Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

How to catch a bus......

......from Stockwood or Brislington to the new Hengrove Hospital. 

 Or to BEC, or St Brendans, or the Stockwood Open Space, or Horse World, or Gilda Parade, or Whitchurch Centre/ASDA, or the old sports centre, or the new Leisure Pool, or the Skills Academy, or Imperial (retail) Park , or Hengrove Leisure Park, or the 'destination' play park).

OK, it can't be done. Not in a single journey, anyway, despite all the assurances given that these £multi-million public assets would be made easily accessible without resorting to a car (if you happen to have one).

Here's one suggestion that might just provide a service at least once an hour.
It proposes an extension for some buses on the No1 (Broomhill) route by way of Brislington P&R, Hungerford Rd and West Town Lane, where it splits into a loop – one way through Stockwood and south Hengrove, the other direct by Airport Road, to the Hengrove Park complex. Perhaps one an hour each way would offer a usable service to the several main destinations en route, enough to make it at least break even.

At the same time, it gives the chance to shorten the 36 route by just taking it down Callington Road between Tesco and Brislington Square, saving upwards of 10 minutes. That would bring St Annes within 30 minutes of Hengrove Park.
The map makes it clearer

The reality today is merely an unfulfilled promise from Bristol City Council, and a commitment to review the situation once a year.   Meanwhile, no bus.   The proposal has been sent to their public transport section; when the reply comes, I'll publish it here

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

NP14 says NO

For the first time ever, applause at tonight's meeting of the Hengrove and Stockwood Neighbourhood Partnership.

The occasion was the unanimous decision of the Neighbourhood Committee to sell none of the open spaces in Stockwood that had been nominated in the PGSS process.

They even went a bit further and agreed to look at the possibility of requesting voluntary Town Green registration for the most valued sites.   That will have to wait for a nother meeting, though - and another report from council officers.   We'll just hope Will Godfrey doesn't write it.

On behalf of the Friends of Stockwood Open Spaces, I'd put in a Public Forum statement supporting both measures.   It dwelled particularly on our having reviewed our long-standing opposition to selling, both at meetings and on-line, in the light of the new 'incentives' on offer.   Those incentives/bribes proved totally unconvincing, given that all the sites do have high community value and don't have the characteristics that mark out 'low value' sites.

Evening Post report here

You need some good news on the day the coalition government bulldozed into law its dogma-driven dismantling of the National Health Service.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Hollway Road shops – the Adam Smith factor

The Planning Committee's decision to approve construction of four detached houses in the yard behind Hollway Road shops was tricky. Two members wanted to wait till there was more information available. When their bid failed, it left the six members evenly divided.

We heard impassioned pleas from Tory ward councillors and traders, plus a battery of formal written objections and a petition of 1701 names, all opposed the housebuilding. It would, they said, drive more school run mums to park in front of local homes, shop deliveries would get difficult, customers would desert the precinct if they had to park somewhere else, and the whole place will be boarded up before Mr Pickles can roll in to the rescue. Every dark scenario was based on the continuing and growing reliance on the private car. And all of them were set against one solitary comment in support. You can guess where that came from.

[Even so, there should have been one good outcome. One shopkeeper had graphically described to the Planning Committee how the lifeblood of his furniture and flowers business depends on his customers being able to load their cars 'out the back' with such purchases as compost. That interested me – right now, I'd love a local source of good seed compost. So I went to his shop next morning to get some – only to be told they don't sell it!  A bit naughty, that.   Doesn't say much for witness credibility.]

Anyway, it went through on the casting vote of the Chair. No-one seemed entirely happy with it, but their hands are largely tied. It had to be allowed; there were no robust grounds for refusal.

 I wonder if our Tory councillors thought to apply their Adam Smith credo to all this? Here was a model test of Smith's 'hidden hand' that should somehow bring a public good from all the self-interested actions of the players in this little local market.
We're talking about a privately owned parade of shops that was, from the start, the property of absentee landlords making a development investment. Over the years, bits of freehold and leasehold have been sold off piecemeal, so now its a dog's breakfast of different owners and occupiers and interests, with a web of legal agreements that should protect against anyone abusing their position.

Crucially, the 'back yard' delivery area, left neglected for many years while providing 'windfall' free parking and opportunities for vandalism, fell into the hands of yet another absentee owner who perceived a development opportunity for the financially unproductive eyesore he'd acquired. And that led – after long negotiations with the planners – to this building application.

It provides four detached homes, it ticks the planning boxes, and it appears to allow for continued access for shop deliveries. But the consensus (if the councillors and traders are to be believed) is that it's a Bad Thing.

Isn't that exactly how the system is supposed to work? Lots of enterprising players acting in their own interests, free of the red tape that might risk stifling innovation? Exactly what we had here. A public good, produced by the 'hidden hand' of ambition and competition. Except that, according to the councillors, it will lead to the loss of Stockwood's shopping centre.

In public, the Tories are quick enough to capitalise on any local dissent and make their voices heard. But back in the Council House as in Parliament, they vote routinely for policies and dogma that have everything to do with swelling private profit and inequality at the expense of the public good.

And of course, they won't learn from the lesson of Hollway Road shops.