Another bloody CONsultation

More good work from the Green Bristol Blog who’ve spotted that Railway Path wreckers, Square Peg Developments (Blogger passim), have consulted with and got the go-ahead – according to their optimistically titled Planning Performance Agreement (pdf) with Bristol City Council – from a non-existent MP!

It’s also quite revealing to see which other politicians and city council officers the developers are claiming to have consulted and listened to.

On the plus side they have listed an MP who actually exists – Bristol East’s Kerry McCarthy. Although you have to wonder what this consultation consisted of as Kerry claimed on her blog last week that she was getting information about the development from local blogs:

“[I] have obviously made it my business to look into this issue. I’ve seen the Bloggers site, the Green Bristol site and others. I’ve looked at Square Peg’s plans for the ‘cycle houses’ and am now following it up with various people.”

No mention of being involved in a formal consultation with Square Peg as they claim in the official document is there?

Of the others listed as involved in this in-depth CONsulation with people elected to represent tens of thousands of us, we find Easton councillors Faruk Chowdery – who’s supporting a petition to stop the developer building on the Railway Path – and Abdul Malik – who appeared in today’s Evening Cancer demanding “further consultation to address the latest concerns”.

It’s enough to make you think that this Planning Performance Agreement is nothing but a sham statutory box-ticking exercise put together by George Ferguson and assisted by his little helper, planning boss David Bishop, to wave around and give the impression of overwhelming support for their ill-judged development isn’t it?

Presumably they’re hoping no one will notice that they either haven’t really bothered to consult with the individuals concerned or have entirely ignored their sensible comments. Except, that is, for the gushing approval of non MP Paul Smith who doesn’t actually represent anyone and neither is he likely to in the near future.

The final individual on this farcical list of consultees is David Bishop himself, now describing himself as “Head of Regeneration”, which he isn’t – Ashy Mckay is.

But why worry if the Bald Bish takes on yet another role for himself? After all he’s only overseeing and managing the controversial planning process and taking personal control of the even more controversial Railway Path land sale to his good chum George. So why not put a positive word in from the city’s regeneration experts as well?

What role will we find the Bish in next? Perhaps he’ll pop up as the council’s Chief Legal Officer to assure us his dodgy policy-defying land deal with Square Peg is perfectly legal and above board?

Of course, any talk of a conflict of interest here would be ridiculous as we all know that the receipt of a six-figure salary from Bristol City Council magically dissolves the concept of conflict of interest for its recipients don’t we?

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46 Responses to Another bloody CONsultation

  1. Chris Hutt says:

    Latest news is that the real MP for Bristol West, Liberal Democrat Stephen Williams, was completely left out of the loop even though his rival, Labour’s Paul Smith, was taking such an interest that Squarepeg’s agents apparently thought he must be the MP for Bristol West!

    You’d think highly paid consultants like PPG and Interface (Jenny Gee, who seems to be having some difficulty answering emails lately) would realise that consultations with politicians have to be seen to be even handed, especially in a highly marginal ward like Easton. Perhaps they’re so used to having politicos eating out of their hands that they didn’t twig they had the wrong one.

  2. Gary Hopkins says:

    Given that Easton has been part of Bristol East (MP Kerry M) ,that Paul Smith has been working for/with her for some time I think it is easy to see how the “confusion” may have arisen .
    Impossible to say that anyone was misled.

  3. thebristolblogger says:

    Presumably Square Peg thought they had found a suitably compliant politician so haven’t bothered with any others?

  4. Who is taking a political stance based upon principle/conviction on this issue??

  5. Spectator says:

    Nobody!

  6. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Really people, unearthing biased consultations and crucial information is one thing but it’s high time to actually DO SOMETHING about getting the Railway Path into permanent safe public ownership. As is evident (no offence meant), we can all sit around and criticise the powers that be – less blogging, more lobbying! What happened about creating a trust for the path or the other preservation ideas? Is anyone taking any proactive initiative because if we don’t BCC are likely to sell it off piece by piece as a revenue earner?

    I hope to see the LibDems conviction to the environment on this one. As with the whole incinerator debate, the Railway Path would make a good election issue – a sure vote-winner!

  7. Spectator says:

    Martyn, I agree with your gist… except that, blogging IS lobbying… this is now well understood by the public in the US, and, by many here in the UK. Only yesterday evening I was told by someone at a party how surprised they were at the way in which the blogs in Bristol had exposed what was going on with the chocolate factory. Politicians understand the power of blogs too… otherwise they wouldn’t bother coming on to comment.

    I am in complete agreement that the railway path greenway desperately needs protecting from fragmentation and ribbon development… isn’t there a ‘Save the Railway Path’ group? Where are they? Isn’t this something that they should be getting involved with?

  8. thebristolblogger says:

    Blogging is the only way I know how to lobby. In common with most people, I have no access to the rich, the powerful and the well-connected.

    How else could I lobby?

    Make public forum speeches at council meetings? Is that really effective?

  9. steve meek says:

    Save the Railway Path’ campaign did indeed look into this as were Sustrans. The possibility of a permanent trust was the agreed agenda between us but Sustrans started to keep a distance from us once the initial campaign was won.
    The leadership of the campaign is now in the capable hands of Ted Fowler and this is still the plan but it will take a lot of work and time to achieve it.

  10. After everyone in Bristol put the knife into the BRT plans, we thought the path was going to be OK. We looked at what it would take to get a trust or other protection. Here’s a key problem: without adequate funding, a trust isn’t going to survive. And there didn’t seem any chance that the council would guarantee the money and legal protection the path would need. I think everyone assumed the council had learned their lesson, and the park strategy combined with the reaction of Bristol’s population would cause them to leave the path alone. But no.

    This incident provides extra ammunition for the case that the path needs the same protection as the downs.

  11. Chris Hutt says:

    Since Sustrans appear to be in cahoots with Ferguson and Squarepeg on the land grab they could hardly be trusted as trustees to maintain the Path in perpetuity for the peaceful enjoyment of Bristolians.

    It’s hard to think who could be trusted. Not the Council, not Sustrans and not even the Save the Railway Path campaign, since they are now, for the most part, sitting on their hands leaving the campaigning to others.

  12. Bluebaldee says:

    Despite previous assurances from BCC, the West of England Partnership are determined to run a BRT route down the Railway Path.

    http://www.westofengland.org/transport/background—our-vision

    Once you get past the appalling grammar and catalogue of spelling errors in this recently revamped section of the website, the sixth paragraph down makes explicit the WoE’s desire to destroy “cycle routes” ie. the Bristol to Bath Railway Path.

  13. Baffled of Bruce Rd. says:

    Make no mistake, the threat to the Railway Path is still there. West of England Partnership continue to work on its ‘feasibility’. We must be vigilant, and not be fooled by the soft words of Bristol’s Labour politicians.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Two meetings to look out for:

    (1) Joint Transport Forum
    26 September, 2008
    10am – 4pm at @Bristol, Anchor Road, Bristol

    Come to the 5th Annual Joint Transport Forum and find out more about transport in the West of England.

    Topics covered at the Forum will include:
    – What’s new in 2008
    – Greater Bristol Bus Network
    – Rail update
    – Weston and Bath Packages
    – Rapid Transit
    – Transport Innovation Fund

    If you would like to join us please e-mail transport@westofengland.org

    (2) Joint Transport Committee
    20 October, 2008
    11am – 12.30pm at Emersons Green Village Hall, Emersons Green

    – No details at present for this meeting

  15. Spectator says:

    Steve Meek said:
    “The leadership of the campaign is now in the capable hands of Ted Fowler and this is still the plan but it will take a lot of work and time to achieve it.”

    and Chris Hutt said:
    “… not even the Save the Railway Path campaign, since they are now, for the most part, sitting on their hands leaving the campaigning to others.”

    I understand that, as a BCC employee, Ted Fowler might feel hampered by potential conflicts of interest… if that were the case, might it not be better for the Save the Railway Path campaign to have a different chairman?

    Steve Loughran said:
    “This incident provides extra ammunition for the case that the path needs the same protection as the downs.”

    That would be wonderful Steve… unfortunately however, The Downs are protected by an act of parliament. When this was enacted in the Victorian era, it was a normal procedure for acts to grant special protection or rights to individuals, villages, areas like The Downs etc. Nowadays, with the constitutional changes over the last century, parliament rarely behaves in such a sensible way… they have far more important things to do such as enacting laws that can be used to prevent children playing hopscotch or climbing trees.

    Baffled of Bruce Rd. said:
    “We must be vigilant, and not be fooled by the soft words of Bristol’s Labour politicians.”

    Damn right… or any other bunch of politicians, or the council officers, or… the list goes on…

  16. Dona Qixota says:

    Anonymous, thankyou for the information, which I’m sure is kindly meant.

    However, it only serves to illustrate the hollowness of so-called “democracy” these days. Joe and Jill Bloggs are both slogging their guts out as wage slaves. They don’t have time, energy or motivation to wade through the huge sheaves of documents that the CONsultation machinery generates. They don’t have time, energy and motivation to attend endless series of lengthy meetings at locations all around the place.

    And guess what, Joe and Jill Bloggs might even feel somewhat intimidated by the whole jamboree, even if they could manage to attend a meeting.

    Joe and Jill Bloggs are effectively excluded. In contrast to the well-paid employees who do inhabit these meetings.

    IT IS A SHAM

  17. BristolPatriot says:

    Things are likely to get a damn site worse if this is anything to go by:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1059209/Gipsy-families-given-3million-home-site-2012-Olympics.html

    Greenspace land given away

  18. Dona Qixota says:

    “Russell Miller, of the Hackney Marsh Users’ Group said:

    ‘… ‘Our big concern is that by siting the travellers on the marsh itself the LDA has set a precedent which will be exploited by developers looking to build properties on the green spaces there. ‘

    ‘How is anyone going to be able to legally refuse housing there when the LDA has already put a permanent site up for travellers?’

    Mr Miller added: ‘The LDA has tried to accuse anyone objecting to this of being a racist, saying we are discriminating against the gipsies.

    ‘That is frankly rubbish and pretty shabby. What is also extraordinary is that they chose this site at all. It is right in the middle of a flood plain.’

    A fine example of divide and rule on the part of the authorities. Firstly, selecting a client group and giving (apparently or actually) preferential treatment. Secondly, the thin end of the wedge is slipped in for the developers or whatever schemes there may be to re-fashion our environment as THEY choose.

  19. nick foster says:

    As far as I can tell the Squarepeg developement is no improvement on the original Persimon plans. I was originally under the impression that the developement would be on the site of the factory and not spilling on to the cycle path.
    The exhibition held in late July (Iwas on holiday in Cornwall) was for a mere 2 days!
    The reasons why this is a poor plan are well outlined here and on Glen Vowles and Chris Hutt’s blogs.
    I’d like to echo Steve Loughran’s call for the path to be protected like the downs, understand the sceptics here, but its all a matter of political will!
    What we could end up with is loads of new housing with more cars on the roads of Easton.
    How can Squarepeg call houses with garages -cycle houses?- do they think we were all born yesterday?
    I hope that the Lib Dems and Labour can join us in opposing this over developement and replace the plans with something more low key, that won’t impinge on the cycle path or increase congestion in Greenbank and Easton.

    Nick Foster Green Party Candidate St. George West Bye Election.

  20. In response to Martyn Whitelock: blogs are an increasingly powerful lobbying tool . They combine well with: petitions; printed and other media work; demonstrations; writing letters to councillors, to cabinet members, to officers…; putting questions and making statements to council..; approaching developers and ‘associates’ directly; using any complaints systems and legal processes as required…

    I will also contest elections (though I have friends, including some genuine people with councillor experience, who say I should be prepared to be driven mad should I ever get elected!!).

  21. Martyn Whitelock says:

    I’m aware blogging is an ever increasing, convenient and popular form of lobbying but the voice and audience here are of pretty much the same mindset. Action is far more important than the regurgitation of the same discourse – agreed? Also, blogging isn’t that democratic as the administrator can select and remove posts at will, as many MPs do on their blogs. It’s much better to speak to real people in order to change minds and opinions.

  22. Spectator says:

    Actually Martyn, the fact that so many MP’s have been caught out removing posts from their blogs demonstrates that this is a potentially risky practice. When I put a comment on a politician’s blog (which I do), I have been known to save the page… if they then remove my comment, I can then hold up the saved page and cause them some embarrassment.

    With the advent of the web archives which take snapshots of the web, deletion of comments becomes even more risky… Guido has used the archives to powerful effect in causing problems for politicians who thought that they could change the past…

    What kind of ‘action’ are you referring to? If you mean making a speech to the council, then my experience (in nearly 30 years of attempting to force politicians to behave in a democratic manner) is that this is generally ignored… after all, the council know that the general public don’t know much about what’s going on in the chamber – especially since the old practice of local papers keeping a reporter in the council house has now ceased.

    Blogging is, contrary to your assertion, highly democratic. With the widespread ownership of home computers, the free and easy accessibility of computers for those who don’t own their own, through a variety of outlets ranging from pubs to libraries and community centres, coupled with many employers allowing their employees to uses them during breaks at work, makes it far more democratic than expecting people to attend endless meetings at a variety of locations throughout the city.

    You say that all the commenters are of the same mindset… I resent being told I am of the same mindset as Gary Hopkins, Paul Smith, Jon Rogers, et al… all of whom have commented on this blog. If you look through some of the posts that BB has made, you will find considerable diversity of opinion among the commenters… examples such as directly elected mayors and charges for on-street parking spring to mind. The interesting thing about this particular debate is how little disagreement there is here on BB… if I were a watching politician, then this would tell me something.

  23. Dona Qixota says:

    Martyn, leaving aside the profound philosophical question “what is action” (phew), what makes you think that any persons here are not engaged in any form of “action” other than tapping at keyboard?

    From my vantage point here next the railway path in Easton, the shocking lack of action to protect our wonderful greenway is on the part of savetherailwaypath and chocbox as corporate bodies who were very big on proclaiming their devotion to the path and the community, their green cred, blah blah blah, only months ago but have now turned their faces to the wall and give every appearence of washing their hands of it now.

    Ted Fowler, the former activists of the railway path celebration, and chocolatebox participants are the people whose inaction you need to question.

  24. nick foster says:

    Agreed that some of the “Save the Railwaypath” crew have been lets say dissapointing in their non- response or tacit support for this scheme. This doesn’t apply to everyone of course!
    If they aren’t willing to step up to the plate and fight to protect one of the few green spaces in Easton, then lets go for it ourselves, cetainly the feedback my partner Katie (Buse, Green Candidate for Easton) and I have got has been overwhelmingly against the proposed developement (the only person who has been in favourtha we have spoken to works for Sustrans!)
    We are meeting with some concerned people on Tuesday the 30th at the Sugar Loaf St. Marks Road at 7pm, in order to see what action people wish to take. Non Green Party People are of course very welcome!
    Nick Foster
    Green Party Bye Election Candidate St. George West Ward

  25. ‘It’s much better to speak to real people in order to change minds and opinions.’

    Hey, I’ve just found out that I, my blog readers and fellow bloggers are, apparently, not real! Great danger of philosophy rearing its head here (warning!!) via discussion of what is real!

    Martyn, the point I was trying to make earlier is that blogging combines well with other actions.

  26. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Glenn – I meant face-to-face but there’s no space for philosophical debate here, particularly of the social constructionist variety!

    Glenn, Dona Qixota – I’m simply trying to encourage the primacy of democratic action.

    I totally agree blogging combines well with (and is a form of) action but surely campaigning, making public statements and direct action is the ultimate way of bringing about change? If not, what else can you recommend?

    Do you not agree we desperately need to overcome the apathy that permeates our society and that blogging (like TV) could be another form of social control?

  27. Chris Hutt says:

    Martyn, you seem to spend a lot of time on the blogs yourself. Are you trying to control society? If so I’m afraid you’re wasting your time.

    Blogging is essentially anarchic. It’s notoriously difficult to control a society where blogging is widespread. Just look at the lengths the Chinese go to suppress free blogging.

    No one is stopping you or anyone else from going out and talking to people face to face. I even do it myself on rare occasions. But your criticism of blogging for not embracing this is like criticising a bicycle for not being a train.

  28. “I hope that the Lib Dems and Labour can join us in opposing this over development”

    Thanks for that, Nick. It’s great to have the support of the Green Party on this issue.

  29. steve meek says:

    Dona, supported by Nick, made two sweeping denigratory statements:

    ‘the former activists of the Railway Path Celebration’ are the people whose inaction you need to question’.
    How dare you? Everyone who was involved has the right to campaign on what they want to, when they want to. Personally i am not involved anymore in ‘save the railway path’ campaign but have helped Chris in a small way on this issue. Others moved on into other campaigning issues or catching up with other parts of their lives. You have no right to criticise others for their choices.

    ‘The shocking lack of action to protect our wonderful greenway is on the part of savetherailwaypath’ .
    That’s harsh. They are volunteers with busy lives. Yes they are a bit slow in stating their position. I am sure you can get on the steering group if you want to speed them up. Alternatively, to paraphrase Nick, just get on and do it yourself. That’s what we did.

  30. Chris Hutt says:

    Steve, you missed me out there. Did you not notice that I said something similar to Dona and Nick? “Save the Railway Path campaign … are now, for the most part, sitting on their hands leaving the campaigning to others” in fact.

    Equally uncharitable perhaps? I can well understand people who just have to give up campaigning to pull their lives back together (as I should be doing) but I still think that the Save the Railway Path campaign have to face up to this issue.

  31. Gary Hopkins says:

    Campaigners are complete volunteers.
    I have to say that to create as much impact as the railway path campaign did was an impressive performance. They actually made a difference which many people fail to do.Councillors and other politicians are in things for the long haul and expect and get flack.The campaigners efforts should be applauded and built on not belittled.

  32. Dona Qixota says:

    Steve. Firstly, I apologise if I have caused you any offence, no personal slight to people such as yourself was intended. I do however think that you have over-reacted a little. As a current member of the StRP group myself, and as a resident of Easton who lives within 150 yards of the development and uses the path several times a day, I can say that things feel very urgent for car-free local residents. There are only a couple of weeks left to raise objections to this piecemeal attrition of the path in Easton – after that it will be too late!

    Some people appear to have a one dimensional view of the Railway Path simply as a route for bicycles to travel along – this is in conflict with the idea of a “green and tranquil linear-park” promoted by the StRP campaign. Sadly, the fact is that there are some people within the StRP group who have actively supported the development of the houses along the path, and have actually made efforts to put down any opposition to Squarepeg’s plans.

    Interestingly enough, the single expression I have received from anyone still claiming to have been a member of the Chocolate Box group was almost identical to yours.

  33. Spectator says:

    Gary, let me explain. You are a politician, I am a voter. I do not vote tribally, my vote floats. I base my vote upon the words that flow from the mouths, the pens, and the keyboards of you and your ilk. I live, as do many others reading this, in a marginal ward, and in a constituency soon also to be marginal… I am aware that big changes are going to take place over the next couple of years, as are those within your own party who spend considerable time sitting behind computer screens making projections. I am hanging on your words.

    You say that those who campaigned to save the path only four months ago are to be applauded… my question to you is, are you giving the same level of support to current campaigners trying to save the path from piecemeal development, as you give here to those who took part in the previous episode to stop the BRT route? Please note that I am not asking you if you support the Save the Railway Path Campaign.

    Have courage, and like the Romans of old, take your testicles in your right hand and answer the question truthfully with a simple yes or no. Evasion, deception, weasel words and outright silence also help me to decide where I put my cross on the ballot paper.

  34. Keep the Bank Green asked whether Labour and the Lib Dems will support the campaign against overdevelopment on the path.

    I see that Lib Dem Cllr Gary Hopkins is following this debate. Can he tell us what the Lib Dem policy on this is?

    The Parks and Green Spaces policy has not been applied ie no Area Green Space plan has been drawn up for this location and no Environmental Impact Assessment is necessary according to the council. How can this situation be right?

    BCCs own Nature Conservation Officer had serious misgivings about land selling.

    Why has the Labour Cabinet member I contacted not responded in writing to me (message sent 11 Sept now) or ensured that an officer has on her behalf ?

  35. Farmers Wife says:

    Yes Gary is right Campaigners are volunteers who usually do a lot of the donkey work for others to get the merits. Vowlesthe green you are not really expecting an answer from the councillor are you??? She never answers anyone not even her constituants everywhere i go i hear dont bother writing/phoning/emailing her she never answers. Even a story in the evening post recently she hasnt responded to perhaps she is too busy in Manchester ‘brown’ nosing

  36. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Gary – well said, StRP campaign achieved great things in providing a effective channel for public protest. We could do with a lot more of that in this city, especially given its history!

    Dona Qixota – very well said. I’m fed up with the cycle purists dominating the discourse on this issue. As a greenway, it is so much more than a commuter route! It’s just as important to encourage people OUT of the city and into the countryside between Bristol and Bath, as well as enjoying the space per se. Its all right for those with lovely Victorian back gardens to sit in but the rest of us NEED access to green space for all the benefits it brings.

  37. Dona Qixota says:

    Thinking this over some more, Steve M, I’m glad that you do acknowledge that the group, as a single entity, has been slow to respond. This is a problem. The point I was making was a political point directed at the public group, with absolutely no intention of “criticising” or “denigrating” any ordinary individual as you suggest. There would be no point in my doing so.

    Despite, or perhaps because of the alarmingly defensive response that I’ve received from some group participants, I feel that, as a fellow ordinary local resident myself, it is perfectly legitimate to question the role of two local groups in so far as they set themselves up, named themselves, raised funds, produced group literature, organised group activities, and each clearly defined themselves as a group representing local interests. One other local resident put things far more powerfully than I can, but interestingly was not slammed as I have been, for some reason – in fact, he was rudely ignored. He wrote:

    “I think the point you are missing here, is that the chocbox push this new developer, telling what a great job they was going to do, then after you had done this and removed Persimmon most of you all just drop out or to put into your words “most of us sighed with relief and got on with the by then urgent task of catching up with our lives”.

    If a group of people are going to push someone forward and tell the rest of us that they are going to DO things right, then I feel that some of that group must keep their eyes on what is going on.

    You ask us to back you, which we did, your group had meetings with the new developers again you ask us to back you and again we did, but when we see something that may not be right all you can do is say to us is its up to you to change it NOT we are there to help you as we know this developer.”

    http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/easton_bristol/message/3708

    Perhaps the events of the last couple of years in Easton / Greenbank illustrate all too well the huge difficulties in terms of accountability, not to mention easy manipulability of NGOs and voluntary groups by vocal minorities and the establishment? Don’t you think that there are any lessons that we could all learn from here? I certainly do, but the impression being given is one of “don’t you dare to ask any questions, shut up and go away!” Residents of Easton are now left with a development that looks likely to place far more pressure on our area in terms of boosting over-population, traffic and pollution, not to mention consuming quite a bit more precious land than the original Persimmon bid, PLUS taking away public green-space and damaging the peaceful feel of the path.

    Sustrans also seems to have played and to be playing an equivocal role which I would also like to see questioned.

    There is clearly a lot more going on behind the scenes in Easton than is readily apparent on the surface.

  38. Spectator says:

    Hmmm. Two days go by and Gary ain’t replied; what a surprise.

    Am I bovvered? Do I look as if I’m bovvered?

  39. Spectator says:

    Dona has asked me to post her comment, as some computer keeps swallowing her comments.

    Dona Qixota writes

    “Thinking this over some more, Steve M, I’m glad that you do acknowledge that the group, as a single entity, has been slow to respond. This is a problem. The point I was making was a political point directed at the public group, with absolutely no intention of “criticising” or “denigrating” any ordinary individual as you suggest. There would be no point in my doing so.

    Despite, or perhaps because of the alarmingly defensive response that I’ve received from some group participants, I feel that, as a fellow ordinary local resident myself, it is perfectly legitimate to question the role of two local groups in so far as they set themselves up, named themselves, raised funds, produced group literature, organised group activities, and each clearly defined themselves as a group representing local interests. One other local resident put things far more powerfully than I can, but interestingly was not slammed as I have been, for some reason – in fact, he was rudely ignored. He wrote:

    “I think the point you are missing here, is that the chocbox push this new developer, telling what a great job they was going to do, then after you had done this and removed Persimmon most of you all just drop out or to put into your words “most of us sighed with relief and got on with the by then urgent task of catching up with our lives”.

    If a group of people are going to push someone forward and tell the rest of us that they are going to DO things right, then I feel that some of that group must keep their eyes on what is going on.

    You ask us to back you, which we did, your group had meetings with the new developers again you ask us to back you and again we did, but when we see something that may not be right all you can do is say to us is its up to you to change it NOT we are there to help you as we know this developer.”

    http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/easton_bristol/message/3708

    Perhaps the events of the last couple of years in Easton / Greenbank illustrate all too well the huge difficulties in terms of accountability, not to mention easy manipulability of NGOs and voluntary groups by vocal minorities and the establishment? Don’t you think that there are any lessons that we could all learn from here? I certainly do, but the impression being given is one of “don’t you dare to ask any questions, shut up and go away!” Residents of Easton are now left with a development that looks likely to place far more pressure on our area in terms of boosting over-population, traffic and pollution, not to mention consuming quite a bit more precious land than the original Persimmon bid, PLUS taking away public green-space and damaging the peaceful feel of the path.

    Sustrans also seems to have played and to be playing an equivocal role which I would also like to see questioned.

    There is clearly a lot more going on behind the scenes in Easton than is readily apparent on the surface.”

  40. Gary Hopkins says:

    The comments about the linear park are spot on. Although the cycling lobby were important in the railway path campaign we (Lib Dems) considered very carefully before we put our ammendment in council that fully supported all of the aspirations.
    Unfortunately it was then overturned by the Lab/Con wrecking ammendment so it is not council policy.
    This was a big issue of citywide ,and more, importance and a large part of the strength of the campaign was pulling differt groups together.
    I am afraid that on the issue of the “cycle houses” etc I do not know enough about it to give a sensible opinion other than to say that if the development is inappropriate and impinges on the public enjoyment I am concerned.
    I am also somewhat tied up at present with the lunatic plan to build an incinerator at Avonmouth that if allowed to go ahead will have disastrous environmental and financial consequences for Bristol as a whole.
    A colleage is looking at the detail of this and will be reporting back to our leadership group shortly.

  41. steve says:

    Dona I take it most of your last post was aimed at chocbox rather than Save the Railway Path? I know very little about chocbox.

    Sorry if you feel I ‘slammed’ you, I didnt think you were aiming at me but I objected to your comment about all those people who made the railway path campaign a success.
    I guess you are passionate that more people join this new campaign and can’t understand why some people arent doing as much as you hoped.
    Save the Railway Path Campaign’s mission, by the way, was simply ‘to stop the railway path being used for bus rapid transit’ .
    To say it again, if you now want it to publicly oppose the squarepeg development, join the steering group and persuade them.
    It’s a small group now and always had a policy of inviting new people along, I doubt if that’s changed – the only qualification is that new SG members should be actively campaigning for the railway path.

  42. Cllr Hopkins reported the Lib Dem ‘cycle houses’ view,

    ‘I am afraid that on the issue of the “cycle houses” etc I do not know enough about it to give a sensible opinion other than to say that if the development is inappropriate and impinges on the public enjoyment I am concerned….
    A colleage is looking at the detail of this and will be reporting back to our leadership group shortly.’

    Excellent effort at saying absolutely nothing Gary! ‘If…inappropriate…I am concerned’ from which it follows that if its not inappropriate he’s not concerned!!

    This view is…well…typically Liberal!

    Can’t you just feel the conviction and concern ???

  43. Spectator says:

    Steve, I’m livid!

    You say that “Save the Railway Path Campaign’s mission, by the way, was simply ‘to stop the railway path being used for bus rapid transit’.”… that seems to be the view of some of the people who still run the cycle path campaign, yet, they still keep the group going, using the ‘Save the Railway Path’ name, thus “blocking” that particular “bed” when the reality is that BRT is far from the only threat the Path faces.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but I live in Easton. To me, this is not just an issue of the Railway Path, but rather an issue of how Easton, through which the Path runs, is treated. Plenty of well-meaning people from other parts of the city were prepared to save the Path from becoming a BRT route – after all, it benefits them – but the Path is more than just a cycle route, and I agree with Martyn when he so rightly points out that the cycle purists have dominated the debate for too long.

    Easton is not just an area that borders on the path, but rather, the Path is something that runs through the area where we live. It affects our daily lives. We use it not only as commuters, or for a day out at the weekend, but also when we walk or ride to the shop, to the pub, or to see our friends. Local children play there, mothers push their children along in buggies, disabled people travel along in their wheelchairs, families pick blackberries, and some people simply relax there on a bench to listen to the bird song.

    To go back to Dona’s point, the campaign as it exists either serves a purpose, or it doesn’t. I get the feeling that you seem to think that if we, ordinary Easton folk, want to do anything to save the green and tranquil linear park that runs through our community, then we should do it on the terms of the existing group. From where I stand though, the StRP campaign looks to be firmly under the control of a former Labour councillor and current employee of Bristol City Council, who seems to think that opposing the Council would be a conflict of interest, and, that the only future for the path is as a cyclists’ equivalent of a motorway, with ever more people being funnelled onto it – this is fundamentally flawed; we should be turning more streets into traffic-free paths, not turning our traffic-free paths into streets!

    Easton has suffered from a lot of Nu-Labour experiments in recent years, Neighbourhood Renewal, Neighbourhood Management, “Power Groups”, etc. etc… now we’re to lose some of the little greenspace we have left to a luvvie project put up by some poxy Merchant Venturer who thinks that jamming his development in our backyard is great as long as it contains some phoney ‘cycle-houses’ and a chocolatier?

    Someone’s avin a larf int they?

  44. ‘we should be turning more streets into traffic-free paths, not turning our traffic-free paths into streets!’

    Absolutely spot on!!

  45. Gary Hopkins says:

    Just thought I would alert everyone to the not unexpected controversy over the financing of the parks strategy. A huge amount of money needs to be spent on the parks (linear or otherwise) and of course we were given a promise that 70% of land sales money would be ringfenced. Later on the cabinet agenda that approved this commitment was a report that contained in it sale of Filwood park. It now seems that this money is mysteriously not included in the ringfence.
    Explanations on apostcard…

  46. Dona Qixota says:

    The latest ongoing Bristol City Council CONsultation – this time over whether they can wangle their was-to-have-been quiet sell-off of public land and greenspace along the cycle path – seems to be getting up the noses of many in Easton.

    By yesterday morning someone has put up new posters, this time warning path-lovers that:

    “The wildlife corridor will, I believe, be fundamentally compromised along this section of the Railway Path [by the proposed development] and the character of the path will change fundamentally.”

    – Bristol Nature Conservation Officer, Jan Walters.

    YES to the Choc Factory conversion!

    No Destruction of this hedgerow for the cycle houses!

    No Land Sale

    Comments to jane.greenaway@bristol.gov.uk

    www . flickr.com/ photos/34230516@N03/

    There is evidently a groundswell of people who feel insulted by the blatantly manipulative “consultation” leaflet put out by professional consultants PPS who have been hired by Bristol City Council in the hope of swinging this kookie deal.

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