Sunday, 14 December 2008
Temple Meads meets Parish Pump Politics
A couple of days ago (and not for the first time) I heard the West of England's unitary councils described as the 'biggest parish councils in the country'.
That's probably an insult to parish councils, most of which get by very well without the worst of the party politics that seem to dominate our local council chambers - as anyone who's watched the petty point scoring and the party grandstanding at a full council meeting will know.
This has been all the more striking while I've been promoting the idea that Plot 6 at Temple Meads would be perfect for the transport interchange that Bristol clearly needs.
The suggestion's been very well received all round. Except that there's a deafening silence from the people who hold the key to making it happen - the big party groups on Bristol City council.
Faced with questions about it, Mark Bradshaw gave a seriously non-committal reply. The (non-executive) Sustainable Travel Select Committee has done a little better, agreeing to put it down for discussion later. Otherwise, no councillors' names on the petition, no comments on the blogs, no statements or questions in the council chamber.
No response either, after three weeks, from my MP, Kerry McCarthy, most of whose constituents can't get a bus to Bristol's main rail station.
Charlie Bolton (who, according to the other Members, doesn't count as a party) supports it, as does the rest of the Green Party.
Could it be that Green Party support makes the other parties' politicians deeply reluctant to come out in favour ? Is there a knee-jerk fear that it's not about Temple Meads, it's not about improving Bristol's dreadful public transport, it might really be all about party advantage?
I sincerely hope that I'm wrong.