Chickens on the way home

Just been leafing through some Bristol City Council cabinet minutes from 22 February 2007 and item 7 (pdf) catches the eye.

The title is ‘Bishopston Ward Primary School’ and it’s a report all about the city council’s plan to build a 210 place primary school on the site of the old City of Bristol College campus at Ashley Down on land given to the council as part of a planning agreement with the college.

Here’s how they describe the deal and it seems pretty good:

4. The Brunel College site, on which the new primary school is proposed, is currently a playing field and is in the ownership of the Bristol City College. As part of a Section 106 Agreement, between the City of Bristol College and Westbury Homes, the City Council is able to call upon the transfer of 0.9615 hectares of land after the occupation of the fiftieth dwelling provided the request is made within five years from completion. Additionally, the developer has been required to make a commitment to undertake improvements to the playing field and make a financial contribution of £374,000 towards the development of the new school.

That’s land and cash being offered for a new school. And the Cabinet were told in no uncertain terms about the need for such a school:

26.If the school were not be provided at the Brunel site there would continue to be an oversubscription of schools within the area with the result that some children will be forced to attend schools outside their community.

Fast forward two years and what do we find? This school build suddenly and inexplicably cancelled by current Labour education boss Peter Hammond last year at the last moment with no explanation and a brand new proposal to expand the hugely successful Sefton Park School – in the face of massive and sustained opposition – instead.

And the result? A huge delay and … Wait for it … A huge oversubscription of schools within the area with the result that some children will be forced to attend schools outside their community!

So why has Hammond cancelled this desperately needed new school? It’s certainly nothing to do with saving us money. The estimated cost of the 210 place school at Ashley Down was approximately £4m. That’s £2m less than the estimated cost of the Sefton Park expansion, the poorer solution anyway, which comes in at £6m.

I wonder then, does it have anything to do with Gloucestershire County Cricket Club who want the land for car parking at international cricket matches and Elton John concerts?

It’s nice to know that the city council puts overflow car parking before the needs of the city’s children isn’t it ? Just like in Greenbank where car parking is more important than protected park land.

Is there a theme developing here?

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17 Responses to Chickens on the way home

  1. It's not cricket ! take a ------pop! says:

    If the Arse’s had sorted a decent Park and Ride scheme for the Memorial Stadium they wouldn’t need the parking for the cricket, having said that there’s the hypocracy no parking anywhere for the football and rugby ground but to hell with a much needed school when it’s cricket at stake!!!
    Labour ? no!! Lazy!!, ignorant and ruddy hard work for the rest of us.
    Peter Hammond? Face down in the tarmac ‘No Parking’ you’re lunatic policy’s here’ I know where I’d stick it!
    In fact if the Lib Dem decision had not been overturned by Hammond – by now, face down with a suitable pole up his jacksy – he’d be the most affordable lollipop man around!

  2. W.G.DISGRACED......... says:

    IT IS JUST NOT CRICKET!!

    There is me thinking “Every Child Matters” BCC 2004

  3. Dominic Turner says:

    Part of the original agreement by the developers of the Brunel College site, Persimon Homes involved money given to the council to reopen the platform at Ashley Hill (Station Rd off Ashley Down Rd – 227m from the Matchday entrance to the Gloucestershire County Cricket Ground). This is the main line between Temple Meads and Parkway – this would solve the problem of transport to the ground for International matches and Elton John concerts etc and solve the problem that the only way to get to this ground currently is by car. This would also help transport to the Rovers ground (880m), and gridlock in the city generally. As the platform is still there and just overgrown, it couldn’t possibly cost that much either.

    So if the council stuck to their promises, the cricket ground wouldn’t need extra parking anyway would they?

    And they expect our four year old children to walk several miles to school instead.

  4. chris hutt says:

    Dominic, you may be overstating the contribution that a reopened Ashley Down Station might have on how visitors get to the Cricket Ground.

    As it is a shuttle bus service could connect existing local stations (e.g. Abbey Wood) with the cricket ground on Match Days if there was a realistic expectation of significant numbers using rail. If that’s not being done it’s probably for a good reason.

    The rail network is too coarse to be likely to be a convenient alternative for most visitors. Ashley Down station site may be close by but how many visitors will live close to a station with a connecting service?

  5. Dominic Turner says:

    Chris, Bristol City Council has a one-track mind when it comes to transport and that is by road. How buses would help with that is beyond me and it obviously hasn’t solved the city’s gridlock.

    The cricket ground says it needs this space for International Matches (and concerts) – that means people travelling to the ground from other parts of the country. If the alternative is car/bus or train/bus of course they will opt to drive door to door. Would you travel half-way across the country and then try and use a local (rubbish) bus service in a city they are unfamiliar with?

    Bristol’s single-minded approach to transport has failed this city and this is a ready-made solution right on the doorstep of the ground. We need to look at alternatives to using our roads – the last international match caused gridlock for miles around (5 police officers right outside my front door took 55 mintutes to get it all moving) the ground and buses are already available to and from the ground – and it hasn’t helped the traffic or the parking problems. Buses can get caught in traffic too! Park and ride (by train) at Bristol Parkway is a much more viable option as it has the space and is right next to the M4/M5. Others may well benefit from the connection to Temple Meads. This line is the same one that joins Parkway / Abbey Wood / Temple Meads, and also branches to the existing stations in North Bristol (Clifton Down, Redland, Montpelier etc).

    Having read your blog GreenBristolBlog I am surprised that you would not support an alternative to more cars on Bristol roads. This scheme would also address Bristol’s aspirations to be a green city.

    As there is an existing platform that the developers would have to pay to refurbish, cost is also not the issue.

    However the point is moot – I believe that a new school overrides the need for car parking (or cricket), full stop. The idea of bussing our children to primary school is just plain bonkers.

    The fact is that there IS a very good reason that this hasn’t been done – Bristol City Council is run by a council of that just don’t give a monkeys about blighting the lives of its people and have no imagination whatsoever.

  6. lilly manilly says:

    Yes… whatever happened to that new school… they spent enough money on the feasibility studies and all seemed to be ok on October 5th 2007 (it was still on the “Members Information Sheet” (http://tinyurl.com/ajyvfg) under the heading “ITEMS SCHEDULED FOR CONSIDERATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LEADER’S FORWARD PLAN”. It notes that on November 15th 2007 the CYPS would be “seeking Cabinet approval approval for the publication of Statutory Notices and to approve the awarding of the design and build contract for the new school to the LEP”. Bees and Pickup were the guys in charge then.

    One week later on October 12th 2007 (on the next Members Information Sheet at http://tinyurl.com/bnvvuu) this item has mysteriously disappeared … e.g. change of plan and no new school anymore.

    November 16th 2007 and it’s back on the Members Information Sheet… slightly different….CYPS to seek approval on January 10th 2008 to “identify additional primary provision in the Ashley/Bishopston Wards and for the publication of Statutory Notices”

    Fast forward to January 10th 2008 and the pretence of the new school being progressed is dropped and replaced with the, previously unfeasible, plan to EXPAND SEFTON PARK.

    The report states:

    “A. That the Local Education Partnership (LEP) is requested to undertake Stage 0 and stage 1 design and development for the extension of the Sefton Park schools.”

    “B. Where final cost proposals are within the approved capital programme the scheme is implemented.”

    So what else happened over this period? Funnily enough Gloucestershire County Cricket Club employs JBP consultants to run a campaign supporting their aspirations to expand. JBP is based in Clifton and headed up by Jennifer Bryant-Pearson. She happens to be a staff member of Lord Gordon of Strathblane (a Labour peer) at the House of Lords. She is also listed as staff member to Francis Maud in the House of Commons. Her “other gainful occupation” is listed as “Managing Director, JBP Public Relations Limited, a public relations consultancy; personal client: Gloucester County Cricket Club”.

    JBP’s website (http://tinyurl.com/5vevd9) is very informative. Their “strategic approach” for GCCC includes the following:

    “Build up a strong body of support for the proposals amongst a wide range of stakeholders at an early stage to counteract any potential opposition – particularly given two other major development proposals which had recently generated significant controversy and opposition both politically and in the local community”.

    “Build strong, strategic relationships with key politicians at Bristol City Council to achieve their support and maximise GCCC’s involvement and influence in the planning process”.

    And the result of their little get-together?

    “Attendance of over 100 members of the political and business community at the Bristol reception, including explicit endorsement in the media and at the event itself from Cllr Helen Holland, Leader of Bristol City Council”.

    The web page (http://tinyurl.com/5vevd9) includes a nice picture of Helen Holland fondling the GCCC’s balls by the way.

    The Independent Newspaper did try to phone Jennifer Bryant- Pearson back in June 2008 but unfortunately she declined to return their call. Their story ran “MPs called for a crackdown to prevent peers employing as assistants people who also work for commercial interests because they receive security passes giving them privileged access to ministers, MPs and peers.” – (http://tinyurl.com/ba9kcu).

    Now….. the only opposition to the new school at Brunel came from the GCCC by way of a letter dated November 19th 2007 to our old friend Heather Tomlinson at the CYPS (http://tinyurl.com/358esh – Appendix A) in which they state:

    “We now respectfully submit that in our carefully considered opinion the needs of all will not be best met by building a new school on the College site”.

    So, there we have it, the corporate aspirations of a cricket club with connections to the eminently honest and respectable Sir Allen Stanford and his banking empire smashing the prospects of Bristol’s primary school children. A respectfully silent media. Hammond’s alternative to cram a ridiculous number of kids into an already overcrowded Sefton Park School and, meanwhile, we still don’t have enough places for kids this year or next year. If the council weren’t so concerned about their corporate aspirations and concentrated more on their boring old mundane responsibilities, (like looking after the welfare of our kids), we’d have a new school at Brunel ready to move into this September.

    Maybe the stink of coercion and manipulation is the reason that so many Freedom of Information requests have been ignored or denied over this issue recently.

  7. lilly manilly says:

    Those Member Information Sheets are available at http://tinyurl.com/dxd4uw (just scroll down to the relevent dates – October 5th 2007 and October 12th 2007)

  8. chris hutt says:

    Dominic, my suggestion was that a dedicated shuttle bus service during large events and operating between the Cricket Ground and Abbey Wood station (or Parkway) would give just as good a link to the rail network as a new station at Ashley Down.

    The answer to traffic congestion caused by such events as concerts and international cricket matches is to provide any no parking at the ground but to make event parking remote, say at a Park-and-Ride site or station car park (Parkway?), and run a shuttle bus service to the event.

    If the parking site were connected to a rail station as at Parkway it would encourage people to use rail to get there is the first place, because driving would still involve transferring by shuttle bus. Such an approach would need control of parking in local streets (Residents Parking Scheme) and would result in no one attempting to drive directly to the event.

  9. chris hutt says:

    Sorry, slight typo there. 2nd para should read “The answer … is to provide NO parking at the ground ….

  10. Bristol Dave says:

    “The answer to traffic congestion caused by such events as concerts and international cricket matches is to provide any no parking at the ground but to make event parking remote, say at a Park-and-Ride site or station car park (Parkway?), and run a shuttle bus service to the event.”

    This is frankly so simple I don’t understand why they don’t do this everywhere, especially at Ashton Gate…

  11. thebristolblogger says:

    It’s because the owners of these sporting venues are all extremely rich and the council doesn’t tell them what to do they tell the council what to do.

    Our councillors and their officers are wimps.

  12. Dona Qixota says:

    “Bristol City Council … have no imagination whatsoever”

    Oh but they have pleeenty of imagination … when it comes to screwing us over to line them and their cronies pockets.

  13. Hammond the horror says:

    Concerns to here please folks..

    bristolprimaryadmissionscrisis@yahoo.co.uk

  14. Jozer says:

    Be interesting to see if Horfield ROSE, who are so determined to stop nasty football fans parking anywhere near their houses, will mount any opposition to this. Over to you, Ms Ghosh.

  15. Ashley Down Resident says:

    Being one of the residents of this development where the school option was included as part of the planning consent I am not surprised that this has fallen by the wayside. The Council seem very reluctant to do anything related to this development (which is still progressing slowly). The large development of 104 properties adjacent to Muller House still do not have working street lights, an actual road surface, or the landscaping that was promised among other things – and repeated calls from residents to the Council via both Planning Officers and Councillors have largely gone ignored. It’s been over a year since the properties were built in the final phase, and almost 3.5 years since the first properties were completed and occupied!! The Developers are also seemingly uninterested in fulfilling their obligations through the planning process, and seem more concerned with getting the houses up as quick as possible and then getting out of here… I noted with amusement that this has appeared as an issue in the Council’s budget “consultation” with someone requesting that planning regualtions be enforced and a road surface be constructed!

  16. It's not cricket ! take a ------pop! says:

    NO NEED TO WAIT TILL JUNE 4TH ELECTIONS – LABOUR ADMINISTRATION RESIGNS, AT FULL COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING, THE BUDGET OPEN FOR DEBATE, LABOUR LOST THEIR BUDGET PROPOSALS TO LIB DEM AMMENDMENTS, RESULT LABOUR ADMINISTRATION HAS RESIGNED.
    SEE YOU ALL ON JUNE 4TH TO MAKE SURE THEY NEVER RETURN!

  17. Blooby...Blobby...Blobby says:

    sorry BB to link to the cancer here but interested parents might like to read this story.and its proposals

    http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/homepage/Bristol-MP-s-anger-temporary-classrooms/article-722494-detail/article.html#StartComments

    BLOBBY BLOBBY

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