Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Power to the People?

Tuesday's council meeting handed a new and challenging responsibility to the city's fourteen Neighbourhood Partnerships - they're to decide on the thorny issue of selling off some local green spaces for development.  Well, not the Partnerships themselves - it's actually down to the ward councillors who sit within the Partnerships as 'Neighbourhood Committees'.

The word is was (see note below) that they're to reach a decision by the end of January.  They'll also be offered incentives to sell as much as possible - because the more they sell, the greater proportion that comes back to improve the land that's left.

This is where I get parochial; I'll stick with what I know (and the Cabinet and central administration clearly don't) - the threatened open spaces of Stockwood.  Here, seven spaces are on the target list:
Burnbush Close (bus terminus field)
Ladman Road (turning circle)
Ladman Road/Bagnell Road
Gillebank Close (pictured above)
Craydon Road Triangle
Hazlebury Road/railway path
Sturminster Close

As I told the council on Tuesday, only one of the seven could possibly be described as a 'backland' site, such as they love to describe as 'low value'.  None of them has significant antisocial behaviour problems.   Most are well used by the public, and with a little work all of them could be. 

The purpose of delegating the decision to local councillors is to allow local people, who know the sites best, to get involved.  But in practice the younger NP's (like ours covering Hengrove and Stockwood) haven't so far excited a lot of interest from residents in general. 

I'll try using this blog to point to where the local information is and where to join the discussion - on and offline.  Starting with the under-used 'HandS ON' forum where the stage is set to host comments on the Stockwood and Hengrove site sales.  If you're a Stockwood or Hengrove resident, please use it.
Note, 24/11/11. The word now is that there will be a little longer allowed for the NP's to reach decisions. In Stockwood that means it's more likely to reach decision time in the April round of NP meetings. It still isn't long, of course. So it was all the more disappointing that at tonight's Stockwood Forum, neither the ward councillor nor the officers showed much interest in launching any kind of dialogue with the residents about it. Power to the people? Huh!


between-the-lines said...

"The purpose of delegating the decision to local councillors is to allow local people, who know the sites best, to get involved."


Isn't the purpose rather to throw up a very useful smokescreen of pseudodemocracy while nicely diffusing accountability, and blame, away from those at the centre who make the actual operative decisions?

You might enjoy this blog post about a residents' forum in the Broken Borough of Barnet, competitor in the Anti-Cycling Authority of the Year awards, amongst other innovations.

Apparently Barnet has come up with the wheeze of renting their not-so-public-any-more parks out for, ahem, "private functions". Could this become a neat euphemism to cover a multitude of colourful, and vibrant, sins do you think?

Anonymous said...

Hello Stockwood Pete. I am an ex resident who still loves Stockwood (grew up there with my mates - didn't do us any harm - we all did alright!) I go back to visit my parents and still find that I feel very attached to a place that doen't seem to have changed much. Is my affection misplaced? Is Stockwood still a nice place to live and grow up for young and old alike?

Stockwood Pete said...

Thanks for that link, between-the-lines. Makes a good read - especially the bit about public works and private functions. Sounds like Barnet is setting down a marker for others (not least our Neighbourhood Partnership) to aspire to!

Stockwood Pete said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I think the answer to your question is 'yes'. We came here 8 years ago, not knowing much about it except it was one of the few places within 30 miles where we could afford to buy the kind of house we wanted. I'm told that surveys show there's a lot of dissatisfaction among Stockwood residents, though that surprises me - most people seem happy enough to have settled here a long time. I think if I was much younger, I'd probably find it pretty boring though.