If there’s ever a competition to find the crappest investigation in the world. Ever. Then Bristol City Council should enter their Complaints Manager, Tim Sheppard’s absolutely pathetic attempt to investigate the circumstances of the sale of Railway Path land at Greenbank to developers Square Peg and their red trousered buffoon of an architect, George Ferguson.
After another month of waiting, it turns out Sheppard’s investigation was nothing of the kind. Instead he’s had a cosy chat with the the man at the centre of the scandal, the council’s Head of Planning, David Bishop, published exactly what Bishop said without question and has called it an investigation. Pathetic.
The full transcript of the fiasco is available on Vowlsie’s blog with a useful commentary added by the campaigner. However the key statement is:
Discussion about the proposed land sale and the questions that it raised, was had with Transport, Property and senior Culture & Leisure Services staff
Note the term “discussion” as opposed to “meeting” or “reports obtained” here. And where are the minutes of this “discussion” leading directly to a delegated (from elected politicians) decision?
And this is interesting too:
If such a [development] came to fruition … more people would be attracted to cycle and walk along the path in future. Bristol’s residents would get healthier as a result and any traffic modal shift would make a contribution to reduced congestion and enhanced air quality, all aims the Council is vigorously pursuing.
I wonder if there’s an evidence base for any of these assertions? Or is this just what Ferguson and the developers told them? Vowlsie describes it as a sales pitch, which seems fair enough. To hype a “traffic modal shift” to cycling at a new development with 250 car parking spaces sounds unrealistic to say the least.
And that’s about it for the investigation really. A mysterious and secretive “discussion” between senior officers, a couple of evidence-free assertions and there goes our protected park land and the much-touted Parks and Open Spaces Strategy,
The Blogger understands that a further Freedom of Information request will now be going in to find out the time, date, location and attendance at these “discussions” and to ask for any agendas, minutes and reports that might derive from them. Enquiries will also be made about the evidence base the officers were using to inform their decision.
This, of course, is all stuff that pointless-waste-of-our-money Sheppard should have obtained as a matter course during his “investigation”. Why hasn’t he?