24 Feb 2016 - Cabot eNews
February's edition of Cabot eNews.
In this edition: _________________ 1. Council budget 2016 passed 2. Community facilities on Harbourside - a petition 3. Green Capital accounts row 4. Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week 5. Spike Island RPZ update 6. New energy supplier Bristol Energy is in it for the social good 7. Wessex Bus chief grilled 8. Consultation on new climate strategy 9. British Science Week in Bristol 10. Last ditch bid to save dance centre 11. Brandon Hill Park Toilets 12. Friends of Brandon Hill AGM 13. National award for St Nicholas Market 14. Architecture Centre exhibitions 15. Join the drive and register to vote today 16. Sign up for Clifton Down eNews! _________________ 1. Council budget 2016 passed The coming year's budget has been passed by the Council. The budget was complicated by Chancellor George Osborne shocking local government over the Christmas period by telling every English council that he was cutting their funding more but allowing them make up for it by imposing a 2% social services precept on top of Council Tax. In a good debate, all parties proposed some sensible amendments to the Mayor's budget: Labour and Lib Dem both proposed amendments to reverse the Mayor's axing (for the third year in a row) of the planned East Bristol swimming pool and South Bristol recycling centre; Conservatives proposed using the £9m from the sale of the Bristol Port freehold as an endowment for a local house-building company; and the Green Party proposed taking up the 2% social services precept the chancellor proposed. All those amendments were passed. The Green Party noted my long-running campaign for a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in central Bristol and proposed £50k from the transport budget to help move the proposal forward. I spoke in favour of the amendment on behalf of the Lib Dems and expected it to pass, but to my surprise and extreme disappointment the Labour Party voted against it for reasons that no one else could really work out. The Conservative Party also voted against it, so it failed. I'm gutted about that to be honest, but the LEZ campaign will go on... After all that, the Green Party voted against the amended budget and 4% rise because it wasn't spending enough; Conservatives voted against it because it was spending too much; but most Lib Dems and Labour voted in favour, which was enough for it to get over the line. For people interested in how the debate itself, I've written a longer account here: http://tinyurl.com/jxq3ma5 _________________ 2. Community facilities on Harbourside - a petition I have done some investigation work about community rooms for hire on Harbourside on behalf of the Jacobs Wells Community Hub, and it's now clear that The Pavilion should be available to locals for use. I've been in a tussle with the Council for several months on this, which came to a head last week when I filed a petition on the Council's website to apply pressure, and the Council refused to publish it because they were unhappy with my wording! I've had to accept their wording to get the petition published, so when you go to the page bear in mind that the first paragraph are not my words; my original description was as follows: "The Pavilion is a Council owned building on Harbourside, built by Crest as part of the Harbourside master-plan a few years ago. The original purpose of the building was as a local community facility - described by the developer as an 'urban village hall'. But over the years this building has fallen into internal and commercial use by the Council, instead of its intended purpose. Unfortunately the Council is now resistant to putting the building back to its lawful use. Sign this petition to put the pressure on the Council to let the community use this building as intended!" Anyway, please sign here to help get a community building back into community use: http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/epetition_core/view/pavillion _________________ 3. Green Capital accounts row A row has broken out between the Council and former Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams after Stephen wrote an open letter to the Council asking why it was refusing to publish the accounts of the Green Capital program, and why it had refused many Freedom of Information requests from other residents for the finances. When Stephen was local government minister he secured £7m funding for the project (which was most of the money), but little detail of how that and £5m of other funding was spent has since been released. More: http://tinyurl.com/jp4rkvn Personally, I think that Green Capital has been a success for Bristol. Our international reputation has been enhanced by the publicity, which was why the previous Lib Dem administration started the bidding process with the European Commission. But inevitably some mistakes were made and there is much we now need to learn from to improve - which we cannot do if we don't know where the money was spent. For example, it appears that over £250k was spent on creating a fairly basic website. If true, this is astonishing and we need to make sure that doesn't happen again; but as we don't yet know which company was paid to do what, we have no way to learn to avoid it next time. There is a petition calling for the accounts to be published here: http://tinyurl.com/hasb5c2 _________________ 4. Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week The recent growth of rough-sleeping and homelessness in Bristol have concerned many people. A range of organisations and charities working to tackle homelessness in the city will be joining forces February 20-26th to help highlight the issues faced by people without a home to call their own. The Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week has been set up to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers. The week will end with the annual sponsored "Sleep Out" - sleeping rough for a night in the city-centre - which is organised by the Bristol Homeless Forum. More than 200 people are expected to take part in the event at the Pip 'n Jay Church from 10pm on Friday February 26. Further details about the sleep-out can be found at http://tinyurl.com/z62l4w2 I have been taking part in this sponsored event since 2010 - I'm raising money for the Julian Trust, which runs an emergency night shelter for the homeless in St Paul's. If you would like to sponsor me you can do it here: www.virginmoneygiving.com/LenaandMarkSleepout _________________ 5. Spike Island RPZ update I have continued digging out further details of the Spike Island RPZ from the Parking Department. The next chance to alter the scheme will be at the 6-month review later in July. As part of the scheme review process, the Council now includes a postcard that asks people which operating hours they would prefer to see and they will be doing this for Spike island RPS in due course. That will be the opportunity for people who would prefer longer or shorter days/hours to make their views heard. In addition, I have been trying for some weeks to state categorically whether or not the 625 new flats currently being built at Wapping Wharf will be eligible for Spike Island RPZ permits. The new flats will be a very substantial increase in the number of residents on the island, and there is already nowhere near enough road-space on Spike Island for all the existing residents parking in the zone. The new flats will however be right next to the centre, and because of this and the already dire shortage of parking space, I don't think that they should be eligible for RPZ permits when they are finished. The Council is currently being very cagey about whether they will be eligible or not, but I will let residents know when I find out for sure. _________________ 6. New energy supplier Bristol Energy is in it for the social good Bristol Energy, the first municipal energy company in the South West and one of the first in the country, is officially open for business. The energy supply company was created to be a force for social good by Bristol City Council in 2015 as a result of work started by the previous Lib Dem administration in 2010. It is leading the way as a new model of energy company that contributes to the well-being of local communities. The company is looking to support local renewable energy generators and to link with initiatives with a shared ethos across the city and region. The company will: * Focus on locally generated, low carbon energy, with a mission to be the most environmentally conscious and trusted local energy supplier * Provide a fairer deal for households currently on prepayment meters * Support community investment in renewable and low carbon projects * Assist in the development of district heating, electrical distribution and broadband/digital networks More info here: https://bristol-energy.co.uk http://tinyurl.com/zlytoox _________________ 7. Wessex Bus chief grilled Readers will probably be aware of the terribly unreliable 506 Wessex bus service for Spike Island, and that I have complained over many years to Wessex about this. By coincidence Paul Churchman, a senior director of the company, was giving evidence to a scrutiny committee at the Council that I sit on...so naturally I used the opportunity to grill him face-to-face in public about the 506 and the commitment of Wessex to services that were subsidised by public money! He acknowledged that he was aware of problems with the 506 and insisted that Wessex was fully committed to the subsidised routes it runs and trying to improve it. I have yet to be convinced - we will see if there's any improvement. _________________ 8. Consultation on new climate strategy Bristol's citizens are being asked for their views on the new climate strategy and action plan behind the city's ambitious bid to become carbon neutral by 2050. The new draft document, "Our Resilient Future: A Framework for Climate and Energy Security" maps out how Bristol hopes to achieve a series of targets to reduce carbon emissions city-wide through investment in low carbon projects. The actions included will accelerate Bristol's progress and help ensure there is a long-term impact from its year as the Green Capital of Europe. To comment on the framework, visit: www.bristol.gov.uk/climateandenergyframework _________________ 9. British Science Week in Bristol Bristol Museum and Art Gallery will be celebrating British Science Week (11-20 March), with a Dinosaur Takeover. 2016 is the 'Year of Learning' in the city and Bristol Museums have partnered with dinosaur experts at the University of Bristol to deliver an exciting half day experience for school groups in the region, packed with dinosaur-related activities. For further information see www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/learning where you can subscribe to the teachers' newsletter or e-mail [email protected] British Science Week can also be enjoyed by the general public at M Shed. Engineering enthusiasts can climb inside the electric and Fairbairn working cranes on Bristol's dockside on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 March or take a steam train ride from M Shed along Bristol harbour railway from Saturday 19 to Sunday 20 March. If natural sciences are of interest, then the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition on display at M Shed should not be missed, running until 10 April 2016. For information on these events and more see www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/whats-on _________________ 10. Last ditch bid to save dance centre As reported in last month's eNews, the dance centre at the bottom of Jacobs Wells road is under threat after the Council didn't extend its tenancy. As a result the centre has set up a petition calling for a 3-year extension of its lease so that fundraising for a refurbishment can happen, and also to ease the new RPZ parking restrictions around the building. You can sign the petition here: http://tinyurl.com/hvxyuoe . More info here: http://tinyurl.com/hj64bq2 _________________ 11. Brandon Hill Park Toilets The public toilets in the park will be closed for refurbishment from Monday 15 February for approximately 7 weeks. The toilets have been in need of refurb for some time and will benefit greatly from this upgrade. _________________ 12. Friends of Brandon Hill AGM The Friends of Brandon Hill (FoBH) are holding their AGM on Monday the 29th February 7–9pm, Brunel House, St George's Rd, BS1 5UY. Come along to hear about progress this year including work to restore the Water Fort, a scheduled monument. Contact: [email protected] _________________ 13. National award for St Nicholas Market St Nicholas Market in the centre of the Old City has beaten off competition from markets from across the country to be named one of Britain's best at an awards ceremony at The Great British Market Awards. The awards ceremony in Birmingham saw markets battle it out to be crowned Britain's best in the national competition run by the National Association of British Market Authorities. St Nicholas Market won the Best Large Indoor Market category and was praised for its partnership work with schools and the council, including its annual young enterprise market. It was also praised for its excellent expanding food outlets and support of the Bristol Pound - cited as an outstanding success and an example for others to learn from. _________________ 14. Architecture Centre exhibitions City Ideas Studio: Transport - until 10 April * The fifth and final City Ideas Studio residency focuses on Transport and asks: How can we improve public transport, promote active travel and make better use of our streets? The exhibition uses the recently published Good Transport Plan for Bristol as a framework for exploring key issues. Bristol Child Friendly City - until 10 April * Child Friendly Cities champion the role and voice of children in the city through the themes of public space, independence and play, culture and creativity, and children's voice and democracy. Here, see the work of adults and children who collaborated to develop a child friendly vision for Bristol. _________________ 15. Join the drive and register to vote today On Thursday 5 May 2016 voters in Bristol will go to the polls to vote in an elected Mayor, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset and all 70 ward councillors. Anyone who isn't registered to vote won't be able to take part and have their say. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote