Posts Tagged ‘Bristol City Council’

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Anti-Nuclear Protestors Want Bristol Views Heard

January 19, 2010

Anti-nuclear protestors will demonstrate in Bristol demanding Bristolians be consulted about plans for two new nuclear reactors near the city.

The protest outside the council house on Tuesday afternoon has been organised by Lib Dem councillor Mark Wright, who has also asked the council to formally oppose the new reactors at Oldbury and Hinkley Point.

Hinkley Point, near Burnham, is about 25 miles from Bristol. Oldbury in Gloucestershire is only 8 miles outside the city boundaries.

Oldbury Power Station

Oldbury Power Station

Dr Wright, who is a long-term campaigner against nuclear power told Jones The News: “The government is pressing ahead with imposing a new wave of nuclear reactors on the country, because they haven’t pulled their finger out in time to get renewable energy up and running. We’re going to have two of them near Bristol.

“These power stations are being pushed through and there have been no consultations near Bristol. Consultations have been held for people living in the towns just north of Bristol, but none here.

“There are half a million people in greater Bristol and I’m sure many of them have views on these power stations.”

Dr Wright’s motion will be discussed at a full meeting of Bristol City council on Tuesday afternoon. It calls on the city to oppose the new reactors and to demand more consultation for people in the city.

Jim Duffy, Coordinator of the Stop Hinkley campaign group said: “People from Bristol were very involved in the previous Hinkley C inquiry in 1988-89. It will be an important message if the City Council votes to oppose the new development.

“Being downwind from Hinkley and so close to Oldbury, Bristolians should not be excluded from deciding on something that could profoundly affect them.”

The power companies involved in building the new reactors claim they have consulted Bristolians through discussions with the city council and the government.

EDF Energy, the firm that intends to build the new Hinkley Point reactor, told Jones The News in a statement that the first stage of a pre-application public consultation had just finished on January 18, and that they had been encouraged by the level of public response.

They said: “Over 1,000 local people have attended public consultation events and more than 400 stakeholders have participated at additional stakeholder meetings to date. Bristol City Council were formally consulted about our initial proposals and options in November 2009.

“We continue to welcome views on our proposals and will review all responses before we carry out the second stage of consultation in the spring. Details can be found online at http://www.edfconsultation.info

“The consultation’s focus has been the potential impact of the development of new nuclear power at Hinkley Point, and its associated infrastructure, on surrounding local communities particularly those in West Somerset and neighbouring Sedgemoor.

“Additional national consultations on wider questions beyond the immediate local impact, including the need case for new nuclear and where new power stations might be located have also been conducted by Government through which the residents of Bristol could also express their views.”

Horizon Nuclear Power, the joint venture of E-On and RWE behind Oldbury, said: “Bristol is a very important area to us and no decisions will be made before people and local authorities in and around the city have had a chance to have their say on our proposals.

“We’re still in the very early stages of the project and haven’t even begun the formal consultations we are required to do in the run up to a planning application.

“What we have been carrying out is early informal engagement and we thought it was most sensible to start with the communities nearest the power station. We’re looking forward to expanding this to Bristol as we enter the next stage.

“In the meantime the earliest we would apply for planning permission would be towards the end of 2011 with construction unlikely to begin before 2013, and there will be many opportunities during that time for people to have their say and influence the process.”

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Council Will Not Be Stadium Shareholders

January 8, 2010

The claims, made on Tony D’s Aurea Mediocritas Blog, have been dismissed as “inaccurate and unsubstantiated” by Bristol City, and have also been denied by a senior Lib Dem source on the city council.

The article claimed Bristol City Council had approached Bristol City FC with an offer to become minority shareholders in the stadium, which City refused.

Such a plan would effectively mean the stadium being partly funded by council taxpayers’ money and partly owned by the city of Bristol.

But Bristol City spokesman Adam Baker strenuously denied the suggestions, saying: “”No such offer has been made. This blog is inaccurate and unsubstantiated.

“We have worked very closely with the City Council from the very outset and that process continues to involve detailed discussion and negotiation on a range of issues.

“We are confident that we will complete the remaining details of the planning process on the stadium in the next few weeks.

“Our plan to open a new 30,000 seater regional stadium and move into a new home for the 2012/13 season remains on track.”

A senior source on the city’s ruling Lib Dem group also forcefully denied the claims.

However, the row has reopened the debate on whether there should be public funding available for the new stadium.

Bristol City Chief Executive Colin Sexstone has previously said one of the strengths of the stadium plan was that it was funded completely by private investment and that this was something Bristol should be proud of. He has also said there is currently no public money available for the stadium.

However, as exclusively reported by Jones The News, regional quango the South West RDA have been in talks with the club about a possible public investment for the stadium.

The RDA is currently in talks with the city council about swapping the former arena site at Temple Meads with a plot adjacent to the site of the new stadium, in order to make building an arena at Ashton Vale easier.

The question of public investment may become more urgent if the club’s current plan to fund the stadium by selling Ashton Gate to Sainsbury’s runs into trouble.

The club hopes to raise £20m towards its new ground by selling its ground to the supermarket giant.

However, the planning report into the Tesco proposal was highly critical, leading many to speculate it would have been turned down by the city council.

Sources at the now-disbanded anti-Tesco campaign group Berate claimed to Jones The News they interpreted the report as being critical of any supermarket on the Ashton Gate site, and believe the Sainsbury’s plan will receive a similarly hostile reception from planners.

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Bristol World Cup Bid Signed By Council Leaders

November 25, 2009

Bristol’s world cup host city bid has been signed by the city’s council leaders, before submission to the FA tomorrow.

The Council’s Lib Dem leader Barbara Janke and Labour leader Helen Holland officially signed the document on Wednesday lunchtime. Tory leader Richard Eddy was unable to attend, but sent a message of support for the bid.

It will be officially presented to FA bosses during a ceremony at Wembley on Thursday.

Barbara Janke said the bid was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for Bristol and would bring “confidence, investment and income” into the city.

Barbara Janke & Helen Holland Sign Bristol's World Cup Bid

But she admitted there were financial risks, with hosting games in the tournament estimated to cost at least £17m.

She said: “There are clearly significant risks, with big sums of money at stake. It is clearly our intention that council tax payers are not going to have to carry the cost of this.

“We are starting from now to look at how we can raise the necessary funds with businesses, partners and other interested parties so that in nine years time we can fully finance the world cup matches.”

She also confirmed that Portsmouth’s decision to withdraw its hosting bid would make no difference to Bristol.

Portsmouth councillors last night pulled out of the process, with Conservative leader Steve Wemyss saying: ” I would love the World Cup to come to Portsmouth, but not at any cost.

“We are deceiving the council taxpayers if we think we can afford this. Let’s say no rather than have to cut other services to pay for this. We have to be realistic.”

Barbara Janke said: “I think Portsmouth is in a different position from Bristol. The financial pressures on them are bigger than we have here.

“There are also issues about the football club and the stadium, as I understand it. I still think there is a lot of confidence amongst the cities. There are still 15 others involved.

“When I spoke to colleagues at the Core Cities conference a few weeks ago, everybody still seemed very keen and ambitious. They want to take this forward for their own cities and put their cities on the world stage, which is what we want to do in Bristol.”

Barbara Janke also gave more details on how Bristol would finance its bid, without asking council tax payers for the full sum.

She said: “We have opportunities with the business rates, but we will have to take a ballot on that. We are also hoping the government might make lottery money available.

“We have been told that we can raise the business rates locally, so we will have to have a ballot on that. The difficult thing is that the city council does not keep the business rate. It’s kept by central government and reallocated on a per capita basis.

“If we were able to keep the business rate, we would be in a very strong position to finance events like this, but sadly that’s not the case at the moment.”

Audio: Martin Jones interviews Barbara Janke


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Bristol Bid Boss: FIFA Contract Is “Non-Negotiable”

November 25, 2009

Bristol’s World Cup bid boss has insisted local businesses will reap the benefits of hosting the tournament in the city.

Stephen Wray was responding to concerns that the contract Bristol must sign with FIFA contains “draconian” clauses which could leave council tax payers and local businesses footing enormous bills.

City councillors last night rubber-stamped Bristol’s world cup bid, and will formally submit it to FIFA at a Wembley ceremony tomorrow.

The city is committed to spending at least £17m if chosen to host the tournament. According to Mr Wray, this includes the cost of upgrading Bristol City’s new stadium at Ashton Vale to FIFA standards.

However, last night’s meeting saw disagreements between politicians and business leaders over who should foot the bill for the tournament.

But a report submitted to councillors by accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers claims the city will see that money repaid many times over, and that hosting the tournament should be worth £250m to Bristol.

They estimate £150m will be spent in local firms, with a further £100m brought into the city through construction jobs.

Nonetheless, concerns have been expressed over the terms of the deal Bristol, and the other host cities, would be required to make with FIFA.

One clause in the contract says Bristol would get no compensation if matches were cancelled, even if FIFA were shown to be at fault.

Another will require the city to introduce by-laws preventing local businesses “ambush marketing” around the stadium, reserving it for official sponsors only.

Yet the man in charge of Bristol’s bid dismisses these concerns. Bristol bid director Stephen Wray told #SITE_NAME#: “The bottom line is that unless a city is prepared to sign these agreements, you cannot hope to host the world cup. It’s an absolute non-negotiable factor.

“What we have been doing is talking to the government, the DCMS and the LGA and we have got sufficient guarantees that the city’s interests will be protected.”

And he remains adamant local firms would reap massive rewards from games being held in Bristol. He said: “It will be local businesses. That is the money [£150m] that will accrue to the restaurants, bars, hotels, commercial centres, shops and visitor attractions.

“That is the general spending that will take place around a world cup event when you have visitors based in a city over that period of time.”


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Rookie Councillors To Make “D-Day” Stadium Decision

November 4, 2009

It has emerged that four of the nine councillors who will decide whether Bristol City can build its new stadium at Ashton Vale have been in office less than six months.

Rookie Liberal Democrats Simon Rayner, Cheryl Ann, Fi Hance and Jacqui Bowles were all elected this June, in the election which propelled the Lib Dems to outright power in Bristol for the first time.

They will all be responsible for making what has been described as the biggest decision Bristol City Council has made in living memory.

Bristol City manager Gary Johnson has described it as “D-Day” for his club, and the club’s Chief Executive Colin Sexstone claims it is a “massive day not just for Bristol City but for the region.”

The decision whether or not to grant the club planning permission for its new stadium will be taken at Bristol’s Council House on College Green in a meeting beginning at 6pm Wednesday evening.

The committee will also rule on two housing developments planned alongside the stadium, which Bristol City says are vital to fund the new ground.

An official council report has already recommended the stadium be approved, but one of the two housing estates be rejected. Despite this, committee members are free to vote however they like.

Lib Dem sources deny the councillors are too inexperienced to deal with a decision of this size.

One senior Lib Dem told #SITE_NAME# they had every confidence in the junior councillors as Simon Rayner is an architect by trade, and Fi Hance has worked as an assistant to Bristol West MP Stephen Williams. All the councillors on the committee have been given training in how to make the decision, as the process is “quasi-legal”.

However, another Lib Dem source expressed concern as to whether the newcomers would be able to cope with the pressure in the council chamber. The atmosphere could be volatile, and the council is believed to have increased security ahead of the meeting.

Hundreds of campaigners on both sides of the argument, including Gary Johnson and several City players, are expected to be there to make their views felt.

Two Labour councillors, Sean Beynon and Colin Smith, will not attend as they have been barred from sitting on the committee. Both are season ticket holders at Bristol City. They have been replaced by former Lord Mayor Royston Griffey and Labour veteran John Bees, who has served as a councillor for 17 years. Tories Mark Weston and Lesley Alexander, plus Lib Dem Mary Sykes make up the nine-strong panel.

Members of the committee are banned from expressing their views before the meeting. However, speaking in July, the council’s deputy leader Simon Cook made his personal view clear.

He said: “You have to balance these things against community benefit. We will have a regional sports stadium. It will have a 1000 capacity conference centre in it. There is a possibility of other things going on the site.

“In terms of benefit for the city, we feel that can justify this small section coming out of green belt.”

However, he added that the members of the committee would make a decision independently, and Lib Dem sources have confirmed the stadium decision will not be ‘whipped’, i.e. councillors will not be required to vote on party lines.

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Minister Must Rubber-Stamp Tesco Plan

October 4, 2009

Any decision to fund the new Bristol City stadium by building a Tesco store at Ashton Gate must be rubber-stamped by planning minister John Healey, it has emerged.

Bristol’s council bosses have decided to refer the decision to the government for scrutiny, if local councillors approve the plans.

A council spokeswoman told Jones The News it was “standard practice” for councils to refer decisions this big and this controversial to government planners for checking.

In the case of the proposed stadium, it is because granting permission would break the council’s own planning guidelines, known as the ‘Local Plan’.

Artists Impression of new stadium and (inset) John Healey

Artist's Impression of new stadium and (inset) John Healey

Bristol councillors will rule on the Tesco and stadium plans on November 4th and 5th respectively.

If they are “minded to approve” them, they will be sent to the Government Office for the South West (GOSW), whose guidance must be approved by Mr Healey.

A verdict of “minded to approve” would be enough for Bristol to be considered as a World Cup host city, when the city hands in its final bid on November 6th.

Referring the plan to GOSW does not mean it is being “called-in” and subject to a public inquiry, but it is likely to make it more difficult for campaigners to appeal against the decision.

It also means the final word on the plans will not be made in Bristol.

A GOSW spokeswoman said it was hard to say how long scrutinising the plans would take, but that it was likely to take “months”. She added there was no time limit on how long they could take.

Pictured: artist’s impression of the new stadium and (inset) planning minister John Healey

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Ashton Gate Tesco Plan “Is No Stitch-Up”

September 14, 2009

The councillor in charge of Bristol’s world cup bid has denied the council is “stitching up” the deal to build a Tesco on the site of Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium.

It’s after The Bristol Blogger revealed last week that the council owns nearly 20% of the land the club wants to sell to Tesco.

Critics claim, as a result, the council would be unable to make a fair decision on the controversial planning application.

Bristol City FC claims it is “essential” for it to sell the land to the supermarket giant to build its new stadium at Ashton Vale and bid to become a world cup host city in 2018.

But council Deputy Leader Simon Cook told Jones The News it was “absolutely wrong” to suggest the council could not make an independent decision.

He said: “On the face of it, it looks like the city council is stitching up its own planning wishes. But it is not, and it would be entirely illegal if that were to happen. We don’t do it.

“The city council owns 40% of the land in the city so we have to grant planning permission for our own projects all the time. We did it with the Colston Hall, the Museum of Bristol, a raft of schools in the area and several leisure centres.”

Mr Cook also again insisted the planning decision would be made independently of political considerations.

He said: “It’s a planning decision pure and simple. It will be considered under planning law, and will be entirely independent. It is not the intention of the city council to influence that. That would be illegal.”

But a campaigner from anti-Tesco group BERATE claims the value of the council’s land at Ashton Gate means selling it must be a political decision.

The law states any decision to sell land valued at more than £500,000 must be taken by senior councillors, and with the council owning 20% of the Ashton Gate land – valued at £20m – it appears to be worth at least £4m.

Chris Uttley said: “It would seem hard for the public authority to sell that land without it being a political decision.

“Even if planning permission is granted, without that land the development can’t occur. It seems to be some sort of political decision to renegotiate the lease or sell it to the football club.

“Simon Cook is choosing his words carefully. The decision to grant planning permission should be an independent one.

“But the decision about whether to sell the land isn’t a planning issue. It must be, partly at least, a political decision.”

Ashton Gate Tesco Plan “Is No Stitch-Up”
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Shopkeepers “Duped” Over Broken CCTV Cameras

August 19, 2009

Shopkeepers on one of Bedminster’s main shopping streets say they have been “duped” by the city council, after paying for security cameras that are broken and can’t see crime that happens in their shops.

Several retailers on East St contributed £200 each in February to set up a network of 10 CCTV cameras in the area, which the council claimed would combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

But several of the cameras are currently broken, having been hit by lightning this spring, and there has been a long delay in fixing them as the council has decided to upgrade them. It cannot say when they will be fixed.

East St Cameras - Broken

East St Cameras - Broken

Additionally, many retailers have complained after asking for CCTV footage but being told the cameras do not point at their shops.

One says he feels “duped” and others have demanded the council returns their money, as they believe the cameras are not being used to fight crime, but to raise revenue by detecting traffic offences on the pedestrianised part of East St.

Cash Converters manager Bill Kelly said: “It’s always excuse after excuse. There has been a robbery in one shop, an attempted robbery at the bank, and we have suffered criminal damage.

“On each occasion, we’ve been told there is no CCTV to help us. We feel duped. We have paid for CCTV to make us feel safer and we don’t feel we have got that.”

Rachel Maddox from Peacock’s added: “Someone attacked one of our guards, but there was no CCTV footage to back that up so it never went to court. As far as I know, the CCTV cameras were working.

“It’s not keeping us safe by just monitoring the road. I think it’s disgusting.”

Fiona Lewis from Bakeaway had a similar experience. She said: “I definitely want my money back. We were robbed in December and went to the council for the CCTV but were told the cameras weren’t working.

I would not have paid £200 if I thought the cameras wren’t going to work, and I would not have paid £200 if I had known what I now believe they are going to use them for: to stop cars going down the road.”

Katherine Smith from Stead and Simpson agreed. She said: “The response has been that the cameras weren’t working or the cameras weren’t pointing in the right direction.

“I definitely want my money back because it seems like they’ve asked for money from small businesses for the cameras. But they have used them to make more money from fines and traffic offences.”

Jones The News asked to speak to a council officer or an elected councillor but was told no-one was available. Neither was anyone available from Safer Bristol Partnership, an umbrella organisation of the police and council.

In a statement, Safer Bristol Partnership said: “The system has worked well and has proved effective in improving  the safety for people using the East Street shopping centre.

“There have been dozens of successful outcomess [sic] as a result of CCTV surveillance. For example CCTV pictures led to the arrest of a man who attacked a shopkeeper with a samurai sword, a man was arrested for a cash point robbery and various car crimes, assaults and shoplifting offences have resulted in arrests.”

Audio: shopkeepers on East describe the problems they’ve had


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Bristol Centre “Should Have Fewer Pubs” Claim

August 14, 2009

Bristol councillors are set to introduce new rules limiting the number of pubs and clubs in a large part of the city centre.

Restrictions are likely to be brought in covering the Harbourside, College Green, the Centre, Cabot Circus and Stokes Croft. Limits on alcohol licences are also likely on the Gloucester Rd, and possibly in Clifton Village.

A council committee has recommended making the areas ‘cumulative impact zones’, where it is much harder – though not impossible – for a new pub or club to get an alcohol licence.

Councillor Gary Hopkins told Jones The News the ruling Lib Dem cabinet was likely to adopt the recommendations in full.

He said: “We don’t want to do away with fun. But we do want to make sure we don’t have an area completely dominated by vertical drinking establishments.

“We want to change the nature of the area and reduce the negative image of somewhere where it is not safe for families to go.”

He believes the drinking culture in the area has got out of hand and needs to be curtailed, adding: “More organised action would have been useful some years ago in terms of positive planning, but we are where we are.

“A thriving night-time economy is fine, but not when it drives other activities out of the area. When that happens, we have to take action.”

But many people we spoke to in the city centre disagreed with the plans.

One man said: “I think it’s a bad idea in the recession with lots of things closing down. They should make it easier, not harder to open new businesses.”

A woman told us: “I think Bristol is all about music, art and being alive. Having more pubs and clubs would be a good thing.”

Another man said: “It’s people they need to change, not the rules. If people want to find cheap drink they’ll get it.”

Audio: Martin Jones interviews councillor Gary Hopkins


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Park Street could become part-pedestrianised

July 30, 2009

Park Street and the Clifton Triangle could become partly-pedestrianised “shared space” under plans being considered by Bristol’s council bosses.

It would mean no form of transport having priority, with pedestrians and cyclists sharing the road equally with buses, cars and motorbikes.

A similar scheme operates in parts of Ashford in Kent; the forecourt of Temple Meads station is also largely shared.

Park Street: a shared space?

Park Street: a "shared space"?

Jon Rogers, the Lib Dem cabinet minister for transport, said: “If you have a shopping street like Park street, the idea of everybody going slowly down that street, all being careful of each other, has some attractions.

“A lot of the time, cars don’t travel more than 10-15mph round the city anyway. Journeys tend to be stop start and people don’t make much progress.

“If we could do away with all the traffic lights in that area and people just made a gentle and careful way through those areas, you may find the time it takes to get between the Victoria Rooms down to the St James Barton roundabout might be less than it currently is.”

But the idea has already come under fire from Conservative leader Richard Eddy. He told Jones The News: “All too often, as with Prince Street, we’ve seen the Lib Dems default position has been to make life even more difficult for those trying to work and shop in Bristol.

“We are not a city that can afford to take this heavy-handed approach to the motorist, particularly in recession.

“The Lib Dem administration seems to be making life much easier for cyclists, and that’s something I support, but not at the expense of every other road user.”

The report to be considered by the council cabinet on Thursday afternoon claims the idea would “truly reflect [Bristol's] Cycle City aspirations.”

The Park Street plan, along with other proposals for improvements to roads around the Colston Hall and East Street in Bedminster are being considered because money will shortly be available for infrastructure projects from the Department for Transport.

Council bosses are also considering building a new pedestrian bridge betwen the end of King Street and Redcliffe Street, to use money given by property developers.

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