Time to return to the council’s latest response to Vowlsie’s complaint.
Having had to cave in to the inevitable and admit the Railway Path land is covered by the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy as the Blogger pointed out over two months ago, we now find Complaints Manager, Tim “Baudrillard” Sheppard waxing lyrical on the philosophical nature of democratically created policy at Bristol City Council:
The essence of the matter involves the purpose of Council policies. As I see it, they act as a framework to help guide progress, they are not rigid and absolute prescriptions.
Really? No doubt this comes as interesting news to councillors and voters who thought that democratically elected representatives made policies rather than frameworks and Mr Sheppard and his officer chums just got on with the job of implementing them to the best of their abilities.
Apparently not. Instead it seems we go out and vote to produce some kind of freewheeling postmodern interpretive framework for unelected officers to play with after due consultation with the city’s wealthy elite.
So when the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy states unequivocally that the Bristol and Bath Railway Path is “a large scale and strategically significant green corridor” and a “significant wildlife corridor” that’s protected under the strategy as an informal green space, this is not a “rigid and absolute prescription” to not develop the land as you might think.
No. Through the magic of local government officers’ interpretive jouissance this actually means the land is available for speculative developers to build small tower blocks on and for them to use to increase car parking capacity for their development.
Brilliant isn’t it? Look out for Mr Sheppard’s The Save Railway Path Campaign Did not Take Place essay out soon.
To be fair to Sheppard he does add a caveat by saying:
There will be times when there is a tension between differing policies and tension between desired actions and the aspirations of a policy. It is then for the Council to consider these competing needs and take a balanced view. This is what I believe has taken place and what lies behind the actions taken by David Bishop.
But what tension is there between what policies? Tim doesn’t go into that but the FoI emails show us that Bishop’s policy experts from Parks, Property, Conservation and Transport Planning were all against the proposal to sell the land for development. No tension there at all with the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy then.
So just what policy did Bishop discover in the course of his private conversations with one of the city’s most influential multi-millionaires to create these remarkable and overwhelming policy tensions?
Meanwhile on the subject of the lack of need for an Environmental Impact Assessment for the development, Mr Sheppard has gone very silent indeed …