Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Green Spaces - the sham debate

Bristol's LibDem councillors have gone one step further than their Westminster counterparts. Not only do they do hypocrisy, but they can do NIMBYism simultaneously.

The Great Green Spaces Debate on Tuesday was their demonstration platform. We were told that there was no whip in force, this was a free vote for the LibDem councillors. Several of them represent wards with a lot to lose through the policy of green space sell-off - so they dutifully tell their constituents that they'll oppose sales in their own wards, and then vote for the rest of Bristol to bear the cost. It would be hard to find a more NIMBY position than that.

It was the 100% support of these councillors in 'un-whipped' votes that won the day for the LibDem administration. No doubt it will, in turn, be used to justify the sale of green open spaces (although, for some reason, no-one mentioned that for every £1 raised in land sales, only 70p will go back into the parks anyway).

True, the original Tory motion wasn't up to much, as it threw out the baby with the bathwater; all the good work that had gone into the Area Green Space Plans would be scrapped under their proposals, not just the land sales. Both Greens and Labour had suggested improvements, that would allow the best of the plans to be retained; and the Tories took that on board.

The debate itself quickly degenerated into a routine shambles of tribal point-scoring. Jay Jethwa, seconding the Tory motion, set the tone with an attack on Executive member Gary Hopkins. She must know after nearly four years that no-one wins Gary's heart or mind with that approach, he just digs in deeper and responds in kind. Clearly, Jay's priority was to impress her constituents, not the decision-makers.

What a waste! There was an option that just might have worked - we'd included it in the Friends of Stockwood Open Spaces response to the Green Space Plans, and the Greens invited the Tories to take it up. It was a key passage in the Parks & Green Spaces Strategy that said "should there be insufficient 'low value' marginal land available....  the council will review the ambitions of the strategy and consider alternative funding sources." Reference to that might (and still could) provide the face-saving formula that would allow the LibDem Executive to quietly drop the unpopular and unsustainable drive to sacrifice the city's open spaces.


Tim said...

You may well know about this already but I thought there's no harm in flagging it up - thought it might come in useful.

Stockwood Pete said...

Thanks, Tim - no, I didn't know about it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete. So after the Cabinet makes its decision, this is then passed on to the Neighbourhood Partnership. So what part does the NP play? Can you please explain.