Local news – Clifton Down ward
New street lighting
You may have noticed that new street lights have been installed on St John’s Road and Whatley Road, substantially improving visibility in this previously dark area. This was a result of a team effort by Carla, the local community association (CDCA) and University of Bristol student ambassadors. We conducted a survey to demonstrate need, then made a successful bid to a local funding pot. The new lamps were installed in October 2017.
You may know that both Redland and Clifton libraries are under threat of closure along with 15 others, so libraries were the hot topic at the Full Council meeting on 14th November. Three petitions were presented for debate, each with well over 4,000 signatures including our own Save Redland Library. Residents spoke extremely well and persuasively and both Carla and Clive were able to make salient points.
Later in the same meeting came the vote on a related motion. This asked the Mayor to endorse a new proposal from a cross-party group of councillors to create a mutual model for delivering a comprehensive library service, professionally led with volunteer support to keep Bristol’s network of branch libraries open. This motion was passed with 32 votes for (including most Green, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors) and 31 against (including most Labour councillors and the Mayor). Since the vote, the Mayor and Cabinet member have confirmed that they will await the result of a review into alternatives before making any decisions on the future of our libraries.
Liaison between students and other residents
Autumn term can often bring tensions between students and other residents, as a new batch of students move into our ward, most of whom have only lived with their parents or in halls before. So there are inevitably some teething problems with bins, noisy parties, etc. However, with a couple of serious exceptions around St Pauls Road and Aberdeen Road, this Autumn seems to have been calmer than usual. This may be due to the increased efforts by the University’s Community Liaison Office.
Would you like to know what Bristol University and its students are up to in our community? Their Hello Neighbour webpage gives you information about student volunteering, business and partnerships, public events and outreach activities. It also provides links to social media and ways that you can contact and engage with the University.
And whether you’re a long-term resident or a student yourself, you can visit the students and the community page for information on the community fund, how to raise any concerns or seek support, and a link to the Love Where You Live website. This contains advice and information for students and a guide to community living. It's great to say hello in person or to ease introductions you could download our template - there's one for students and one for long-term residents.
You can also contact Joni Lloyd, Community Liaison Officer, on 0117 954 6640 or email@example.com
Residents Parking reviews
The news is more delays. Sickness, redeployment and shedding of staff has meant that the long awaited Traffic Regulation Order (TRO; the lengthy legal document necessary before any change in road markings) for CE zone has now been delayed until the New Year. When it is published we will widely advertise and you will be able to comment. The CN review is complete and enacted (in response to resident requests, some small changes were made to bays and double yellow lines) and the CM review is complete and soon to move into the queue to have its TRO written. Sorry for the delays, they are out of our control.
After a year of encouragement (badgering) from Carla, the Council has just published its Busking Policy. This was written by the council’s Anti-Social Behaviour team in collaboration with the Bristol Buskers network, who are keen to self-regulate. It does not grant any new powers, but makes it clearer for all parties what kind of busking is and isn’t acceptable.
Clive has been supporting residents in the north of the ward with a number of difficult planning issues in High Street and Belgrave Hill.
Overdue repairs to the historic pavement at Worrall Rd were stopped half-way through as the Council had run out of budget, leaving valuable flagstones inadequately protected and obstructing to the road and pavement. Quick work by Clive and CHIS has ensured that work restarts and must continue to completion.
Bristol-wide and Council news
Council Tax support protected after pressure from Greens
Green councillors have welcomed the reversal of proposed cuts to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, following a campaign which highlighted the impact of cuts on the poorest residents of the City and argued that the Council's consultation may have been illegal (more info here) were it implemented.
Councillors and other campaigners such as the renters' union ACORN opposed the proposed cut as it would have resulted in a large tax increase for those least able to afford it, potentially creating greater costs for the council through pressure on other services such as homelessness and mental health support.
Clifton Down councillor Carla Denyer said: “I warmly welcome the Mayor's u-turn on this and congratulate the grass-roots campaign that has proven to be so successful. Greens have been campaigning alongside residents for months saying that cutting the scheme would have a devastating effect on the city's most vulnerable residents. We are facing a cost of living crisis with growing numbers of Bristol residents forced out of their homes and onto our streets. What we need now off the Mayor is a firm commitment that he will drop this policy once and for all."
The Bristol Post covered the story here.
Councillors campaign against cuts
The Council's 'Your Neighbourhood' consultation ended on 5th September. The proposals include the closure of all public toilets, school crossing patrols, the removal of funding for Neighbourhood Partnerships which support community activities, and cuts to Bristol's libraries and Community Links services. Despite public opposition, most of the cuts proposed will likely be passed by the Labour administration. They will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on 4th December.
Green group leader Eleanor Combley said:
“As Greens we are passionate about quality of life, and the areas being cut here – support for adults with disabilities, school crossing patrols, libraries, public toilets, and local democracy through the Neighbourhood Partnerships – all have a big impact on people’s quality of life. There is much talk of enabling community leadership, but we believe that cutting local services and simply expecting over-burdened charities and volunteers to pick up the slack is neither feasible nor fair.”
On Saturday 9th September Green councillors joined the city's march against austerity (pictured above) - the Bristol Post covered the story here. At a packed rally at College Green, Cotham councillor Cleo Lake made the closing speech. She said:
"It disturbs me that we are the one of the richest countries in the world yet we are facing a situation that because of reckless mismanagement, greed, and quite simply callous disregard, essential services are being reduced to nothing and other givens such as parks and libraries will likely close unless volunteers fill the void. It's almost surreal. Austerity isn't a necessity, it's a choice. Where is the tax justice? Where is the right to life for us as citizens?"
The full text of the speech is available here.
A few days later on 12th September, the Labour Mayor went to London as part of a group of leaders of the UK's Core Cities to meet with government ministers and lobby for greater local government investment and powers - however no government ministers met with the group (story here).
Update on Air Quality
Councillors have been working on securing cleaner air for the City since our successful Council Motion last November. In July the Mayor updated the Council on his progress - a clean air task group has been formed, led by Green Cabinet Member Fi Hance, and funding has been secured from central government for a feasibility study that will explore various options for a Clean Air Zone enforceable through charges on the most polluting vehicles.
Research commissioned by the Council and released in August suggests that taken together, diesel cars and LGVs account for nearly two thirds of Nitrogen Dioxide emissions in central Bristol. Along with particulate matter, Nitrogen Dioxide is a major component of air pollution. Health impacts include poor lung development and asthma among children, and deaths from cardiac and respiratory causes among adults, and council research estimates that around 300 deaths per year (8.5% of deaths in the city) are attributable to air pollution.
In September Green councillors and others opposed and rejected a planning development in the Broadmead shopping area which included a large car park with access through historic Brunswick Square. Delays caused by road works and traffic jams would have had a significant impact on journey times of both bus passengers and drivers and the increased traffic would likely have worsened air quality in an area of the city which has long been above the legal limit for air pollution. Bristol 24/7 covered the story here.
Transparency in planning
After successful lobbying by Green councillors, Bristol City Council has made its planning process more transparent to improve scrutiny of affordable housing provision. This month Bristol Council’s two planning committees approved a change to make housing developers’ viability studies public. These viability studies are used to justify proportions of affordable housing (or the lack thereof) in developers’ planning applications. Previously the only people with access to these documents were the housing developers themselves and council officers, making it difficult for councillors to challenge planning proposals that included low proportions of affordable housing.
Southville Councillor Steve Clarke, who proposed the successful Council motion that led to the change, said:
“There has always been a certain amount of mystery around these viability reports and that lack of transparency has bred mistrust; basically people don't believe them. The fact that they will now be routinely available on the planning website is a huge step forward in rebuilding that trust with the process. Concerned citizens will be able to examine them in detail and test the assumptions (and arithmetic) that has been used. This is exactly in line with the Green Party Group’s aspirations for greater openness and accountability in council processes and we will be looking for other areas where light can be shone on dark corners of decision making processes.”
Single use plastics
Single use, disposable plastics like polystyrene takeaway cartons and plastic cups are a cause of litter, a waste of resources, and a problem for future generations. They waste fossil fuels, cause a mess on the streets, and harm wildlife on land and at sea.
Redland Councillor Martin Fodor has started a petition calling on the Mayor of Bristol to support and enforce a ban on single use plastic packaging and containers. Things the Council could do to reduce usage of these plastics includes changes to events rules and procurement policies, and to licensing rules for street traders and takeaways.
You can sign the petition here.
For more info see this blog by Councillor Fodor for Bristol 24/7.
Council smashes its Carbon emissions targets
Bristol City Council is well ahead of its targets for reducing its carbon emissions. The Council has successfully achieved its previous green targets of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from council operations (against a 2005 baseline), three years ahead of schedule and has now delivered a massive 60% reduction in 2016/17. The new green proposals will aim for a carbon reduction target for its own operations of 65% by 2020.
Commenting, Cllr Fi Hance, Green Councillor and Bristol City Cabinet Member for energy policy, said “The council’s achievements show how much organisations can reduce their emissions and I’d like to thank officers across a number of teams for all their hard work in making the council one of the leading local authorities in the country when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Public buildings and businesses are responsible for 40% of the climate pollution caused by the city so it is important that these savings are replicated across the business and public sectors. The council is willing and able to offer its expertise to support other organisations to reduce their carbon emissions and improve their overall environmental performance.”
For more information see here.