Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Dear Kerry..... About that stadium statement.

Dear Kerry,

I've just read the extraordinary statement issued by the Bristol MPs, yourself included, about the proposed stadium site in Ashton Vale.

I don't know who wrote it (though it has the hallmarks of BCFC authorship), but I'm surprised that you and your colleagues have signed up so readily to such selective and sweeping unproven claims. Have you seen the piece by Marina Hyde  in today's Guardian nailing the myth that sports stadia bring urban regeneration, prosperity and jobs?

Equally important, your unqualified call on councillors to 'stand up for the views of the majority of residents and bring the stadium to Bristol' could amount to an invitation to break the law.

As things stand at present, councillors have ONLY the evidence that the land qualifies in law as a Town Green. There is nothing in the public domain to suggest that the independent inspector got it wrong.

As you must know, councillors must now make their judgement on the same issues as were dealt with by the Inspector - the use of the land by the public in the last twenty years.

The development potential of the land, for whatever purpose, is not a legal consideration. (I don't think the Evening Post has ever mentioned that inconvenient truth!).

If councillors allow the stadium issue to influence their decision, they are operating outside the law, and you are encouraging them in that.

If you really want the councillors to bring the stadium to Bristol, can I suggest an approach that would protect green belt, minority groups such as the Town Green applicants, and council assets - while allowing you to promote a stadium without having to publicly encourage councillors to break the law!

It isn't impossible for Bristol's two clubs to ground share, so both sets of fans would get the benefits of a new stadium. There's a choice of potential brownfield sites on post-industrial land to the north of Avonmouth. There's good access by road, and by public transport (especially given the potential of the existing rail infrastructure, including the Henbury loop.   By comparison, access to Ashton Vale is difficult and likely to be a victim of cuts). Arguably, at Avonmouth there are industrial hazards to contend with, but I feel sure they can be overcome - they certainly were at Middlesbrough, with a similar site close by COMAH-regulated chemical plant. 

The big obstacle seems to be the clubs themselves; a proposal a few years back was stymied by a refusal of Bristol City to entertain the idea of sharing. I'm sure your guess as to why they did that is a good as mine - and probably the same!

Clubs that cannot co-operate for the good of the city and for their own businesses frankly have no right to hold the council, the fans, the residents, and local MPs to ransom.


Pete Goodwin

25th Oct: Kerry's response added in the comments below


The Bristol Blogger said...

All of our MPs are a disgrace. Happily being photographed alongside a tax avoider calling on people to break the law for him.

They have no respect for us, our democracy or our constitution.

What a shower of thick, self-serving idiots.

Stockwood Pete said...

Here's Kerry's reply, received today (the missing bits were about other subjects entirely):

Dear Pete,
.....I was very interested to read your comments and the article, although it is worth noting that the study she refers to is American and as far as I am aware there is no evidence to suggest that the predicted boost to the economy that a new stadium could bring to Bristol is false.  It is also important to note that I am not in favour of this stadium for the benefits that it will bring to Bristol City Football Club, but for the benefits that it will bring to the city and the region as a whole.

I agree that we must make use of brownfield sites where possible and I’m sure other options were taken into consideration before deciding upon the Ashton Vale site.  However, with the current tide of Government cuts, it is imperative that we seek to soften their blows by encouraging private investment in our city.  The possibility of the creation of a stadium of international standard, with the jobs and the boost to our economy that would accompany is an opportunity we simply cannot afford to waste.

I am in no doubt that the Councillors whose responsibility it is to make this decision will do so within the means of the law and as such will only be taking legitimate considerations into account.  The letter was not intended as an incitement to break the law, merely a way of highlighting the support that there is in Bristol for this development.  I have so far been contacted by over 50 people on this issue, all of them asking for my help in ensuring the stadium is built.  I am therefore trying to serve my constituents by helping to demonstrate these levels of support.

Best Wishes


Stockwood Pete said...

Doesn't really tell us anything new, then - we're left with a final para in the MPs statement that calls for the councillors to put 'the views of the majority of residents' ahead of anything else. Except, of course, that "The letter was not intended as an incitement to break the law, merely a way of highlighting the support that there is in Bristol for this development, which is not what the joint statement said, and was hardly necessary in any case given the combined efforts of club, council, and BEP.

Surprising, too, that Kerry can only claim that 'over 50' people have contacted her in support of the stadium, after such a long and sustained campaign by the council, the club, and the Evening Post.

Otherwise, a disappointing response that doesn't address the issues raised, and doesn't even tell us who drafted the statement that the MPs signed up to so readily.

I don't think the stadium issue has yet been raised on Kerry's blog; but over in Bristol West Stephen Williams has blogged about it and provoked a strong thread of comments. Like Kerry, he affirms that he wants councillors to act within the law, but has no time for the people who secured the Town Green recommendation!

Incredible how both of them can be so forthright about their wish for a stadium on green belt at Ashton Vale, but neither can bring themselves to qualify that damning final paragraph in their joint statement