Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

AVTG - The Biggest Fix Yet? Probably

It was, by any measure, an extraordinary way of reaching a decision. So much so that the term 'fix' looks like the right one. On the balance of probability, of course.

Right at the start we had Cllr Peter Abraham dismiss the widespread concerns that he might not be fully open-minded (bearing in mind his declaration last month that he is "convinced we should reject the inspector's advice. I don't think this qualifies as a town green and it brings the process into disrepute."). That, he explained, was before he joined this committee and was invited to chair it. Now, he is 100% open minded. He's taken advice and is confident that he is beyond any legal challenge.

So that was all right, children.

The meeting papers did not include the report of the independent Inspector, Ross Crail, who had (together with two barristers) thoroughly tested the evidence of witnesses brought by the applicants and the objectors - and concluded that the land does qualify as a Town Green. Someone, somewhere, had decided that the committee needn't bother with that.

Nor did the papers include the 'further evidence', crucial to the officers' recommendation. Why read it when you can be fed a carefully chosen selection?

There was only the officer's 13 page report, and of that only three pages were dedicated to the 'further evidence' of objectors and applicants - roughly in the proportion of 4:1 - as summarised by the council's own chief finance officer, who doesn't seem ever to have been involved in a Town Green application before.

Public statements came first. Most of the committee looked bored, even when our Stockwood councillor ignored all the reminders that this is about past use of the site and waxed enthusiastic about its development potential. The Green Party statement was listed at No 80 (of 80) so I never got the chance to speak to it.

The Chief Executive, Jan Ormondroyd, told members what their options were. When she said one is to approve the whole site as a Town Green, she added 'but that wouldn't take the new evidence into account'. A serious misdirection there, Jan. Of course they could do both.

After a few desultory questions (at least one of them showing the papers hadn't been read or absorbed), and a comment from Cllr Alex Woodman that the information was wholly inadequate, we waited for the meat of the discussion. What did members actually think? What value did they attach to the evidence, and why? Would they question the Chair's integrity?

It didn't happen. From the Chair, Cllr Abraham simply took it straight to a vote on the recommendation before them. Six hands were raised. The deed was done.

The two dissenting members were Alex Woodman and Neil Harrison. Neil gives his own perspective on his own blog


Anonymous said...

Let's just ignore the fact that TVG status was awarded, presumably that was fix free.

The only reason for this constant carping is that the stadium will also be built.

From the outset this has been a misuse of badly drafted legislation, it was never intended to stop development.

Please just accept the inevitable and channel your energies into more deserving causes

Anonymous said...

I think you are living in cloud cuckoo land if you truly believe that the committee hadn't bothered with Ross Crail's independant inquiry conclusions.

The Bristol Blogger said...

Ross Crail's report wasn't contained in the report to PROWG; Crail's views weren't contained in the report to PROWG; none of those members in favour mentioned Crail's report during the meeting and the Head of Legal Services told members "there is no statutory requirement" to read CRail's report.

In those circumstances it's perfectly rational to believe that the committee hadn't bothered with Ross Crail's independant inquiry conclusions

Anonymous said...

@the Bristol blogger. With all due respect, what you have stated is complete nonsense. All committee members had taken all relevant evidence (that which meets the statutory requirements for village green status) into account to arrive at their decision, including that of the independent village green inquiry findings.

sacredspring said...

So why wasn't the PROW furnished with the full Crail report and the applicants response to the so-called new evidence? Do you know something we don't?
Anon, the legislation exists whether you like it or not. Some people believe fox hunting, speeding, and drink driving laws should be ignored, so what? Is it because you have a very rich patron that makes you think you are exempt?

The Bristol Blogger said...

I agree what I said is nonsense. But it is also entirely accurate.

Anonymous said...

The committee members admitted they had not read the report.

The Labour members argued that the fact it was available and they "could" have read it if they wanted to was enough.

Only a person not familiar with the evidence could reach the conclusion that the Council wanted them to reach.


Anonymous said...

The person who admitted that they hadn't read the report was the person who voted against the recommendation put to the council.

Get your facts right.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous

My facts are spot on thank you very much.


Anonymous said...

Here lies the problem (could lies be a play on words?), they are not facts.

For example, Neil Harrison has said that he reads all the papers for the commitees he sits on. He was one of the objectors. However, the other person who also objected, indicated that he hadn't read the papers.

Now, it might be that you've missed something, so here's the link to the session video so that you can remind yourself of what "was" said:

If you need anything explaining, please tell me what time I should be looking at, and we'll see where our version of the truth differs.

Paul Bemmy Down said...

Actually Pete, it was mainly South Bristol Cllrs. who did for you. Now you could argue that they all come from strong City supporting areas, which is true, but you were judged by your "own" so to speak. I've always advocated being represented by members of your own community, which I am, although I wasn't too impressed by some of the question asked. At the end of the day being a cllr. is a thankless task. I much prefer criticising from the sideline.