RED TROUSERGATE: shambles, complete and utter

New Lib Dem transport boss, Jon Rogers has been asking some questions about the whereabouts of the public consultation into the Greenbank public land sale (Blogger passim) and has posted a response in the comments.

The responses he’s had from council officers are pretty remarkable and have been quite reasonably compared to the kind of excuses you might get from a kid who hasn’t done their homework.

They also seem to indicate that senior officers at the council don’t possess the most basic kind of project management skills. Let’s have a quick look at their excuses:

(1) Officers have said that the report is not yet ready. “We are finalising the report this week”

(2) They accept that they have not handled this well. “We should clearly have advertised this and given timescales on the website which is I think our main omission.”

(3) They hope to publish the report by the end of the week. “We are expecting to publish the consultation report by the end of the week. I’m not sure how the report will be made public but I’ll check. I’ve asked for an amendment to be made to the website to let people know in the meantime.”

(4) It’s taken longer than we expected for a number of reasons:

“a) We accepted questionnaires until two weeks after the closing date as quite a number were still coming in and we didn’t want to not incorporate people’s comments

b) We inputed those questionnaire ourselves rather than paying someone else to do them, as we were getting criticism for spending too much money on the consultation – this therefore has taken longer as it has been additional work on top of people’s heavy workloads

c) the person [ … ] who has been dealing with pulling the data together has been off [ … ] for the last week

d) We have spent some time double checking the data and ensuring that the conclusions we are reaching are correct as we don’t want to get this one wrong – again this has added to the time in turning it round

It’s pointless running through all these points in detail. Make your own mind up. And feel free to draw your own conclusions about this fantastic coincidence where officers were “finalising the report this week” – just as the Executive Member starts asking difficult questions – while simultaneously not being “sure how the report will be made public”!

You might also want to try and figure out what they think project management is down at the Council House.

To manage a project – such as, say, a simple public consultation – you basically have three variables: people; time and money. By organising and managing these three resources you should be able to successfully complete your project on time and to budget.

So what happened with this project?

People: ” the person [ … ] who has been dealing with pulling the data together has been off [ … ] for the last week”. So why wasn’t this planned for? Do officers not book their holidays in advance? Why was there no planning or contingency for staff absence?

Time: “We accepted questionnaires until two weeks after the closing date”. In other words the time available was randomly expanded by 100% because someone felt like it half way through the project.

Money: “We inputed those questionnaire ourselves rather than paying someone else to do them, as we were getting criticism for spending too much money on the consultation”. Or – if you believe these complaints really exist – they cut the budget half way through the project for PR purposes.

What a total fucking shambles. Whoever organised this should be sacked. They’re an an incompetent idiot wasting considerable sums of public money and screwing up our city into the bargain.

They might as well have taken this £12k (plus the handsomely renumerated officer time on top) of our hard earned council tax and flushed it down the toilet.

What are we paying six-figure salaries at the Council House for exactly?

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82 Responses to RED TROUSERGATE: shambles, complete and utter

  1. Jon Rogers says:

    Hmmm…

    You attack people who are not in a position to defend themselves. What sort of person would do that?

    Can I suggest that you attack me or my predecessor rather than officers who cannot answer back?

    My Labour predecessor Cllr Bradshaw and I are both elected to office and accountable to our electorate and the people of Bristol.

    I am, and Cllr Bradshaw was, responsible for taking decisions relating to planning and sustainability at the Council.

    Cllr Bradshaw has even dipped a toe into the blogosphere recently, so he might be able to answer your questions about what went on before (or maybe not!). There are certainly lots of questions that Labour should answer!

    Alternatively, perhaps I should adopt the ways of my predecessor?

    There are perhaps one or two officers who might like that (though not necessarily the ones you think!)

    I could keep information under wraps (though I guess that some information would probably leak out!)

    I could keep the media at arms length and not respond except through the council’s media relations team (who incidentally, contrary to what you led me to believe in your scurrilous way, have some great people working there!)

    I could adopt a bunker mentality, not engaging in this sort of banter, not twittering, not responding to comments, not being open to public scrutiny but that does not fit with how Lib Dems want to lead this city

    Finally, I would suggest that the council, the members and the officers are all servants of the people of Bristol.

    As a councillor, I am accountable to the electorate (and they will soon have a chance to hold me formally to account, won’t they Charlie!)

    None of us are infallible, and if we make decisions, some will be wrong ones.

    But it is better to risk the wrong decisions rather than make no decisions at all.

    Jon

  2. BristleKRS says:

    Technical point:

    I think you meant to say “handsomely remunerated”, as in, well paid for their work.

    “Handsomely renumerated” sounds like what gets done to the results of council surveys when the response isn’t quite what was anticipated.

    Jon: You can hardly blame BB for banging on about the same things he was banging on about *before* Labour crashed & burned, can you?

  3. Media Mouse says:

    Whaaa?! This stinks like Stilton!

  4. chris hutt says:

    I think we bloggers need to appreciate that Jon Rogers’ openness is a two-way street and we need to respond in a more constructive way.

    That is not to say that we should stop questioning or criticising (or carping as Bradshaw puts it) but we need to respect the position that Jon is in, publicly heading those officers in his department.

    Having said that, I’m not clear why officers can’t “defend themselves”. At least there’s nothing to stop them posting comments anonymously, or under an assumed name. Beyond that, why shouldn’t they respond to criticisms in a more formal way?

  5. The Blogger says:

    Jon,

    there’s no point in attacking you. The decision to sell the land was taken by an officer and is now being covered up by his subordinates. Political input into this affair has been nil (excepting the clear policy they produced on open spaces that officers have ignored)

    The idea officers should be left to work in secrecy out of politeness is daft.

    Until politicians remove power from unelected, unaccountable officers I shall continue.

    Officers are more than welcome to defend themselves on here. It’s not my fault your council has a utterly paranoid PR policy which bans officers from speaking to the public and means only control freak senior officers allow Simon Caplan to say anything.

    Was that policy decided by politicians Jon or was it “delegated” too?

    This whole affair is an anti-democratic shambles with a whiff of corruption about it and all you can do is attack the messengers.

    Bring the Bald Bish on to explain himself then …

  6. Gary Hopkins says:

    Councillors ,and especially executive Cllrs,are there to represent the public view and to get the officers to deliver better services.
    Part of the reason for poor performance in Bristol over many years has been the culture of secrecy and the failure of elected politicians to challenge repeated failure.It is our job to make officers accountable for performance to us and therefore to the public.When we have got good officers in sometimes they have even been prevented from doing an effective job by negative political interference because Labour thought that their supporters would not like it.
    To succeed needs clarity and persistance. The public will judge in June whether Jon,myself and our group can do that better than Lab/con or not.Some approach the task with some good ideas and then get beaten back by the system (just read some of Charlies comments over the last year for evidence).
    The Labour method of handing down government claptrap and then hiding behind the press office is not for us.
    As a previous executive Cllr. I have some experience of getting things changed and done and I can say that not Cllrs. succeed. Having watched a number of people come and go in executive positions I can tell you that Jon is one of the quickest learners I have ever seen
    and will be extremely effective.
    Unfortunately like me he possesses no magic wand but he does have clarity,intelligence ,determination and an overwhelming sense of public service.

  7. Jozer says:

    “They’re an an incompetent idiot wasting considerable sums of public money and screwing up our city into the bargain.”

    LOL! Youy need to be a bit more specific than that mate, You’ve just described about 50/60% of BCC employees.

  8. Customer says:

    How come according to the council we’re all customers and they’re a business until we complain about the service?

    Then it seems it’s suddenly an old fashioned arcane bureaucracy, which we’re not allowed to criticise.

    It’s like taking goods back to the shop and being told you can’t complain but must speak directly to a member of the board who might – might! – eventually get someone to speak to the shop manager on your behalf.

    Then a report – you can’t see – will go back to the board member who will inform you of the outcome the manager’s decided for you.

    Anyone seen a business run like that?

    Usually, if you pay for goods and they’re faulty, you take them back, they get changed and you get an apology.

    But if you pay for public services that are faulty and complain, you get slagged off because their weird self-serving rules don’t allow that.

  9. inks says:

    “To manage a project – such as, say, a simple public consultation – you basically have three variables: people; time and money. By organising and managing these three resources you should be able to successfully complete your project on time and to budget.”

    TBB, you can’t demand that a project is both on budget and that they rush in temps to cover for someone off sick and an external order to extend the length of the consultation period.

    Just from reading your post I’d guess either you’ve never been in a position of managing even a small project and budget or it was a long, long time ago.

  10. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Alternatively, perhaps I should adopt the ways of my predecessor?

    Jon – I don’t think I could be accused of not being open or raising the public profile of the transport agenda in Bristol. Ask the various community groups, transport lobby groups etc who I met during the 21 months I held office. And I guess the BEP were happy for a hate figure to sell their papers.

    I wish you well in this challenging role -but you make few friends

    Mark

  11. thebristolblogger says:

    an external order to extend the length of the consultation period

    You seem to prove my point for me. Senior Officers don’t know how to run a project if they order that the consultation period is randomly extended. That shouldn’t happen.

    There’s also the issue that the same senior officers have a massive conflict of interest in this as they’ve already determined the outcome and sold the land. Wrecking the consultation is therefore in their interests isn’t it?

  12. BristleKRS says:

    I don’t think I could be accused of not being open or raising the public profile of the transport agenda in Bristol.

    Well, you blocked me from following you on Twitter!

    Hurrah for RSS feeds 😀

  13. thebristolblogger says:

    I seem to recall the details of BRT on the Railway Path and the sneaky sell-off of its park land to Ferguson were both the result of FoI requests.

    Is that being open?

  14. Mark Bradshaw says:

    I seem to recall the details of BRT on the Railway Path and the sneaky sell-off of its park land to Ferguson were both the result of FoI requests.

    Is that being open?

    I seem to recall BRT on the railway path was one of several nasty dossiers I inherited from my Lib Dem predecessor, who forgot to mention it to anyone, including his own party colleagues. Get your facts right please.

  15. Robin says:

    “I wish you well in this challenging role -but you make few friends

    Mark”

    I’m sure Jon will have no difficulty in separating between those who will disagree but understand that is a function of debate, & those who will just whinge even if he suggests that the sun rising in the morning is a good idea !!

    It’s not as if the second group’s opinions are of any value anyway 😉

  16. chris hutt says:

    Mark Bradshaw – “Jon – I don’t think I could be accused of not being open…”

    As in this comment from you on Twitter, Mark? –

    “I see the same old suspects are on here too. Carping away but unable to back +ve change or understand complexity of getting things done”

    Is that how you signal your openness?

    http://twitter.com/mark_bradshaw/status/1272979888

  17. thebristolblogger says:

    unable to … understand complexity of getting things done

    Says the man who’s been running a department for 2 years where nobody seems to have basic project management skills.

    No wonder it was difficult to get things done.

  18. Mark Bradshaw says:

    I see the same old suspects are on here too. Carping away but unable to back +ve change or understand complexity of getting things done”

    Mr Hutt

    I’m glad you liked it. For my final intervention in this fascinating debate, let me say that my comments on twitter were aimed fairly and squarely at yourself. I guess it explains why I assumed you wouldn’t be interested in helping to shape policy instead of attacking everything (without exception) we did, from proposing resident’s parking measures to Prince St Bridge. Never mind now, I’m sure Jon has invited you to tea. Good luck. How long before you start calling him ‘hapless’?

    Mark

  19. Jon Rogers says:

    Morning Mark, Chris and others

    I think you misjudge each other. I know that Chris will give me a hard time; that is one of the things he (and others) are good at.

    My reading of all this is that there is a feeling that politicians and officers are not open and fully accountable for their actions. I think that is a widely held perspective, and Mark and I are both tarred with the brush of history.

    I think I may be luckier than Mark in that my group will let me say and do things without having to check back. They trust me to try and reflect Lib Dem policies in all my actions.

    One or two may sigh at my twittering or blogging, but most can see how the immediacy of the responses, debate and dialogue can get our message across.

    They also trust me to make mistakes and mess up from time to time, and I will not disappoint, particularly when this rather unreal honeymoon period is over.

    I would genuinely like to work with those of similar minds in other parties. I have offered and will continue to offer. Bristol is a great city, with huge potential and strength, but also so much to do.

    We are all involved, councillors, activists, bloggers etc, as we want the City to change for the better.

    Can I finish with a link to Neil Harrison’s tribute to Tony Lewis, which reminds us all that we don’t have enough time.

    http://cotham.blogspot.com/2009/03/tony-lewis.html

  20. chris hutt says:

    Mark, I did realise your Twitter remark was aimed at me.

    Just to recap our unhappy history over the last year, let’s remember that it started with your plan to turn the Railway Path into a bus route, which for the cycling community is an attack on our most sacred icon, something you would have understood if you had listened to the people.

    You may have inherited the plan from the previous Lib-Dem administration, but you picked it up and ran with it with a stubborn determination until you were finally brought down by shear weight of numbers. Even then you wouldn’t allow the Path to be reprieved and thanks to your political manoeuvring the threat from BRT lives on.

    Nor , as far as I’m aware, has it ever occurred to you to apologise for the dozens of people, myself included, whose lives were disrupted by the need to devote hundreds of hours to campaigning against your Bus-on-Path plan.

    So is it so surprising if I and others have been critical of your subsequent proposals? Do you really expect us to just forget the damage you inflicted on our lives and the ongoing threat to the Railway Path?

    I’ve no doubt that Jon Rogers will do many things that I won’t agree with but at least he listens to and responds to concerns expressed, whereas my letter to you on the Railway Path issue (hand delivered and emailed) apparently didn’t even merit an acknowledgement or reply.

  21. thebristolblogger says:

    My reading of all this is that there is a feeling that politicians and officers are not open and fully accountable for their actions.

    This is because 95% of spending decisions are made opaquely by officers not politicians.

    It’s then the job of politicians to try and figure out what’s gone on. This is tough because:

    (1) You don’t have a series of departments. You have a series of empires with emperors making all powerful decisions. (And we know the emperors like Bishop, don’t write anything down).

    (2) The management culture does not value traditional financial monitoring processes. (Remember Parrott? “Budget holders should monitor budgets on spreadsheets”?)

    (3) This is because budget holders are ciphers. They don’t control the budgets. The emperor above them does.

    I’ve had a couple of emails from sources in Bishop’s department suggesting I take a careful look at how pockets of money are shifted around into pet projects in Bishop’s department and how decisions are taken on his pet projects without prior funding in place. This money, apparently, is found later by raids on other budgets. I’ve, unfortunately, not had time to follow any of this up as yet.

  22. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Nor, as far as I’m aware, has it ever occurred to you to apologise for the dozens of people, myself included, whose lives were disrupted by the need to devote hundreds of hours to campaigning against your Bus-on-Path plan.
    ————————————————-
    Mr Hutt

    Just to repeat, the proposal was one I inherited from the Lib Dems, but at least you grasp that fact. My group was clear about not wanting BRT on the path and I made it clear this was my position, so don’t please try to rewrite history.

  23. chris hutt says:

    Mark ( or Mr Bradshaw if you prefer to be formal),

    Your group, no doubt at your behest, sabotaged the attempt by Charlie Bolton and the Lib-Dems to pass a motion to permanently remove the threat to the Railway Path.

    That and the rest of the history is recorded here on this blog so people can judge for themselves which of us is trying to rewrite it.

  24. Jozer says:

    John & Chris- you seem not remotely interested in the regular suggestion here that a senior council employee is committing serial gross misconduct, & possibly criminal corruption right under your noses. All you seem to care about is making sure any political blame flying around lands on other parties. No wonder if dodgy council managers feel they can break the rules with impunity. They certainly don’t have to worry about elected officials giving a shit.

  25. chris hutt says:

    Thanks for reminding me Jozer.

    Mark, that’s another one that happened on your watch. What’s your excuse for the Red Trouser Gate debacle? Did you inherit that from the Lib-Dems too?

  26. chris hutt says:

    Mark Bradshaw, since you are having trouble remembering the events of a year ago, here’s a link to the report on this blog on the April 1st Council Meeting and your wrecking amendment.

    http://tinyurl.com/ape7g2

  27. Get out says:

    Absolutely mind-blowing hypocrisy and revisionism here by Mark Bradshaw.

    “the sneaky sell-off of its park land to Ferguson”

    “My group was clear about not wanting BRT on the path and I made it clear this was my position, so don’t please try to rewrite history.”

    It’s perfectly clear from the above what Labour’s angle is going to be at the local elections in 2 months: they are simply going to pretend they werent in power at all for the last 2 years, and that absolutely nothing was to do with them.

    A truly cynical exercise at hoping to fool the public into a revised version of history. The reason for Labour walking away from power is now clear – this is their plan. How very New Labour.

    This kind of political bullshit must not be allowed to succeed, or it will torpedo the whole principle of political accountability for actions. It is everybody’s mission, regardless of who they support at the next elections, to ensure that the Labour Party does not get away with airbrushing the past.

  28. Get out says:

    I see Gordon Brown is at the same thing: “Gordon Brown last night hailed the ­beginning of the end for tax havens”

    The man who did more to defend more tax havens than anyone else over the last decade would now have us believe he is part of the charge against them:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/mar/13/switzerland-tax-evasion-fight

    In 12 years he defended but did not lift a finger against Jersey, Gurnsey, Isle of Man, Bermuda, Cyaman Islands… the list goes on.

    This is obviously Labour’s internal advice for fighting the local elections: “Deny history. The public wont remember anyway”.

  29. Jon Rogers says:

    Interesting thread.

    I am particularly alarmed by TBB allegations of “how pockets of money are shifted around into pet projects” and Jozer’s allegation that, “John & Chris- you seem not remotely interested in the regular suggestion here that a senior council employee is committing serial gross misconduct, & possibly criminal corruption right under your noses.”

    These are serious allegations and easy to make under the anonymity of a blog. They tar all of us in the Council House with a whiff of corruption, which damages the political process and questions officer integrity.

    If there is evidence, then forward it to me and I will investigate or get others to do so. You will notice that I don’t instantly dismiss such claims, much as I would like to. TBB seems well informed on a number of internal council issues (better informed than me at any rate!)

    Jon

  30. SteveL says:

    1. I’m waiting to see what changes we get in transport openness. I think it exists at some layers in the council, though I fear there are some staff in their who are used to a way of working which views external involvement as unwanted intervention, and interference with their busy plans. Having been given a tour of the ongoing St W to Muller Road works I am hopeful that we can get involved there, while S. Gloucs. are involving the cycling groups at an even earlier stage. The biggest barrier we have is the belief by some in the cycling and walking group that they are designing bike routes for tomorrow’s cyclists, not today -and therefore that the opinions of today’s cyclists were not relevant. We look forward to meeting the new project manager for Cycling City and collaborating properly on a project worthy of our city.

    2. A lot of the BRT plans went ahead during a time of change between ruling group at the council. Meetings went on and decisions were made to focus on the Railway Path at meetings where neither LibDem or Labour were present, just WoEP and FirstBus. The Railway Path suited the civil engineers as it was easiest engineering, and the staff also felt it was more politically acceptable, because it would be less disruptive to the city centre. I am not sure why FirstBus supported it, as this week’s cancelling of more routes show that their entire economic model of the BRT route was flawed -unless they felt that providing a predictable schedule at a slightly premium price would lead to a massive growth in demand. That or they hoped that the price of TIF, congestion charging, would do that for them.

    What surprised me about the choice of route was how the council seemed surprised by the city-wide opposition to the plans. Nobody in the WoEP seemed to have noticed or cared that it was Easton’s park; Easton’s route to the city, or noted that it was leisure route for cyclists from all round the city. Opposition was widespread, and we had support from all the main political parties in the city: LibDem, Labour and Green. Even the Conservatives, the party of the car-centric suburbs, provided support in the form of their prospective Bristol West candidate. We also had backing from the Bristol Blogger -for which we are still grateful- and the Evening Post, though they were a bit reluctant at first. They clearly recognised the strength of opposition and put aside their “breaking eggs” editorial, which we never mentioned again.

    Just before the big celebration -was it really a year ago?- Cllr Bradshaw put the plans to one side. We all have to be grateful that he did accept the reality on the ground, which was that the very idea had created a local movement where none existed before, and that any attempt to proceed with that specific BRT route would create an even bigger climbdown in the future, and be more destructive to the city and the labour party.

    Finally, can I close by mourning not just the loss of Tony Lewis, but of a pedestrian killed by a bus in old market. I wish his wife a swift recovery, and express my condolencies. Given that death happened in the same week Boris Johnson proposed shaving six seconds off every light-controlled pedestrian crossing in London, it is a reminder that traffic management is not merely about mininimising congestion, it is about keeping people alive.

  31. “Nor , as far as I’m aware, has it ever occurred to you to apologise for the dozens of people, myself included, whose lives were disrupted by the need to devote hundreds of hours to campaigning against your Bus-on-Path plan.”

    And this Chris, is where the crux lies.

    About 6 months ago I was told by a BCC officer that I was “a great community activist”… apparently in Council World this is some kind of compliment.

    The truth is though, I felt like smashing his fucking face in. You see, I don’t want to be a “community activist”, I want to get on with my life – quietly. The problem is, interfering tossers from the Council House won’t let me… they just keep coming up with more lunatic schemes to fuck up the place where I live.

    You Bradshaw, you’ve had a bloody good go, now it’s up to the new idiot to start messing about.

    Incidentally, the Lib Dems are clearly gearing up for an elction campaign in their own inimitable way; in the past 10 days, I’ve seen both Gary Hopkins and John Keily in my local… still, the’re not (yet) swarming up my street like lice, so I supppose that’s something in their favour.

  32. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Mark Bradshaw, since you are having trouble remembering the events of a year ago, here’s a link to the report on this blog on the April 1st Council Meeting and your wrecking amendment.

    http://tinyurl.com/ape7g2
    ——————————————-
    Mr Hutt

    Your report can’t really be considered to be objective and has limited accuracy. My comments before and during the debate made clear the Labour Group position on the BRT option: non-negotiable, no BRT on the Bristol to Bath path.

    Sadly you cannot accept this, but that’s for you.

    By the way, I think ‘Terry Walker’ was actually Terry Cook, by the way.

    regards – now do go and pester Jon for a while!

  33. Jon Rogers says:

    Hi Lizard Watcher

    Sorry to hear of your close encounters with my colleagues!

    Are there any “lunatic schemes” I should avoid, so I don’t suffer the same fate as that pig in your you-tube link?

    Cheers

    Jon

  34. Jon Rogers says:

    Hi Mark

    Good to see you drawing some of the fire at least for a week or two!

    Might be worth reading the 106 comments associated with the link http://tinyurl.com/ape7g2 that Chris Hutt posted.

    Jon

  35. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Jon

    I did at the time, including the one from Gary not disputing the fact that my predecessor knew of the option and wasn’t opposed. Sorry to paraphrase, but I’ve been telling it as it was for over 20 months now.

    Now over to you as I’m enjoying the break!

    regards

    Mark

  36. chris hutt says:

    Mark Bradshaw “Your report can’t really be considered to be objective and has limited accuracy.”

    So what should we rely on for an objective record – the Council’s free rag “Our City” perhaps, or your notoriously misleading press releases, like the one (link below) that I featured which had no less than 10 misleading statements in it?

    http://tinyurl.com/bgsg3x

    At least with the record of bloggers it is open to anyone to correct errors (as my accidental misnaming of Terry Cook was, by Jon Rogers in fact) or contradict anything they believe to be untrue. That makes it a far more interesting historical record than self-serving council propaganda or your brand of cynical new-Labour revisionism.

    If we are to believe your ridiculous claim that the Labour Group were against BRT on the Path then who on earth was for it – just the officers acting without authority I suppose, even 9 months after Labour had taken control?

  37. chris hutt says:

    Another thing Mark Bradshaw, bearing in mind your propensity for weasel words –

    You say “no BRT on the Bristol to Bath path”, but you don’t call it BRT anymore, do you. You call it Rapid Transit now.

    So are you and your group prepared to say, categorically, no Rapid Transit on the Railway Path?

  38. Charlie Bolton says:

    Chris

    isn’t it more pertinent to direct that question to Jon Rogers?

  39. chris hutt says:

    No Charlie, it isn’t, because we have known where Jon Rogers and the Lib-Dems stand since they supported your motion on April 1st last year. There’s nothing that I know of to suggest that they’ve changed their position. Do you know of something?

    Mark Bradshaw on the other hand is claiming a position for his group which is inconsistent with their wrecking amendment of that date, the one that emasculated your motion, as it were.

  40. TonyD says:

    Well, if Chris won’t do it……

    Jon, are you and your group prepared to say, categorically, no Rapid Transit on the Railway Path?

    Chris appears to be more trusting of the Lib-Dems than me, so I would just like to have it confirmed.

  41. chris hutt says:

    That’s right the Greens, take the heat off Labour and try and put it on the Lib-Dems just because they’re your principal opponents in Ashley.

    I find that very odd behaviour when the Lib-Dems clearly supported Charlie’s motion to save the Railway Path, which is what this debate is about. Or are the Greens just as much cynical opportunists as the grey parties?

  42. TonyD says:

    Umm, don’t see how we can take the heat off Labour by getting the Lib-Dems the opportunity to show that they are steadfastly opposed to putting Rapid Transit along the Railway Path.

    When Jon responds to confirm that yes, indeed he and the Lib-Dems will oppose any attempt to run RT down the Railway Path, that will put the focus squarely upon Labour and Mr Bradshaw.

    Personally, I would just like to be able to go to sleep this evening secure in the knowledge that the largest party will not allow development upon a vital non-motorised transport route. Just to be clear – “cynical opportunists – your words not mine.

    To be frank, if getting a guarantee from the member of the cabinet concerned with transport that the railway path will remain safe and secure means that some people will accuse me of scoring pathetic party political points then, frankly my dear I couldn’t give a damn – and nor should you, Chris.

  43. chris hutt says:

    But the focus was squarely on Labour and Mr Bradshaw, but you have shifted it onto Jon Rogers.

    You know very well that there are elections in June and after that we will see who takes control. That will be the time to get assurances about the future of the Railway Path, because at present a vote in full Council will be no more conclusive than last April.

    However Mark “weasel words” Bradshaw needs to clarify the claim he has just made. Will he restate it using his preferred words for BRT, namely Rapid Transit?

  44. thebristolblogger says:

    These are serious allegations and easy to make under the anonymity of a blog. They tar all of us in the Council House with a whiff of corruption, which damages the political process and questions officer integrity.

    This is not the fault of anonymous blogs John. It’s the fault of the way Bishop does business.

    A public servant who does not keep proper accurate records and minutes of the discussions around and the agreements to sell land?

    Even if the sale is not corrupt, this is precisely how a corrupt deal could be conducted.

    Bishop is either a crook or an incompetent. That’s the bottom line of your problem.

  45. Jon Rogers says:

    Can I reassure Charlie and Tony D that the Lib Dem position remains unchanged.

    On 1st April 2008 I seconded Charlie’s motion and then proposed that “council regards the use of the railway path for bus rapid transit as an inappropriate solution. Council demands the railway path option is dropped”

    This was to strengthen Charlie’s motion, with his agreement and ensure no ambiguity. Our amendment was passed by 29 votes to 19, with 15 abstentions.

    Then Mark Bradshaw introduced his party’s wrecking amendment, which was carried when yet again the Conservatives and Labour voted together 33 votes to 30 and 2 abstentions.

    Mark’s motion replaced “dropped” with the meaningless, “will oppose any threat to the current or future use of the Bristol to Bath cycle path”

    These experiences should remind everyone in Bristol that if the Lib Dems don’t get an overall majority in June, then the Lab / Con alliance could start up again, dashing the hopes of a more open and progressive Bristol City Council.

    Jon

  46. “Are there any “lunatic schemes” I should avoid, so I don’t suffer the same fate as that pig in your you-tube link?”

    Anything “progressive”, anything that is promoted in a scheme put forward by central government, anything put forward by SWRDA or WOE, and, most importantly, anything that mucks up the Bristol – Bath Railway Path!

  47. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Labour “…will oppose any threat to the current or future use of the Bristol to Bath cycle path”

    Jon

    I think that is a strong and robust position to adopt. Can I remind you it took a month for the Lib dems to decide what your position on the Bristol to Bath path option was. Electoral advantage vs a clear understanding of the facts I guess. or the gary vs dennis bout with you as ref!

    Mr Hutt

    Your questions on rapid transit and the Bristol – Bath path are for Jon Rogers, as the Cabinet member for transport for the time being. My group’s position is clear (see above).

    You have more time than me to induldge in your own brand of historical re-analysis – there are no easy answers or quick fixes to transform Greater Bristol’s transport. You appear to oppose everything, yet offer very little or nothing positive in return. Thankfully, you stand very little chance of being responsible for transport in Bristol which helps me to sleep easily at night. I’ve avoided being offensive towards you but your replies (when you haven’t got the answers you wanted) paint you in your true colours.

    Rather than supporting cross-party (I think this is still the case) efforts to get the millions of investment to Greater Bristol, you decry this and attack those working, as progressives in all parties, for a better Bristol.

    So when looking for a blame figure, look at yourself first.

  48. Gary Hopkins says:

    Mr Bradshaw
    The parallel between the railway path shambles and the incinerator scandle is very illuminating.
    In both cases the Lib Dem administration in Bristol was working with our West of England partners to find a common solution.
    In both cases there was central government money(or rather Bristol taxpayers money grabbed by central government and used as a lever by them) that was only available through the “partnership”.
    In both cases we were at the stage of having gathered the data on all the theoretical options and were about to narrow the field.In the case of waste to drop the incinerator and others and in the transport case to go the ring Rd/M32 option when there was a change of administration.
    It is necessary to have looked at and rejected these unacceptable ideas with good reasons as otherwise funding and procurement problems arise later on.
    In both cases then the unacceptable became the prefered option.Cue battles.
    Oh by the way I forgot the other common theme.
    Cllr Bradshaw as executive trying to pass down unacceptable government strategy off as “partnership” decisions and then when found out making up a lot of twaddle to confuse the voters that it was the Lib Dems idea all along.
    When people are looking for a reason for the long term poor performance of BCC look no further than 30yrs of this systemaic abuse of open and honest accountability.

  49. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Mr Hopkins

    Would’ve thought you had better things to do than indulge in your usual historical airbrushing lessons. Also glad to hear your party (via you, not Jon) now supporting my preferred option of using the M32/ring road for rapid transit. Naturally, this was work in progress well before you took control, temporarily, on 24th february. Sadly, after you’ve wrecked our joint working with neighbouring councils, We’ll have to pick up the pieces – again, as last time.

  50. Bristol Dave says:

    Interesting to read the (rather petty) bickering between councillors.

    I have to say I trust Jon Rogers’ engaging with the public more than Mark Bradshaw’s.

    Mark’s answers in a radio interview about the proposed congestion charge show his rather disgraceful disregard for public opinion. When asked whether he was going to give the public a referendum on the congestion charge, the answer was of course no (“Give the public a SAY in what happens? Good gracious man, are you mad?!”), but he couldn’t bring himself to say it.

    I think the lack of discussion or publicity about the congestion charge in Bristol by Bristol City Council is very telling. It is a given, since it’s condition of the WoEP’s TIF bid that Bristol implements congestion charging (or as they word it, “demand management”). At least Manchester got the chance to vote on whether they got one (and the fact they voted “No” even though their public transport is far better than Bristol’s speaks volumes) but I fully expect in true Local Authority fashion that Manchester City Council will either keep on asking the same question until they get the answer they want, or just introduce it anyway.

    Looks like unless the Lib Dem stance on congestion charging differs that much from Labour’s, we won’t even get a vote, however meaningless that vote is.

  51. Get out says:

    Wow, people slate Gary H for being aggressive, but reading Cllr Mark Bradshaw on here he comes over much worse!

    His final comment about having to “pick up the pieces” is truly comical though. Presumably that’s what Labour were doing between 1974 and 2005, right? They only way that lot will get back in power in Bristol now is if the Tories vote them in, again. Not very likely in the current climate.

  52. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Bristol Dave

    Well, I was just following the tone of the many kind and supportive remarks made about me on here over the last 21 months. Sorry if I’ve offended any of the more sensitive souls on here.

  53. steve meek says:

    Glad to see Mark Bradshaw now has time to engage with the public if only the small number engaged in reading blogs!
    I for one am very grateful to him over the BRT on the Railway Path issue – for inadvertently politicising a large number of people in Bristol: particularly those who care about green spaces and (a rare feat) the entire cycling community.
    Bristol Cycling Campaign, previously weak and ineffective, is now a useful and respected pressure group thanks to him and many of those involved in the Railway Path Campaign are doing useful transport related work via influential websites like bristol traffic, or through new campaigns such as 20s plenty.
    At a time when public involvement in the political process seemed to be on a downward trend, he single handedly reversed it! Well done Mark!
    I could never understand the obsession with secrecy of Mr Bradshaw and the labour cabinet. If only they had engaged with the public instead of planning things behind closed doors, they could have benefitted from all that knowledge, energy and commitment.
    We could have told him in 2007 what long term bristol resident Helen Holland should have known: that BRT on the Railway Path was impractical, damaging and would be massively unpopular.

  54. steve meek says:

    And another thing…on the subject of secrecy,
    I see he now says above that his preferred route for rapid transit is up the M32 and round the ring road. How interesting….I asked him publicly in the council chamber at the end of last year why he was not planning to do exactly that. He didn’t answer the question so I asked again but was shouted down by the labour benches as, unbeknown to me, it wasn’t allowed to ask more than one question! It appears we have a rule designed to protect our elected representatives from having to answer a question. Why was it a secret anyway, Mark?
    Somewhat humiliated, I decided to ask Democratic services to put these rules, and some others I hadn’t known about, on the website so that any member of the public brave enough to ask a question would know what they were up against.
    ‘You need to support the public in attending council meetings’, I pointed out.
    Interestingly, they told me they would amend the website, but also there was a review of public involvement in council meetings going on.
    Oh, how is the public being consulted, I asked?
    ‘Er…they are not’, came back the sheepish (paraphrased) reply.
    A review of the involvement of the public in council meetings, without involving the public? How very new labour! You couldn’t make it up!

  55. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Steve

    Well nice to hear from you and yes, temporarily at least, I’ve a little more time on my hands to blog etc.

    Now, on the BRT issue, as you well know, this was an option worked up by the West of England team and presented to my predecessor, Cllr Brown in 2006/7. The former railway path had been designated a public transport corridor in the local plan too, like many other routes in Bristol and the area.

    I inherited this option in late May 2007 and had to face the public campaign etc. Often in Bristol, proposals are just discounted without any study or evaluation. Our transport pressures are such that we cannot afford this luxury and genuinely, I felt Cllr Brown had this view also. After further study, the option was dropped on my request.

    My preference has always been to look at the M32/ring road as an alternative route and I’m pleased to see the Lib dems (at least Cllr Hopkins) now sharing this view. Before I left office, this was the work I had ‘commissioned’.

    Bizarrely, you accuse me of secrecy, yet I have publicised the work of the
    transport portfolio, asked countless campaign groups to meet me (FOSBR etc) and have always had an open door approach.

    Sadly, I think its easy to accuse someone of secrecy if they don’t share your viewpoint, or, as in this case, need to look at the wider interests of the city and our partner authorities.

    Jon will now find out what a tricky balancing act this is – I wish him well over the next few months.

  56. chris hutt says:

    Bradshaw’s a bruiser, isn’t he. I guess he know’s the game’s up now and his political days are numbered, so he can indulge himself and say what he really thinks.

    Mark Bradshaw made some comments about me that I’d like to correct. He said –

    “You appear to oppose everything, yet offer very little or nothing positive in return. ”

    Mark, you may think that transport only became an issue when you took over two years ago, but some of us have been working on it for decades. My serious involvement started more than 25 years ago and during the 80s and 90s I put forward many proposals which I think even you might regard as positive.

    Modesty and space forbid a full list, but just to give a flavour I’ll mention a few things that I played a significant role in promoting or saving –

    (1) The Bristol & Bath Railway Path (the Bristol section of which might never have been built had it not been for my campaign work since Bristol City Council had been kicking the idea around from committee to committee for 5 years, afraid to make a decision).

    (2) The Avon Cycleway (which I designed and promoted from 1982 onwards – it only took 5 years of campaigning to persuade Avon to implement it)

    (3) The Cycling Project Team of Avon County Council (which set the precedent for dedicated cycling officers in Bristol – maybe a mistake after all).

    (4) Park-&-Ride (I now regret this but I think I was the first person in Bristol to promote this).

    (5) Traffic Calming, Home Zones and 20 mph limits (again one of the first to promote these in Bristol).

    (6) The cycle routes across Castle Park and College Green and many others.

    (7) The launch of ‘Cities for People’ in Bristol which helped foster public support for the subsequent road closures across College Green, Queen’s Square and the Centre (I recall a young Paul Smith attending our meetings).

    (8) The provision of cycle paths alongside the Avon Ring Road and bridges to take the Railway Path across the Ring Road at Siston.

    (9) Saving the Bristol section of the Railway Path from proposals to turn it into a Light Rail Transit route in the early 90s (promoted by a bunch of shysters calling themselves Advanced Transport for Avon and headed by erstwhile MEP Richard ‘do-you-know-who-I-am-hic’ Cottrell)

    (10) Saving the Railway Path from proposals to turn it into a Bus Rapid Transit route in early 2008 (promoted by a bunch of shysters calling themselves West of England Partnership and headed by erstwhile Cabinet Member Mark ‘no BRT on the Bristol to Bath path’ Bradshaw).

    All this work was unpaid and unsung, all the credit subsequently being taken by the PR Blitzkrieg that is Sustrans and the PR shambles that is Bristol City Council. That’s the way of the world, but if you ever detect a note of bitterness in my postings that might have something to do with it.

  57. Mark Bradshaw says:

    Bradshaw’s a bruiser, isn’t he. I guess he know’s the game’s up now and his political days are numbered, so he can indulge himself and say what he really thinks.

    What total rubbish!

  58. Robin says:

    Interesting list from Chris Hutt of “a few things that I played a significant role in promoting or saving.”

    I was involved with the campaign to stop ATA & their attempt to pinch the cyclepath in the early 90s, but I’m afraid his name isn’t one I remember at all…….

    …. I can’t say about all the other claims, but look forward to comments from those who can !!

  59. Bristol Dave says:

    What total arrogance.

  60. Jamie says:

    I guess he’s getting back at the sniping since he took on the transport job. h was never going to be popular but i think he definately moved things on – even Jon Roger’s agrees (was at an event when he praised Bradshaw’s work) J

  61. chris hutt says:

    Bradshaw’s perfecty entitled to snipe back, but a bit of respect for the truth wouldn’t be amiss. His claims that the BRT on Path plan was all the Lib-Dems doing and he was against it really take the biscuit. Anyone involved in events a year ago knows that that is a travesty.

    Despite what I’ve said I also acknowledge that he was an outstanding leader on transport and bravely fronted a number of unpopular policies on behalf of the officers. They will respect him for that, as I do too, in my quiet way.

    There are no easy answers on transport. There aren’t even any easy questions! Most of us here understand that but that doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything, or indeed anything, put forward by the Council.

  62. Jamie says:

    Chris

    I think he’ll appreciate those words. I know an officer in his old dept and your comments echo his – bradshaw apparently worked 12-14 hours a day and weekends

    Incidentally and spookily, just seen Mark Bradshaw walking down Park St tanned and smiling – bet he’s relieved to get the rest. J

  63. Get out says:

    The exec member working 12-14 hour days and weekends is a sign of a dysfunctional department or an obsessive cllr. The best rated councils have no such behaviour.

  64. Sceptic says:

    The exec member working 12-14 hour days and weekends is a sign of a dysfunctional department or an obsessive cllr.

    Or both.

  65. Jon Rogers says:

    Evening all

    If you are looking for an “exec member working 12-14 hour days and weekends” then it isn’t me, at least not on my Transport and Sustainability portfolio! I also have responsibilities to my patients and my general practice, my constituents and my ward and my family and my home. And I like my sleep!

    Mark and I have spoken before and since the change of administration and agree that neither of us can do more than a little in turning the “tanker of Bristol transport”.

    More can be done working with others, and I met with colleagues from the neighbouring authorities yesterday. Elfan Ap Rees, Charles Gerrish and Brian Allinson (together with council, West of England and DfT Offciers) had a briefing on the pros and cons of an Integrated Transport Authority.

    We discussed the implications of the new Local Transport Act and started to explore ITA issues such as possible area of coverage, powers, funding, timescales and alternatives.

    We also discussed how we might use powers to influence local bus services (particularly timely!) with voluntary partnerships, quality partnerships and quality contracts.

    Although Mark and I might be heading in a similar direction, our styles are different.

    Lib Dems have many good ideas, but certainly hold no monopoly and we are keen to hear all suggestions and ideas.

    I am particularly keen on openness and developing cross party and cross authority consensus.

    In the three weeks since the change in executive member, the council has published the consultation report on the railway path/chocolate factory, Josh Hart has a copy of the Cycle Expressway feasibility report, the Cycling City project has been overhauled, officers have been asked to investigate reducing delays at traffic lights, concerns have been raised on Green Belt plans and Airport expansion plans, and many other issues have been blogged and twittered in what I hope is an open and accessible way.

    And finally, contrary to my (and probably your) expectations, the officers have all been great! Supportive, positive, challenging, adapting and understanding.

    Do keep the comments coming!

    Jon

  66. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Sceptic – Quite so! There are plenty of well-qualified people with excellent LOCAL knowledge of this city who could serve its citizens much better. I just don’t understand why they don’t split the high end salaries and create two (or three) roles. Who the hell needs more than £100k anyway???

  67. chris hutt says:

    “Bradshaw apparently worked 12-14 hours a day and weekends”

    Perhaps that is why Bradshaw misjudged public opinion on the Railway Path issue. Spending virtually all one’s waking hours ‘on the job’ with officers and other professionals is bound to lead to being out of touch with the public mood.

    One would tend adopt the mindset and world view of the people one works with. The officers may like that but it’s not what elected members are supposed to do. They are meant to act as a bridge between the internal world of council business and the ‘real’ outside world.

    I suspect Jon Roger’s approach of remaining more firmly grounded in his ‘normal’ life may be sounder, even if he doesn’t achieve the detailed knowledge of his brief that Bradshaw had.

  68. Jamie says:

    did’nt he cover more topics than Jon – including regen, economic devlopment, waste, green capital etc which is now split between several lib dem cabinet members? looked on the BCC website – no wonder he worked all hours! good luck to him having a rest now…:)J

  69. Get out says:

    The same amount of work has been divided up in a different way in the Lib Dem cabinet. Still the same amount of work.

  70. Jamie says:

    yes, but wasn’t he doing all this himself not split among 4 people, but whatever….

  71. Jon Rogers says:

    These areas are covered by Gary, Barbara and myself. We have also the benefit of Neil Harrison who is Assistant Executive Member for Sustainability.

    We place high importance on these portfolio areas!

    Jon

  72. Charlie Bolton says:

    ‘Elfan Ap Rees, Charles Gerrish and Brian Allinson (together with council, West of England and DfT Offciers) had a briefing on the pros and cons of an Integrated Transport Authority’

    More details please!

  73. chris hutt says:

    “We place high importance on these portfolio areas!” Jon

    So which portfolio areas don’t you place a high importance on?

  74. Gary Hopkins says:

    Chris
    Spending long hours being indoctrnated in how to impose ridiculous central government policies is a disadvantage to the public being represented. I like to think I have a good knowledge of my portfolio,especially waste,but it is not gained all in the one place.
    Another factor is that of challenge from our group.If Jon or I acted like Bradshaw did we would be replaced by our group pronto.

  75. king rat says:

    amazed that nobody has picked up on the very poorly coded message from jon rogers that he wants to be leader of the lib dems come june.

  76. chris hutt says:

    “very poorly coded message from jon rogers that he wants to be leader of the lib dems”

    Really king rat? And where would that be? Or are you just mischief making on behalf of his political opponents?

  77. Jamie says:

    Gary’s off on one again – must really really hate bradshaw – maybe because he was good at his job? if those hard working cllrs receive this much abuse no wonder few people except the retired (who have much to offer inc time) step forward!

  78. thebristolblogger says:

    Well, it’s perfectly clear that “Call me ma’m” Janke and her Clifton set have to go and soon.

    Simon Cook told the Post that the museum business plan “looked robust”, which is the equivalent of wearing a large sign on his head saying “Idiot”.

    “Biggles” Popham is a wealthy twit from Woking with nothing to offer the city.

    The first time Tim Kent opened his mouth at Cabinet he demonstrated he was a fool.

    Some sort of coup from the commonsense wing of the Lib Dems seems the way forward.

  79. king rat says:

    the fact that he said he wont be working 14 hour days in his current role suggests he might in another. Of course he can rule it out and i will cheerfully withdraw and it will be back to babs v gazzer

  80. Get out says:

    Ah the old “if you dont deny it it must be true” line. And have you stopped beating queen rat yet, king rat?

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