Gimmick Watch

Hot air

Other means of creating hot air …

Bristol City Council is planning another gimmick to help define the council’s top priorities for the future – even though they’ve done this all before and miserably failed to deliver the priorities.

The gimmick will take up the first two hours of the next meeting of the full Council on January 15th 2008 – and the public are invited to submit statements to the gimmick that will then be discussed by the city’s 70 elected councillors.

The meeting will be webcast live – and you can follow proceedings online at

Welcoming the gimmick, Cllr Helen Holland, Leader of the Council, said: “Our last pointless gimmick – the Citizens’ jury on Waste – was a hugely spectacular waste of money to tell us the blindingly obvious.

“But since we have no vision for the city beyond a few hackneyed buzzwords – “delivering high quality”; “value for money”; “services for all”; “drive forward change”; “safer and healthier for all”; “deliver visible improvements” – and neither do we have a manifesto we thought we might as well wheel out yet another gimmick to patronise the electorate with instead.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Group, Cllr Steve Comer added: “To be honest I’m an out-and-out careerist and so desperate to be noticed I’d sign my party up for anything for a bit of publicity, even one of Bristol Labour’s ridiculous see-through gimmicks that serve no purpose.

“Many Bristol residents feel promises are made but not delivered. This gimmick gives councillors an opportunity to pretend otherwise.”

Leader of the Conservative Group, Bunter Eddy said: “Cor! I hope pies, cakes and cream tea are served too.”

Public statements telling this lot where to get off should be submitted in writing by 12 noon on Monday, January 14th 2008 – by post to Democratic Services Team, Room 220, The Council House, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR, by fax to 0117 922 2146 or by e-mail to Anyone requiring further information can phone the Democratic Services Team on 0117 922 2362 (Minicom – 0117 922 2115).

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15 Responses to Gimmick Watch

  1. Timo says:

    Should be the best display of fun and frolics since the last meeting. With the usuall heck the cost element thrown in.

  2. bristolcitizen says:

    Blogger – are you in fact a council press officer? Keep up the good work

  3. Jozer says:

    How about ‘integrated public transport system’, ‘Schools that local people actually want to send their kids to’ or ’21st century sports facilities’?

  4. bluebaldee says:

    Utterly pointless.

    I seem to remember that a similar exercise in asking Bristolians what they wanted was conducted about six years ago.

    The top two priorities were:

    1, The Supertram

    2, An Arena

    Well, they’ve done a bang-on job of delivering those two, haven’t they?

    I also seem to remember that a Museum of Bristol was either 10th (out of 10), or not on the list at all. But there they go wasting £25+ million of our hard-earned cash on a white elephant that no-one wants.

    Why do these tossers bother to consult when they just end up doing exactly the opposite of what their employers (us) want them to?

  5. bluebaldee says:

    One of the few things that Bristol City Council seems to do quite well is the maintenance of our green spaces.

    Bristol is blessed with some excellent parks and green spaces. They’re generally well maintained and they make the city a pleasant place to live and provide amenity to all citizens, regardless of wealth, social status or race.

    However, even this is under attack from our rapacious and servile (to it’s Government masters) Council.

    Cleverly disguised as a “Parks and Green Spaces Strategy” (PGSS), the Council is proposing the biggest land grab since Hitler took a liking to the Sudetenland.

    The Council claims that it will cost up to £87 million to maintain and safeguard our green spaces over the next 20 years. Quite how they arrive at this breathtaking figure is beyond me. £87 million pays for an awful lot of grass-cutting and park benches.

    The PGSS hopes to offset this figure by raising around £36 million by selling off “low quality” green space for development. Who determines whether green space is “low quality” is not explained. One persons “low quality” green space is another’s vital amenity area. Packers Field was considered “low quality” so they allowed Ray “Turbulent” Priest to hijack it for his Academy, thus depriving local people of their only bit of local green space.

    I grew up under Purdown and spent many a brilliant summer day clambering around the old gun emplacements by the telecoms tower and around other areas off the top of Lockleaze. These spaces would be designated “low quality” because they are unmaintained and informal. But to me they were an amazing adventure playground that are the source of precious memories and escapades.

    Bristolians are lucky enough to enjoy 38 square meters per capita of green space. The Bristol Quantity Standard proposes that Bristolians could get by with 27.8 sq m of green space – which allows a collossal 10 sq m per capita to be disposed of. My maths makes this: Population 400,000 x 10 sq m = 4 million sq m of land that could be sold for development.

    So it seems that our wonderful Council are now hell bent on altering the physical makeup of the city forever, just to appease Gordon Brown’s ill-conceived house building pipe-dream and to please Labour’s developer cronies.

    Screwing up education, public transport and culture is clearly not enough for this bunch of loonies – now they’re after the trees and flowers.

  6. Gary Hopkins says:

    Whilst we as a city are blessed with some great parks over the years the upkeep has not been what it should have been. Too low a %of council cash.Even parks enthusiasts reluctantly agreed to a limited sell off of some land on the condition that 80% of the proceeds, together with a large chunk of the money garnered from property development elsewhere was put into the parks. There was consultation over months and detailed figures were given. Rosalie Walker , the “culture” executive stood in front of the parks forum and publicly committed to the 80% figure. It was minuted. Now , at the last minute, slipped in quietly when many are still mentally on their solstice break the commitment has been dropped. As a result the amount of land to be sold to fund the basic strategy has been more than doubled to a value of £102,000,000. No extra for the parks but more cash to fill up black holes elsewhere. No translation is given as to how much open space this represents.
    Welome to Labour’s January sales.

  7. Great comment by Bluebaldee – I agree with every word. I remember running wild in ‘low quality’ green space where Callington Rd and the Brislington Tesco now is, when I was a kid. There are a few other places within a few miles of me that were green but are now built over.

    It seems that the council does not see sustaining the total amount of open, green space available as one key indicator progress towards their ambition of being the ‘UK’s green capital’.

  8. bluebaldee says:


    I forgot about the “Green Capital” angle.

    Although credit is due to both Labour and the Lib Dems for dramatically increasing recycling rates across the city and forcing Bristolians to think about our wasteful throw-away culture, on most other green measures they’ve failed dismally.

    Number one is of course the continuing failure of public transport in the city. Air quality and congestion is so poor as a direct result of Bristol City Council, First Group and the Government’s total and utter failure to provide a viable, reliable and affordable alternative to the private motor car.

    Bristol City Council, whether run by Labour or the Lib Dems (and I’m sure the Tories if they ever got a look in) have been quite laughably poor at effectively lobbying for Government transport cash that other cities seem to successfully obtain. On this count they are all useless cowards.

    Second is BCC’s inability to develop sustainable communities. Most of the residential construction in the city has been of overpriced, rabbit hutch flats. Mainly because Labour is in thrall to developers.

    Thirdly, the land grab proposed in the PGSS will dramatically reduce green space in the city, whilst increasing housing density. There are so many empty properties in Bristol, so why isn’t renovating these and returning them to residential use given a higher priority? Again, it’s because of the influence of the major developers who turn far more profit by building on land sold to them for a pittance by the Council.

    Although I am very proud of my city, I sincerely hope that we don’t win this pointless “Green City” accolade.

    It will simply give our under-performing Council a fig leaf to cover their dismal failings.

  9. thebristolblogger says:

    Unsurprisingly transport is the issue:

    As if we need a debate to tell us?

  10. bluebaldee says:

    It was, of course, a pointless talking shop.

    The Council doesn’t need a “State of the city” debate to tell them what Bristolians have been banging on about for years; namely that we have a god-awful public transport system run by a rapacious, incompetent private monopoly.

    The Council will do exactly sod-all to remedy this situation as they’re hopeless cowards who will never do anything to upset their Westminster masters.

    They’ll just carry on with their utterly doomed and spectacularly ineffective bus-based strategy run by their First Group pals.

    I wonder how much First have contributed to Labour party coffers? It must be a colossal amount for them to get away with the highway robbery that passes for public transport in this city.

  11. I agree with what’s been said by both the Blogger and Bluebaldee. My view is that the council’s ability to meet even the goals its sets itself is extremely poor, though it tries to disguise the fact with vague language and buzz words. Its a highly ineffective organisation, as the very clear lack of progress towards the ‘green capital’ ambition, as described by Bluebaldee, reveals.

  12. bluebaldee says:

    The Gimmick that took place in 2003 (I think) asked Bristolians what they wanted for the city, and, as I’ve mentioned earlier the Tram and an Arena came top.

    The Museum of Bristol came 10th – or didn’t figure at all.

    So how come we’re spending £25 million plus on it?

    At the same time, Cardiff are proposing their own Museum of Cardiff, set over two floors (like ours), housed in an existing building (like ours) and costing………

    £4 million. Yep, £21 million less than the Museum of Bristol.

    It’s all here:

    Just think what we could do with £21 million.

    Wildwalk and IMAX would still be open. We could have a modest waterfront performing arts centre. The Severn Beach Line could get it’s fabled 30 minute service. Every underused and sadly decrepit suburban rail station in Bristol could be freshened up.

    Old folk’s homes wouldn’t have to close, special schools could be kept open.

    Yellow school buses could be provided for the city’s kids to get to school, thus reducing traffic on the school run and keeping kids safe on their way there.

    Any of the above would be a far better use of £21 million – and we’d still get a Museum of Bristol.

    The actual magnitude of this figure has only just hit home to me.


    What part of this is actually costing £25 million? Glazing the old Industrial Museum? Surely not. The exhibits? I don’t think so. It simply can’t cost that much to fit the place out.

    Why none of the cowardly curs that pass for Councillors in Bristol have said “Hang on, isn’t 25 million quid rather a lot of money for a museum that no-one really wants, housed in a renovated shed?”

    But no, they just sit there nodding their heads like a bunch of demented Churchill dogs.

    It’s the same for the Colston Hall. No-one in the Council chamber seems to think that £18 million just might be a bit steep for a foyer, bar and ticket office.

    Perhaps Bristol isn’t that badly off for money after all. The cash is simply spent by the criminally insane who stick their fingers in their ears and shout “La, la, la, la la, la I can’t hear you!” every time a citizen says anything to them.


  13. Gary Hopkins says:

    Interesting trip down memory lane. The loss of the green space at Callingtion rd was tragic and the damage limitation exercise involving local residents and the wldlife sanctuary was only a partial rescue but at least something was saved.
    What amazes me is that Mr Vowles lets pass the comment giving some credit to the Bristol Labour party for the so far uncompleted,recycling revolution in bristol (to be fair supported by the green party at the time) which was so vehemently opposed by the dunderheads of Bristol Labour.
    Please try to put the cause before party politics as I said to Charlie Bolton as he hid away from the cameras when friends of the earth and even a Tory joined us in a protest against the new Labour/Tory incinerator.

  14. Jozer says:

    A fraction of that £21,000,000 could re-open the Portishead-Bristol railway.

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