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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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