Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Ashton Gate - the Ormondroyd view

Last month the Bristol South Greens complained to council CEO Jan Ormondroyd that by being part of the 2018 World Cup bid team, the council is compromising its neutrality on the linked planning applications to deliver a new stadium.

It will come to a head in November, when it's to rule on the planning application to put an unwanted, unneeded, 24/7 Tesco retail shed - much like the one here at Brislington - on the current Ashton Gate site, instead of something that's actually needed. Like places for people to live.

To avoid any suggestion of prejudicial interest, we suggested that the council stand down from the bid team, and let a real football fan take their place.

After all, we all know that no Tesco equals no new stadium. And that no new stadium equals no World Cup. We know, because they've said so. So doesn't council support for the World Cup Bid constitute council support for Tesco?

Absolutely not, says Jan. She'd 'like to differentiate between the Council's support for the principle of Bristol becoming a World Cup host city and the planning process the football club is pursuing to deliver a new stadium'. She doesn't say quite how they'll keep the two issues apart, nor does she think to mention that the council also has a pivotal role in deciding whether to hand over its own land to make it all happen. But she does freely admit that planning permission can be awarded on the grounds that Tesco's financial influence will 'enable' the new stadium. Even though we already have a stadium.

Arguably, of course, the new stadium is 'enabling' not only Tesco, but a green belt seizure; but I don't suppose they'll be pushing that line.

Jan goes on to assert her confidence 'that the Council, its officers and members are fully able to distinguish between the aspirational nature of the bid process and the need for the Local Planning Authority to determine the applications for the new Stadium and the former Ashton Gate site upon material planning considerations alone'.

My 'Simple OCR' software had its own ideas about the truth. It managed to reject 'aspirational' in favour of 'antirational'. Maybe it's a bit more perceptive than its name suggests?

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