Report from last night’s Council Meeting

By Chris Hutt from the Comments

It all started so well, with Charlie Bolton’s original motion getting beefed up by a Lib-Dem amendment which he accepted. Railway Path supporters cheered and clapped. It looked for a few moments like we were finally laying the ghoul of BRT to rest.

But then came Labour’s wrecking amendment which got through with Tory support. The voting was 33 for, 30 against (all Lib-Dems and Charlie Bolton) and 2 abstentions (both Tories I think, presumably the ones who recognised what a sordid business it was).

The Labour amendment is another example of Bradshaw’s weasel words, seeming to be pro walking and cycling but effectively keeping the door open for future bus rapid transit. But instead of using the Evening Post as his gullible mouthpiece this time he used Terry Walker, who almost seemed to believe that he was offering us something better.

The full resolution is as follows –

“Council notes the strength of feeling expressed by the citizens of Bristol against the possible shared use by rapid transit of the much loved Bristol-Bath cycle path.”

“Council further recognises that walking and cycling are vital components of the strategy to encourage more sustainable and healthier travel behaviour in our city.”

“While fully recognising the vital importance of improving public transport, Bristol City Council will oppose route proposals which undermine the current and future expansion of walking and cycling in Bristol, and, in particular, will oppose any threat to the current or future use of the Bristol to Bath cycle path.”

“Council requires further information about the various route options, including those on roads and for these to be the subject of full public consultation.”

“Council fully supports the Executive Member for Access & Environment in making these views known to the West of England Partnership.”

The weasel words are “undermine” and “threat” – who is to say if a route proposal “undermines” walking and cycling or “threatens” the Railway Path? Why, the Council of course. So they simply decide that a route proposal won’t “undermine” cycling and walking and that it isn’t a “threat” to the Railway Path and away they go with BRT on the Path, or anywhere they like.

Please note moderated comments were for 1 April only. 

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106 Responses to Report from last night’s Council Meeting

  1. Jon Rogers says:

    Thanks Chris

    It was actually Terry Cook, Labour Councillor for Avonmouth who moved the wrecking amendment

    To complete the surreal, the LabCon politburo had just promoted him to “Cycling Champion for Bristol” (I kid you not!) to give him extra ounces of credibility when he spoke.

    He seemed genuinely surprised that the cycle path protesters did not welcome his intervention with open arms! “It will establish a principle for all Bristol cycle paths” he bleated. Yeah right 😉

  2. Get out says:

    What about all those Labour and Tory councillors who said they were going to vote for the motion against using the path?

  3. Chris Hutt says:

    “It was actually Terry Cook, Labour Councillor for Avonmouth”

    My apologies to Terry Walker, if he exists, for mistakenly naming him. It was very late and I couldn’t sleep from the emotional turmoil of the evening. The whole thing is very theatrical. You are lifted up by the Lib-Dems then cast down by Labour, like a well rehearsed double act.

  4. thebristolblogger says:

    I suppose they might give the Chipping Norton Light Operatic Society a run for their money …

  5. thebristolblogger says:

    Oh and does anyone know the outcome of the rest of the meeting?

    Has the council leader’s salary been increased to £50k a year, from £22k? A rise of over 125%!!! (Welcome to the Jan Ormondroyd effect folks)

    And have the council given away more power to the West of England Partnership? Presumably so they can focus their efforts on what they’re really good at – bickering over irrelevant points of order.

  6. Paul Smith says:


    This is why we need to take up John Grimshaw’s suggestion of proposaing a community owned trust to take over ownership of the path – as has happened with Arnos Vale cemetry.

    We all know that the BRT proposal is a dead duck but other things could come along in future years and we need to take this out of the hands of the council (and ultimately the West of England Partnership)

    Last night meeting was unedifying and depressing but we need to use that third paragraph to strengthen the position to protect the path in the consultation.

    See you on the next demo

    Paul Smith

  7. Gary Hopkins says:

    Technically the power rests with the cabinet but council was being asked to endorse the plan.Liberal democrats moved an ammendment on the West of England report to put in some safeguards but outvoted by LAB/Con who made pompous remarks about us not working with the neighbours (I seem to remember a slight problem with HH and the tram) . We were told by HH that although none of these safeguards were in the report they would be coming. In other words trust me I am a Labour politician.
    As the proposals stand on a 1 council 1 vote system decisions on the likes of the incinerator at Avonmouth and BRT down the path will not be made by BCC but by the WOE.
    Readers I am sure will be greatly reassured by the fact that Bristol,s representative on both of these committees will be none other than Cllr Bradshaw.

  8. Peter Goodwin says:

    I take a more relaxed view of the railway path vote – I don’t think last night’s stitch-up was necessarily intended to keep the BRT option for the railway path. It could be a cover that allows Bradshaw and Labour to climb down without conceding victory to the hated LibDems. We all saw last night how important it is to them to score points and try to humiliate each other. Bringing in that amendment at the last minute was all part of that game – it does nothing for informed debate or local democracy. I thought Charlie did well to keep out the party catcalling and gamesmanship.

    Isn’t it the purpose of arbitration to negotiate some settlement that will allow both sides to come out with dignity ? Maybe – just maybe – this was it. We’ll see when they develop the Ashton Vale route and the Malago, and we do now have policy statements that can be used to protect the ‘green’ parts of the routes.

    In any event, there has been some real progress since all this blew up. The railway path is no longer either a ‘preferred route’ or a priority route for BRT, and there is now policy (of a sort) to protect cycleways and paths. None of that would have happened without the campaign and Charlie’s motion to council.

  9. thebristolblogger says:

    we do now have policy statements that can be used to protect the ‘green’ parts of the routes.

    Afraid not Peter. The “policy statement” if that’s what it is, is a commitment to not undermine any expansion of walking and cycling in Bristol.

    This just means that for a BRT route to go ahead a utilitarian judgment on its potential affect on walking and cycling will be made. This is nothing to do with protecting communities, green space, utility etc. It’s actually opened the door for these things to be actively ignored.

  10. Peter Goodwin says:

    You may well be right. We’ll see.

    It’s clumsy wording anyway – ‘…Council will oppose route proposals which undermine the current and future expansion of walking and cycling in Bristol…’

    Seems to me that reducing use would be covered by ‘undermining expansion’. They can do what they choose with it, I just hope they’ll still choose right – and they’ll probably claim the credit too!

  11. Sarah says:

    at least they won’t be making that choice without considerable pressure from The Public

  12. Chris Hutt says:

    Paul smith -“We all know that the BRT proposal is a dead duck..”

    Well I don’t and I won’t until I see it plucked of it’s feathers and with stuffing in it’s arsehole. There’s nothing in Bradshaw’s web cast or last night’s resolution to confirm any real change in the status quo. If you think there is please quote the extract.

    The Railway Path remains an “option” in the forthcoming public consultation. Last night we got a hint of how the on-road BRT alternatives are going to be presented in a very negative way – trees cut down, front gardens taken – so that a body of public opposition to the on-road route will be established.

    The residents adversely affected will be led to believe that their salvation is to support BRT on the Railway Path in the same way as we have been tempted to promote BRT on their road as an alternative to the Railway Path.

    And so the two groups will be played off against each other, with the Council standing back while we slug it out, until finally coming in to settle the matter, “reluctantly” in favour of a route along the Railway Path. At least that is their plan, but now we know it we can avoid falling into that trap.

  13. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Firstly, a big thanks to Charles Bolton (Green Party), Jon Rogers, Steve Comer, Abdul Malik, Gary Hopkins (Liberal Democrat) and others for clearly expressing their positions with respect to saving the path at the council meeting on 1st April 2008.

    Sadly the Labour and Conservative councillors weren’t equally as clear about their ‘declarations of interest’ but we (the good citizens of Bristol) are well aware of their back-handed approach to creating business opportunities in the city.

    Well, not this time! You can’t go against your own policies, ignore the immense public opinion and numerous reasons against BRT or win a debate that is far greater than the boundary of our city, as acknowledged by your own councillor Helen Holland.

    I suggest the West of England Partnership now works work more directly with the people it is ultimately accountable to – the citizens of Bristol – and considers alternative, greener, sustainable solutions such as providing bicycles for commuters to use on the path.

    We are all aware of the magnitude of this issue and it’s time to move things forward in a more positive way, and leave the Labour Council on the back benches since they clearly can not be trusted to stick to their word.

    Finally, as a member of the public I felt insulted by the chamber’s proceedings and suggest that this in itself is put on the local political agenda. See the following webcast for examples, if you can stand the tedium.

    If you were unable to attend, I have highlighted the proceedings of the Council’s meeting on the webcast:
    or get the link here:

    0.11.38 – declarations of interest (Malik)
    0.12.52 – 00.46.02 – personal statements (Goodwin)
    2.21.44 – motion / main debate (Bolton)
    2.26.06 – seconding the motion & LibDem amendment, stating a bus route will never be acceptable (Rogers)
    2.27.44 – Labour/BCC fudging the LibDem amendment by using a ‘point of order’
    2.57.52 – more shambles in the chamber
    2.58.20 – voting on 1st amendment, supporting amendment and expressing disappointment with Mark Bradshaw (Bolton)
    3.01.00 – vote count
    3.06.28 – wining the vote
    3.07.00 – Labour redrafting their amendment
    3.09.40 – Labour present their amendment and ‘clarifying’ the Council’s position and using the need for more consultation to fudge the issue (Mark Bradshaw, also clearing his name)
    3.11.50 – LibDem attempt to get labour amendment rejected
    3.12.20 – Labour/BCC issue is about preserving ALL cycle paths and trying to ‘clarify’ BCC position (Terry Cook, new city champion for cycling)
    3.14.10 – buses and bikes don’t mix (Cook)
    3.26.10 – final vote and rejection that the Labour amendment “doesn’t categorically rule out bus rapid transit on the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path” (Bolton)
    3.34.20 – losing the vote, i.e. Labour amendment passed
    3.36.10 – post vote and further debating by councillors
    3.37.20 – West of England Partnership (Holland, leader of the Council)
    3.44.00 – (Comer)
    3.49.00 – chamber reminded of the need for a democratic process (Kent)
    3.53.00 – Conservative argue for shared transport routes (Eddy)
    3.58.00 – exposing the Labour Council for signing-off bids without proper debate or anything on paper (Hopkins)
    4.03.36 – the proceedings are a disgrace to the public who bother to come to watch (Gollop)

  14. Peter Goodwin says:

    There was a curious public statement from Ann Lock (indexed at 01:14:05 on the webcast). Speaking on behalf of the Campaign for Better Transport, (what was Transport 2000, and Dave Redgewell was there with her), she put in a plea for all options to stay on the table; although the emphasis was on rail, ‘guided transit’ was included and I certainly had the impression that this was a plea for the Bristol-Bath path to remain as a BRT option.

    Reason given was that otherwise regional funding might be lost from Greater Bristol, and finish up financing some bypass in Devon or Dorset.

    Later, Barbara Lewis (Con) came up with the same objection to Charlie’s motion.

  15. thebristolblogger says:

    Yeah. They also made this statement to the March Cabinet meeting:

    We also have grave concern that rapid transit routes should not be considered for operations along the road network, due to the difficulties inherent in this course of action.

    They are such a different proposition from the bus – which is why they are viewed so favourably by the public and sought in preference to buses and bus lanes. Indeed it is the reason that CfBT support their use on ex-railway routes in conjunction with cycleways, due to their dedicated running and timing.

  16. Paul Smith says:


    Your first paragraph is absolutely correct, my view is that it is a dead duck but I agree that we can’t take this for granted given the contradictory nature of the motion passed at the council last night. I just have a sense of something that is a bit like the final days of Breznev (sorry spelling wrong but it is late) its dead but still appears to walk around.

    Here that pat Hockey (Lib Dem, South Gloucestershire) was promoting the BRT cycle path scheme in London today as part of a WoEP delegation. I am concerned that an unelected version of Avon County Council is being created by stealth in the form of WoEP.

    My sense is that the Labour Group believe

    1) That if they don’t keep the option of the BRT down the path ‘open’ until the end of the consultation we will lose multi-million pound of funding for transport schemes in Bristol (personally I don’t buiy this argument but I could be wrong)
    2) That they need to have a viable road plan before killing off the BRT/railwaypath route
    3) They need to keep the railwaypath route in the consultation to keep South Gloucestershire Council onboard

    Whatever the case is I support the proposal to kill off the railway path option asap and was disappointed that, that didn’t happen last night – I couldn’t see anything wrong with the Green motion as amended by the lib dems (now that will get me into trouble) and wonder why the parties didn’t get together before the council meeting to try and hammer out a mutually acceptable resolution and avoid all the points of order/my amendment is better than yours behaviour.

  17. Chris Hutt says:

    Paul, you know the way these things work much better than I do, but I sense something more malign than just political posturing and wanting to keep options open for procedural reasons.

    Labour’s wrecking amendment will have electoral implications. In May 2009 they have 4 pretty marginal seats along or near the Railway path up for election. Would they have put those seats at greater risk just for the reasons you suggest?

    Remember at the beginning of last night’s meeting how the Labour and Tory whips resisted moves to bring forward the Railway Path motion from the tail end of the agenda. They wanted it left there to minimise the number of people who’d hang on to see them do the dirty, which action they’d obviously agreed in advance.

    And why did Bradshaw pursue the risky strategy of floating the “shelved” story in the Post when there wasn’t really any substance to it? He’s been found out and that may damage his credibility. But he needed to undermine our campaign by putting people off-guard.

    It all points towards something more sinister afoot. The imminent public consultation isn’t just for show, they really mean to go for BRT on the Railway Path.

  18. Steve Comer says:

    I’m pleased that Paul Smith said “I couldn’t see anything wrong with the Green motion as amended by the lib dems….”

    He then asks ” why the parties didn’t get together before the council meeting to try and hammer out a mutually acceptable resolution and avoid all the points of order/my amendment is better than yours behaviour.”
    He should ask the Labour Group .

    The Libersl Democrats were quite happy to work with others opposed to BRT on the path. We worked with Charlie Bolton to get an altered motion didn’t we?

    Labour refused to even show us their ammendment in the break, so if they won’t do that how can you get agreement?
    They had (as usual) made a deal with their Tory allies. That was a) to stop Charlie moving an altered motion, then b) to move a wrecking ammendment.

    Council procedurers are archaic, and don’t suit the age of the webcast. Yet, whenever I suggest reforming and updating them I’m accused of threatening “the historic traditions of the Council”. Tory and Labour traditionalists may like this Ruritanian pomp, and nit picking procedure but the public find it a complete turn off – so ironically do many Councillors.

  19. Paul Smith says:

    The full council meeting has always been the worst part of the Council – rather than a show piece.

    Chris I despair of the idea that this will be still hanging around in 2009!

  20. Chris Hutt says:

    “Chris I despair of the idea that this will be still hanging around in 2009!”

    Don’t we all? But the Labour Cabinet have just demonstrated their determination to keep the plan alive despite overwhelming public opposition.

    The imminent round of “public consultation” will be engineered to give a less clear result and so even when that too shows a majority against the Railway Path route we can have no confidence that they won’t approve the route anyway or that the plan won’t just be “shelved” again to be brought back time and again until they get their way.

  21. thebristolblogger says:

    The full council meeting has always been the worst part of the Council – rather than a show piece.

    The problem is now is that it’s the only bit of the council where our elected councillors have any power. At least the old committee system allowed a wider range of councillors an input (even if everything went down party political lines).

    Council procedures are archaic

    Indeed. We need root and branch reform. At the moment we have a large, bloated and ineffective bureaucracy that’s simply not under the control of elected representatives. In fact it’s the other way round. You all look and sound like you’re being led by the nose.

    The biggest issue facing this city is one of governance – who governs it and how. It’s typical that most of our politicians either don’t realise this or don’t care.

  22. Gary Hopkins says:

    Peter Goodwin wrote
    “I take a more relaxed view of the railway path vote”
    It could be a cover story that allows Bradshaw and Labour to climb down without conceding victory to the hated Lib. Dems. We all saw last night how important it is to them to score points and try to humiliate each other”
    So it seems that it was our fault!
    Whilst making party political points Mr Goodwin (a council candidate)tries to claim the ” I am not a politician so I am pure ground”
    The fact is that the workings of Lab/Tory on this council have become apparent to many people over this issue but it is not just this issue ,important though it is, that we have to try to deal with.
    They will use every piece of political and procedural chicanery to get away with and hide things and I,for one will not meekly let them get away with it.
    Getting a straight answer out of the likes of Cllr Bradshaw is , as was amply demonstrated akin to knitting fog.
    I have no idea,Mr Goodwin whether you have actually convinced yourself that Lab/Tory would behave perfectly well and do the right thing if we were not challenging them or you are making crafty spin but either way you are giving a very ample demonstration of you are completely incapable of dealing with political reality .

  23. redzone says:

    exactly my view mr blogger.

    why do we bother to have local elections when it is evident that unelected partnerships & quangos end up making decisions for us anyway??

  24. Andy says:

    It seems to me the amendment is designed to keep a very large foot in the door for future development.

    Cllr Bradshaw and most of the rest of the world’s definition of a “threat” to the path are clearly two very different things, which is why he needed to ditch Charlie Bolton’s wording.

    The ones that worried me most were the Tories and their “good idea” response to the idea of a busway, thereby completely missing the point of the debate, as though this was the first time they had given any thought to anything non-car. Indeed Clllr Lewis cited the reduction of parking in Fishponds Road as a reason for keeping the busway on the cycle path. (A tacit assumption that none of them would be seen dead on a bus whatever?) Such fossilised thinking is putty in the hands of the Bradshaw camp.

  25. Jon Rogers says:

    Redzone, “why do we bother to have local elections when it is evident that unelected partnerships & quangos end up making decisions for us anyway?”

    My view, for what it is worth, is that the democratic accountability is missing in many (?all) quangos and (?some) partnerships

    We should elect councillors who are not afraid to challenge and question the power of these bodies, and engage with others in accountable partnerships.

    Unfortunately, the big money is in Westminster, and we have to jump through government controlled hoops to get access to it, if we are lucky.

    Britain is the most centralised country in Europe. All three mainstream parties claim to promote “localism”, but IMO only the Lib Dems seem to genuinely want it to happen. Labour have made a few faltering steps recently in this direction, and of course Cameron supports when suits!

    The Green Party probably wants to go further than the Lib Dems, but I don’t know details.

  26. M W says:

    Re: Campaign for Better Transport (what was Transport 2000) and their support for using the railway path… Dave Redgewell is a known Labour activist so that isn’t really surprising. When Labour were in opposition, Redgewell was constantly attacking the administration. Now, he is strangely silent. Hardly an “independent” organisation.

  27. Chris Hutt says:

    But at a national level the Campaign for Better Transport are supporting saving the Railway Path. Their executive director Stephen Joseph OBE even wrote a letter to the Evening Post making absolutely clear their rejection of the bus route proposal on the Railway Path.

  28. Lee Evans says:

    Well at least we now have a clear view of who is for and against the plan to ruin the path. Councillors were, at least, forced to come out of hiding and show their hand.
    Why was Faruk Choudhury present at the first public meeting of the Save the Railway Path campaign at Easton Community Centre (yes, it was a public meeting)?
    Why was Faruk Choudhury present at the celebration march on Sunday 30th March? Worse, why was he seen (as photographed by the Evening Post) spear-heading the event behind the banner at the front of the march?
    Why then, after appearing to support the campaign until this point, was Faruk Choudhury, two days later, unable to support the Lib Dem amendment to Charlie Bolton’s proposal (he did not vote) but then found that he was able to vote for labour’s wrecking ammendment?
    I hope the good people of Easton remember that this man cannot be trusted the next time his name appears on the ballot paper. Worse, is he that unintelligent that he thinks the electorate don’t see his deceit and lies?
    I now hope that we can all see more clearly, through this example, how rotten politics in this city is and why, as a result, it’s in such a mess. And politicians complain that the electorate don’t vote and worry about their apathy and lack of trust!
    I hope that all genuine and honest supporters of the Save the Railway path reading this will be able to join me in being unable to welcome Mr Choudhury at any future public meeting held by the campaign. If he does attend (as is his right) I shall be obliged to challenge him and, politely, invite him to leave.
    Lastly, I agree that we should thank the Lib Dems for at least having the honesty to show their views publicly. Just a shame that Councillor Malik, living next to the Railway Path, was unable to talk-up the existing benefits of the route in his ward.

  29. Chris Hutt says:

    Choudhury wasn’t the only Labour councillor to betray the people he represents. The hall of shame includes –

    Brenda Hugill (Lawrence Hill),
    Fabian Breckels (St George East),
    Ron Stone (St George West),
    John Deasy (St George West),
    Bill Payne (Frome Vale) and
    Rosalie Walker (Horfield)

    All are among those who pledged support for our cause in the run up to Tuesday night. Brenda Hugill even had the gall/naivety to speak to the Labour amendment.

  30. Martyn Whitelock says:

    …picking up on Lee Evan’s point:

    Yes, it was a shame Abdul Malik’s declarations of interest were disallowed by the Lord Mayor. I thought that’s why we were all there! If only the Lord Mayor could have pressed the Labour councillors for their business ‘declarations of interest’ we would have all had a more fuller picture. Sadly, this point exposing the Labour Council for signing-off bids without proper debate or anything on paper came out so late in the evening when most of the public had gone home… probably in disgrace of the shambolic proceedings of the chamber! (Hopkins, indexed at 3.58.00 on the Council webcast)

    So, while we the good Citizens of Bristol campaign to save the Jewel in the Crown’s most sustainable transport route and green community space, the Labour Council are doing business ‘on the golf course’ Pah! Labour on the golf course – who’d have ever thought it and what a warped sense of being green!

    Enjoy you retirement, Lord Mayor 🙂 With the greatest of respect, you did look ready for it.

  31. Get out says:

    Here are their very own words in quotes:

    Faruk Choudhury:
    “I fully support the campaign to keep the Bristol-Bath cycle path as it is now.”

    Brenda Hugill:
    “The people of Lawrence Hill are overwhelmingly against this proposal which seeks to destroy one of the few amenities they have.”

    Fabian Breckels:
    “None of my constituents want the bus route on the cycle path, I don’t think it’s the best place for the BRT so I’m coming out AGAINST putting buses on the cycle path.”

    Ron Stone:
    “My feelings on the issue tend to remain one of severe concern, and at present if asked to support this suggestion I would vote against it.”

    John Deasy:
    “This issue has generated the largest amount of interest in St. George West we have seen for a very long time. No one has contacted either of us to give support to this idea – so it is logical that Ron and myself represent the interests of the people of St. George West and oppose this proposal.”

    Bill Payne:
    “I will, of course, pass on your concerns to Mark Bradshaw, the Executive Member for Transport. I have already spoken to him to express my own concerns and fully support your opposition to the proposal. There have been no decision made and my own feeling is that this particular proposal is a non-starter, there are too many difficulties (bridges etc.) to make it economically viable. However, we need to make it clear to the planners that this proposal would not be acceptable.”

    Rosalie Walker:
    “I will oppose it {the BRT route} but I think you need to contact Mark Bradshaw about this as he is the executive member.”

    Are these what we would call… LIES?

  32. Paul Smith says:

    Kerry McCarthy’s Blog today

    Cycle path latest

    Yesterday some councillors and officers from the West of England Partnership came to Westminster to talk about rail issues with the Minister, Tom Harris. The night before, the Council voted on two different amendments the cycle path issue. I also had an impromptu meeting in Parliament yesterday with Paul Smith, the Labour candidate for Bristol West, and Roger Berry, MP for Kingswood, and spoke to other Bristol Labour MPs in the division lobby. And I collared Rosie Winterton, the Minister of State who has primary responsibility for cycling issues and local transport within the DfT, and told her what was going on; I’m now going to follow this up in writing.
    Let me be quite clear about my position on this: I told people from the West of England Partnership quite unequivocally that I would not be prepared to support any option which affected the current use and enjoyment of the cycle path in any way. That means not just if it physically impinges on the path, but also if it removes surrounding greenery, or destroys the tranquil atmosphere. I am pleased that they are now considering other options, but concerned that using the cycle path has not, it appears, been totally ruled out. I have also questioned whether this route – i.e. linking the science park with the city – should be the Partnership’s first priority, when we have appalling congestion on, for example, the M32, the A4 and Fishponds Road. I’m told it’s because 6000 new jobs are being created at the science park, and people will need to get to work – but will those people be coming from the city centre/ east Bristol? I’m told the current route between Kingswood and the Science Park is very heavily-used, and congestion will obviously get worse, but why does that mean a BRT link through Easton and Eastville is needed? I have to finish now, as I’m due for a spot of PPS-ing in the Chamber, but I want to make it clear that Paul and I will do our utmost to ensure that the cycle path option is not just shelved, but binned.

    Posted by Kerry at Thursday, April 03, 2008 0 comments

  33. Gary Hopkins says:

    Let’s have a look at this.
    Problem caused by Labour government with their staggering quangogracy and an incompetant and evasive Bristol Labour administration (propped up by Tories).
    Now we are having portrayed that Kerry Mcarthy’s campaign manager ,long time Bristol Labour Councillor and chair of Bristol Labour party Paul Smith is actually the saviour. You will see in his earlier post the excuses/explanations for the Labour group actions whilst pretending that they were nothing to do with him.
    Has anyone heard the one about the teenager who murdered both his parents and then asked the court for sympathy as they were an orphan.
    Let us be quite clear that whilst Bristol Lab/con are planning to cede power to WOE all the local power at the moment is within Bristol. The plan should have died on Tuesday night.If this daft scheme is killed of it is because of local protest and there is nothing Labour politicians care about more than their own seats.
    I hope Ms Winterton did not get the full drift of the path lunacy or the £6M funding for Bristol biking will go up in smoke.

  34. Peter Goodwin says:

    Gary Hopkins: No need to be paranoid about my speculation (above) that Tuesday’s outcome might even provide a way for Labour to climb down over the railway path with dignity. It wasn’t a dig at the LibDems. It is one speculative view among many. Though your response, with its selective misquotes, does tend to back up one thing I was saying… that because some councillors, yourself included, view everything in terms of party advantage, saving face becomes specially important.

    It’s no secret that I was a Green Party candidate in the local elections (came second, too, and even now I find I say more in council meetings than my local elected councillor does!). So what? I’m still pleased to give the LibDems credit where it’s due, and it was really good to see you lot eventually coming on board about the railway path, and strengthening the original motion. All credit to Paul Smith and Kerry McCarthy too.

    Yes, it’s probably a false hope that Labour’s strategy is really designed to give them room to climb down – but to raise it as a possibility is neither crafty spin nor political naivity. Finding solutions that humiliate no-one is part of politics, isn’t it?

  35. Chris Hutt says:

    “Finding solutions that humiliate no-one is part of politics”

    Peter, there was a solution that humiliated no one. It was proposed on Tuesday night by your colleague Charlie Bolton. As Paul Smith said above, there was no reason why Labour couldn’t have supported it in the same way as the Lib-Dems.

    If the Labour group had backed the motion I think we would mostly have forgiven them their earlier involvement, much as we have done with the Lib-Dems. There would be no humiliation, just relief that the matter had been finally resolved.

    So your theory that Labour are looking for a face-saving way of climbing down doesn’t really explain why they went to so much trouble to sabotage the motion on Tuesday night.

  36. thebristolblogger says:

    Rosie Winterton eh?

    Would that be the same Rosie Winterton that announced in Parliament on Wednesday:

    I am today announcing the first successful area to benefit from this additional funding. We are making up to £500,000 available to the West of England Partnership (covering Bristol City council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council) to take forward the development of their proposals for improved public transport and demand management.

    That’s the Labour Party giving more funding for BRT right? And presumably they’ll want a return on the investment?

  37. Peter Goodwin says:

    Of course, Chris. But you’re speaking as a rational, objective, observer. The overriding tribalism that we see routinely at council meetings is something else.

    Even so, I doubt if my speculative, optimistic suggestion is the right one! If only.

  38. Chris Hutt says:

    “But you’re speaking as a rational, objective, observer.”

    Not after Tuesday night I’m not.

  39. Martyn Whitelock says:


    This extract will remind everyone of Labour councillor Mark Bradshaw’s ability to SAY one thing and DO another.

    “We are COMMITTED to not only putting in place the necessary [means] for funding but also the real step change for transformation in public transport, to begin to offer a real alternative to everyday car use, including WALKING and CYCLING which are key components of this”
    (note his own emphasis in capitals)

    Points West – Latest News
    ‘Bristol traffic is slowest’ video – 1.42:

    Terry Cook, Labour’s very own Champion for Cycling, clearly stated that buses and bikes don’t mix and the issue is about PRESERVING ALL cycle paths (Council webcast: date 01.04.08, time 3.14.10)

    We, the good Citizens of Bristol, would now GREATLY appreciate some consistency on this matter. Please state your position by answering the following question. Do pedestrians, bikes and buses mix?

    I will post his answer on this website which I beleive he has to give as a condition of being a councillor…even if it is “no comment”!

  40. Chris Hutt says:

    Martyn, you have to read Bradshaw’s statements very carefully. In your quote he’s just saying that walking and cycling are key components of “a real alternative to everyday car use”.

    Of course the Railway Path and other Greenways initiated by Sustrans have been offering “real alternatives” for 25 years now, so Bradshaw’s bunch are very much the johnny-come-latelies on this issue.

  41. Gary Hopkins says:

    Mr. Goodwin, I am afraid you are in dreamland. There might well be a climbdown,the fudge and confusion tactic having failed this time so an attempt might well be made to claim credit for a rescue.
    Whilst there are decent people trying to do the right thing in all parties the fundamental truth is that the leadership of Bristol Labour will say and do anything to gain or retain power and control for themselves.
    You may have noticed a rather annoyed group of people also protesting on Tuesday night.
    During last May’s election Labour systematically went to elderley peoples homes telling the staff that they were going to lose their jobs and the residents that as the homes were closed they would be out. This tactic was sucsessful in getting them power. The excuse for the misinformation was that 2 homes were likely to go in the switch to very sheltered housing.
    The staff and the residents have now realised that the Labour administration are actually closing ALL the general EPD homes .
    Tends to concentrate the mind a bit when you find that you have been out campaigning for the people who are closing your service which was not under threat anyway. The frightening of elderly vulnerable people does not seem to have worried them.
    In the unlikely event of you ever becoming a threat to them watch out. Southville greens have had a very mild taste of what they can and will do.
    Their spin machine ,assisted by the Tories under the uniquely unsucsessful Richard Eddy,is frantically throwing everything at us because we can and likely will remove them from power next year.

  42. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Chris, that’s my point, which I grant I didn’t make clear. Surely walking and cycling are the only real PRIMARY sustainable alternatives to everyday car use?… and as such should be promoted beyond mere components of the solution. Many Continental European cities have long recognised this in comparisson with the UK and it is time we caught up the benefits of walking and cycling. Ok, so he acknowledges the importance of walking and cycling but isn’t this what we call paying lip-service?

    Whilst I recognise the debate for better bus and train services, having lived in Bristol for well over a decade, sadly I see no evidence of this happening.

  43. Chris Hutt says:

    “Surely walking and cycling are the only real PRIMARY sustainable alternatives to everyday car use?”

    That may be true in a purist sense, but in more pragmatic terms I think we need to offer an alternative “package” to car “ownership”. That must include much more attractive conditions for walking and cycling but also a level of public transport availability that makes people feel that not owning a car is a viable option.

    I refer specifically to car “ownership” rather than car “use”. Once people become car owners, it’s damned difficult to persuade them not to use the things. Yet that largely futile task is the basis for the Council’s current transport policies! Park & Ride and BRT are specifically aimed at the needs of car owners, often at the expense of non car owners!

    My approach would be to change the focus of public subsidy and investment away from the needs of car owners towards the needs of non car owners, who are always taken for granted by the Council because they aren’t part of the problem. They reward the badly behaved child and ignore the well behaved one – classic dysfunctional behaviour?

    So no more subsidies to P&R, BRT and other Council initiatives to give more travel options to car owners at the expense of non car owners, particularly those who have the good sense to live in the inner city, within walking and cycling distance of their work, shops, schools, etc .

  44. bristoltravelplan says:

    Latest info from the campaign team says that the papers received under FOI shows the decision to focus on the Railway Path was made in MARCH 2007- when the Lib Dems still ran Bristol City Council. So how odd Gary Hopkins saying that its all Labour and the Cons fault and that bradshaw decided on the option in June 2007, and that Dennis Brown had been opposed to the use of the path. Something is not adding up here at all – have we all been misled?

  45. Sceptic says:


    Of course we’re being misled: they’re politicians, so expect nothing less. Any one of them could pass sideways through a corkscrew without touching the sides.

  46. Gary Hopkins says:

    Absolutely true that officers,consultants and other reps agreed the preferred route to recommend in March 2007. They would be looking to discuss this with relevant Cllrs at the first opportunity.We checked and reported that earlier on e-mail and at the Easton meeting. It is quite possible in fact that consultants might have been thinking this way earlier as viewed from London it looks “easier to deliver”.A project like this has a series of meetings only some of which have political representatives present and involved. The March meeting took place in the period of Purdha when politicians are temporarily divorced from the officers for reasons to do with the upcoming elections.
    The “professionals” have meetings involving executive members to
    a) Make sure they are not working directly agaist the political steer.
    b) To protect themselves.
    Obviously when there is a change in administration or there is a significant shift in advice they will want the relevant politician involved.
    Both of these coincided in the meeting of June 2007 when the “professionals” met with Cllr Bradshaw and one of the 3 new Tories in charge from the surrounding councils. Their advice was accepted by the Cllrs. and work from that time proceede on the basis of the Railway path being the preferred route. There is insufficient evidence in the minutes to judge how actively Cllr Bradshaw questioned this or whether it was slipped by him but either way this meeting was important.
    Incidentally I never said that Dennis Brown was previously opposed to the use of the path.In the early stages there were numerous destinations and routes under consideration and there was no plan to build on the railway path to be against.

  47. redzone says:

    nice one sceptic, & a pretty accurate assessment too!
    i wouldn’t trust any of the 3 main parties.
    as i have said before, they have been around quite long enough now & its time for a change, at national level too!!

  48. John Michaels says:

    Y’know, I am completely indifferent to this particular plan, but as a non-car owner something has to be done with Bristol’s utterly atrocious public transport system. I’m actually considering buying a car because it’s increasingly apparent there’s no other way of traveling any more than moderate distances without one.

    I wish half the effort put into opposing schemes would be put into coming up with options for better alternatives, but sadly people are much better at uniting against things than uniting towards common goals.

  49. bristoltravelplan says:

    all very ‘yes minister’ but is gary hopkins really trying to get us to believe that cllr brown was not made aware of any of this work, either in March 2007 or in the previous December meeting?

    what’s clear is that either he didn’t know, or did and kept quiet or simply didn’t understand the impact of a cycle path option as he’s a henleaze cllr- so which one is it?

    what’s clear is that someone needs to come up with an alternative plan to using the cycle path – so what’s your’s gary? i think john michaels’ has a right to know, as do the rest of us.

    perhaps you plan to oppose every proposal and option as you’re not in control and are unlikely to be for a while. if so, this is deeply cynical and against Bristol’s best interests.

  50. Chris Hutt says:

    John Michaels – “I’m actually considering buying a car because it’s increasingly apparent there’s no other way of traveling any more than moderate distances without one.”

    What’s wrong with only travelling moderate distances? As a society we seem to be obsessed with encouraging longer distance travel at the expense of shorter distance (or no) travel.

    If we are going to respond constructively to issues like global warming and peak oil then we need to reverse that thinking. Crossing the road to get to your local shop is just as valid a journey as driving 5 miles to The Mall, but the more people drive to The Mall the harder it is to cross the road. It’s a vicious spiral which must be reversed.

    Yet the planned BRT route along the Railway Path perpetuates the problem. Local journeys on foot and by bike will be disrupted and degraded by long distance commuting from Emerson’s Green and beyond.

  51. Martyn Whitelock says:

    “Surely walking and cycling are the only real PRIMARY sustainable alternatives to everyday car use?”

    Chris – I think even truer in a rational sense, since most other means of public transport require heavy industry.

    Perhaps the West of England Partnership could fund new cycle factories in the region and even better, produce bicycles or services marketed at the Railway Path. This would also breed some live back into the cultural heritage of Bristol as well as providing employment.

    Personally, I think the Railway Path is fantastic as it is, though a decent cafe (not one of those contemporary city-type things) would I’m sure encourage more leisure use and subsequent commuter use.

  52. Lee Evans says:

    ‘My approach would be to change the focus of public subsidy..’
    Well done, Chris. What you suggest gets to the heart of the problem. We need a major change in attitude where walkers and cyclists are given prioity over over all other forms of transport. Walking and cycling takes commitment and dedication and as you get older it does’nt get any easier either. But a result is a healthier life and environment. I heard alot of councillors talking up the benefits of cycling on Tuesday night but how many actually used public transport, walked or cycled to and from the meeting? I bet the car park was rammed. It’s a case of ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say’ where the electorate are told to walk and cycle and the politicians take the car.

  53. Martyn Whitelock says:

    The BBC seem to think the plans have been shelved!!!

    This is what I was told today by Neil Bennett (News Editor, Points West: news desk 0117-9746877) .

    Can someone do something about this?

    According to public discourse, we all know it’s a dead duck but that’s NOT the situation with Labour’s wrecking amendment.

  54. Chris Hutt says:

    “The BBC seem to think the plans have been shelved!!!”

    That’s was Bradshaw’s strategy, to fool the press and public by floating the idea that it was shelved without actually saying anything to confirm it. Even Sustrans are playing along with it, refusing to amend their own misleading press release.

    Just to make matching words to reality more difficult, he took the unprecedented step of issuing his last press release as a video/web-cast without anything in writing being posted on the City Council’s PR site.

    The problem is that most people aren’t as cynical as those of us who post here. They tend to believe what they see in print, or on the web sites of reputable organisations like the BBC and Sustrans. It’s going to be quite a job to recover our position, so well done Bradshaw!

  55. John Michaels says:

    Chris Hutt:

    The problem with only travelling moderate distances is that it’s not practical. As a society, we’re obsessed with travelling longer distances to actually make our lifestyles practical and be able to fit as much as we can in our stressful lives. Few people have the luxury of living near their workplaces, not least because of housing prices. For most people, walking 22-minutes each way to a supermarket with multiple bags is not a practical choice. When your life doesn’t revolve solely around places that are sub-half-an-hour walk away, it’s not practical and “don’t go long distance” isn’t an acceptable choice. You get to choose between public transport and a car and at the moment with the utterly lacklustre public transportation system in Bristol, the decision is obvious and already made for you. Trying to convince people that they don’t or shouldn’t need a more effective way of getting from A-to-B when they do makes for a really quite an ineffective unconvincing argument.

    Contrary to my otherwise leftiness, I don’t really care about global warming or the looming oil crisis – my quite reasonable guess that they’ll cancel each other out thanks to market forces is frankly looking likelier by the day turning me increasingly smug – but even if I did, I don’t really think someone who actually /wants/ to use public transport, currently doesn’t own the car and would do relatively minimal miles anyway is really the person to talk to about that. Besides, if a significant amount of car users turned into bus users, you’d stop an estimated hell-of-a-lot of patroleum being burnt and doing that is a lot more likely than turning car users into bicycle users.

    I’m personally quite indifferent about the railway path in general but my comment still stands – if half as much effort was put into coming up with a better public transportation system as there was objecting to people who try to make changes, rightly or wrongly, then we’d live in a much better place. Sadly, the only things that seem to unite people towards a common goal is when something objectionable crops up. What we need is a change of focus from “Let’s pretend people with real issues don’t exist”, “Let’s stop this thing I don’t like but bring no new ideas to the table” or even a nice general “Let’s moan” to “Let’s see how we can significantly Bristol’s transport system for everybody”. Sadly it seems very few people actually want to be proactive regarding the latter.

  56. Chris Millman says:

    Cllr. Brown did not appear to share the enthusiasm of his Lib Dem colleagues for saving the railway path at the meeting on Tuesday. Did anyone take note of how he voted?

  57. Chris Hutt says:

    John Michael’s – “As a society, we’re obsessed with travelling longer distances to actually make our lifestyles practical and be able to fit as much as we can in our stressful lives.”

    Exactly what’s wrong! We have to change More into Less, Faster into Slower, Longer into Shorter, not just on account of global warming, although that should be reason enough, but for our sanity.

    The more we travel the more everywhere becomes the same and the further we have to travel to find anything different. Once my idea of an adventurous holiday was visiting Wales. Now that seems too banal to mention to friends who are regularly jetting off half way around the world.

    Even Antarctica has become a tourist Mecca, such is the craving for one-upmanship. Next will be space tourism, for chrissake. And it’s not just north Europeans who can afford to do this now. Millions from around the world seek to emulate our utterly unsustainable lifestyles.

  58. Paul Smith says:

    The who said what to who when and when did this all start isn’t really helping us get this sorted. The tribal lib dem versus labour ranting is part of the problem – too busy trying to attribute blame than to reach a solution. I think we could have sorted this on Tuesday if the two groups didn’t distrust eachother so much.

    I am doing my best to convince my party colleagues to agree to drop the plan for the path (clearly not well enough so far). Perhaps Gary could do the same and instead of ranting on this site about how right he is he can talk to Pat Hockey in South Glocuestershire, find out her view and try to influence the South Glocs Lib Dem group and then report back.

  59. BristolPatriot says:

    Paul . I admit I dont share your politics after sitting through the entire full council meeting it was very clear who at the very death nail was trying to keep the BRT

  60. BristolPatriot says:

    alive and kicking it was your own colleagues in Labour. The lib dems had already cleared the BRT outr of the way with Tory help it is your own crowd that needs sorting. the stupid supplemental amendmeant was quite simply that stupid.

  61. BristolPatriot says:

    The current council constitution is without doubt outdated -worse still is when any party gets in they are literally chained by the constitution to do officers bidding.
    The entire system is shambollick and disgraceful .sort the constitution and someone might be able to get something done – otherwise these continual games will go on forever.

  62. Gary Hopkins says:

    Mr Smith
    How many more red herrings.Your colleage “Bristol travel plan” started off the nonsense again that we have heard from Bradshaw about who knew what when. I gave a factual reply.
    The trouble for the Labour party is not what I or others say it is what any number of people have seen for themselves either live or on the web cast.
    For those who are still curious it can be found through the Bristol City council site.
    Can you please explain the relevance of me speaking to Pat Hockey who is an opposition LD. Cllr. in S.Glos.
    She used to be in charge of transport until last May when a Tory took over.
    I seem to remember a long running dispute developed with Helen Holland . There was I was told umbrage taken by HH when she found out that there was routine taping of meetings.
    All history.
    If the latest diversion is S.Glos why not get Mr Bradshaw to speak to his Tory opposite number.It is a diversion because the power to stop this resides in Bristol.

  63. BristolPatriot says:

    Lets not neglect the new science park that will require good transport routes .might the Labour liars still be looking to use the Bristol – Bath cyclewayt as SINGLE track direct to the science park lets face this if it is rapid you could do a journey each way in what? 20 minutes each way ??

  64. Cann2010 says:

    Baa Baa black sheep have you seen the wool
    Over labours podcast full of bull!
    One for the media
    One to over-rule
    and one for the ammendment
    made in full view.

    ‘No thank you’
    said the public
    ‘No thank’ you more the same
    Voted – then ammended
    Voters sold again.

  65. Cann2010 says:

    From the minute the gallery was full and the hall had to be opened for further supporters of the Lib Dem ammendment.
    When council was asked to alter the agenda and vehemently refused to do so, in what? a pathetic attempt to bore the arses (glutamous maximus not Cllrs ! / ?? ((I stand to be corrected?)) shuffling from cheek to cheek for hours on end in the gallery to be rewarded at the final hour, following joyous celebrations with the introduction of the Lab/Con ‘Shuffle’ .

    The wrecking ammendment from the ‘Conjoined Party’ that is shameless and should be disowned by the misguided few who still vote them in.

    Reality TV could not have planned it, but thankyou B.C.C. your webcasts remain, unmistakable, undeniable.

    The dance of the ‘Conjoined’ will long be replayable come next years elections.

    think long and hard next time you X our lifes away !
    in the ballot boxes.

  66. Penny Rose says:

    Gary Hopkins – it’s obvious (at least to this humble Kingswood girl) why the South Glos Lib Dems (Ruth Davis, the 2 Hockeys) plus the handful of South Glos Labour councillors, are relevant here.

    It can’t have escaped your notice that South Glos are key players in the BRT plan. The Science Park, with its 6000+ jobs is being built in South Glos. South Glos wants to secure straightforward transport links to the Science Park. Solutions for congestion on the Ring Road are vote winners for the various political parties, so none of them are going to advocate routes which use the Ring Road.

    OK now the Conservatives have the majority in South Glos, but the South Glos Lib Dems and Labour have narrow majority over the Conservatives if they vote together. So, of all the councillors on the West of England board, who do you think might be getting the biggest push from their local parties to get the “let’s not disturb the ringroad” BRT through?

    Now, you tell me who are the big cheeses in the South Glos Lib Dems, and therefore why Pat Hockey might be relevant here?

  67. CP says:

    Just a teensey-weensey point. I’m not too sure about your consistent linking of cyclists and pedestrians in a common front. I’m a (blind) pedestrian. I hate those fucking cyclists who nearly run me over on the pedestrian crossings, who assume I’ll move out of their way on the pavements, who threaten my life in public spaces. In a broader consultation with the people of this city you might find that there are many more who don’t quite see the moral virtue of the cyclist and would welcome a good rapid transit system as a characteristic of a good civic institution.

  68. Martyn Whitelock says:

    CP – (with respect to your blindness) I apologise on behalf of most cyclists and note your point about certain cyclists… but just imagine what a whopping great big bus would do to you!!!

    I have used the path for over a decade as a walker and a cyclist and get very annoyed with the Bristol Academy students who think it’s fun to jump out in front of cyclists.

    On the whole, we need to praise the achievements of the local community, councillors and Police who have made the path far safer today than in previous years.

  69. Chris Hutt says:

    CP, I can assure you that the vast majority of cyclists, certainly all those that I know, would be very careful not to endanger you, particularly if you were carrying a white stick to indicate your blindness.

    It may appear to you that they just whizz past carelessly, but cyclists are necessarily very aware of their immediate traffic environment (they don’t last long, otherwise) and are constantly assessing potential risks (much more so than motorists, anyway). A casual non-cycling observer might not think this since cyclists appear to move in an unpredictable way, but for the most part it is carefully calculated.

    On the Railway Path large numbers of pedestrians choose to use the Path in preference to adjacent road routes where they would have separate footways. That speaks for itself.

  70. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Paul Smith – It’s great your working with your colleagues and we look forward to this being reflected in the next voting.

    I think the problem exploded when Labour decided not to cast a simple vote to save the Bristol-Bath Railway Path, preferring instead to introduce their wrecking amendment (1). I don’t think it is necessarily a ‘blame game’ on here, more the attempt to make public Labour’s inconsistencies. Where else can the public get a sense of this?… certainly NOT in the mis-reported media coverage!!! (e.g. BBC, Sustrans)

    It’s clear what the 10,000 strong petitioners think and since there were only 373 survey replies to the West of England Partnership’s public consultation on Rubbish or Resource (covering the four councils) do you seriously think a public consultation on the Bristol-Bath Railway Path will achieve anything beyond what we know already? Come on Labour (and Conservatives), do the decent thing – let’s not waste public money on a ‘Dead Duck’ public consultation.

    Mark Bradshaw still refuses to give me a direct answer to a simple question – Do pedestrians, bikes and buses mix? Terry Cook is clear on this one, and he said they don’t!

    (1) Wrecking Amendment
    In legislative debate, a wrecking amendment (also called a poison pill) is an amendment made by a legislator who disagrees with the principles of a bill and who seeks to make it useless (by moving amendments to either make the bill malformed and nonsensical, or to severely change its intent) rather than directly opposing the bill by simply voting against it. (read more at Wikipedia)

  71. M W says:

    Wow mega thread! Is it a record? Some new comments have appeared above that werent there before too.

    Those quotes by Labour councillors will surely haunt them. Every one of them is in a Labour ward up for election next year. But then Labour deceiving the public is nothing new – this is after all:

    The party that when in opposition attacked the council for closing 4 elderly people’s homes, but when in power decided to CLOSE ALL 14.

    The party that when in opposition attacked charges for new green bins and said it would abolish them, but when in power not only didnt abolish them but added EXTRA charges for new black bins.

    The party that when in opposition said the council should pay everyone back £33 of overcharged council tax, but when in power blew it all – and more besides.

    The party that when in opposition said they were opposed to caretaker changes and privatisation, but when in power drove the policy even further forward.

    So now they’re the party that said they wanted to save the railway path, but when it came to the vote they blocked that attempt and instead kept it in danger.

    They’re only doing all these because they know there are no elections this year to be punished in. They think we will all have forgotten by next year…but we will remember.

    (Oh, and there was that Iraq war and WMD thing too. How could we forget?)

  72. Paul Smith says:


    Pat Hockey is important as one of the leading lib dems in the sub region and is clearly involved in the West of England partnership.

    I am not trying to be difficult or distract away from the position in Bristol, but the path is not only in Bristol and South Gloucestershire is being used as an excuse by some Bristol people for not killing off this mad plan.

    I am suggesting a way you can help behind the scenes to move this campaign forward. In reality only lib dems in Bristol can take things forward with lib dems in SG.

    I look forward to you stop being so relentlessly politically partisan and trying to help. I was in support of your amendment at the Council meeting on Tuesday – You can check with Charlie Bolton that I was still prepared to back his resolution as amended by you in my statement following your agreement with him. I really don’t care which people from which political parties stop this plan as long as it is stopped.


  73. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Paul Smith – perhaps you could focus your energies on what you said you would do and work with your own Labour councillors.

    Any progress so far?… not that we should necessarily go by what Labout say one day and do another. The voting was 33 for, 30 against (2 abstentions) so I’ll let you do the maths.

    Hope you’re enjoying the weather and possibly a pleasurable cycle on one of the city’s beatuful traffic-free paths.

    Cheers 🙂

  74. Paul Smith says:


    absolutely right, I will keep on keeping on. Working with the MPs too. Most Labour Councillors think they have voted to save the path…

    I certainly won’t get anywhere with Pat Hockey, perhaps you can talk to her.


  75. BristolPatriot says:

    Paul Smith says “absolutely right, I will keep on keeping on. Working with the MPs too. Most Labour Councillors think they have voted to save the path… ”

    I would like to be corrected here but as far as I expressly recall and lets not forget it was webcast. Most Labour councillors were fully aware of what they were doing at the full council meeting. When they moved the wrecking amendment it was far from trying to save the cycle path.
    The current cabinet would do well to remember that will be remembered come 2009.

  76. Cann2010 says:

    Mr Smith
    Well, well, well!
    ‘Keep on keeping on’ “working with MP’s” let’s hope that intention is soon amended – indeed you seem to have ‘wrecked’ that ‘Prospect’ already!

  77. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Kerry McCarthy (Labour MP) states “…I want to make it clear that Paul and I will do our utmost to ensure that the cycle path option is not just shelved, but binned.”

    Read Kerry McCarthy’s blog page here:

  78. Chris Hutt says:

    Due credit to Paul Smith for coming on here to try to salvage something of the reputation of his Party, but he’ll have to do better than “Most Labour Councillors think they have voted to save the path…”

    Are we really expected to believe that Labour Councillors with years of experience of political shenanigans didn’t spot a wrecking amendment when it landed on their laps?

    Even the members of the public present saw it for what it was with little more than a glance at the paper clutched by Terry Cook in his comic interpretation of Chamberlain returning from Munich in 1938.

    Terry Cook – ” …the settlement of the Railway Path problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all cyclists may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the Executive Member, Herr Bradshaw, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine (waves paper to the crowd – receiving loud jeers) ….”

  79. Chris Hutt says:

    Meanwhile, speaking in the Commons, political maverick Winston Hutt said “We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat…you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, the Railway Path will be engulfed in the BRT network. We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude…we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our Path…we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Bristol has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against cyclists and walkers: “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting”. And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time”.

  80. Poor Dear says:

    so now we know. Lib Dems on Bristol finally come out in favour of the path (except their tranport spokesman Dennis Brown) having seen the number of people backing it.

    Lid Dems on south gloucester are planning to dig it up as it is not used by the good people of yate.

    Gary Hopkins is afraid to tackle Hockey, probably because he thinks she will stick him in her cauldron.

    Lib dems saying different things to different voters, no chance there then

  81. Martyn Whitelock says:

    1 person, Mark Bradshaw, says “The best way to explain rapid transit is to get a service up and running so the full benefits can be seen and felt.”

    10,000 petitioners, 100 school children and 30 councillors say the best way to explain a combined green corridor, community space and sustainable commuter route is to keep the service as it is, and to observe its yearly growth in use of 10%.

    Decide for yourself who will win the final vote on that one!!!

    For those new to the issue and this blog page, Chris Hutt provides a clear analysis of the Labour councils intentions which the media do not understand and have consequently mis-reported!

    Note also in his statement above, Mark Bradshaw excludes the word “bus” which is the key political issue. I don’t think he’s clever with his words but more likely has got someone advising him on rhetorical speach.

  82. DreamGirl says:

    Phew, just catching up… took a while to read thru to the bottom of a long list of comments.

    Quick question. If we all know that councillors behave badly, do things they say they aren’t going to, Why are you all so bothered about pointing out that that’s just exactly what they have done (again), sigh, when

    it looks like many of you are missing out on what Poor Dear and others are trying to tell you – what’s ABOUT TO HAPPEN and needs sorting:

    Poor Dear says:

    Lib Dems on south gloucester are planning to dig it up as it is not used by the good people of yate.

    Gary Hopkins is afraid to tackle Hockey, probably because he thinks she will stick him in her cauldron.

    Lib dems saying different things to different voters

  83. DreamGirl says:

    There seem to be a lot of Lib Dem supporters here who want to use this opportunity just to bash Labour.
    If you ask me they are all as bad as one another.

  84. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Dreamgirl – were you at the Council Meeting? If not, have you seen the webcast?

    Further points:

    1. You don’t have to be of any political orientation or signed-up to one of the parties to feel passionate about such an important issue.

    2. Everyone, including Labour councillors and supporters, has equal access to this blog page so it’s up to them to get involved, or not as is evident.

  85. DreamGirl says:

    Martyn is right. I was on the procession. I have seen the video. Bad behaviour, wrong decision.

    but please read what I am trying to say

    I don’t understand why people are still worrying about last weeks meeting. Lib Dems and Labour need to stop spending time bashing each other. Thank you for the efforts in Bristol, even though we ended up without what we wanted, and now your help is needed saving the path over in South Glos.

  86. Martyn Whitelock says:

    DreamGirl – that’s the whole point – bashing each other with words as opposed violence. That’s democracy, essentially.

    Sorry, not sure we can help you in South Gloucestershire – we’ve got our own things to deal with by sorting out the Labour Council’s wrecking amendment. However, this wrecking amendment will eventually back-fire on Labour as they reduce the credibility of those who move them.

    My advice is:

    1. Start your own Save the Railway Path Campaign, which would demonstrate collective unity between councils.

    2. Get bashing!

    p.s. Where were all the other bloggers today?… perhaps enjoying one of our beautiful green corridors.

    As regards the Bristol-Bath Railway Path, perhaps people throughout the rest of Bristol should check it out. There are some fantastic things to do along the whole green corridor:

    1. It’s highly accessible, even from the city centre.
    2. Pubs, tricky to find but I can recommend several. In fact some of the BEST community pubs in the whole country!
    3. Cafes with character, i.e. not like the modern crap you see so much of these days.
    4. Observe nature.
    5. Fitness via leisurely pursuits (e.g. walking and cycling).
    6. Psychological well-being.
    7. To be honest, the list is endless…

  87. Gary Hopkins says:

    Political red herring of the month award goes to the assistant Labour spinners who push the line that the decision of Labour and Tory Cllrs in Bristol to keep open the building on the path could be overruled if only the Lib Dems in S. Glos would step in.
    1 At least until this Thursday coming ,when the “governance arrangements” for the WOE are going through Bristol cabinet (we have not yet seen details) all the power for this rests with the Bristol cabinet.Council votes are a powerful message but not legally binding.
    2 The cabinet in Bristol is Labour propped up by Tories.
    3 The cabinet in S. Glos is Tory and on the only serious test of that control that I am aware of the Labour councillors of S. Glos supported the Tories.
    This follwed the WOE scrutiny committee decision to call for all the councils to follow the excellent example of BANES and withdraw from the WOE incinerator plan . The only vote against the motion was the S. Glos Tory. Pat Hockey ,who was one of the supporters of the motion that I put took the news back to S. Glos. and a Lib Dem. emergency motion was put down in S. G. council calling for a pull out. The Tories survived thanks to Labour support.
    If Labour Cllrs. in Bristol ,who had given written assurances to their constituants ,represent wards directly affected,and in some cases had the temerity to turn up on the march cannot be relied upon not to back a wrecking ammendment relying on S. Glos. Labour would be a littlr foolhardy.
    Paul Smith says that some Bristol Labour Cllrs. did not realise they were backing a wrecking ammendment. This is I suppose meant to be reassuring that they were so easily decieved by their leaders. Should a group of them approach us we will use what influence we have (and that would be huge if we had the backing of 6 /7 Labour Cllrs on this matter) to get an appropriate motion back in front of council that rerstores the clear instruction not to build on the path.
    A clear decision to give lasting and real protection to the path from BCC is what is needed.

  88. DreamGirl says:

    Ok, this is what earlier people have said which is looks like very bad news to me

    South Glos council is building next to the ringroad, but they don’t want to put any more traffic on the ringroad, so they want the cycle path, and Bristol didn’t protect the path, so its easier for them to get what they want.

    Are you trying to tell me not to worry? I have been getting everyone I know locally to write to the council but maybe what you don’t realise is that not everyone is interested, and some people think the bus is a good idea.

  89. Sceptic says:

    To Gary Hopkins and all the other party political nit-pickers:

    Please stop trying to justify your and your party’s actions and/or lack thereof, as well as attempting to paint your party white and all the others black. Nobody believes you. All elected party politicians are a bunch of duplicitous, untrustworthy bastards and your petty, immature squabbling is one of the reasons Bristol is still an overgrown village struggling to enter the 20th century.

    Given the performance of our elected representatives down the Counts Louse in recent years, would anyone else welcome a return of the Bristolian party?

  90. Pete says:

    Unless you can engage with all the councillors that are going to influence the outcome of the cycle path, you might as well bury your head in the sand.

    Those are the people have got the power and unless you challenge them and their power they will assume they can do what they like, because what you are doing at the moment is Pissing In the Wind

  91. Gary Hopkins says:

    Dream Girl
    I am certainly not telling you not to worry. Right from when this issue came to public attention we have been warning that not only does the protest need to say “do not build on the path” but also ” build it there instead” We have repeatedly warned of the “shelved” plan coming back at another time and the false conflict between cyclists/walkers and promoters of public transport being set up. At the moment S.Glos . have no power to force building on the path but they might have in the future.
    Clearly S. Glos want better transport links but if the Railway path is closed as an option then the ring Rd. /M32 is an obvious alternative ( and from the rumours might well prove to be cheaper). A constant theme from S. Glos.(all party) has been that there is not enough attention paid to peoples needs to get across their patch and everything is focused on getting in and out of Bristol. A ring Rd. route might be seen as a bonus especially if carried on round to Abbeywood.

  92. Chris Hutt says:

    Gary Hopkins – “not only does the protest need to say “do not build on the path” but also ” build it there instead”

    Gary, I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable to expect objectors to the Railway Path route to have to come up with alternative route proposals.

    That’s a problem for the BRT promoters, not for objectors to the Railway Path route. If we promote any alternative route then we are by implication supporting the idea that there should be a BRT route to Emerson’s Green. That need has yet to be demonstrated by the promoters.

    Most people feel that improved bus services running on properly managed (uncongested) roads are the cost effective answer to public transport improvement. Unfortunately the Council does not want to tackle on-road congestion and therefore wants to promote off-road BRT instead.

  93. Silent Bob says:

    The M32 might be cheaper?

    Well actually not, the M32 plan will involve building a whole new junction, slip roads etc etc on an already over-crowded artery: the cost and planning implications are far from minor.

    Interestingly it will only work with the approval of the Highways agency and.. South Glos district council due to it impacting on their land

    It is a hugely valid project, helping people like myself who commute from other regions into Bristol to leave their cars outside Bristol and commute in – but it is all in the balance at the moment and I suspect that this issue is interwoven with many others – one bargaining chip amongst many in overall wrangles between councils. Due to the huge cost it will need support – this plan has been put back repeatedly (despite bieng listed as a priority for some time) essentially because it is a “big scary project” and other options have been easier.

    Using a bike in Bristol can be dangerous – I know of a few people who have been knocked off their bikes in the centre; I definitely would be wary of cycling there at the moment even with the best of intentions

    I agree with those who say that anyone abandoning their car needs OPTIONS in order to do so; my commute takes about 1 hr by car – by train it would take over two including walking time, be more expensive and I would also be at the mercy of their unreliability – something I cannot countenance in a job where punctuality is important.

    The idea of a high-speed bus route is laudable, however the idea of building it on what seems a rare safe-route for cyclists most definitely is not and seems to be replacing a green travel alternative rather than adding another option.

    I find it interesting that there seems to be very little thinking “outside the box” here. How about other alternatives – for example Vancouver has a ‘sky train’ servicing the city – a service that is relatively ecological and is up in the air so takes away from congestion on the ground. It’s a bit of a simplistic example admittedly, but just a hint that there may be other options out there if one is a bit creative.

    Anyway that’s my 2 cents, from someone completely apolitical.

  94. Paul Smith says:

    I agree with Chris – as users of the path we are saying it is unacceptable to build a BRT or any other sort of road/rail on it – that doesn’t make us responsible for Bristol’s transport policy. I think it is a form of blackmail being promoted by the council and parts of the transport lobby that if we save the path we lose Bristol and the surrounding area £100ms of transport investment.

    I beleive the alternative is a combination of using existing rail and road to accommodate BRT but ultimately if the West of England Partnership is responsible for devising a transport plan it is for us to say – “fine but not our path”

    In terms of south gloucestershire they are part of the overall scheme, there is more of the path in south glocs than in Bristol. At the meeting in Easton it was agreed to lobby south glocs too not to think that the problem ends at Bristol’s ridiculous boundary – the Stapleton tunnel is in South Glocs for example.

    Paul Smith

  95. Paul Smith says:

    On Gary’s point about S Glocs they could run a BRT down to near the bristol boundary and then switch it to the fishponds road when it gets to Bristol- I have heard this mad idea mooted. lets not assume that if the bristol end is safe that the south glocs section is too.

  96. Chris Hutt says:

    It’s nice to be in agreement with Paul on the main points but I don’t buy the idea that South Gloucs can do much without the agreement of Bristol, unless of course all powers are handed over to WoEP, which seems to be happening!

    A BRT route on the South Gloucs section of the Path to Staple Hill wouldn’t be able to make any sensible connection to a road route without continuing on the Bristol section of the Railway Path to Fishponds.

    Sorry, but diverting attention away to South Gloucs looks like a Political tactic to me, designed to take the heat off the Bristol Labour group. I’m Politically neutral (I don’t vote for any of them) so I’m just judging by what I see.

  97. Sarah says:

    Here’s a big area for concern, then:

    Chris Hutt said: “I don’t buy the idea that South Gloucs can do much without the agreement of Bristol, unless of course all powers are handed over to WoEP”

    and Gary Hopkins said: “At least until this Thursday coming ,when the “governance arrangements” for the WOE are going through Bristol cabinet (we have not yet seen details) ”

    Does this mean we need to get down the Counts Louse on Thursday? and does it mean that if they hand powers over to the WoEP we have to spend loads of time outside the council offices in Kingswood?

  98. Paul Smith says:


    I think the heat should be turned up on the Labour Group so that they understand why we are not happy with the resolution that was passed, however that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep a check on everything else that is going on.

    I could see the WoEP going for a divide and rule route to Morrisons on the path and then crossing to Fishponds road as a ‘compromise’. As someone living at the Fishponds section of the path, I certainly don’t want such a compromise agreed or allowed to drift in without anyone noticing until it is too late.

    I am also keen to see how we can apply pressure on the WoEP which seems to be taking a lead on a lot of issues (waste being another close to my heart) without any proper democratic accountability. The four councils seem to be creating an unelected, unaccountable version of Avon County Council – I am waiting for someone to convince me that I am being irrationally paranoid about this!

    Paul Smith

  99. Charlie Bolton says:

    Hi everyone

    I have seen Paul Smith suggest in a couple of places that we pursue the idea of setting up a trust to take ownership/control of the path.

    (I believe this was the basic idea of John Grimshaw)

    Do others see this as an avenue worth pursuing?

  100. thebristolblogger says:

    The four councils seem to be creating an unelected, unaccountable version of Avon County Council – I am waiting for someone to convince me that I am being irrationally paranoid about this!

    That is exactly what’s going on. Both local and central government need a mechanism that is as politically unaccountable and hard to pin down as possible to introduce the highly unpopular and politically suicidal congestion charge. That mechanism is the Multi Area Agreement.

    It’s a bit of a bonus as well if it can deliver other unpopular schemes like BRT and incinerators.

    It’s amazing that what’s going on doesn’t seem to register at all with councillors. I wonder. Are they all a bit thick?

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  102. Chris Hutt says:

    Paul Smith – “The four councils seem to be creating an unelected, unaccountable version of Avon County Council – I am waiting for someone to convince me that I am being irrationally paranoid about this!”

    If you are I am too. They seem to be getting away with it because it’s all a bit abstract so far, but when the new authority starts taking the unpopular decisions there’s gong to be even more of an outcry than there has been so far on the Railway Path.

    BRT is very much linked to the planned Congestion Charge. It is the “alternative to the car” that the Council’s are pledged to provide before introducing congestion charging. Those that support BRT now might have reason for second thoughts when they see what comes on its coat tails.

  103. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Can we all please focus our thinking on getting people OUT of the city and into the countryside, rather than this just being a commuter route. Maybe its time to start REALLY using the Railway Path for more events, like walking races. What do people think? Any ideas?

  104. Martyn Whitelock says:

    …and another thing. Let’s not forget the horse riders who also share the path, which includes the Police. So… walkers, cyclists, equestrians AND bus rapid transit all together… hmmm???

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  106. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Wrong! In his defence, I think Faruk Choudhury was just as confused as the media and general public. See this:

    Just to be clear, this is the spin that Labour’s Mark Bradshaw put on the whole issue. His idea of preservation (ha, ha!) is developing the path into a shared transport route with a bus. Whereas the local community, 10,000 petitioners, 100 school children, the Green Party and LibDems want the path preserved as it is – a green corridor. There’s quite a difference! It’s very scary to think our lives can be so affected by such uninformed voting. So Faruk and others, make sure you understand what you’re voting about the next time – it’s your duty to the people you serve!

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