BRT u-turn

It looks like Mark Bradshaw’s Bus Rapid Transit policy for the city is in meltdown.

For starters it’s now been announced that the public CONsultation promised for this spring has been very abruptly “delayed”. Why we’re not being told. But surely it can’t have anything to do with the widespread public disquiet and distrust Bradshaw’s plan to put a rapid transit route on the Bristol and Bath Railway path has caused can it?

Indeed is it possible that the city council doesn’t actually believe its own publicity that campaigners against their plan are a “vocal minority” and that any CONsultation they launch at present is likely to come to the wrong conclusion? ie. Overwhelmingly reject a BRT route on the Railway Path.

That, of course, would ruin the whole purpose of a Bristol City Council CONsultation, which is not to find out what people really think and adjust their policy accordingly as you might think. Instead a public CONsultation is actually a massive PR exercise with the express purpose of convincing people to rubber stamp a – usually irreversible – decision already taken by the council.

Not surprisingly no new date is yet forthcoming from Bradshaw as to when he might launch his new CONsultation although expect him, the Labour Party, Caplan and the rest of the council’s PR team to be engaging in plenty of softening up exercises while they decide. It’s probably fair to assume that the recent fatuous announcement from Bradshaw that he wanted to turn Bristol into a “Cycle City” is only the beginning on this front.

Bradshaw has also performed a u-turn with regards to the potential route of the BRT. Further minutes released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Lib Dems – ostensibly to try and clear their gasbag former Transport Exec, Dennis Brown, of any blame for the BRT fiasco – clearly indicate Bradshaw had assented to CONsultants Steer Davies Gleave pursuing the BRT route on the railway path only.

What else is a minute (pdf) headed “Endorsement of the Project Initiation Document to progress the prioritised route to major scheme bid submission” meant to mean?

But now we learn, eight months later, Bradshaw has allegedly reinstructed CONsultants Steer Davies Gleave – at what cost we don’t know – to produce three new options: one using the M32 and A432; one using the Bristol and Bath Railway Path; and a third option combining the two.

He has also urgently pulled a West of England Partnership document published earlier this month called ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ (Blogger Passim), stating unequivocally that the next BRT route “would be alongside the Bristol and Bath Railway Path”.

All it needs now is for Bradshaw to step off a plane asking “Crisis? What crisis?” really.

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11 Responses to BRT u-turn

  1. Pedestria says:

    Bristol Blogger asks: “is it possible that the city council doesn’t actually believe its own publicity that campaigners against their plan are a “vocal minority” …?”

    Possibly. But, they may just be withdrawing temporarily to regroup. They could look through the names who’ve signed the petition, and draw the conclusion that we are only the kind of people who they can, in their democratic ZaNuLab way, dismiss as “the usual suspects”, never mind the numbers.

    The Packer’s Field Town Green people were told, by those in the know, that they failed to meet Council criteria on “people who are listened to”.

  2. bristolgraffiti says:

    Interesting that BBC Bristol’s website currently has an interactive map of the cycle path as a front page feature is it not?

    Obviously the BBC are once again pandering to vocal minorities…

  3. Gary Hopkins says:

    Slight technical correction.
    The FOI request put in by campaigners to the council administration produced much interesting information but a weakness in the act is that background information can be excluded on the grounds that it is policy formation. Once the foi request had started the digging we were able to ask the right questions and join up some of the dots after a meeting with officers. We were happy to share the info.In our view it was sensible for all the options to be looked at , the problem came when the “professionals”(which of course included government as well as local officers and consultants decided that the cycle path was the preferred route and Mr Bradshaw and the other new executives accepted this and work on the other routes was downgraded. It was vital that this was uncovered in time because otherwise a report would have been written extoling the virtues of the cycle route and that would have killed the M32 route. There is now a possibility of us getting BRT and an unmolested cycle path but unfortunately given past performance most people will be very doubtful.
    I suspect now that the cycle path has just about reached the category of too hot to touch but the battle on the PFI incinerator is just getting going.

  4. Chris Hutt says:

    So Gary, if the Railway Path route is finally becoming recognised as “too hot to touch”, wouldn’t it be timely, and a great service to the community, for someone to administer the “coup de grace” to put the thing out of our misery and allow us all to focus on other issues?

    May I suggest that the vote on April 1st would be an appropriate time for Bristol to send a clear signal to the West of England Partnership that they are wasting their time, and our money, pursuing that option. Can we could on the Lib-Dem’s to do the decent thing?

  5. Chris Hutt says:

    Sorry, slight typo there. Last sentence should of course have been “Can we count on the Lib-Dems to do the decent thing?”

  6. Gary Hopkins says:

    You may not have noticed but Bristol is at present,although Lib Dems are the largest party, run by a Lab/con alliance. We have no representation on the decision making boards and have to work very hard to even get information. We recognise reality and were quick once we had the information to put out our position but unfortunately we are not in charge . Everyone should also be on their guard to make sure that public utterances are matched by real decisions.
    It is rare for a local politician to inspire a whole new verb in such a short time but “to Bradshaw” is now in quite common parlance.
    I offer no definition.
    Others might have some ideas.

  7. Chris Hutt says:

    Gary, I am aware of the distribution of seats on the Council and the fact that the Conservatives have put Labour in power, but as the largest group by a large margin the Lib-Dems surely carry some clout in an open debate, such as we’ve been promised for April 1st. A lot of people will be watching very carefully to see how councillors vote.

  8. Bristol Dirt Bag says:

    While taking a well needed drink down the pub I was told that the area representatives for the Easton Community Partnership were recently given a presentation by some PR woman trying to sell the BRT scheme… from what I can gather it wasn’t received too well.

    Does anyone else know anything about this presentation?

  9. Gary Hopkins – Chris asked you what I thought was a very straight question. Why wont you give a straight answer?

    Will you/the Lib Dems do the decent thing, vote against the plan to turn the Railway Path into a bus route and do your utmost to get councillors from other parties to vote with you?

  10. bristoltravelplan says:

    Not sure you’ll get the straight answer you want, VowlestheGreen , as Mr Hopkin’s is being his usual slippery self — and why are we not hearing from Dr Dennis Brown about all this stuff – has he been sacked as transport guru for the Lib Dems? Surely not. Maybe he’s the one who decided to go for the cyclepath in the first place – if so we should be told. I hear the chief cyclepath campaigners met Bradshaw in the week – anyone know what happened?

  11. Sarah says:

    Hi Dirtbag
    I also heard about the presentation to the Easton Community Partnership. According to the person I spoke to, the Partnership put in a request for more information about the plan, and got a presentation from consultants Steer Davies Gleave, who outlined the 3 options BB lists here.

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