“We want our city to be an ambitious city that includes and values all citizens – whatever their backgrounds, needs or lifestyles. We want to drive forward real change that makes a difference to people’s lives. We want to ensure the city is safer and healthier for all. And we want to deliver visible improvements to the streets, parks, open spaces, community facilities and transport links in your local neighbourhood – so that wherever you live you can be confident the council is serving you well.”
Helen Holland, Leader, Bristol City Council, 17 December 2007
Sadly those who work, live and play in Bristol can cite a whole raft of public misadventures which have left the city reeling and dented its ambitions.
The theatre is currently shut. The long-awaited arena has been scuppered by a combination of the city council and the regional development agency. The Colston Hall is still nowhere near fit for 21st century purpose.
The Industrial Museum is closed, its successor is growing ever more expensive and the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum is moving to London.
The Wild Walk is shut and is quietly rotting away on Harbourside. while next door the giant Imax cinema has closed too.
We could go on and say the city the Christmas decorations city-wide ill-befit a place of Bristol’s presumed prestige and, allied to all this, those who travel to and through it daily are greeted by gridlock.
So what is it that’s all wrong about Bristol? A place fast making a name for itself as the city where nothing goes right on the civic front.
Anything it touches, anything it possesses, anything which is iconic and specific to the city, seems to be tainted by inertia, lack of vision, decline or outright failure.
You begin to wonder if Bristol is showing the early signs of what could be terminal malaise.
Comment, Bristol Evening Post, 18 December 2007