Posts Tagged ‘News’


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

“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.”


Bristol A&E Cases Soar Because Of Ice

January 13, 2010

The BRI reports a spike in the number of people going to A&E because of falls on the ice in Bristol.

Hospital bosses say they normally see between 140-160 cases a day at the accident and emergency department at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

But they saw between a third and half more in the three days following snowfall in Bristol last week.

Snow fell on Wednesday 6th Jan, and A&E saw 218 cases on the Thursday, 230 on the Friday and 201 on the Saturday. By Sunday the number of cases had returned to “the high end of average”.

A Broken Leg

A spokeswoman told Jones The News the increase could be put down to slips, falls and trips on the ice and snow. Most of the cases involved sprains and broken bones.

The city council has defended its policy on gritting the city’s pavements, saying it does not have enough grit to salt pavements as well as main roads. Bristol, along with all other local councils, was also told to ration its use of grit as the nation’s stocks ran low.

Nonetheless, the Lib Dem administration on the council has come under fire from Labour councillors Ron Stone and Mark Brain, who have demanded the Lib Dems provide figures on the relative costs of gritting pavements and treating broken bones.

Air ambulance paramedics have also reported attending a number of sledging accidents, as the helicopter is often the only way to reach some of the relatively remote places where sledging accidents happen.

Air paramedic Pete Sadler said many of the cases he had attended involved people who had hit trees or rocks hidden under the snow.

He said: “Are they lucky? Well, they are lucky not to have long-term effects from their injuries. I know of other cases where people have not fared so well.

“If ‘lucky’ is the way to describe a broken arm or a broken ankle, then I would say that compared to a life-threatening injury, that’s lucky.”

“And he urged sledgers to take care in the fresh snow. He said: “Do think about the obstacles in the way. Think about the fact that a sledge isn’t easily controllable.

“If there is a possibility that the sledge might hit a tree or rock, then it’s best to choose another sledge run.”


Firefighters ‘Proactive’ In Preventing Gas Danger

January 11, 2010

Bristol’s firefighters say they are doing enough to educate firms and prevent gas cylinder explosions like the one in St Philip’s.

A cylinder of the compressed gas — used in welding — exploded at the BOC plant in St Philip’s on Thursday afternoon, and a large area currently remains cordoned off.

But Avon Fire and Rescue claim the gas is safe if stored correctly, and that they are educating firms about its dangers.

They also say it is too early to say exactly what caused the explosion and whether the correct safety procedures were followed.

London Acetylene Safety Leaflet

Acetylene is a popular choice for welding because, when mixed with oxygen, it burns at a very high temperature. This means it can be used to weld a higher number of metals than some other gases. It has been used for over 100 years.

However, firefighters say acetylene is at particular risk of exploding because it can ‘self-heat’ without a flame, for example if knocked.

When an incident occurs, safety regulations demand an area 200 metres around it be cordoned off. There have been calls for the gas to be banned in the past, and it is a regular concern in fires.

In the current Bristol incident, this meant a railway line, commuter routes along Whitby Rd and Feeder Rd and business parks such as Avon Meads being closed over the last four days. An incident involving acetylene occurred at the same BOC depot in St Philip’s in 2006.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has run a huge acetylene education programme over the past three years, which has succeeded in reducing the number of incidents in the capital.

One leaflet produced in London even suggests firms reconsider their use of acetylene and switch to other gases.

There is no similar programme in the Avon area, but city firefighters are adamant they are doing enough to minimise the risks.

Station manager Rob Davis told Jones The News: “London have taken the lead on acetylene safety but we have been involved with them.

“We’ve been actively involved in the national arena as part of the Chief Fire Officers Association. Acetylene is high on our priority list and we have been proactive to increase awareness of safety issues around acetylene.

“We provide advice across the spectrum, including to businesses. We do suggest that anything that makes the workplace safer is a better choice.

“Acetylene is safe – it is a safe gas if used in the correct hands. But that’s true of a lot of things. A lot of things that are used in industry are potentially dangerous, but safe if used in a safe way.”

The umbrella organisation for the compressed gas industry, the BCGA, also insists acetylene is safe.

BCGA Chief Executive Doug Thornton said: “Acetylene cylinders are perfectly safe unless they are exposed to a raging fire. In 70% of the incidents involving acetylene, the cylinder itself is not the cause of the fire, but is the innocent bystander that gets involved in a fire that relates to something else.

“There are other methods of welding and other gas alternatives, but nothing can really replace acetylene. It can weld metals that others can’t. If you want to weld metals you need oxy-acetylene.”


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.


Vince Cable: True Cost Of Recession Felt In Bristol

December 18, 2009

Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable believes the true cost of the recession is being borne in cities like Bristol.

He said today that London has an “artificial boom mentality”, created by a rise in the stock market and high prices for luxury homes.

But he believes shopkeepers, traders and other small business in provincial cities better understand the true cost of the downturn.

Vince Cable

Vince Cable, Lib Dem candidate Paul Harrod and shopkeeper Kathy Thorne

Among those he met was businesswoman Kathy Thorne, who runs the Time For Fun party shop on Filton Rd, Horfield.

Kathy has just been forced to give up her premises as a result of what she believes are excessive demands for rent by her landlord.

Her circumstances may be unsual, but her experience of going bust is sadly typical of many shops around the city.

Vince told Jones The News: “There is an artificial boom mentality in London, created by the stock exchange and luxury property prices, but it is very artificial.

But out in the country it is very different, people are very sober. There is a problem, though some people think there isn’t.”

He also hit out at the Labour government’s policies towards the banks.

He said: “Having taken the banks over, he has just let the banks go back to business as usual. Gordon Brown is intimidated by the bankers.

“For ten years, Brown has curtsied to the city of London and isn’t able or willing to exert any kind of control, and that is a big weakness.”

But he refused to be drawn on the possibility of serving as chancellor in a hung parliament. Many commentators believe a hung parliament is becoming more likely, as the Tories lead over Labour shrinks.

One frequently-discussed scenario is that Cable would become Chancellor if the Liberals formed a coalition either with Labour or the Conservatives.

But he swept the idea away, saying: “It’s not a personal thing. I am part of a team and that team is doing very well. Bristol is a good example of the way the Liberal Democrats have come from a long way behind to become the dominant political force in the city.

“There is no question of me going off to do anything on my own. what we are concerned about is not jobs for me or anyone else. We are more concerned with getting our policies across.

“It is my ambition to be chancellor in a Lib Dem administration, that is what we are aiming for.”

Audio: Martin Jones interviews Vince Cable


Bristol Civil Rights Activist Welcomes World Cup Inclusion

December 17, 2009

Veteran civil rights campaigner Paul Stephenson says the World Cup is a chance for Bristol to show it can welcome people of different races and faiths.

But he warned a failure to do that would be a “disaster” which would damage the city and its reputation “for generations”.

In the 1960’s, Mr Stephenson led a boycott of Bristol buses which led directly to the introduction of the Race Relations Act. He has previously called for the city to issue a direct apology for its role in the slave trade. He was given an OBE in the 2009 honours.

Paul Stephenson and former Labour MP Tony Benn

Paul Stephenson and former Labour MP Tony Benn

Speaking after the announcement of Bristol’s inclusion in England’s 2018 bid, Mr Stephenson welcomed it, saying: “The challenge is how far will Bristol come to terms with the cultural identity of the peoples who arrive here from continent of Africa, Latin america, and Eastern Europe

“How far are Bristolians going to enhance their reputation with these people who will be coming to the city expecting a warm welcome?”

“If Bristol fails [to show how multicultural it is], it will be a disaster for Bristol. But I believe that Bristol will meet the challenge and do its best to welcome all the peoples from around the world.

“They should come and identify with this beautiful city. Failure to do that will be a disaster for the people of Bristol for generations to come. This is the one of the great challenges that comes in a lifetime and Bristol now must meet it.”

But Mr Stephenson agrees the World Cup would be a chance to show the city off. He said: “Bristol has so much going for it. People of all races, colours, creeds and religions can come together through sport and see their humanity as people, and respect that. We can move the city forward for generations to come.”

Audio: Martin Jones interviews Paul Stephenson


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


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.”


Bristol City In Arena ‘Land Swap’ Talks

November 18, 2009

A new arena for Bristol has moved a step closer, as it has emerged that Bristol City FC is in talks aimed at building one alongside its new stadium at Ashton Vale.

Several sources have confirmed to Jones The News that companies involved in the new stadium deal are discussing a ‘land swap’ with the South West Regional Development Agency in order to get an arena built next to the new stadium.

The talks are still at an early stage, but they have already been condemned by Tobacco Factory architect George Ferguson, who calls them “bonkers”.

The South West RDA – responsible for giving money to business projects in the region – still owns about 9 acres of disused land near Temple Meads station. The site had been earmarked for an arena until the plans were scrapped in 2007.

The RDA is now in discussion to swap this land for 6 acres alongside the planned Ashton Vale stadium, owned by the group of companies involved in building the club’s new stadium.

City had wanted to build a housing estate known as ‘Southlands’ on the site, but was denied permission by the council last month, because the land is green belt.

If the swap goes through, Bristol City would then develop the Temple Meads site, possibly for housing, while the RDA builds an arena at Southlands.

The club has previously said it would need to consider a variety of options to adress what it claimed would be a £10m shortfall to its stadium project, following the rejection of Southlands.

Despite last week promising not to build on Bristol’s green belt land, the city’s ruling Lib Dem cabinet say they may allow “exceptional” applications. It is believed an arena would fall into this category.

However, both the RDA and Bristol City FC have refused to comment on the land swap talks.

An RDA spokeswoman said: “Any discussions are just speculation and we will not comment on speculation.” A Bristol City Football Club spokesman said the club would not comment at this stage.

But the plans have been condemned by Tobacco Factory architect George Ferguson. He said: “The RDA have made huge mistakes in the past and this will be another one. An arena on this site is totally inexcusable and it will fail.”

Mr Ferguson has his own proposals for an arena on the Temple Meads site.

But a senior member of the ruling Lib Dem cabinet told Jones The News: “We want to see an arena and our preference is for one which will happen.

“The plan to build an arena at Temple Meads won’t happen. There is no value in fighting old battles all over again.”

Audio: George Ferguson speaks to Jones The News


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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