City of green syphilis

by Keren Suchecki

Bristol has been named the only UK city short-listed for the European Green Capital award – news met with utter incredulity by most residents.

Bristol used its much-waved parks and green spaces strategy to bolster its bid. Despite massive public protest, this strategy advocates selling off huge chunks of green space in deprived neighbourhoods, which has now sparked an investigation into the practices of its most senior officers.

Bristol’s public transport performs appallingly and is prohibitively expensive – I live under a mile from the city centre and it costs £3.60 for a return journey, if the bus actually turns up. Plans for a rapid transport system collapsed under ridiculous bickering with neighbouring authorities. In recent years the city centre’s green space has been concreted over with a disastrously unclear road/pavement layout, resulting in the deaths of several pedestrians. The newly revamped bus station still sits a traffic-choked mile from the train station despite a vast expanse of derelict brownfield land immediately next to Temple Meads. And, even though traffic only flows in school holidays, the council scrapped its school bus pilot.

Further efforts to strangle the planet include trying to elbow through plans for a waste incinerator at the same time as landlords of recycling facilities are removing them due to mountains of rubbish piling up because of infrequent emptying. The council also wants to build a park and ride on urban allotments whilst advertising the non-job of food policy officer to tell Bristolians how to eat healthily.

At this rate (and I’ve barely scratched the surface) you might wonder how Bristol got itself short-listed for this ridiculous PR exercise. Maybe it’s to do with Bristol being home to a host of very politically savvy organisations like Sustrans and the Soil Association (and, more embarrassingly, the Heather Mills-endorsed, Viva!). But being overrun with hoards of publically-funded eco warriors doesn’t mean you’re green, any more than having syphilis means you’re sexy.

This article first appeared in ‘New Start’ magazine. Keren Suchecki was a regeneration worker in South Bristol, now she can be found in South Bristol boozers spending the redundancy money.

This entry was posted in Bristol, Environment, European Green Capital Award, Global warming, Local government, Politics, Recycling, Temple Meads, The Centre, Transport and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to City of green syphilis

  1. “The newly revamped bus station still sits a traffic-choked mile from the train station despite a vast expanse of derelict brownfield land immediately next to Temple Meads.”

    ….. and the petition to put it right is at !

  2. “The newly revamped bus station still sits a traffic-choked mile from the train station despite a vast expanse of derelict brownfield land immediately next to Temple Meads.”

    ….. and the petition to put it right is at

  3. Get out says:

    You’re right about residents greeting “sustainable city” with incredulity! I understand it was based largely on the big rise in recycling a couple of years ago, but in recently that level has fallen, and now the Council wants to build a dirty great incinerator to throw all the residue in.

    Then we had the Council wanting to send buses down a cycle lane, and then we had the flogging off of loads of park space. Bristol has clearly gone backwards in the last few years, so to win this was implausible right now.

  4. Des Bowring says:

    I think they should move Temple Meads to the bus station rather than the other way round as it would be quicker to walk there from Montpelier.

  5. Ella says:

    If they ever moved the bus station (I travel between London and Bristol twice a week) I would spike those responsible with bum disease in their coffee.

  6. BristleKRS says:

    I’m with Des and Ella – move the ‘Meads or GTFO!

    I can be out my front door and on the coach in just over 2 minutes 😀

  7. Spot on Keren. I’ve posted on this very issue my self a good few times eg

    We need some proper, clear benchmarks established for assessing the city against and they need to be forcefully campaigned on. This, for me, is one of the aims of all the campaigning on the green spaces issue, how decisions have been and how they should be made. Whilst on the green spaces topic can I plug my petition opposing the flogging of Newquay Rd playing fields:

  8. Dona Qixota says:

    Yes great article Keren.

    The founders of the Soil Association, back in the 1940s and 50s would be gutted if they could see what has become of the organic movement. They were working to return all the land to organic agriculture so that *everyone* could benefit from a healthy environment, healthy food and healthy activity in a healthy social fabric.

    But, like the brilliant Peckham Experiment, which included organic food and farming life, these promising ideas have been crushed into nothing, one way or another.

    ” The post-1945 rush to build a universal welfare state trampled on too many small, creative hives of ingenuity. Before the Fabian infatuation with the central state, Britain had been host to a whole ecology of mutual societies, cooperatives, Sunday schools and workers’ associations. Most went the way of Peckham, crushed under the giant heel of the Whitehall state.” Jonathon Freedland

    Nowadays organic agriculture seems to have become little more than a niche market for the privileged few, rather than a fulfilling way of life for the majority, which it could be.

  9. CP says:

    A tiny point ..the founders of the Soil Association were fascists, trying to create an English version of the German “volkisch” movement.

  10. Dona Qixota says:

    Firstly, pretty libellous, CP. Not by any means all. Read Conford’s book “Origins of the Organic Movement” (2001) if you haven’t already.

    Secondly, so what conclusions would you draw from this? Anyone growing or eating food without the blessing of artificial chemicals is somehow “a nazi”?

    Thirdly, was Beveridge’s NHS not at least partly inspired by the nazis?

    Fourthly, and Hitler’s Europaisches Gemeinshaft dream – what we call the EU?

    and so on …

  11. CP says:

    No, I don’t think people eatiung organic food are nazis (I eat some myself) but neither do I think the Welfare State nor the EU are somehow by-products of Nazi ideology (I followed your reference to “Stop” {no relation} for which thanks. Thought most of it was mad, though.Thanks for the Conford reference – I’ll follow it up.

  12. Des Bowring says:

    Hitler tried to grow organic plums, but he only had one apparently.

  13. Dona Qixota says:

    So you’re not really Common Purpose moonlighting on the blogs then?

    FWIW, I reckon that the Soil Ass hasn’t done itself any favours by not being more upfront about airing some of their historical dirty washing. I don’t know if this is related to Bristol’s notorious culture of corporate secrecy, or other reasons. However, the result has been that the organic movement has run the risk that many decent organic people like Balfour, Howard, McCarrison, Massingham, Picton and Pearse could have their posthumous reputations damaged along with organics as a whole.

    There is a whole lot more thinking and research needing to be done in this field, as Conford says.

    It‘s also worth bearing in mind the following, from “Patriotism Perverted: Captain Ramsay, the Right Club and British Anti-Semitism 1939-1940” by Richard Griffiths.

    “The whole of chapter one is an examination of “anti-Semitism in Britain in the thirties”, and the sad fact is that it was so widespread amongst British people then, as to be almost the norm, particularly in the form of what Griffiths calls “social anti-Semitism”.

    On page 12 Griffiths writes;

    “In certain respects … there is an enormous gulf between then and now, which manifests itself most clearly in the preconceptions which governed social interactions, preconceptions which were often betrayed by the discourse used in everyday speech. Nowhere is this gulf more evident than in the behaviour, and discourse, relating to the Jews.

    The Holocaust was to be the catalyst, in almost every nation in Europe, for a revolution in discourse and behaviour …”

    And, perhaps even more shocking for the modern mind, he begins chapter 3 with the following;

    “Pro-Nazism had been a common feature in wide areas of British public opinion in the years 1936-9 …”

    I think it is fair to say that a great deal of propaganda effort has gone into creating a myth of a nice, wholesome pre-War Britain. This is a comforting white / black fantasy world of jolly decent Britishers versus wicked blackshirts and nazis. But this myth is a lie.”

    We need to understand the past, in order to learn from it, but never forgetting also, that “the past is another country, they do things differently there.”

  14. We Love Trees says:

    If the Council can spend £8.2 million on purchasing the land for the Hengrove ‘development’, I hope they will buy the recently destroyed wood in the middle of Eastville Park so it can remain in public use and as a valuable habitat for wildlife.

  15. Dona Qixota says:

    Anarchism has its fair share of historical dirty washing:

    en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Pierre-Joseph_Proudhon#Criticisms_and_racism

    en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Mikhail_Bakunin#Anti-semitism

    So does Communism:

    http://www.lutterworth. com/lp/titles/lostlitp.htm

    “Marx and Engels publicly advocated genocide in 1849 …”

    Man is a political animal – and what an animal!

  16. Des Bowring wrote: “I think they should move Temple Meads to the bus station rather than the other way round as it would be quicker to walk there from Montpelier.”

    Might be a small issue here as the railway operators are likely to prefer the station to be by the railway…

    Seriously, the location of Temple Meads Station is down to the planners and politicians of the day because they didn’t want a dirty degrading railway station in their city so they had it stuck on an out of town green field site (Plus ca change…!); Brunel’s preferred location for his Bristol Terminus was at Queen Square. Handy for the centre and the docks.

  17. Pingback: Ecolo-Info » Créer/Bâtir » Bristol, ville verte ?

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