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.

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.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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

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:

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.

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:

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:

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: 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:

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.

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:

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 :-)

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.


* 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.