Simon Richards: Quasi-Monte Carlo. 6 April to 16 June. London-based artist Paul Simon Richards presents an ambitious new video work exploring patterns of randomisation and their role in the production of an image. * Sriwhana Spong: Ida-Ida. 6 April to 16 June. Sriwhana Spong's largest exhibition to date outside of her native New Zealand includes a new film, shot in and around her ancestral home in Bali, Indonesia. * Nicholas Wright: A chance to look at chicken. 6 April to 16 June. Spike Island studio artist Nicholas Wright presents a selection of work produced over the last 30 years, including ceramic wall pieces inspired by 12th century French sculpture. RWA: * Gaudier-Brzeska: Disputing the Earth. 16 March - 2 June. This exhibition offers some historical insight about the region as well as a chance to see his works from sketches to sculpture. _________________