Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Not-so Green Capital

What a dog's breakfast they're making of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. Here's the latest of a string of lost opportunities....
A couple of key cycleway initiatives that were adopted and funded to help workers reach jobs in the TQEZ have been quietly – very quietly - ditched by the council and the Local Enterprise Partnership. It seems they needed the money to make up for overspends on the budget for the flagship parts of the scheme – Temple Way realignment and Arena access.
Cabinet had approved the spending on off-road cycleways back in March 2014. One was to be along the Conham towpath, the other a key realignment of the slow and hazardous Whitchurch Way, to take it beneath Bath Road on a disused railway track. 
Not the Whitchurch Way - a cyclepath in waiting...  and waiting

That one, part of NCN Route 3, had been part of the Cycling City project, too, but never made it to fruition then either.
Hard to say who made the decision this time, and whether they asked anyone else, elected or not. The news emerged in Mayor Ferguson's belated reply (see the comments) to a public forum question at the last full council meeting.    It seems that 'the council' secured the agreement of 'the LEP' to forget the two cycleways – but, whoever that might have involved, no-one seems to have thought it should be made public.
Especially in a European Green Capital.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Board Witless.

Dear Neighbourhood Partnerships Business Support Team

You've been asking Friends of Stockwood Open Spaces (FoSOS) what's happening about the community notice board you generously paid for.   You know the sort of thing......  nothing fancy, but good enough to do the job.

Yes, it seems unbelievable that a year has passed since everything was in place, ready to go.  During those same months, the Arena has moved on apace, the South Bristol Link has been turned from green belt meadows into a sea of mud ready to link up with the emerging Ashton Vale to Temple Meads metrobus. The BearPit is being transformed . Bristol is certainly looking different.

But Stockwood - apart from a fire in a tattoo parlour - looks exactly the same.  

If all had gone well, you'd now be seeing our notice board in the middle of this picture, and FoSOS and a load of other local organisations, not least the Neighbourhood Partnership itself, would be putting it to good use.  You might even see a council candidate or two posing in front of it.

The empty space is not the fault of FoSOS. Sure, it was FoSOS that researched and drafted the bid after a couple of the council's 'arms length' partners had promised, then failed, to do it, and FoSOS who got endorsements from a load of other community groups who'll benefit - while our councillors sat on their hands. It was FoSOS that agreed to act as fundholders. That, in spite of the last time FoSOS 'fund held ' on behalf of a community project, the council managed not only to lose the cheque returning the unspent money, but to suggested that FoSOS had misappropriated it. Remember?

Anyway, we finally got there, cash in hand, and on the point of placing the order for the board. Just one problem..... it turned out that the city council are the only people permitted to embed it in the pavement, and they're much too busy with the big vanity projects to bother with a piddling little notice board to tell people what's happening in our not-very-important neck of the woods.

Once that little snag became clear, FoSOS took up a request to organise the work itself, using other council-approved contractors. But they weren't interested in the job..

So we came up with another scheme. Abandoning the preferred plan for a conventional post-mounted notice board, we opted for second best. Another kind of board could be bolted to the masonry walls of the raised flowerbeds alongside the original site. Fixing this one would be no problem – local people would volunteer their skills and labour for free (just as well, because a more expensive board would have to be bought). We were given the OK to go ahead.

After a bit of negotiation with the suppliers – they'd wanted the cash up front, but we preferred half now, half on delivery – the order was finally placed and our cheque for half the cost was sent off. Yippee.

BUT – then we got the message from the council. We mustn't install it ourselves. The flowerbeds are, it turns out, the property, and responsibility, of the Highways department. They, and only they, can fix the notice boards. And only when they have the time, and are paid the money.

So the order, and the manufacture of the boards, has had to go on hold yet again. There's not enough money left to pay the Highways dept charge for doing the job.

So there's still – three years after being 'officially' proposed – no public notice board in Stockwood.

Thank you BCC. Your monitoring form is being be returned, completed as requested.

Note:  Friends of Stockwood Open Spaces has NOT been asked to endorse this post!