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.