Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Divide and Sell

Vowles the Green has raised an e-petition to save green space around the Pigeonhouse Stream in Hartcliffe from threatened development.

It's part of the green path stretching from Dundry slopes down the Malago into the heart of the city, so it's significant well beyond Hartcliffe.

Even so, I hesitate to sign. The Area Green Space sell-off makes NIMBYs of us all, and sets communities against each other.

The Parks Strategy relies for its funding on selling off the city silver in the shape of chunks of its land holdings. So if one site doesn't get sold, they'll have to find another one to replace it. That one might just be the open space that means so much to you.

Gary Hopkins was quite explicit about it when he turned up in his usual combative mood at our Stockwood public meeting. He encouraged those of us objecting to particular land sale proposals to make it easier for ourselves by nominating some other plot, someone else's backyard.

Yesterday, showing Kerry McCarthy MP some of the threatened sites in Stockwood, we found ourselves pointing out others that might just be more appropriate for the big development sale. Kerry, of course, still goes along with Labour, LibDem, and Tory policy that backs the unsustainable strategy of selling land to raise cash for parks, especially to benefit those parts of the city where other amenities than parks are the major assets.

Whatever the outcome of the current consultation, someone will have to select from named sites just which ones are to go. It probably won't be Gary (or his successor) who takes that painful decision. The duty of executioner will be delegated, in the true spirit of democracy, to local level in the Neighbourhood Partnerships (or, in this case, those for the outer wards that contain the target sites).

How will that work? If the total land sales are to provide a fixed capital sum (in this case, the cash needed for the parks plus 50% for the pot), it must mean each partnership providing a prescribed share. Those neighbourhoods with bigger land banks will, presumably, be expected to volunteer a bigger proportion.

In this Neighbourhood Partnership, will the gloves come off? Stockwood v Hengrove? Upper Stockwood v. Lower Stockwood? Burnbush v. Gillebank?

Nice bit of community building, eh?


Paul/Bemmy Down said...

Hi Pete. Unless I misunderstood, it was stated at the Dundry View NP meeting this week that the results of the consultation would be passed on to the NP but it was for the Partnership to decide, sounding as if they could, if they so wish, disregard its findings. Now I know there is nothing binding about a consultation, but they are far more democratic than any NP and we should not be happy if they are ignored. Also, surely the Council has made a mistake in lumping all these sites together as if they are all the same. In this area we have Kings Head Lane park, a very contentious site, on the one hand, but also a piece of land next to Imperial Park, designated for development on the other. These two were both part of the same consultation and there is a danger that those opposing the Park will end up opposing the whole process. Are these fair comments?

Anonymous said...

I don 't accept the starting premise that some green land has to be sold to fund a parks strategy.

We don't need grand parks. Just green spaces. All the council has to do is cut the grass.

We should resist all of these land disposals of green land.


Stockwood Pete said...

Hi Paul

I don't quite see that... aren't those defending Kings Head Lane park likely to prioritise the Imperial Park site for sale - and vice versa?

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

Stockwood Pete said...

Hi BobS

You may not accept the starting premise, and neither do I... it's crazy.

Trouble is, Tories, LibDems, and Labour all back it (however they might weep crocodile tears about specific sites), as do the independent Parks Forum. Looks like we're stuck with it.

GE said...

How independent IS the independent parks forum?

Anonymous said...

The Parks Forum are an independent body and they do alot of good work. However, their membership is made up of people on parks committees who want to spend money on their parks. BCC has told them that they will only get their money from the proceeds of selling off other green space. That is why they supprot the sell off.


Paul/Bemmy Down said...

Hi Pete. The group set up to defend KHL Park are just that, defending the park. Although I support their aims, I am not a member and cannot comment about whether they have any wider views. Speaking generally, most people (not including the usual campaigning types, myself included) stick to what affects them personally don't you think?

GE said...

BobS and Paul, you've not only summed up the root of Pete's headline problem here, but most other problems in our society, no?

Anonymous said...

No GE. The main problem in our society is the illegality of cannabis.


GE said...

Well making a naturally growing plant "illegal" is clearly deluded, cloud-pie.

However ... I did say root of the problems. The root of most of our problems being, as you each pointed out, that too many people cannot see beyond their own immediate self interest and so are easily manipulated.