World Cup footBALLS of confusion

Are we in need of the Council House equivalent of a Kremlinologist to explain what the Lib Dem leadership’s view of the proposal to build a Tesco Extra on Ashton Gate might be?

A couple of Lib Dem cabinet members have been on this blog to express a view on the subject.

Gary Hopkins told readers:

Clearly North St would be damaged by the Ashton Gate Tesco but there is of course no certainty that it would even deliver the world cup.

It would be against current local guidelines and of course Asda and Sainbury would throw every legal spanner in that they could.

If the path were not cleared very early the world cup will not come to Bristol.

This sounds like he’s against doesn’t it? Jolly Jon Rogers, meanwhile, appears a little more circumspect:

My position as Exec Member for Transport and Sustainability means that I have responsibility for the Planning Department within my portfolio, but that responsibility is to see that it applies the law in making it’s decisions.

If I do otherwise, then any decision made would immediately be open to appeal.

We can and do debate the framework for those planning decisions. These are set out in National and Local planning statutes, as well as in the emerging Local Development Framework (which has cross party input) and in various SPD Supplementary Planning Documents.

These do include the concepts of environmentally and sustainable neighbourhoods (though not yet as much as we would like) and a Local Plan which indicates broad development aspirations for areas of the city.

A little vague sounding maybe? Non-committal even?

Possibly. But what Jon perhaps doesn’t make clear – although Gary does – is that the planning framework as currently laid out through the local plan, the city’s retail strategy, the City Wide Retail Study, local transport plans and through the local strategic partnership and Bedminster’s Neighbourhood Partnership, among others, strongly militates against building a supermarket on the site.

Meanwhile others among the city’s Lib Dem leadership seem to be taking an entirely different tack and have jumped aboard City Chairman, Stevie Lansdown’s slightly incautious world of cheese Evening Cancer-led World Cup PR campaign that’s running with the gung-ho strapline “No stadium. No bid. No World Cup in Bristol.”

When Lansdown’s Bristol City FC Chief Exec Colin Sexstone spoke to the the Cancer two weeks ago, he said

The timetable is tight. Planning permission for the redevelopment of the Ashton Gate site will be submitted at the end of July, leaving the planning committee until late October to make their decision.

It will be an independent decision. But Bristol’s World Cup ambitions, £100m of investment, eight years of promotion and a festival of previously unseen proportions in this city hang completely on that decision.

So there’s little doubt then that Lansdown and Sexstone are tying any Bristol World Cup bid directly to Tesco at Ashton Gate.

Enter Lib Dem leadership duo of Janke and Cook and their utterly bonkers Lord Mayor Chris Davies …

Last week the Cancer gushed:

“While the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Christopher Davies, continues to thump the drum for the city’s cause as the “capital of the West”, councillor Simon Cook and council leader Barbara Janke are getting on with making the dream a reality.”

Jesus. Pass the sick bucket. But wait. There’s more:

Mr Cook and Mrs Janke are deep in the detail of how to best impress the visiting FA dignitaries on July 13 and what “host city” status could grant to Bristol in terms of an anticipated £100 million of investment.

Mr Cook, who is leading the bid at Bristol City Council, told the Evening Post: “If we won it would be fantastic, so we are putting a lot into it.

“It’s a huge challenge but a very exciting one. The development of Ashton Vale will be well placed in terms of helping the regeneration of south Bristol and acting as a regional stadium.”

Quite clearly this little lot are right behind the stadium and World Cup bid.

And as Sexstone and Lansdown have already told us, the stadium build depends on the Tesco deal. So are the Lib Dems for against the Tesco at Ashton Gate?

Fear not. Because Jolly Jon turned up again on here to explain:

On the BCFC new ground development I am with Barbara [Janke] and Gary [Hopkins].

So that’s cleared that up then.

This entry was posted in Ashton Vale, Bristol, Bristol Evening Post, Bristol South, Developments, Lib Dems, Local government, Planning, Politics, Southville, World Cup 2018 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to World Cup footBALLS of confusion

  1. Jozer says:

    The longer we wait to hear of BCC publicly telling Lansdowne to stick his blackmail tactics up his arse, the worse I fear.

  2. Jon Rogers says:

    BB, I didn’t see that me repeating what Gary said as adding to the debate.

    As you point out, I did say that I agreed with the positions of Barbara Janke and Gary Hopkins.

    Others have implied that those positions are contradictory. Not so.


  3. Glenn Vowles says:


    Barbara Janke is keen to see world cup football in Bristol .

    We are told that this means a new BCFC stadium on green land in Long Aston and Tesco buying and building a very large store on the old BCFC ground. You’ve confirmed that you agree with Barbara Janke.

    I conclude from this that you support the BCFC plans for Long Ashton, support the selling of Ashton Gate to Tesco for a large store…Can you confirm that this is the case??

    Labour and Tory leaders on the council have also spoken keenly about world cup football in Bristol and there continues to be massive media hype around the issue – can we therefore expect a completely fair and objective assessment of the planning application??

  4. Paul Smith says:

    I have worked it out. Jon Rogers does agree with Gary and Barbara – just not at the same time

  5. Gary Hopkins says:

    Let us assume for the moment that Mr Vowles and some others are genuine in their misunderstanding.
    To remove any doubt.
    The administration is keen to attract the world cup to Bristol if possible.
    We know that England may not get the world cup and if it does it is not certain that Bristol will be a venue.
    The world cup in Bristol would be a big boost for a lot of Bristolians and would bring in a lot of business.
    To stand any chance of getting this event we have to
    1 Be very convincing that we want it.

    2 Show that we have good facilities. Bristol already has a lot to offer but a new stadium with good public transport links would be essential.

    There is only one realistic place for the stadium which will not please everybody but it does need good public transport links. It also should incorporate an arena facility and not be swamped with masses of greenbelt housing.

    This does not mean that we favour the Tesco option for the old stadium site . This was sheduled for housing and mixed use and could be a great example of sustainable urban design.
    Because the bottom has temporarily fallen out of land values for housing the football club seem to think that selling to Tesco is the only game in town to raise the cash.
    They forget that they would be working against the local planning grain and also battling against Sainsbury and Asda who could tie up the process for a long time. Even if they succeeded eventually it could well be too late to have the ground qualified for the world cup. In other words we could finish up with Tesco and no world cup in Bristol.
    That is why we as an administration are looking to find a more suitable funding and management model that could deliver the world cup with sustainable development at Ashton gate.
    I have posted along these lines already and Simon Cook has already explained this to Charlie in writing.
    Jon Rogers has to be very careful with his wording. Whilst it will be an all party planning committee that makes the decision ,subject to central government appeal ,it has not been unknown for Tesco to bring in Lawyers for a legal challenge.
    Why is it then that Green party posters and the ever flexible Paul Smith are equating supporting the world cup with supporting Tesco. Could this be delibarate misrepresentation?
    Any questions?

  6. James Barlow says:

    “The world cup in Bristol would be a big boost for a lot of Bristolians and would bring in a lot of business.”

    Could you expand on this bit? What boost? How much business? Enough to cover the costs of your “sustainable funding and management model?” whatever that might be?

    Declaration of interests: I’m a local small-government activist and I think football is a girls’ game.

  7. thebristolblogger says:

    Why is it then that Green party posters and the ever flexible Paul Smith are equating supporting the world cup with supporting Tesco. Could this be delibarate misrepresentation?

    No. People can only interpret and represent what you say.

    You’ve chosen to have a month-long Tesco Extra-sized silence.

    If you won’t clearly state your policy on the record then we have to try and guess.

    The public aren’t mindreaders are they?

    And on the subject of the World Cup, how much is it going to cost us?

    Do you know?

  8. Two from me….

    the old stadium site . This was sheduled for housing and mixed use and could be a great example of sustainable urban design

    Can you point to where this is scheduled? The old local plan simply accepts it as a football stadium. Have there been new plans and consultation since then? This is very relevant because it is a material planning consideration of some weight. I’d be happy to see straw bale houses there – as long as there are no cars on site, of course.

    And are you saying that, world cup or not, you support this planning designation of the Ashton Gate site as the best future use of the site – even though it would exclude massive retail development? In other words, you’d like a bit of the world cup in Bristol, but not if the price is a Tesco Shed?

  9. paul smith says:

    Seems to me that the lib dems are sitting on both sides of the fence.

    They support the new stadium but not the only way that the BCFC say they can fund it.

    They havent proposed an alternative funding stream – unless that is what their £30m of cuts is for.

    I Know Gary likes to have his cake and eat it (and then eat everyone elses too) but I cant make head nor tail of where they really stand.

    My guess is its Barbara and Simon v Jon and Gary – thats a fight I would pay good maney to see

  10. TonyD says:

    “Why is it then that Green party posters and the ever flexible Paul Smith are equating supporting the world cup with supporting Tesco. Could this be delibarate misrepresentation?”

    Gary, attending the BERATE meeting last Friday the distinct impression I got from many of the residents who attended was that they felt ALL the three largest parties in the council chamber were supportive of the World Cup Bid and that the Lib Dems in particular appeared to accept the need for a Tesco to support this. Having previously spoken to Lib Dem councillors who had told me this latter assumption was false, I found myself in the unusual position as a Green of defending the Lib-Dems and explaining that my understanding was that the Lib-Dem group was looking for alternatives that did not involve a superstore.

    I hope your recent post will further re-assure a lot of those residents that a Tesco at Ashton Gate is not a “done deal” as far as the Bristol Liberal Democrats are concerned and that you will be looking for a more appropriate solution – because, although you obviously do not like it, the reality is that for most of the general public the source for the erroneous and misleading concept that the World Cup Bid is reliant upon permission being granted for a Tesco is not from posts by Green Party bloggers (or even Paul Smith) but from the local paper-based press and comments by leading members of your own party.

    Whatever message you may think was being communicated by the Lib Dems via the media was simply not the message being received by the residents of Southville and Bedminster (at least not the ones I spoke to) and the small businesses in North Street. What they saw was a media campaign saying that the World Cup would bring in £100m (based on figures provided by a Bristol City Council officer) with supportive comments from the leader of the majority party of Bristol City Council (as well as the leaders of Labour and the Conservatives) in close association with a reference to the need for Tesco to get planning permission in order for this “£100m” to come to Bristol – you can try and blame the Green Party for linking the two separate items together but it wasn’t Green Party members being quoted in those articles without making any attempt to refute the misleading message being promoted.

    Furthermore, as I am a Green Party member who has posted quite a bit on the subject of a new Tesco superstore, if you feel that I have made comments that appear to support the argument that the World Cup Bid is reliant upon a Tesco at Ashton Gate, please point them out to me and I will retract them. My posts have argued purely and simply that a Tesco at Ashton Gate would be inappropriate because it would have a detrimental impact on existing retail provision along North Street (and elsewhere).

    As for what should be built at Ashton Gate (if not a modern football stadium); I would only comment that if mixed used developments are appropriate and viable elsewhere in the city in 2009 then they should be appropriate and viable in Ashton Gate area as well – especially as the site will not be available until 2013 at the earliest and even the most pessimistic of economic forecasts foresee some improvement in the economy by then. In fact, and at the risk of being accused of trying to link the applications, I would like to point out that there is an existing nearby planning application for a mixed-used development comprising a sports facility, hotel, restaurant/bars, small retail and 253 residential units which the developers appear to believe financially viable despite the downturn in the market. As the non-sports facilities are described as Enabling Development the assumption must be that the developers envisage the non-sports development as being a very profitable exercise.

    A further point; the planning application by Ashton Gate Ltd, Vence LLP and Ashton Vale Project LLP for a stadium with hotel, residential and retail development on 62 acres of Green Belt land at Ashton Vale IS a separate planning issue from the expected planning application by Tesco PLC for a superstore on 10 acres of already developed land at Ashton Gate and I hope any attempts by interested parties to have these two separate and complicated applications covered at the same Development Control Committee meeting will be resisted in order for each application to be considered in detail and upon its own merits.

    This issue is an important one for the city and it should not be allowed to degenerate into petty cross-party points-scoring and bickering – after all, I thought that was what the council chamber was for……

  11. Gary Hopkins says:

    Tony D
    Look further back in this string and then tell me whether the comments of green party candidate Glenn Vowles do not try to give the impression of us supporting the Tesco bid.
    There is plenty of evidence of us supporting the World cup bid but as you rightly point out they are separate.
    I attach copy correspondance from one of those people within our party that some are claiming is backing the Tesco bid.
    The really dangerous politicking here is coming from those who effectively are making Tesco’s case for them by gouing along with the notion that if you want to get the world cup you have to have Tesco at Ashton.
    In fact because of the inevitable planning wrangles and the need for very early confirmation of the stadium relying onTesco funding presents a massive risk.
    As you will see it is acknowledged positively by your councillor.

    >>> Charles Bolton 25/06/09 13:46 >>>
    Thanks for what appears to be a ‘comprehensive as possible’ reply.

    Charlie Bolton
    Green Party Councillor
    >>> Simon Cook 06/24/09 6:32 PM >>>

    Thanks for your email.

    Of course we support the bid for the 2018 World Cup. It would bring unprecedented economic benefits and prestige to the city.

    The Stadium is crucial to the bid and we support the idea of a regional sports facility that would incorporate a 1,000 capacity conference centre (which we currently don’t have and consequently miss out on a lot of conference business) – as well as the potential for hosting large football matches as well as major rock concerts.

    It is, however, for BCFC to make the case for a Tesco on the Ashton Gate site. That is a planning matter, and it would be quite wrong for us as an administration to seek to influence that one way or the other. Officers will take a view in terms of planning law on any application that is submitted and Members of the relevant DC Committee will take their advice and make a decision.

    We have advised BCFC that a retail outlet of this size would be contrary to the Local Plan in terms of future development and thus it would be a high risk venture as far as they are concerned. Sainsburys and Asda are highly likely to call any judgement in and that could delay the project for several years.

    It has consistently been our advice that the stadium should be funded in another way if possible – and we have been, and will continue, to seek other ways in which we might help, short of any major cash investment which in the current climate would not be possible anyway.

    It is perfectly consistent in our view to support the aspiration for a stadium – and the World Cup Bid – and to assist in all appropriate ways the Club to realise that: but as a local planning authority, we must abide by the law and allow the quasi-judicial process to proceed unhindered.

    Hope this helps.



  12. thebristolblogger says:

    The obvious confusion arises from BCFC Chief Exec Colin Sexstone telling the Post on 22 June:

    [Tescos] will be an independent decision. But Bristol’s World Cup ambitions, £100m of investment, eight years of promotion and a festival of previously unseen proportions in this city hang completely on that decision.

    “Every penny we raise from Ashton Gate will go into the new stadium,” added Sexstone.

    “Clearly if somebody wants to suggest how we can raise that money elsewhere, we’ll listen to them. But I know they’re not going to, because there isn’t.”

    This completely ties a new stadium to Tesco. Until now the Lib Dems have done little to refute this view.

    It’s hardly surprising there’s confusion here.

  13. Charlie Bolton says:

    Thanks Gary

    To some extent you confuse politeness with assent , but it was certainly a better response than I was anticipating at the time.

    I’d just asked Simon if he minded me publishing this, and he agreed, but I see you have beaten me to it…..

  14. jonesthenews says:

    I interviewed Colin Sexstone, Bristol City’s Chief Executive (i.e. business manager) on June 22nd, ahead of City’s first major exhibition of the Tesco plans.

    I’ve posted the full interview at , but I think I can accurately summarise his position as saying that the Tesco plan is “crucial” to City being able to fund the new stadium, but he stops just short of saying that they can’t do it without Tesco.

  15. Glenn Vowles says:

    ‘Look further back in this string and then tell me whether the comments of green party candidate Glenn Vowles do not try to give the impression of us supporting the Tesco bid.’ (Gary Hopkins)

    Gary Hopkins should note that basically all I am doing is asking a question(s). Goodness knows that clarification is needed, with different emphases from different people in the press at different times. Are questions threatening Gary or an important part of the democratic process?).

    I’m still confused. Gary says that Tesco on Ashton Gate is a planning matter and it would be quite wrong for the LD adminstration to seek to influence it. Ok, fine [though I get the distinct impression they are opposed to it from statements on this blog]…but the BCFC new stadium application is also a planning matter is it not?? Yet Barbara Janke and other LDs have made it crystal clear they want to see a new stadium not least because its a vital part of the World Cup bid…

    Is it not the case in reality that adminstrations/party groups very often have a view and that this becomes very well known amongst councillors on planning committees??

  16. Charlie Bolton says:

    paul smith said

    ‘Seems to me that the lib dems are sitting on both sides of the fence’

    Which side of the fence are Labour sitting on?

  17. James Barlow says:

    “Of course we support the bid for the 2018 World Cup. It would bring unprecedented economic benefits and prestige to the city.”

    Unprecedented economic benefits? What would those be?

  18. The Bristol Blogger says:

    The man who said of the Museum of Bristol: “We are seeking the maximum cost certainty before site construction begins and are aiming for 100% with a guaranteed maximum price from a contractor,” says it will bag us £100m.

    I wonder when – in 2018 – will I be able to come and collect my family’s £1,000 share of this loot from Mr Wray and the council?

  19. Paul Smith says:

    Charlie Bolton // July 7, 2009 at 11:32 am

    “paul smith said

    ‘Seems to me that the lib dems are sitting on both sides of the fence’

    Which side of the fence are Labour sitting on?”

    I dont know, but they dont run the council do they – with great power comes great responsibility

  20. redzone says:

    Which side of the fence are Labour sitting on?”

    paulsmith replies;
    I dont know, but they dont run the council do they – with great power comes great responsibility.

    it’s a pity you didn’t drum that into your party members when they were in power 😉

  21. Gary Hopkins says:

    A few matters that have been raised.
    Is selling to Tesco essential to the building of a new stadium?
    If you accept the ownership and structure model that the football club board are working to at the moment then selling to Tesco is the only likely buyer and use to provide the amount of cash they need.
    If they are prepared to accept a different ownership model and structure then it becomes possible to look at more sustainable solutions for the reuse of Ashton gate.
    Is the £100M figure for the boost to Bristol economy reliable.
    A You always have to treat projections of this kind with a degree of care .One of the reasons for this is that there is interconnection .
    It is clear that the massive number of visitors attracted by Banksy at the museum has boosted local businesses but putting an exact separate figure on its pulling power is difficuilt because some of the visitors are coming because of a combination of attractions.
    What is clear is that Bristol is becoming an increasingly attractive place for people to move to and visit and that previous world cup venues have benefitted in a massive way that makes the figure not wholly unrealistic.

  22. Gary Hopkins says:

    I think the wholly irresponsible response from Paul Smith makes me revise my view of when Bristolians might start to trust Bristol Labour further into the future. I am sure that is reassuring to you personally.
    What I am not clear about is the Green party position on the stadium /world cup bid question.
    You are clearly against Tesco but if the stadium /world cup could be delivered without that would you be in favour or not?

  23. FIFA says:

    Whoa there! – Don’t get too carried away – We’re not even deciding on the host nation for another 2 years.

  24. Gary Hopkins says:

    The FIFA decision may be some time away but they will decide between packages presented by different bidders. If Bristol wants to be part of the England bid it needs a convincing case well before then.
    That is one of the reasons why funding the stadium through a sale to Tesco has practical difficuilties as well as upsetting a lot of people.
    The almost inevitable planning wrangles would probably delay the sale to a time beyond which the English FA would find acceptable.

  25. Deano says:

    Response to BERATE by the Labour councillors;

    Charlie Bolton’s statement on the BERATE website;

  26. Glenn Vowles says:

    Gary Hopkins – several of your statements would seem to presume that a new stadium for BCFC at Long Ashton is automatically highly likely and desirable. It isn’t. Have you forgotten that building on green belt land is not really supposed to happen at all, unless circumstances are exceptional. Is it your view/the LD view that the circumstances are exceptional?

    Have BCFC come up with a new stadium design and construction process that is truly innovative and green (efficient, renewably powered, carbon neutral…and more), so much so that it can be quantitatively shown that most aspects of environmental impact have been fully compensated for?? Did they exhaust the options for redeveloping Ashton Gate, a ground with so much heritage value??

    These are the considerations the Green Party have in mind and that any administration running Bristol that considers itself green should have in mind. Since the start of the new stadium process greens have contributed to the BCFC consultation, urging the use of green designs, processes and technologies – we will continue to make such points throughout the planning process.

  27. “What I am not clear about is the Green party position on the stadium /world cup bid question.” says Gary, neatly conflating two quite different questions.

    Glenn’s answered the first one, quite properly weighing up the pros and cons of putting a new stadium (plus the baggage that goes with it) on this particular site.

    As to a Green Party view on the World Cup bid, I wonder why Gary thinks there should be a ‘party’ view – ie a position to be stated by all members, no matter what they might think privately. This has little to do with any manifesto commitment or party philosophy. Why should we even think of imposing a mandatory view on our members and our elected reps? It’s not the green way.

    I’m sure Charlie can make his own mind up about whether he thinks the bid is worth making. Personally, I thought the promo video was cringemaking, a waste of public money that could be much better spent, and certainly won’t influence any decision makers. But then it was probably intended to impress the masses, not the decision makers.

  28. Deano says:

    On the right hand side, is a list of Bristol videos;
    Compare 1 for the tourism site, and 4 for the World Cup Bid.

    Actually I quite liked it, but then I also like Goldfrapp, and think Will Gregory is a cool dude.

  29. Paul Mizen says:

    “There are alternatives to urban extensions. Lib/Dem MP Matthew Taylor’s report on rural housing…….not around existing towns, to
    prevent urban sprawl.”

    George Crozier Lib/Dem Political Information section

    “We are fully committed to protecting the Greenbelt”….”We will not weaken national Greenbelt protection.”

    Tim Collins Cheif of Staff to Grant Shapps.

    Just thought I’d throw that in!

  30. Pingback: Bristol Blogger: World Cup footBALLS of confusion « BERATE – Say No To Tesco

  31. Pingback: World Cup footBALLS: counting the cost « The Bristol Blogger

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