Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Good and the Bad in the Counts Louse

Among all the usual knockabout namecalling and the routine failure to answer public questions intelligibly at this week's full council meeting, there were one or two items to raise the spirits.

One was the universal welcome given to the recommendations of the Sustainable Travel Select Committee, with its analysis of what's needed to turn Bristol's chronic transport problems around. More here.

There was the standing ovation that greeted a statement calling for Cllr Richard Eddy's resignation as Tory leader after his homophobic remarks in the Evening Post.

But counterbalancing those high spots was the party gamesmanship around a Tory motion about the Green Belt.

On the face of it, it was the kind of motion you couldn't really argue with, although you might wonder at the Tories wish to protect the regulatory protection of open spaces against the rapacious free market development set out in the government's Regional Spatial Strategy.

But there it was, calling for a legal challenge if the government sticks to its expansionist greenbelt-grabbing plans.

The LibDems seemed to lose sight of the detail, assuming that the Tories didn't want any building anywhere, and put in their own amendment. It concentrated on slagging off Tory shadow Minister Caroline Spellman's ill-advised letter about housing to Tory controlled councils. Didn't make much sense here in Bristol, where a Tory council seems rather less likely than a Green one - but the LibDems wanted to make their mark, so they used their majority to force the amendment through.

For some reason which remains a mystery to me, Bristol's politicians don't publish amendments in advance. This means that no-one has a chance to read them, evaluate them, research them, develop arguments for or against. No-one watching the webcast can make head or tail of what's happening. It's all reduced to a mere surprise tactic in the never-ending tribal warfare in the council chamber.

New Labour - in the shape of Mark Bradshaw - then introduced its own surprise amendment to the already-amended motion. This one concentrated on the need for affordable homes, and was strongly linked to encouraging the physical growth of the city - which, for Mark, is a prerequisite for funding infrastructure and for future prosperity.

By then, there was no time left to debate this weird article of the Labour economic faith. To tidy things up a quick vote was taken and lost, then the council nodded through what was left of this motion. (We were all nodding by that time). The whole debate had taken the full 45 minutes, but hadn't made any difference because they all voted on predetermined party lines.

No time remained for the three further motions, arguably of much greater importance, about four-yearly council elections, a climate change action programme, and the city bus services. They - and we - will have to wait.


Anonymous said...

The Information Commissioner has given us a peek into his “Enforcement Action Log” which details those authorities that are being actively monitored by the ICO for not complying with the Act.

Those public authorities that have been probed by the Commissioner include:

Avon and Somerset Police: Issues relating to the way it was destroying information.

Pete Goodwin said...

Any particular local case in mind, Anonymous?

I'd heard a while back of allegations about dodgy dealing within the police force - iirc it was about computer systems, and that eccentric Tory MP (Liddell Granger?) was getting very angry about it. I don't remember anything about destroying information, though.

Meanwhile, back at the Counts Louse, lets take the reassurance as genuine that no value has been put on the land that the council owns at Ashton gate, (which the club wants to sell on to Tesco at an enormous cost which they'll recoup through the tills.) The football club is claiming that it can only build its new stadium by selling the old site to Tesco. What credibility can anyone give them, if they don't know the price of that vital part of the site?