Saturday night at the movies

Two new films about the Railway Path here. Both, in their own way, are far more representative of the traditional left than unwashed hippy “Green Protestors” the Cancer would have you believe.

One features Labour’s prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, Paul Smith; the other has been made by Bristol’s Respect Party.

And there’s fighting talk from Smith who openly raises the issue of class: “I think a lot of the green public spaces that serve the wealthier parts of the city would never even be considered for having one blade of grass touched.

“I don’t think anyone would propose putting anything like this on the Downs. This path is as important to the people of Lawrence Hill, Easton, Eastville and Fishponds as the Downs is to Clifton …”


Respect meanwhile have got out and interviewed some of the path’s users and also started asking questions about the effect the BRT scheme may have on Bristol’s inner city communities:

“Documents obtained from the West of England state ‘the route performs well in terms of patronage and deliverability and will include careful design to ensure it will interact sensitively with new developments in the Temple Meads and Temple Quay areas’.

“But we’re concerned it doesn’t appear to be interacting sensitively with local communities like Easton, Greenbank and Fishponds …”


More on the campaign:

This entry was posted in Bristol, Bristol West, Developments, Easton, Eastville, Environment, Hillfields, Labour Party, Lawrence Hill, Local government, Politics, Respect Party, The Downs, Transport, WESP and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Saturday night at the movies

  1. Chris Hutt says:

    Paul Smith mentioned a bus passing every 10 minutes. It looks like it could be much worse than that, maybe an average of every 2½ minutes in each direction, so almost constant noise and pollution at times.

    Do I get a prize for spotting that Felix of Respect managed to get a spot in both videos?

  2. SteveL says:

    @chris. no, no prize; I mention it in the posting on our site of the respect video.

    Notice that Felix is better at editing videos than peter w. and myself…though we got the 8:30am weekday rush, hour, which makes for a busy background.

  3. Paul Smith says:

    We did know that Felix was from Respect when we interviewed him, this campaign is a broad alliance.

    A bus every 2 1/2 minutes sounds like an almost continuous flow. I can picture it now “There were no buses for half an hour then 50 came along together”

  4. Chris Hutt says:

    That’s what happens on the Adelaide O bahn KGB system (same technology as used in Essen, hence O bahn). There are no signals or other controls, so buses frequently run in “convoys”. They are supposed to keep a certain minimum distance between buses and to obey speed limits, but infractions are common enough to make it profitable for the local police to operate speed traps!

    On bus frequency, that’s 2½ minutes in each direction, so a bus every 1¼ minutes in total. And they don’t propose any physical segregation between high speed buses and path users either! Their proposed path abuts the bus tracks, presumably because they need it for operational and maintenance purposes – somewhere to dump broken down buses, etc.

  5. MetallicRed says:

    I’m confused; this Paul Smith guy is from the Labour party opposing the bus route along the cycle path yet from what I read it’s the Labour party (or at least those of them in control at the city council) in Bristol who are pushing the plans. I appreciate, as commented earlier, that this campaign is a broad alliance, and that’s fantastic, but if not the Labour party then who exactly are in favour of the plans, and therefore to who must we campaign to? It seems that everyone involved in the Bristol political scene is keen to disown the proposal!

  6. SteveL says:

    @Chris: one bus each direction every 5 minutes, so one bus passing any single point every 2.5 min. Most of these buses will just be diverted off fishponds road, there to make up the numbers rather than actually increase passenger bus traffic.

    @MetallicRed. It is the West of England Partnership that is behind the plans, though things are blurred as often it is the Bristol Council press office issuing statements on behalf of the WoEP. The plans were put under way before the Labour Party came into power; they inherited the mess. Question is, will they back off, or will they embrace the mess and turn it into a disaster? We need to convince every councillor to vote against it.

  7. redzone says:

    i doubt any of the clips will make the bafta nominations!!!
    the information provided is nothing that we, the users of the cycle path don’t already know.
    i’m sure they really do care, but its just two clips to enhance political profiles of those involved.

  8. Paul Smith says:

    Metallicred “It seems that everyone involved in the Bristol political scene is keen to disown the proposal!”

    One would hope so, the plans are currently drifting in a virtual world of consultants, partnerships and council officers. I am not aware of any ‘political’ meeting that has endorsed these plans and that is how we want it to stay. The campaign includes people from across the political spectrum and from outside of it.

  9. Paul Smith says:


    I am a path user too

  10. Teach says:

    This comment is way off message, but has a tenuous link because of the ‘Movies’ reference in the title. Oh, and stupid council proposals!

    Our council may be inept, but at least we are not (yet) having to put up with a council that are supporting the call for all films with smoking scenes to have an 18 rating. That accolade has come from Liverpool, the CITY OF CULTURE no less. I bet that idea wasn’t in their application. How could Andrew Kelly have missed that one – it’s so obvious.

    If we thought Bristol’s council takes us for fools, then spare a thought for Liverpool’s citizens, whose leaders take them for even bigger imbeciles who can’t think for themselves.

    2008 – The Year Culture Died.

  11. redzone says:

    you may well be a user of the path mr smith, but as you are & have been a member of the labour party & of our gloriously inept council for a number of years, much of what you say & do will only be seen as political point scoring.
    that is only my opinion of course!

  12. Chris Hutt says:

    Redzone, I don’t think you’re being fair on Paul Smith. He was one of the first politicians to come out against the BRT route proposals and is doing more than most to help our campaign to save the Railway Path. We are grateful for his support, irrespective of what Political Party he is a member of.

  13. redzone says:

    it’s nothing personal chris i can assure you.
    this plan IS a labour led council one, it should never have even seen the light of day as a viable solution.

    so, does that mean that the local labour party members are not in tune with each other & do they not discuss important issues as a team before deciding to go public?

    i am not only making an issue with labour, the tories & lib dems on the council are just as bad.

    decisions made the by bristol city council & their unelected quangos have taken our city backwards over the past 10 years or more.
    i have little faith that things will improve until there is a different approach & some new faces at the council house that are not recycled from the failures of past years.

  14. Paul Smith says:

    “as you are & have been a member of the labour party & of our gloriously inept council for a number of years”

    Redzone, I haven’t been a member of the council since 1999. No part of the Labour party has endorsed this proposal and not a single member of the labour party that I am aware of has endorsed it, not even Mark Bradshaw. I have not attacked members of any parties in this campaign as I think all should be against it so can’t see who I am scoring points against. I am just following my gut reaction to this proposal.

  15. redzone says:

    nobody has endorsed it?
    so why are there public meetings, a march planned & a campaign to save the cycleway???

    who are we campaigning against??

    by the way, i didn’t accuse just you personally of point scoring.
    i directed that in the general direction of the bcc & politicians in general.

  16. Gary Hopkins says:

    Worrying isn’t it. If we accept Mr Smith’s statement as accurate then since June of last year the favoured option for BRT route 1 ,namely the cycle path,has been pursued with our tax money without any input or control from elected politicians. Unfortunately the record does not bear this out. Of course we have to recognise that Mr Smith is astute enough to spot that this plan is a vote loser for Labour and their supporters in the Tories in the constituancy he is to challenge in in the next general election but do not be fooled by the slick sidestep. I do not say that Mr Smith favours the path route privately but his colleage Mark Bradshaw endorsed consultant and officer preference for this route at the first executive member meeting he attended in June 2007.
    Prior to that time many options were being actively considered and no political endorsement had been given for any specific route.
    The tragedy is that whilst the cycle path route is being actively pursued as preferred option as well as there being all the negative stress and problems being created every day wasted diminishes the chances for a really positive contribution to public transport that another route might bring.
    Mr Smith also neglects to mention his full role in Labour party politics in recent years in Bristol including his role for Kerry McCarthy.
    We should all also recognise that a large part of the problem here is the quangogracy and evasion of direct political accountability that has been a hallmark of New Labour from the start.

  17. Paul Smith says:

    However, Gary never misses a chance to be party political

  18. The Public says:

    So, Mr. Hopkins, the Lib Dems have formally announced their position? Was that slight earth tremor the result of you falling off the fence after several weeks? The Public prefer their politicians to think for themselves. Hats off to Mr. Smith on this one, he’s managed to make you look small.

  19. Gary Hopkins says:

    If you care to look back at our press release from 7/feb you will see our position stated then.
    Which is as pointed out on a recent posting concern not just to preserve the cycle path, important though that is in itself, but also to stop the drive up the blind alley which could see this ” administration” lose the opportunity to get cash for real public transport impovements on another route.

  20. redzone says:

    ‘the public’ prefers their politicians to think for themselves??
    you sound like somebody out of the labour party press office!?!
    if the lib dems were sitting on the fence, then so have the majority of the labour councillors, & the tories too for that matter..
    the whole affair is becoming a bit of a joke.
    lets hope it doesn’t end up like the arena fiasco, where the decision was made & was NOT in the public interest.

  21. The Public says:

    Bristol suffers from a lack of visionary politicians, labour, lib dem, tory all included, with the ability to improve transport, education, or the environment in our City. There are very few up to the job of any of the cabinet posts, currently or in the recent past. The city lacks leadership and joined up thinking. We need to have all councillors elected every four years and an a seperate mayoral election for a position with real power. Does that sound like the labour party press office?

  22. Peter Goodwin says:

    I’ve looked again at the LibDems’ ‘position’on this – it’s at – but to me it looks like they want to keep the option of buses on the railway path. Since (with some justification after the incinerator fiasco) they have little faith in consultation, they seem to leave it to the officers to determine which route option is best. Have I got that right, Gary?

    The LibDems aren’t the only ones to defend the railway path BRT option on the grounds that if it’s scrapped, the whole BRT project could lose funding. Can Gary – or anyone – explain why that is so? What if an alternative route, like the M32 hard shoulder, takes its place… why should there be a problem ?

  23. badnewswade says:

    Frankly Respect can fuck off. I won’t be going to anything which has them along.

  24. Poor Dear says:

    The lib dems have a guilty secret.

    Consultants usually right the reports with the answers they were told at the begining. Who commissioned this consultancy – why Dennis Brown, Lib Dem for Henleaze who was the executive member for transport when this whole mess started. Also anyone who has worked with consultants know that they don’t just disappear for two years and come back witha final report. there would have been drafts – all produced when Brown was in control (or not in control in reality) of the planning officers.

    the lib dems are in this up to their necks and only started making any public statements after the eveing post survey when they saw which way the wind was blowing.

  25. James Barlow says:

    I think one aspect of the political disquiet around BRT is that it seems to form a huge part of all the transport plans for the city, and the initial reaction to losing it – from all parties – is “Oh bugger, that means there’s no cash for improvements and no integrated strategy for the city”

    Both the Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP) , and the Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study (GBSTS) – which I am gradually wading through – are the bait on the hook for lots of money.

    So if BRT goes, the option that must be put before the people of Bristol is that we’ll have to reject all the planning, forego the PFI money, and accept that until the tax system gets sorted out, things will be a bit tight and we need to start tightening our belts.

    That’s quite a scary concept. For some people.

    I’m reading the GBSTS. Any volunteers to look at the JLTP?

  26. Chris Hutt says:

    I’m dipping into both from time to time. The essence as I see it so far –

    Due to population and economic growth they’re expecting traffic growth to put ever greater pressure on existing infrastructure, leading to ever higher levels of congestion with concomitant economic costs.

    They don’t expect to be able to invest in new infrastructure to anything like the extent required to accommodate this traffic growth, so they accept the desirability of traffic restraint in the form of road pricing / congestion charging.

    To sugar this pill they feel they must offer lower income car users (the ones who will be driven off the roads by charging) some demonstrable investment in new public transport infrastructure beyond mere improvements to existing bus and rail.

    Light rail / trams are too expensive so the desired “step-change” is to be based on BRT, a system combining bus technology with something like rapid transit service levels. By routing BRT largely off the existing road system they increase overall capacity in a way that’s not possible with on-road bus priority, so allowing some traffic growth on the existing road system, but still nowhere near enough to prevent increasing congestion.

    Without BRT there may be no road pricing / congestion charging (although one might doubt that the politicians will ever bring that in anyway, even with BRT). Without road pricing /congestion charging we go on with traffic growth being restrained by congestion itself (and increasingly rising fuel costs), as has been the case for many decades.

    Of course it’s all founded on the desire for economic growth at any cost and the inevitability of the dominant role of the car. There is a growing lobby questioning that. If we start instead with the premise that we need to adapt to an environmentally sustainable model, then a very different picture emerges.

  27. Pingback: Bradshaw lies bleeding … « The Bristol Blogger

  28. Gary Hopkins says:

    In reply to Peter Goodwin.
    I assume you misunderstand our position in good faith. The vast majority of people got it loud and clear from our press release 6 weeks ago but for any that did not . We can see no way that the present administration in Bristol (Labour with Tory support) can justify sending the BRT route down the cycle path route.We do see some considerable benefits in BRT ,imperfect though it might be because our choice has been effectively restricted by government. Some systems are excluded.
    We are concerned as we said to promote other routes (eg M32) so that we ,as well as preserving the cycle path we do not lose the public transport investment which because of the crazy system of public financing that we have in this country Bristolians cannot decide for themselves about.
    We have emphasised the other routes because we do not want to see a position where Labour continue down the present blind alley and Bristol is faced with the choice in the future of buses or the cycle path.
    You do have a very valid point to make about the public consultation.
    When someone at the cycle path meeting said that we could wait until the public consultation I immediately intervened to say that by that time it could be too late.Since June 2007 the cycle path has been the official “preferred route” .Politicians in control(Lab/Tory) ,having endorsed that and having had that case positively portrayed would push it through.This has happened time after time.
    The case of the incinerator is different in that if there had been biase in the questions asked ,which there was not, then they would have tended to push people towards small scale technologies which all the executive Cllrs at the time (largely Lib Dem)favoured. In fact what has happened in this case is that the genuine answers have been reattributed to give a misleading reporting of public reaction since the change in administrations.

  29. Chris Hutt says:

    Gary, the Railway Path was identified as THE route for BRT to Emerson’s Green back in December 2006! Are you really saying that the Lib-Dems knew nothing about that, even though you were in charge of the BRT project up till May 2007?

  30. Peter Goodwin says:

    My question was is put in good faith, Gary. I think you’ve clarified it with “We can see no way that the present administration in Bristol (Labour with Tory support) can justify sending the BRT route down the cycle path route”

    So are any circumstances in which the LibDems would tolerate BRT on the railway path ?

    If there are, lets hear what they are.

    If there aren’t, welcome to the backers of the April 1st motion at council.

  31. redzone says:

    as usual it is heading for a ‘we said, they said’ argument amongst the local parties.
    the in house squabbling will achieve nothing.
    all people want is a clear indication of where their elected representatives stand on the issue.
    that way, at least we know who we need to protest & campaign against.

    ps, i’m with you badnewswade on the ‘respect’ issue!!!

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