Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Our Green Party freepost leaflet for the European parliamentary elections may be low budget... but at least it's honest, it's about what's really in the tin.

Unlike the other three leaflets that have hit our doormats this last couple of weeks.

UKIP's jingoist message is summed up as 'say NO to European Union' and a few similar lines, while asking us to appoint them to represent us in a Parliament whose validity they don't recognise. They hope to pick up votes from the 'Westminster' parties in the wake of the expenses scandal - although their own sleaze record is, frankly, pretty awful, and they rate bottom of Open Europe's rankings, just published, of British MEPS performance in promoting transparency and reform in the last 5 year term (Greens are top). The UKIP leaflet proudly shows a picture of Winston Churchill, who was in truth a great enthusiast for closer European ties. Not for nothing are this lot called BNP-Lite

The BNP's core fascist agenda isn't of course mentioned in their own message to us voters. But they have contrived to picture an elderly couple of 'this country' putting their own interests ahead of those seeking asylum - although the couple pictured are really Italian, and knew nothing of how their photo would be used!
An emotive list of past British 'triumphs' is linked to earning 'British Jobs for British Workers'. Hmmm.... Trafalgar? There were 18 nations represented in the crew of the 'Victory'. Dunkirk... D-Day? Does the BNP realize that Britain was fighting AGAINST everything their evil little party represents?

Labour. You'd really expect better from Labour, even now. Sitting MEP Glyn Ford is strongly featured. You'd think he'd tell us something about what he's achieved in Brussels, and what he hopes to do if re-elected. But no, there's next to nothing about him or even about Europe. Instead we get negative campaigning against the LibDems and Tories, and populist appeals to lock up even more young offenders, and (a la BNP and UKIP) to get tougher still on immigrants.

So what's missing... not considered even worth a mention? The greatest challenge facing the human race, that's all. Climate Change. And Europe is the key player, representing us in the desperate search for international agreement.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Stockwood Miscellany

......mostly for Stockwood people.

At last there's a chance to recycle a bit more plastic than bottles. There's a trial run of 'bring site' collections of other food containers, and one of the sites is Tescos. Click the picture for more detail of what you can and can't take.

One day, my child, there'll be kerbside collections of plastic waste.

Another innovation outside Tesco is this ever more unnavigable barrier to progress along NCN Route 3. This started as a clear path (and why not, there's a further barrier 100m on)... then the basic barrier was put in.. then they blocked one of the side gaps that provided the route of choice for most cyclists... then they blocked the other side. The lower bar stops anything passing under the barrier. Imagine trying to get a wheelchair, or a pushbike with a trailer full of recyclable plastic , through this.

More positively..

An orchid spotted on the Open Space, during a 'Friends of Stockwood Open Spaces' (FoSOS) guided walk a week ago. I'm told it's a hybrid.

Next, an advance invitation to help contain the spread of Japanese Knotweed on the Open Space. FoSOS have organised a session to restrain the advance of this invasive plant on Sunday June 7 starting at 10.30am at the top of Scotland Lane (junction with Stockwood Lane). Bring secateurs and work gloves.

Finally, a mystery object. Well, the mystery is how and why it got here. This half bag of animal bedding appeared by the brookside path to West Town Lane, just where a FoSOS team had done a clean-up a few weeks previously. It can't have been easy to get it to this off-road site... but then it can't have been easy to dump most of the stuff (like old bikes, and doors) that we'd collected there first time round.

Fortunately, we've found an alternative use for this particular item - as a mulch on garden paths, and a trial slug deterrent on some strawberries.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

FOI Fudge hits buffers at Temple Meads

I still think it's a simple question. Is the suggestion of a transport interchange at Temple Meads, using the 'perfect' Plot 6 development site, being resisted or welcomed by the council that represents us? Is it even being contemplated ?

The Freedom of Information laws may have been enough to bring Westminster to its knees, but here in Bristol they haven't got me any nearer to getting an answer to this simple question.

The public record tells the story. First, the council pretended they didn't understand the question. Now they say the answer's a secret - because nothing's been decided and ,anyway, officers and developers might think twice about putting things in writing if they thought it might be revealed later under the FoI laws!

They're relying on the The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to justify the secrecy. One of the two regulations they're hiding behind is 12(4)(e) - the request involves the disclosure of internal communications. I can't help thinking this is being brought into play to avoid the embarrassment that followed an earlier disclosure - when the dodgy dealing between council officers and developers was revealed over the sale of railway path land. They won't make that mistake again!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Greens launch local election campaign

23 seats up for election.

23 Green candidates.

More here

Is that a knock? Must be the LibDems.....

More unimaginative knocking copy from the LibDems.

Mark Wright, in his Cabot election leaflet, clearly knows the Greens better than they know themselves. The Green Party, he thunders, "joined the the Tories in voting Labour back into power after the last elections. In a choice between LibDem and Labour" he confidently assures his electorate, "they will back Labour".

What grounds he has for making this startling assertion remain a mystery. It's certainly not based on the voting record of Charlie Bolton (and his one seventieth share of the full council vote).

Maybe Mark's worried by the progress made by the Greens in Cabot since he was elected four years ago. He'll certainly be worried by the national opinion polls, due out tomorrow. They show that new Green voters are drawn especially from disillusioned LibDem supporters.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


I thought it was a simple question. Has the council been exploring the idea of siting a public transport interchange on part of Plot 6 at Temple Meads where all the infrastructure for a quality transport hub is already planned for the 'Digby Wyatt' shed? Or does it, or the landowners, want to nip the idea in the bud?

The other day, the LibDem's one-time transport supremo Dennis Brown certainly tried to undermine (here, 28 mins in) any commitment to any interchange anywhere near Temple Meads. Still, what else would you expect ? At the same meeting, he'd already reflected how much better it would have been to get to Regional Assembly meetings in Exeter in a Car Club vehicle instead of his own.

The two 'transport leads' who've followed Dennis seem reluctant to say anything much about Plot 6 - so I put the question in as a Freedom of Information request. It had to be rephrased of course:
"I wish to make an F.O.I request about the potential use of Plot 6 (the development site currently in use as a car park, immediately north of the station buildings) at Temple Meads as a public transport interchange, including buses.

Can I please have copies of communications (hard copy or electronic) and details of meetings (minuted or not) or transcripts of telephone calls, referring to such use of any part of Plot 6 as a public transport interchange, between officers, members or agents of the council, or between them and the Plot 6 landowners, their agents, and lessees (including First Group) since August 2008.

A week after the deadline for reply, I get a non-response. Maybe no-one read the question. They tell me:
"Officers from the City Council have been involved in discussions and in providing guidance to the landowners of the land known as Plot 6, Network Rail and the South West Regional Development Agency. If you are able to clarify your request and confirm exactly what "information" you require, I will be happy to assist. However I can confirm that it is
unlikely that all information can be disclosed at this stage as the process is at such an early phase.

This is nonsense. First, because it ignores the perfectly clear nature of the FoI request for information about the use of the site as a transport interchange. Second, because plans for Plot 6 and the rest of the Temple Meads area have been worked up in enormous detail (and no doubt at enormous public expense, the main players being Network Rail and SWRDA), with a speculative mix of offices, retail, and flats. They're NOT at such an early phase. And the council have been party to it.

So what's the real excuse for dodging the FoI question?

Watch this space. At least till they build a block of unsaleable 'buy to let' on it.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

In case you missed it.....

Here's the Green Party's party political broadcast for the Euro-elections on June 4th :

Endorsed by Norman Tebbitt.


Monday, 11 May 2009

Travellers Trials

5 weeks after Bristol's travel shop closed, its sole 'replacement is a single desk in the corner of National Express's office at the Marlborough Street Bus Station, staffed by a harrassed First employee. A difficult job.

It's awkward to reach for most travellers, and lacks both information and capacity to meet demand. For a city with pretensions to provide integrated transport, or to be 'green', it's an embarrassment.

How any newcomer to the city is expected to find their way round is a mystery. The present system is fragmented, trains at Temple Meads and Parkway, country buses at Marlborough Street, city buses scattered all over the place. Ferries (of course) in the floating harbour. And nowhere where residents and visitors can get an overall picture of the city's transport.

For First, this seems a fairly typical commercial decision. Company policy never reflected any ambition to attract more passengers, just to cut the costs and increase the income from those they have. First were providing staff at the Colston Avenue travel shop - now they're not. Job done.

The complacency of Bristol City Council is something else. They too have saved money, but at the expense of throwing away a key public service. When asked about it by me and by Mark Bradshaw at the March council meeting, the responsible Exec member, Jon Rogers, could only say he hoped to provide some leaflets for a stand at the Marlborough Street desk. And yes, there are some leaflets about some buses - but nothing about trains, bikes, or ferries. No maps either.

It's not working, Jon. It was never going to. You want to improve public transport? Information is the key.


Two people who had sussed out how to get to Tyntesfield boarded an X7 Clevedon bus in the Centre today. They showed the driver their travelcards and asked if they were valid for free travel. He said he thought not, and asked what cards they were. They replied that they give them free travel back home in New Zealand.

The driver explained that they'd have to pay, about £13 plus return for the pair of them. Or, for a very little more, they could have day passes. The couple were horrified and decided not to go to Tyntesfield after all!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Lightening our Darkness

I've blogged before about the South Bristol Sports Centre, which somehow won an award from the Civic Society for environmental excellence.

Here it is at 5.15 this morning (honest!). The gates, of course, are secured to prevent any would-be nocturnal footballers (or those with other uses for cars) getting in. But - just in case - the lights have been considerately left on for anyone who's broken through the barriers

Friday, 1 May 2009

Fare's fair

Now there's a coincidence! On Tuesday I mentioned here how the ABus no 57 service from Stockwood has a ticketless £1 flat fare system, and how that cuts boarding times, and journey times.

Tonight the Evening Post carries a story reporting that the council's transport lead, Jon Rogers, is suggesting an off-peak £1 flat fare on the buses to cut waiting times and to help fill up the buses. Jon is an avid reader of the local blogs.

Should I be flattered? Or should I be sending in for my five-figure consultancy fee ?