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.