Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Now Showing on Stockwood Open Space

The Open Space has - at last - got a couple of Interpretation Boards installed, one at the Whittock Road end and one at the main Stockwood Road entrance. They should encourage people to take a closer look at  what this wonderful but little known reserve has to offer.

Now's a good time to start, after the warm spell has seen the early flowers burst into life...

Cowslip - this one making a first appearance in the glade behind Whittock Square

Blackthorn (sloe) at the 'back door' entrance to the reserve, at Ilsyn Grove

detail of blackthorn blossom
Bluebells and celandine in the Ilsyngrove woodland
Primroses in the woodland edge of the orchid meadow
Snakes Head Fritillary, orchid meadow

Bullace blossom in the orchard edge

Dog Violets, Ilsyngrove woodland
Viola Alba, now carpeting the orchard floor since we cleared the brambles a few years back (thanks, DR, for keeping up the good work)

Wood Anenome at the foot of Ilsyngrove woodland
and finally something completely different - new arrivals that appeared in the cart-washing pond.  At least until the herons find them!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Stockwood hits the headlines – for better or worse

Strange that this Bristol backwater should suddenly attract media mentions across the British Isles. Stranger still that it should happen twice in successive months.
Both stories have what the press loves – the chance to write a story that will produce a titter or a snigger among the readers.
In March, it was the BioBus, usually described as the Poo Bus. I'm sure it's no accident that First introduced it on the Number Two route, gifting an easy line to the journalists and guaranteeing media attention. Apparently the bio-methane fuelled bus is a first for the UK, though the technology is well established.

Long before moving to Bristol over a decade ago, I organised a Green Party trip to see Wessex Water's plant at Avonmouth. What made it special was that while other water companies were still pumping sewage into the sea, or taking it out in barges to be dumped, Wessex already had the foresight to treat it onshore. The biogas provided a renewable fuel, used primarily to generate electricity, while the dried granular byproduct could be used to enrich or remediate soil. It's that biogas that's now being used as a (relatively) clean renewable fuel to carry passengers from Stockwood to Cribbs Causeway (if they have the staying power, and nothing better to do!) and all points in between.
So it's a good news story.... well done First, well done Geneco and Wessex.
This month's Stockwood story has a very much darker side. I don't know how the media got hold of it, though I have my suspicions. In the coming local elections, UKIP's candidate to succeed Jay Jethwa as one of Stockwood's two ward councillors apparently has a 'professional' life as Johnny Rockard (snigger) a maker, promoter, and actor in pornographic videos. Google his name if you must - I did, but a click or two more was enough before I abandoned the enquiry!
Cue lots of press and broadcasting media attention for the candidate, who's the vice-chair of the local party. Cue righteous indignation from UKIP and its supporters, complaining of being picked on by the media. My guess is that all the attention was inevitable, no matter what colour rosette the candidate was wearing.
Apart from the press enjoying the chance to describe in detail the 'plot' of one such video, and a huge burst in public awareness of UKIP's man in Stockwood, just before an election, the story is a bit of a non-event. It won't bring about a multi-million local tourism boom. Most people accept that for better or worse, the sex trade exists and people do work in it and they do meet a demand.
But despite of UKIP's defence of its candidate, making and selling porn is not like more legitimate businesses. It's a very dark sector of the economy, strongly associated with exploitation, with people trafficking, with drugs, violence and even modern slavery. Perhaps the media should have used this story to raise these much more serious aspects of the industry, instead of just treating it as a bit of a joke.  [added 14/04/15] Looks like 'Object' are presenting them with the evidence now.
Meanwhile, for balance, here's a list of the other candidates aspiring join David Morris as Stockwood's councillor for the coming year, until the first 'whole council' election in 2016. Sadly, like the UKIP man, none of them actually live in the ward.
Phil Bishop – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Ian Campion-Smith – LibDem
David McLeod – Labour
Graham Morris – Tory (David's son, I understand. Part of the Tory's inheritance strategy?)
Ellie Vowles – Green. Best of luck, Ellie!

Friday, 3 April 2015

A Mail Mystery

We've all seen a marked deterioration in the postal service.  Higher charges, less collections, less deliveries, less staff to do the job.  I think it's called 'efficiency savings'.

Today, among the junk mail on our doormat, was this envelope:

Inside it was a letter we'd posted to London on 1st February

By March 3, it appears to have reached Belfast, where the guardians of the nation's postcodes decided that there was 'no such address'.  So they took a look inside, and sent it on its way back to us in Bristol, a journey of another month.  And we're no further forward.

I can just about understand that the postcode N1 9DY could be interpreted by some 'efficient' sorting machine as being somewhere in Northern Ireland - possibly Londonderry?    But somewhere, at some point, there must have been some of the Mail's remaining human hands making a judgement on the addressing.   And getting it all abysmally wrong.   Maybe it's a reflection of the sinking morale among the staff, maybe it's just that they have absurd targets to meet, 'lost' letters to process?  Even so, such a consistently inept two months of mismanaging the mail (it's not as if the letter had got lost) stretches credulity to the limit.

A conspiracy theorist might even believe there was more to it; a letter addressed to a radical bookshop might have less chance of getting delivered intact than your average birthday card.   But that would be silly, of course.