RED TROUSERGATE: endgame?

After a firm kick up the backside from new Lib Dem transport supremo, Jon Rogers, council officers have finally published the long-awaited Railway Path consultation.

And what a result! It’s General Public 6 Red Trousered Developers 0.

Here’s the consultation’s entirely predictable conclusions in full:

The key outcomes were:

o That green, open space should be preserved.
o That the wildlife corridor, in particular the hedgerow, should be protected.
o That the regeneration of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory site should take place within the existing boundary and that the Bristol and Bath Railway Path should stay in the public domain.
o That the individual accesses to the cycle houses are flawed with concerns about safety risks; changing character of path; de facto private gardens; impact on existing natural environment; security risks.
o The importance of Bristol as a ‘Cycling City’ and the need to protect cycle routes.
o Concern that land sale would set a precedent.

In conclusion, although there is general support for the regeneration of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory site the majority of those participating in the consultation felt that the development should be contained within the original footprint of the factory site and the Bristol and Bath Railway Path should stay in the public domain.

The majority of individual respondents and groups/organisations felt that plot 1 should not be sold although there were some suggestions for a compromise solution with partial development. A greater majority felt that plot 2 should not be leased particularly for individual access points – many respondents felt that these were unnecessary to the development. There was, however, some agreement to provide an access across plot 2 to the square, café and other facilities.

Meanwhile the council officers’ lame excuses to Rogers for not publishing the consultation earlier look even lamer.

“We accepted questionnaires until two weeks after the closing date as quite a number were still coming in,” they explained.

Then they claimed, “we inputed those questionnaire ourselves rather than paying someone, as we were getting criticism for spending too much money on the consultation – this has taken longer as it’s been additional work on top of people’s heavy workloads.”

But wait! The report says there were only 33 questionnaire responses sent in by post. So even if they had all arrived after the closing date, it’s hardly a major task to get them entered into a database is it?

Was there another reason for this delay? Maybe related to Square Peg’s desperate efforts – with the full help and support of David Bishop’s fawning planning department – to get planning permission granted on the land last month prior to the consultation’s publication?

Although this eventually got delayed until 1 April – ho, ho! – by the planning committee after Ferguson proposed building just 6% affordable housing – rather than the required 30% – in his development for snooty people.

But don’t go expecting this latest overwhelming victory to campaigners to be the end of the controversy just yet. For starters, Ferguson will no doubt soon be bleating and blackmailing, claiming the development will be unable to go ahead unless he’s given the right to trash the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.

Then there’s the small matter of who now takes the final decision on the – still – undecided land sale. The council is claiming the decision now rests with their deeply unreliable property and finance senior officer Carew Reynell, while the Parks Forum claim they were told that the decision would be made by the council’s Parks and Green Spaces Strategy Board.

Even now, at this late stage, this one is still up and running …

This entry was posted in Bristol, Bristol and Bath Railway Path, Bristol East, Developments, Easton, Environment, Housing, Lib Dems, Local government, Merchant Venturers, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to RED TROUSERGATE: endgame?

  1. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Great stuff – glad someone at the Council has remembered the public… you know… who they’re actually there for!

    Mind you… on the consultation itself, only 162 questionnaires were received!?! What about the 3,000 who attended the joint celebration and demonstration? Come on people – you’ve gotta be in it to win it 😉

  2. Oh dear. What a shame. Never mind.

    I suppose that George will indeed have to start whining to his mates in planning… Chanelle Brodie won’t be too chuffed either… only a couple of weeks ago she was down at the planning meeting telling everyone about how much support this sheme had.

    The lunatic scheme put forward by Squarepeg has cost the council tax payer of Bristol (at least) £12,000, not to mention hundreds of hours of campaigners’ time. We’d like payback. Free tickets to watch while George gets interrogated about all his links to council officers, said interrogation to be conducted by a psychotic war criminal armed with a hammer and a pointy stick would be a good start!

  3. SteveL says:

    I am very pleased with the outcome, and hope something can be worked out. I would also like to express my gratitude for all the support that the Bristol Blogger has given for this -you have been a key part of the campaign!

  4. thebristolblogger says:

    Alas, it’s not over yet.

    Here’s today’s Cancer article. The Jon Rogers/Gary Hopkins statement is interesting:

    “The new administration is committed to openness and transparency, and we are happy to publish the findings of the consultation. However, we have serious concerns about the way the council has reached this position and we await full answers to questions we have raised on behalf of all parties with an interest in the issue.

    “Meanwhile the planning committee have yet to make a final decision on the development, and neither of us wish to make any comment that is seen to influence the all-party decision.”

    Isn’t it strange how the planning committee were told the land sale and planning application were totally separate while Rogers/Hopkins aren’t making any comment because they’ve been advised the two are related?

    Is that a waft of McNamara bullshit in the air at the Counts Louse today?

    Meanwhile, this is interesting: “we await full answers to questions we have raised on behalf of all parties.”

    Presumably that includes Square Peg who have a written agreement from David Bishop that they can buy the land?

    Will they be involving m’learned friends I wonder? And how much will that cost us? It makes you wonder how much public money David Bishop will be allowed to squander deliberately defying his council’s own policies before some politicians get the cojones to sack the reprehensible little shit for this.

  5. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Yes, many thanks to the BB for highlighting this and other green space issues. Bristol’s green spaces are highly valued by many people (old Bristolians and newcomers alike) as what makes this such a great city. Let’s also not forget the efforts of Glenn Vowles, Chris Hutt and others who take the time to research information, put it online and attend Council meetings. I sincerely hope things are underway with obtaining permanent protection for this linear park, such as Town Green Status. Does anyone know anything?

  6. chris hutt says:

    As BB says, the game’s not over yet. I expect that they will try to keep the Land Sale issue out of the way until after the Planning Application determination on April 1st. I expect they will even try to stop the Planning Committee taking account of the results of the public consultation.

    If the Planning Committee give permission on 1st April, which they probably will if they ignore the public consultation results, then that will leave the council in a very difficult position in deciding whether or not to sell the land.

    If they take account of the clear views of the people they will not sell it, but then Squarepeg cannot proceed with the development as planned despite having Planning Permission. Yet they have been lead to believe that the land will be sold to them subject to them getting Planning Permission.

    If on the other hand the council decide to sell the land despite the clear opposition of the public, as I expect they will, then what point is there in any public consultation exercise they might carry out on anything?

    We’ve long suspected that consultation exercises are a sham, but a decision to sell would confirm it in a very explicit way. Not good PR for the new “listening” Lib-Dem administration in the run-up to the critical elections in June, especially when some of their key seats are threatened by the Greens, who have been very much behind the campaign to save the Railway Path from encroachment.

  7. chris hutt says:

    How shrewd of Labour to quit last month! They’ve landed the Lib-Dems in it on a raft of dodgy deals.

  8. Martyn Whitelock says:

    How even shrewder of the Tories to orchestrate Labour quitting last month!

    I’m sure any intelligent member of the public will acknowledge the mess the LibDems have inherited from the previous administration and will be patient in the light of recent LibDem progress.

    They still don’t have my vote, until I see some REAL change, particularly adherance to policies and ensuring Council officers comply with these!

  9. chris hutt says:

    “I’m sure any intelligent member of the public will acknowledge ……”

    But what about the majority?

  10. Susan Acton-Campbell says:

    Bristol Parks Forum are merely a pupet organisation under BCC control.

  11. MattB says:

    For all the good it will do (I hope some, but the more I read about BCC the more I suspect it won’t) I have emailed my Cllr, making it clear if the consultation is ignored I will be urging everyone I know to vote for people that support them, rather than ignore them.

    I do wonder if they even care? are Bristolians more sheep than substance? would Bristolians vote with the issues or just who they voted for before? I know everyone that reads this will clearly vote for whoever does right by Bristol, but what about the rest? Does anyone have any clear facts or figures or even thoughts?

  12. Jon Rogers says:

    The people of Bristol will have a choice. The secretive and flawed approach of Labour or the open and I believe principled approach of the Lib Dems.

    Of course, if the Lib Dems don’t get an overall majority then there is also a possibility that the Conservatives will be put in by Labour.

    There are lots of reasons being uncovered as to why Labour wanted out…

    Planned bus cuts, problems with their residential home strategy, poor figures on recycling, lack of planning for primary school places, wrong decision on Sefton Park, various budgetary challenges etc, etc.

    These problems are all made worse by their apparent failure to acknowledge these problems and failure to give clear instructions to officers, who have often been left to try and defend the indefensible.

    We have some big challenges, but we will address them, not hide and hope they will go away.

    Jon

  13. Matthew, Mark, Luke and Jon says:

    “The secretive and flawed approach of Labour or the open and I believe principled approach of the Lib Dems.”

    Ah yes, the principle of supporting a jet-setting councillor who returns to racially abuse her colleagues, all the while claiming 10 grand a year.

  14. “The people of Bristol will have a choice. The secretive and flawed approach of Labour or the open and I believe principled approach of the Lib Dems.”

    Well Jon, I really hope so… but, these are the kind of decisions that that will let us know whether it’s for real, or, whether it’s all just hot air… now let’s see what you’re going to do whith this one…

  15. thebristolblogger says:

    You are being pathetically vague here Jon.

    The issue is about a piece of park land protected by your own Parks and Open Spaces Strategy that one of your senior officer has privately assented to sell subject to planning permission being granted on 1 April.

    Your own policy; your own officers; a 731 person petition and now a £12k public consultation all conclude the land should not be sold.

    At this stage we need a clear decision not hot air. It’s quite apparent elements within the Council House want to drag this decision beyond 1 April when the land sale becomes fait accompli.

    The developers have a letter saying the land is theirs if planning permission is granted.

    As for this “we can’t comment because there’s a planning application pending”. This makes no sense.

    On the one hand the chief legal officer is telling the planning committee that the land sale and the permission are entirely separate; on the other, he’s telling you and Gary you can’t comment because they’re linked.

    Which is it?

    Perhaps you should get some decent legal advice rather than the legal advice David Bishop wants you to have.

  16. chris hutt says:

    Let’s remember the genesis of Red Trouser Gate. A year ago Squarepeg entered into a Planning Performance Agreement with the Council which obliged them to carry out detailed public consultation prior to the submission of their Planning Application.

    Despite this they tried to slip the acquisition of Railway Path land past the public in a devious way so that hardly anyone realised what was going on. It was only as a result of detailed enquiries made by a certain blogger than the truth was made public. The rest as they say is history.

    The point is that Squarepeg may be reluctant to threaten legal action against the Council if they don’t get the land since that might well lead to an examination of their own tactics in obfuscating the land sale issue, in contravention of the terms of the PPA.

  17. thebristolblogger says:

    Perhaps also the politicians should bear in mind that their officers have created such a complete and utter fiasco here – basically by disregarding their own policies to help out developers – that they could be on the receiving end of legal action if they do sell the land to avoid Square Peg’s lawyers.

    I’m reliably informed that a decision to sell could be subject to judicial review.

    Well done David Bishop. Your little favours to Merchant Venturers are going to cost council taxpayers a small fortune.

  18. “Perhaps also the politicians should bear in mind that their officers have created such a complete and utter fiasco here – basically by disregarding their own policies to help out developers…”

    The truth is that council officers can’t really be trusted. The problem is, that they (unlike councillors or members of the public) have a national culture. Planning officers go to meetings and conferences where they meet planning officers from other parts of the country. They discuss ideas and share problems away from the eye of pesky councillors or members of the public. Officers from other departments do likewise. They end up seeing everything as an officers problem, when it is the city’s problem. This is something that was recognised back in the 1970’s (and probably earlier).

    It was interesting to see at the planning meeting the way Ms Brodie constantly said “we have designed” and “we thought we should include”… she sounded more like an advocate for Squarepeg than an officer of Bristol City Council paid for from my council tax!

    I’m starting to get a sneaking suspicion that very soon, the Diberal Lemocrats will be subject to the whims of the officers, just like their Liebour predecessors. Oh well, come June I suppose I’ll have to put a piece of shit covered bog roll in the ballot box instead of a ballot paper… after all, a good healthy turd would probably do well as a councillor – the officers wouldn’t be able to blag it would they?

  19. Ella says:

    Matthew, Mark, Luke and Jon- don’t forget all the contradictory bullshit they spewed out about her reasons for doing so before and after.

  20. Holly says:

    A Council can not function properly if it is threatened with legal action, as this ultimately affects the tax payer. This is why Mr Jafari (the owner of Grove Wood and well hated rogue property developer) has got his way with three retrospective planning permissions, including totally illegal tree felling which exceeded the Forestry Commission’s yearly allowance for private woodland. Is it any wonder more radical groups exist when the beaurocracy which should protect the environment and the public’s interests fails!?!

  21. Factoid says:

    Just so all the councillors know, my vote will be going to the party who rules out BRT and any other encroachment onto the path. A stance on these would speak volumes for their attitude which no amount of bullshit could match.
    So the greens it is then. Has no one else any principles they are prepared to stand up for?

  22. thebristolblogger says:

    Charlie Bolton has hardly covered himself in glory over this one has he?

    http://charlie-boltons-southville-blog.blogspot.com/2008/11/by-george.html

  23. Rosso Verde says:

    Blogger,

    Charlie’s opinion on this was at odds with the rest of Bristol Greens (certainly ones in East Bristol)

    He was speaking from experience of working with GF in the past over the Tobacco Factory – which he found a positive experience.

    When refering to the whole Squarepeg/BRT/chocolate factory issue and GF involvement in it – I agree with what you, Chris Hutt, Glenn Vowles and thers have written on this and other blogs.

  24. Jack says:

    Love the attempt to regurgitate the BRT on cycle path campaign – someone’s desperate. Thought this had been publicly killed off by Cllr Mark Bradshaw and the previous cabinet. Maybe the Lib dems are working on a new option to use only part of the path under pressure from S Glos??? Jack

  25. chris hutt says:

    Jack, you really ought to do your research before posting. It was Bradshaw and his Labour lot, supported by the Tories, who killed off the attempt by the Greens and Lib-Dems to fill off BRT on the Path.

    The threat of Rapid Transit on the Path remains as confirmed by searches made on behalf of prospective purchasers of adjacent property near the Path. It may not be a realistic prospect right now but the minute campaigners turn their backs it will return, as it has before.

  26. “Charlie Bolton has hardly covered himself in glory over this one has he?”

    It was amusing to read through that thread. I liked the anonymous comment “If this was a football match I think the final score is: Dona 5 Charlie 0”. I would go further though – I would suggest that Dona kebabbed him!

    I agree with you Lollo that Proper Charlie’s views were at odds with those of most members of the Green Party in (especially East) Bristol. Interesting that you say “He was speaking from experience of working with GF in the past over the Tobacco Factory – which he found a positive experience.” I’m sure that he found it positive. It must have been great to work with someone so respected; former president of RIBA, Merchant Venturer, fully paid up member of the great & the good. Charlie may well have got a boner every night thinking about how this would go down in the council chamber. How envious the other councillors would be, etc. etc. Oh well, sometimes things that look like chocolate turn out to made of shit.

    BTW, pity it ain’t you over there in Southville – you might be a commie, but you do strike me as an honest commie!

    Chris… don’t think I can add anything at all to what you’ve said about BRT – so I won’t bother trying.

  27. Jack says:

    ‘The threat of Rapid Transit on the Path remains as confirmed by searches made on behalf of prospective purchasers of adjacent property near the Path. It may not be a realistic prospect right now but the minute campaigners turn their backs it will return, as it has before.’
    Chris

    surely this has more to so with the 1996 local plan stating it’s a transport route and less with any realistic BRT proposal. surely, you can accept what Bradshaw said – thought it was clear enough. Jack

  28. Sceptic says:

    surely, you can accept what Bradshaw said – thought it was clear enough.

    Bradshaw’s a politician. Politicians lie. I’d sooner put my trust in a £9 note.

  29. BristleKRS says:

    Sorry, I’ve only got two fours and a one 😐

  30. chris hutt says:

    “surely, you can accept what Bradshaw said – thought it was clear enough”. Jack

    Sorry Jack, we learnt the hard way a year ago. Bradshaw uses words very precisely to convey an impression whilst actually saying something else. He’s not unique in that respect of course, but he’s better at it than most. It sounds like you’ve been taken in.

    However you’re right that the threat to the Path can be traced back to the 1996 Local Plan. Now who was in power then? Labour wasn’t it? So the Lib-Dems could play the same trick as Bradshaw and claim that they in turn inherited the Rapid Transit on Path plans from Labour.

  31. Might I concur with the comments made by the others on the Bradshaw / BRT matter? and, might I also, in my ususal way, lower the tone? I would like to add that, in my experience, politicians are not wankers; to call them wankers would be to insult firm, upstanding onanists everywhere. Politicians are nothing more than sweaty palmed, limp, grippers!

  32. Chaffinch says:

    The Tobacco Factory is very popular in Southville with the class of persons most likely to vote Green. Could this have something to do with Charlie’s limp showing over Ferguson’s antics?

    LibDems really need to do something very stern with Shirley Brown as she is a massive electoral liability. It would be no surprise if sufficient voters are turned off by Ms Brown’s rotten behaviour to vote poor old Jon Rogers out of Ashley, for example.

    As to the cycle path, surely it would not meet the criteria for town green status Martyn? This problem of how to protect the greenway is very tricky to solve.

  33. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Essentially, town (or village) green status applies to land which local people have used for recreation for over 20 years, safeguarding it as open space (which, clearly BCC can’t be trusted to do under their own policies). There is a very interesting landmark case here:
    http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/england/professionals/en/1115314130961.html

  34. “Essentially, town (or village) green status applies to land which local people have used for recreation for over 20 years, safeguarding it as open space …”

    The problem is that in order to gain town green status, you have to be able to demonstrate that the proposed town green is the focal point of a given local community. I was involved with an application a couple of years ago, which was rejected on the grounds that the land in question was used by two communities. I suspect that town green status would be very difficult to obtain on the railway path (and possibly in Grove Wood too) for this very reason.

  35. Chaffinch says:

    The key word here Martyn, is local. Don’t petitioners have to present maps and figures to prove that the use of the green space has been primarily by people living very nearby? Isn’t this partly where Packers Field Whitehall/Easton failed? And can you imagine drawing up the proof for every single area of the cycle path greenway? Do people even use the green strip next to the path in any way like a town or village green?

    If you think that town green status is worth trying for, Paula Spiers at the Avon Valley Partnership would be a person to talk options over with (email easily findable with Sheikh Google.) Paula organises the railway path topic group for one thing.

  36. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Chaffinch – Separate to your point about town green status: the green strip is highly important for wildlife and therefore the local ecology, and the fact it isn’t used by humans is the reason for preserving it. It is supposed to be protected under the Railway Path’s greenway status, which I also understand is part of Bristol’s policy for biodiversity.

  37. thebristolblogger says:

    It’s also protected under the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy. But neither officers nor politicians seem much interested in upholding their own clear policy in any meaningful way against aggressive developers.

  38. snafu says:

    Hahahaha … supposed to be protected … who needs yet more proof that nothing, NOthing is safe from the kleptocrats which we allow to parasitise us …?…!…?…!…!…!

  39. In China the authorities are pioneering the use of a quick and painless method for dealing with corrupt local government officials.

    An interesting article in the Daily Mail features one Jiang Yong, a local official who thought he could make his own private deals with developers who wanted to build on protected land… a spokesman for Jinguan Auto said “We have not sold our execution cars to foreign countries yet, but if they need one, they could contact our company directly.”

    http://tiny.cc/4unIA

    Over to you Gary and Jon.

  40. Pingback: RED TROUSEGATE: Bishop proposing multi-million public money favour to ol’ Red Trousers! « The Bristol Blogger

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