Monday, 11 May 2015

Election results and farewell

This is the message I have just sent to readers of Cabot eNews.


As you may have heard, on Thursday I was unsuccessful in my bid to be re-elected as your councillor.  I lost to Ani Stafford-Townsend, the Green Party candidate.  I wish Ani the very best in her new role.  The full result was:

Ani Stafford-Townsend (Green Party) - 2,916
Kye Dudd (Labour) - 1,692
Alex Woodman (Lib Dem) - 1,527
Will Luangrath (Conservative) - 1,352
Chris Farrell (TUSC) - 93

You can find these results on the Council's website at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/LocalElectionViewer?XSL=main&ShowElectionWard=true&ElectionId=69&WardId=2

It has been a real privilege to serve as your councillor. I have always told people that I think Cabot ward is the best and most interesting area of the city to represent, and I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you for the past eight years.  In particular, if you were one of the 1,527 people who cast their vote for me on Thursday, I want to thank you for your support.  If you voted for one of the other parties' candidates, then I am sorry that we were not able to win you over on this occasion.

I also want to express my particular thanks for my fellow councillor Mark Wright.  Mark is a man of real integrity who is truly committed to working hard for the residents of Cabot ward.  Working with him for the benefit of Cabot has been a real pleasure, and although we haven't always agreed on everything, I will very much miss his knowledge and insight.  He knows more about Cabot ward than anyone, and the residents of the ward are lucky to have him as their councillor.

I don't normally use the Cabot eNews mailing list to make party political points, and I hope you will forgive me for doing so on this occasion.  It was clear on Thursday that many Bristol residents who in the past have voted Lib Dem switched to the Green Party and Labour because of dissatisfaction with the coalition.  As a left-leaning person myself, I was initially unhappy to see the Conservatives in coalition government with my party's support.  However, through our role in the coalition, we delivered a good chunk of our 2010 manifesto, not least the £10,000 personal tax allowance, taking the lowest earners out of tax altogether, and the pupil premium, which puts extra funding into schools with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is ironic that, nationally, the punishment of the Lib Dems and our loss of so many seats has helped result in a majority Conservative government.  Anybody who doubts that the Lib Dems have had a moderating effect on the Conservatives over the past five years is about to see what an unbridled Conservative government is really like.  Even in these first few days after the election, we hear that they plan to repeal the Human Rights Act and the ban on fox hunting.

Thursday's result has also made me more passionate than ever about the argument for electoral reform.  It is a damning indictment of our democracy that there is such a disparity between the number of votes cast and the number of seats won in Parliament.  The starkest illustration of this is in Scotland. The SNP won 1.5 million votes, and won 56 seats.  The Green Party, on the other hand, won 1.1 million votes and won 1 seat.  This needs to change, which will only happen if people start to speak up about the unfairness of our current system.  If you agree, please support the Make Seats Match Votes campaign by the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy at http://makeseatsmatchvotes.org.

This was the last local election in Bristol on the current ward boundaries and using the current electoral timetable (with 1/3 of the City Council being elected each year). Next year, the boundaries will be completely redrawn, and the entire Council re-elected for a full four-year term.  The new boundaries will be published in the coming days, and I expect to see the Cabot ward boundary dramatically redrawn.  It may well be that, if you live in Cabot at the moment, in a year's time you no longer will.  However, until then, I know that Mark will continue to work hard as your councillor, in particular on our campaign to improve Bristol's air quality, and on the many other issues in Cabot which need to be tackled.

Losing an election is obviously a very disappointing experience.  However, I am now looking forward to spending some more time with my family and friends, in particular my three year old son, Elliot, who hasn't seen much of his Daddy over the past few months!  If you are one of those many residents I have come to know quite well over the past few years, I am sure I will see you around.

If you were one of those people who voted for the Liberal Democrats on Thursday, or if you are worried about what lies ahead, have you thought about becoming a party member and helping us to campaign for a fairer and more equal society?  5,000 new members have joined since polling day.  You can do so too at www.libdems.org.uk/join


I will be leaving the blog active for a few weeks before deleting it.  If you have been an occasional reader, thanks for your time.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Cabot eNews - March/April 2015

Dear Resident,

Welcome to this edition of Cabot eNews - your monthly local e-newsletter from Cabot councillors Alex Woodman and Mark Wright. Cabot eNews is sent to those who have expressed an interest in what is happening in Cabot ward and central Bristol. If you're receiving Cabot eNews for the first time, we hope you find it useful and informative. If not, please let us know and we will remove you from the distribution list.

In this edition:
_________________

1. Westmoreland House planning update
2. Library closures update
3. Are you registered to vote?
4. Neighbourhood Partnership meeting this week
5. Residents' parking schemes debated
6. Central Library school application
7. Local Nature Reserves
8. Make Sunday Special
9. Highways improvements: Tyndalls Park Rd
10. Museums opening
11. Finzels Reach bridge approved
12. Application to close Lower Guinea Street
13. Bristol wins cycling funding
14. Cabot Residents' Survey results
_________________

1. Westmoreland House planning update

The planning application for the Westmoreland House/Carriageworks site in Stokes Croft is due to be decided by the Council's planning committee on Weds 8th April.

Planning officers are recommending that the application should be approved, though the final decision will be made by the councillors on the committee, which is chaired by Alex.  Details of the agenda and officers' report will be available at www.bristol.gov.uk/meetings in the coming days.

Members of the public are able to address the committee at the start of the meeting, which is at 6pm on 8th April at Colston Hall.  Anybody wishing to do so needs to e-mail a copy of their statement to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk by noon on Tuesday 7th April.
_________________

2. Library closures update

The last edition of Cabot eNews reported the surprise announcement that the Mayor, with the support of Green Party Assistant Mayor Daniella Radice, plans to close seven Bristol libraries, including those in Redland and Clifton which are used by Cabot ward residents.

Since the announcement, opposition to the planned closures has been strong from councillors of all parties, as well as from our local Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams, who has set up petitions against the closures at www.stephenwilliams.org.uk/saveredlandlibrary and www.stephenwilliams.org.uk/savecliftonlibrary

The Mayor has now announced that no closures will go ahead before April 2016.  Though this is nothing more than a stay of execution, it does give time to find alternative ways of keeping the libraries open.  Crucially, it also means that no libraries will close before next year's mayoral election.

For now, we will be working with fellow councillors to find ways of keeping the libraries open, as well as making sure that the Mayor is true to his word and does not proceed with any closures.
_________________
 
3. Are you registered to vote?

There are fewer than 40 days until the local and general elections on Thursday 7 May 2015.  The deadline for registering to vote for these elections is the 20th April.  If you are not registered, you can do so at www.bristol.gov.uk/registertovote

If you are going to be away on polling day, you can apply for a postal or proxy vote via the Council's website, or alternatively, by contacting Bristol City Council's Electoral Services department on 0117 922 3400.
_________________

4. Neighbourhood Partnership meeting this week

The next meeting of the Cabot, Clifton and Clifton East Neighbourhood Partnership will be on Tuesday 31st March, 7pm at Brunel House (behind the Council House).  The agenda can be found at www.bristol.gov.uk/CommitteeMeetingFinder
_________________

5. Residents' parking scheme debates

Residents' parking schemes found their way onto the agenda for debate at the meeting of the Full Council earlier this month, following submission of a petition with more than 3500 signatures (the threshold at which a debate is required).

The meeting was the scene of heated exchanges about the Mayor's roll out of schemes to other areas of the city, with arguments both for and against being strongly made.

Alex spoke early on in the debate, highlighting Cabot ward's experience of having the Kingsdown residents' parking scheme implemented in 2011.  He stressed how the Council sought to design a scheme which maximised support from residents, by listening to consultation feedback and responding accordingly.  Sadly, the experience in other wards of the more recent schemes is that such consultation has been absent.  You can see the webcast of the speech at http://www.bristol.public-i.tv/core/share/open/webcast/0/0/560/160185/160185/webcast/start_time/8749000

Separately, Alex has tabled a motion to Full Council to trigger a debate about the use of income from parking fees - more on that in the near future!

_________________

6. Central library school application

The Planning Committee recently considered and approved plans for the Cathedral School to take over the basement of the Central Library.  The committee could only take into account planning issues (such as the impact on the listed building), and not the actual principle of the plan, which has already been approved by the Mayor and is outside the remit of the committee.

Much of the debate centred around whether the basement would present a suitable environment to teach children, and the fact that it would mean a small number of library users would have to wait 24 hours for books currently stored in the basement to be delivered from their new home.

The meeting was attended by a considerable number of parents from the school, as well as the Principal, who told the committee that, in his professional opinion, the works proposed to the building would make it a perfectly acceptable, if not perfect, home for the school.

Speaking on the application, Alex said: "Bristol faces a chronic shortage of school places, and it is not fair on parents in Cabot that they cannot send their child to a local school.  If it a choice between imperfect classrooms and no classrooms, I choose imperfect.  If it a choice between a library user being mildly inconvenienced and a child's education, I choose the latter."
_________________

7. Local Nature Reserves

As part of Bristol Green Capital 2015, the Council wishes to designate 16 Local Nature Reserves across the city.  As such, expressions of interest are being invited from communities who may wish to see their site considered for designation as a Local Nature Reserve.

The deadline for the submission is 13th April.  If you have any ideas and wish to discuss them further, contact Richard Ennion on 0117 922 2001 or e-mail richard.ennion@bristol.gov.uk
_________________

8. Make Sunday Special

Details for Make Sunday Special 2015 have now been made available.  This year, it is proposed that the following streets:

St Stephen Street, St Nicholas Street, Clare Street, Corn Street, St Stephens Avenue & Small Street

will be closed between 5am and 7pm on the following dates:

3rd May, 7th June, 5th July, 2nd August, 6th September
_________________

9. Highways improvements: Tyndalls Park Rd

After a long delay caused by funding issues, the Council is finally taking steps to implement a long-standing plan to improve the junction of Tyndalls Park Rd and Woodland Rd by installing a raised table at the junction.  The junction is crossed by a large number of pedestrians, particularly students, and the table will help to slow the traffic at this point at make it safer.

Comments on the proposal can be sent to David Sarson at david.sarson@bristol.gov.uk, or call 0117 903 6856.  The deadline is Friday 3rd April.
_________________

10. Museums opening

From Saturday 4 April, The Red Lodge Museum and The Georgian House Museum will re-open to the public for four days a week at the following times.

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10:30am – 4pm
Thursday: 10:30am – 4pm
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 10:30am – 4pm
Sunday 10:30am – 4pm

In addition, from Saturday 4 April, Blaise Castle House Museum will open during the week in addition to the weekends as follows:

Monday: Closed (Open Monday 6 April - 10:30am – 4pm)
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10:30am – 4pm
Thursday: 10:30am – 4pm
Friday: 10:30am – 4pm
Saturday: 10:30am – 4pm
Sunday 10:30am – 4pm

Details for all of these can be found at: www.bristolmuseums.org.uk
_________________

11. Finzels Reach bridge approved

Permission has been given by the Council for a controversial new bridge linking the Finzels Reach development to Castle Park.  Mark objected to the plans, arguing that the reduction in the width of the waterway caused by the bridge's design would cause difficulties to rowers and other water users.  Whilst that is a valid concern, Alex, as a member of the committee, voted in favour of approving the bridge, believing that the benefits it will bring outweigh the disadvantages.  (Whilst we work very closely together, there are times that we disagree!)
_________________

12. Application to close Lower Guinea Street

A planning application has been submitted to permanently close Lower Guinea Street to vehicular traffic.  It is currently planned for the street to become one-way from Guinea St towards Commercial Rd as part of the General Hospital redevelopment.

Mark and Alex have received a considerable volume of correspondence about the possible closure from local residents, with opinion fairly being evenly split but with a small majority in favour of the full closure.

In light of the differing opinions amongst local residents, we will not be formally supporting or objecting to the planning application.  However, details of the plans, and a form for making comments, can be found by searching for application number 15/00661/X on the Council's website at http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk
_________________

13. Bristol wins cycling funding

Towards the end of 2014, we reported that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had announced that major UK cities, including Bristol, would be eligible to bid for a share of £120m which has been made available for improving cycling infrastructure.

Poor infrastructure, such as cycle lanes which stop abruptly, is one of the most common complaints that we receive.  In light of this, we were delighted to learn recently that Bristol has been awarded £19m, which will go a long way towards improving the experience of cycling in the city.  We will let you know more details about the projects to be funded when we hear about them.
_________________

14. Cabot Residents' Survey results

Towards the end of last year, we asked Cabot residents to fill in our survey, seeking views on a variety of issues and local concerns.  The response was overwhelming, and processing all of the replies has taken quite some time.  However, in the coming weeks, we expect to be able to publish the result in full.  Until then, some of the key headlines are:

- Local services such as libraries are generally considered to be okay or good, except for local buses which score more poorly.

- Unsurprisingly, most local residents think that the biggest problem locally is poor public transport.  Education and tackling wasteful public spending were identified as the other two biggest issues.

- Just over half of local residents are aware of the work of the Neighbourhood Partnership and Neighbourhood Forum.  63% think that the Council does not do enough to engage with local communities.

- Our readers give Cabot eNews an average score of 4.1 out of 5.  We are glad you like it - if you have any thoughts on how it can be improved, please let us know!

_________________

If you know of people who would be interested in any of Cabot eNews, please forward it on to them. If you have received this email from a friend and like it, email us to get added directly to the distribution. We also welcome feedback. We are happy to help residents, local businesses and voluntary agencies where we can, to pursue issues to make Cabot a better place.


Best wishes,

Alex Woodman and Mark Wright

Monday, 2 March 2015

Cabot eNews - March 2015

Dear Resident,

Welcome to this edition of Cabot eNews - your monthly local e-newsletter from Cabot councillors Alex Woodman and Mark Wright. Cabot eNews is sent to those who have expressed an interest in what is happening in Cabot ward and central Bristol. If you're receiving Cabot eNews for the first time, we hope you find it useful and informative. If not, please let us know and we will remove you from the distribution list.

In this edition:
_________________

1. Cabot councillors condemn RPZ tax change
2. Council tax raised by 2%
3. Low Emission Zone - partial victory!
4. Shock as proposal to close 7 Bristol libraries published
5. Funding boost for Colston Hall
6. Metrobus update
7. Wessex bus company letter
8. Register to vote!
9. No bins on the street in the "Old City" shopping area
10. External wall insulation on Dove St flats
11. Lighting on cycle path under Cumberland Road
12. Friends of Brandon Hill AGM, 3rd March
13. Woodland Road pedestrian scheme
14. City centre improvement district proposed
15. Old Market Quarter Neighbourhood Development Plan
16. Local arts grant available for Bristol Green Capital
17. Exhibitions this month
_________________

1.Cabot councillors condemn RPZ tax change

Mark Wright and I have always supported the need for a Residents' Parking Zone (RPZ) in Kingsdown, and campaigned strongly to get Bristol's first zone. In the 8 years since the first RPZ programme was first started, the political parties and the Council have insisted that the permit costs are not a tax, and that any surplus generated will be spent on transport improvements.  In fact this is the law, and to spend permit income on general council expenditure is illegal - other councils have lost cases in court over this.

At the Council's budget meeting on 17th February the Labour Party proposed a budget change that would divert income from the permits for the next 15 years to general expenditure.  Because doing this directly would be illegal, it has been done with an accounting trick that re-mortgaged the loan for the set-up costs of the zones, and then spent the cash freed up by the loan extension.

The Lib Dems strongly challenged the legality of this, but the vote went ahead and was passed with support from the Conservative party and several Green councillors.  However, even aside from the legality of the move, it is a huge breach of trust with residents, who have been promised by all parties and the Mayor that the RPZs won't be used as a cash-cow.  Inner city residents are paying about £150 per year more in taxes than everyone else in the city.  But even worse, this accounting trick for funnelling money out of the schemes will inevitably lead to pressure for the prices to rise in order to fund other parts of the cash-strapped Council.

We totally condemn this serious breach of trust. You can see the speech Mark made against this vote in the video below (apologies for poor sound quality)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu63WhaxPBE

Bristol West MP Stephen Williams has launched a petition to reverse this change, here:
http://www.stephenwilliams.org.uk/oppose_parking_tax_time_bomb
_________________

2. Council tax raised by 2%

The budget meeting also voted through a 2% increase in Council Tax.  As mentioned in the last eNews, we opposed this for the second year running, because the government was offering a recurring £1.9million grant if we would freeze our rate and use some reserves to make up the amount equivalent to a 2% increase (so no cut in Council spending would have been required). The government says that "now is the rainy day we have been saving our reserves for".

We Lib Dems have always said that Council Tax is an unfair tax.  With inflation near record lows of 0.7%, it's difficult to justify a 2% increase in an unfair tax during a cost-of-living crisis.  Until Council Tax is reformed or replaced by a fair tax that doesn't hit the low paid hardest, Lib Dems we will continue to oppose increases where possible.
_________________

3. Low Emission Zone - partial victory!

Mark and I were delighted to read in The Bristol Post that Mayor Ferguson has said that he would like to see a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in place in Bristol if he is re-elected in 2016.  We have been campaigning vigorously for an LEZ for two years now, and until today the mayor has responded with warm words, but little has happened. Residents in Cabot ward bear the brunt of the city's traffic pollution, which we know comes mostly from the heavy vehicles like buses and lorries that an LEZ targets.

With air quality levels in the city centre breaching limits due to large polluting vehicles, we are disappointed the mayor is insistent on waiting until after the next election in 2016. Obviously, the Lib Dems will also implement an LEZ if we win the next mayoral election!
_________________

4. Shock as proposal to close 7 Bristol libraries published

Residents across Bristol have reacted with shock to a proposal to close 7 local libraries by Green Party councillor Daniella Radice, who is in charge of the library service under the Mayor. BBC report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-31592889

Of course the Internet has reduced lots of the demand for books, but when Lib Dems were running the libraries we understood the continuing great importance they have as community hubs and general learning centres. We built two new libraries, and saved money when needed by co-locating them with other services and also by innovative changes like self-serve book check-outs. There is no need for closures.

While most Cabot residents are lucky enough to have the central library as their nearest, some will be affected by the proposed closure of Redland and Clifton libraries. Stephen Williams MP has petitions up to save both libraries: http://www.stephenwilliams.org.uk/saveredlandlibrary
_________________

5. Funding boost for Colston Hall

The government has pledged £5 million towards the Colston Hall's £45 million "Thank You For The Music" appeal.  This plan hopes not just to transform the Victorian building but also make Bristol "the UK Capital for Young People's Music".  While the "Phase 1" great new foyer has been a wonderful addition to the Hall, other parts of the building are in dire need of repair in "Phase 2" of the venue's plans. More here:
http://www.stephenwilliams.org.uk/stephen_williams_secures_5_million_for_colston_hall
_________________

6. Metrobus update

Following feedback from local residents and businesses in Spike Island, the MetroBus team have made some changes to the proposals on Cumberland Road and removed the outbound bus lane. For more information about these changes and the scheme in general please see: www.travelwest.info/avtm

Balfour Beatty will start vegetation clearance and further survey works this month. A compound will be set up on Brunel Lock Rd in March/April. Digging is likely to start in June.

If you would like to receive regular updates about the MetroBus project please email them at metrobus@westofengland.org
_________________

7. Wessex bus company letter

We have written to Wessex several times complaining about the terrible lack of reliability on their 506 service which serves Spike Island and other parts of Cabot ward.  Most recently, Mark wrote to them complaining that they weren't letting people stay on the bus after the Create stop so that they can get off by the Baltic Wharf shop (instead of getting off on the river side of Cumberland Road where there is no pavement.)  Sadly, Wessex replied with a rather unhelpful response: drivers are "not permitted by law to have passengers on the bus whilst taking a break as this is classed as a rest period" and the Create stop is a break stop.  Mark complained again, saying they could break at SSGB (as they used to) instead of putting passengers at risk on Cumberland Rd, but received no reply.
_________________

8. Register to vote!

There are fewer than 80 days until voters go to the polls on Thursday 7 May 2015 to elect MPs.  Local elections will also be taking place on the same day across central and south Bristol.  Anyone not registered can do so at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Local residents can obtain a paper copy of the registration form by visiting the Government's website (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/voter-registration-forms-paper-versions) or by contacting the Bristol City Council's Electoral Services on 0117 922 3400.
_________________

9. No bins on the street in the "Old City" shopping area

The issue of bins on the street in Bristol has long been a cause of frustration to residents and the Council. From 1st April 2015 the Council is introducing a pilot "no bins on street" policy for the "Old City" area (Corn Street and surrounding streets). This will apply to both domestic and commercial premises that store waste receptacles on the highway. They will still be permitted to place bins out for collection.  This has been agreed in advance with Destination Bristol and the Old City Traders Association.  Obviously, some premisses may find this hard to deal with to start with.  We hope that it is a success, and that with adequate lessons learnt it could be rolled out to other parts of the city that suffer from the unsightly problem.
_________________

10. External wall insulation on Dove St flats

The Council is in the early stage of drawing up plans to refurbish the outside of Carolina House, Fremantle House, Armada House, and Francis House on Dove Street - works that will include external wall insulation.  We welcome this investment in Council Housing stock, which when completed will lead to lower heating bills for residents in the flats.  We will give more details when we know them.
_________________

11. Lighting on cycle path under Cumberland Road

There is currently no electrical supply to the cycle path under the Cumberland Road bridge, which means that putting any lights there would cost a large sum. In response to resident concerns about the darkness there at night, we have asked officers to try to work electric installation into the build of the new bridge over The New Cut just next to this location. Hopefully lighting will be available later this year.
_________________

12. Friends of Brandon Hill AGM, 3rd March

If you love Brandon Hill and want to help it, please attend the Friends of Brandon Hill AGM at 7pm, Tuesday evening 3rd of March at the City of Bristol College.
_________________

13. Woodland Road pedestrian scheme

Residents may remember that last year cash was secured from the Neighbourhood Partnership and University of Bristol to install a pedestrian crossing facility at the junction of Woodland Road with Tyndalls Park Road. Annoyingly, this has been delayed by various issues, but we are assured that works will now start "in the spring".
_________________

14. City centre improvement district proposed

Destination Bristol and the Council are proposing a "Business Improvement District" (BID) for the City Centre. A BID is a small rates levy on businesses in an area that goes ahead only if a majority of the businesses vote "yes". There are currently several in Bristol, including one in Broadmead where Mark sits on the committee.

The BID's objective is supporting high streets and will raise standards in the area, for both the night time and the day time economy. The exact boundaries of the BID area have yet to be finalised - they will include Old City, the Centre, College Green, Park Street and parts of Harbourside. The ballot will be in summer 2016. Mark and I are big fans of the great things that BIDs have achieved in Bristol and many other cities, and will be supporting the proposal.
_________________

15. Old Market Quarter Neighbourhood Development Plan

The Old Market Quarter Neighbourhood Development Plan has been formally submitted to Bristol City Council. The proposed plan, along with details of the consultation undertaken to date and other supporting information, is available to download on the council's web site http://tinyurl.com/jvr2o4b
_________________

16. Local arts grant available for Bristol Green Capital

Since September 2014, our neighbourhood arts team have been consulting residents and community groups in neighbourhood partnership areas of Bristol, to find out what a local art project might look like. The commissions are for £10,000 in total which includes fees, materials and expenses. Find out more here:
https://www.bristol2015.co.uk/get-involved/neighbourhood-arts-programme/cabot-clifton-clifton-east/
_________________

17. Exhibitions this month

* Postcards from Bristol. 17 March-17 July.
Bristol Record Office. Free.
Get a taste of the huge diversity of postcards from the early 20th century donated to the city by Roy Vaughan.

* Open for Business. 22 March-21 June.
M Shed. Free
Open for Business is the story of contemporary British manufacturing and industry told through the lens of nine internationally renowned documentary photographers.

* Modern Art in Britain: Reality Questioned. 17 January - 31 August.
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Free
See your favourite 20th century British paintings in a new light.

*  Drawing On... The Ingram Collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art
21 March - 7 June 2015
The RWA. Adults £5
The spotlight on Modern British Art, showcasing over fifty-five works from The Ingram Collection.

* WALK: Bristol's Floating Harbour. Tue 3 Mar, 10.30am-12.30pm
Meet at M Shed. £2 donation.
Join M Shed's expert guides as they take you on a trip into Bristol's old docklands.

* WALK: Old City
Thu 19 Mar, 10.30am-12.30pm
Meet at M Shed. £2 donation.
M Shed's expert walk leaders will point out locations which saw the birth of the city.

* WALK: Redcliffe
Fri 27 Mar, 1.30pm-3.30pm
Meet at the M Shed. £2 donation.
Venture on a guided walk into the once-autonomous township of Redcliffe.
_________________

If you know of people who would be interested in any of Cabot eNews, please forward it on to them. If you have received this email from a friend and like it, email us to get added directly to the distribution. We also welcome feedback. We are happy to help residents, local businesses and voluntary agencies where we can, to pursue issues to make Cabot a better place.


Best wishes,

Alex Woodman and Mark Wright

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cabot eNews - February 2015

Dear Resident,

Happy New Year! Welcome to this first edition of Cabot eNews in 2015.  Cabot eNews is your monthly local e-newsletter from Cabot councillors Alex Woodman and Mark Wright.  Cabot eNews is sent to those who have expressed an interest in what is happening in Cabot ward and central Bristol.

If this is the first time you have received Cabot eNews, we hope you find it useful and informative.  If not, please let us know and we will remove you from the mailing list.

In this edition:

1. 2015 Budget proposals
2. Charity sleep out for the Julian Trust
3. Upcoming Neighbourhood Forum meeting
4. Nelson Street public realm strategy
5. Brunel's Other Bridge
6. Temple Gate changes proposed
7. Pavement repairs approved
8. Colston Hall update
9. Arena designs released
10. Volunteer to be a snow warden
11. Brandon Hill winter work days
12. Digital advertising displays
13. Make Sunday Special returns
14. What's On at Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives
15. Boundary review

_________________

1. 2015 Budget proposals

You may remember that this time last year the Lib Dems were warning that the Mayor's proposed 2014 budget was based on unnecessarily pessimistic projections, and we also objected to the decision to replenish Council "reserves" instead of spending a bit of the spare cash to take the Government's offer of a grant to freeze the Council Tax. We voted against that budget as a result of that and some cuts we didn’t agree with.

Well, guess what: we were right! For this year's budget there was an "unexpected" (except by us) surplus of £3.9m. We are of course glad that there is a surplus, and the Mayor has agreed to spend it on some positive things.  However, if the Mayor and the other parties had listened to us last year then instead of this one-off sum of £3.9m, we could have had a sum from the government of £1.5m *every* year, *forever*. That would have saved us from some of the extra cuts that are now necessary, for example the current threat to the future of library services.

You can find out more about this year's budget here: http://bit.ly/1K0lxib

_________________

2. Charity sleep out for the Julian Trust

On 27th February, Mark will be sleeping rough in central Bristol to raise money for and awareness of homelessness. It is the grounds of Pip 'n' Jay Church on Tower Hill (which Mark tells us is just about the noisiest spot in Bristol, based on his experience in previous years!)

Mark is raising money for the Julian Trust, a homeless shelter in Ashley ward, which you might also know as the venue that holds "Caring at Christmas" every year. If you would like to sponsor him please give online here: www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/LenaandMark

_________________

3. Upcoming Neighbourhood Forum meeting

The next Cabot Neighbourhood Forum is being held on Monday 9th February at 7pm at The King Centre, King Square.  Any Cabot ward resident is welcome to attend to discuss local issues, and there will be representatives from various Council departments as well as the Police at the meeting.

_________________

4. Nelson Street public realm strategy

The Council is currently working on a public realm strategy for the Nelson Street area.  There has been a substantial amount of development taking place over recent months, and the strategy will help to guide improvements to public realm and public art, whilst also trying to stimulate additional new investment in area.

The consultation on the strategy is running until 9th March, and you can comment at the Council's consultation website at http://bit.ly/1tQB8gc

_________________

5. Brunel's Other Bridge

The Brunel's Other Bridge campaign are seeking donations towards their project of protecting Brunel's Swivel Bridge.  Older than the Suspension Bridge, this bridge was designed by staff in Brunel's Westminster office in 1849 to allow people to cross Brunel's lock in the Cumberland Basin.  It was decommissioned in 1968 after the opening of the Plimsoll as part of the modern development of the road network in the area.

More information about the bridge and the campaign can be found on their website at http://brunelsotherbridge.org.uk

_________________

6. Temple Gate changes proposed

Major changes are being proposed to the Temple Gate area, including the removal of the Temple Circus roundabout.  Details about the changes, and information about how to comment, can be found at http://bit.ly/16gxou1

_________________

7. Pavement repairs approved

Earlier this week, the Neighbourhood Partnership approved £50,000 of pavement repairs in Queens Parade, Berkeley Square and Queens Road.  This is excellent news, and something Mark and I have been pushing Council officers to progress for some time.

Frustratingly, much of the damage, particularly in Berkeley Square, is caused by van drivers parking on the pavements.  It seems entirely unreasonable that the taxpayer should cover the costs of repairs caused by an inconsiderate minority of drivers, and we have raised this with both Council officers and the Police.  Legally, it seems there is little which can be done; the Council has no enforcement power unless there are yellow lines, and the Police believe it would not be possible to secure a conviction for obstruction or driving on the pavement.  We have therefore asked the highways department to consider 'engineering' solutions, such as higher kerbs.

_________________

8. Colston Hall update

Lib Dem councillors, including myself and Mark, have been arguing for some time for increased investment in the Colston Hall in order to safeguard its future.  The hall is Bristol's largest concert hall and its historical building dates back to the 1860s. However it requires significant modernisation to meet the needs and expectations of 21st century audiences and performers and to bring the old building up to the standards offered in the new foyer.

We were really pleased therefore when the Mayor recently agreed to increase the Council’s future investment in the Colston Hall from £5m to £10m.  Along with the progression of the Arena plans (see below), this should mark the beginning of a major improvement in Bristol's cultural and entertainment offer.

There is an interesting Bristol Post article on Colston Hall at http://bit.ly/1tQBx22

_________________

9. Arena designs released

Five possible architectural designs for Bristol's new Arena at Temple Meads have been released for public comment.  The designs, and information about how to give feedback, can be found on the RIBA Competition website at http://www.ribacompetitions.com/bristolarena.  From 3rd Feb to 11th Feb, the plans will also be on display in the main foyer at M Shed.

_________________

10. Volunteer to be a snow warden

The Council is looking for new volunteer snow wardens.  Wardens are community-minded individuals who take responsibility for clearing snow, spreading grit and encouraging a neighbourly attitude to vulnerable people in the local area.  Although the Council priorities 'main' routes for gritting, it simply isn't possible to cover the whole city, and so snow wardens fulfil an important role in helping to cover areas that the Council's gritting service doesn't reach.

If you want to help, or want more information, please contact Simon Creed, Civil Protection Manager on 0117 922 3233 or e-mail emerplan@bristol.gov.uk.  You can also find more information on the Council's website at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/snowwardens

_________________

11. Brandon Hill winter work days

Avon Wildlife Trust have got a winter work day scheduled for 2015 Saturday 21st February on Brandon Hill. Volunteers are asked to help keep the pond area clear of brambles and to generally get the site in good shape for the influx of spring wildlife.  If you can help, meet at 9:30am at the Avon Wildlife Trust office, just up the stairs from Jacobs Wells Road.  The session will continue until about 1pm, and attendees are welcome to come along for all or part of the morning.

_________________

12. Digital advertising displays

The Council is planning to install digital advertising displays at two locations in Cabot ward.  The new displays are proposed for Bond Street by Cabot Circus and the Temple Street underpass and will be operated by JCDecaux following a competitive tender process commissioned by the Council.

There are many places in Bristol where advertising is not appropriate, and there are vocal community campaigns against billboards in some areas.  These new screens will however bring a guaranteed annual payment for the Council at a time when money is tight, and the Mayor has made clear that he feels that bland stretches of road in the city centre might benefit from what he calls a 'bit of sparkle'.  There will also be a chance for the Council and community groups to use the displays, and they will be powered by energy from a 'green' supplier.

_________________

13. Make Sunday Special returns

The 'Make Sunday Special' scheme, which sees roads being closed for Sundays in the summer is returning later this year.  There are plans for a series of animated markets taking place in the Old City around Corn Street, allowing people to take to the streets and soak up the atmosphere of Bristol’s historic centre.  In addition, the scheme is being rolled out to other areas including Hartcliffe & Withywood, Greater Bedminster, Avonmouth and Easton & Lawrence Weston.

The detailed plans for this summer's programme are still being drawn up, and we will let you know when more information is available.

_________________

14. What's On at Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives

There are a number of exhibitions and events coming up at Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives over the coming months.  More information can be found at www.bristolmuseums.org.uk

Exhibitions

Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Until 22 February 2015 at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Bristol's 'White City' - Until 27 February 2015 at Bristol Record Office
Ahead of the Curve: new china from China - Until 1 March 2015 at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Moved by Conflict  - Until 1 March 2015 at M Shed (Tickets: Adults £3.95/£2.95 conc. Under 16s free.  Free return visits with original exhibition ticket. Free entry day on Wed 11 Feb.)
Modern Art in Britain: Reality Questioned - 17 January to 31 August 2015 at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Hockney: A Rake’s Progress - 31 January to 14 June 2015 at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Special Events

What’s that butterfly? - Sat 7 Feb, 10:30am–4pm at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (Tickets: £35 adult / £20 student. Must be booked in advance.)
Silent film double bill to mark the First World War - Thu 12 Feb, 7pm at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
The Nightingale and the Rose - Fri 13 Feb, 8pm at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (Tickets: £18.95 Adult /£16.95 Concession.)
Black and Asian perspectives on the First World War - Sat 14 Feb, 11am–4pm at M Shed
War, Revolution and the Romantic Era in South West England - Sat 28 Feb, 9am–4pm at M Shed (Tickets: £20 standard rate/£17 member rate/£12 student rate.)
Contemporary Chinese ceramics and glass study day - Sat 28 Feb, 10am–4pm at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (Tickets: £35 adult / £30 conc. Must be booked in advance.)

Family Activities

Bristol Rocks! - Wed 18 Feb, 11am-4pm at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Bristol’s unseen natural treasures - Fri 20 Feb, every half hour from 11am–2:30pm at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Chinese New Year - Sat 21 – Sun 22 February at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

_________________

15. Boundary review

As mentioned in the last Cabot eNews, the independent Boundary Commission for England are consulting on new ward boundaries for Bristol from 2016, which would see Cabot ward be abolished and replaced with two new wards, called 'Central' and 'Hotwells and Harbourside'.

The Commission's consultation period ends on 16th February, so if you wish to comment on their plans, make sure you do so soon.  Details can be found at https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/3535

_________________

If you know anybody who would be interested in Cabot eNews, please forward it on to them. If you have received this email from a friend and like it, email us to be added directly to the distribution list.  We also welcome feedback. We are happy to help residents, local businesses and voluntary agencies where we can, to pursue issues to make Cabot a better place.  Finally, if you have any items you would like to be included in a future edition of Cabot eNews, please get in touch!

Best wishes,

Alex Woodman and Mark Wright



Sunday, 14 December 2014

Cabot eNews - December 2014

Dear Resident,
 
Welcome to this edition of Cabot eNews - your monthly local e-newsletter from Cabot councillors Alex Woodman and Mark Wright.  Cabot eNews is sent to those who have expressed an interest in what is happening in Cabot ward and central Bristol.
If this is the first time you have received Cabot eNews, we hope you find it useful and informative.  If not, please let us know and we will remove you from the mailing list.
 
In this edition:
 
1. Cabot Ward to be Abolished?
2. Metrobus
3. Libraries for the Future Consultation
4. Christmas and New Year Bus Services
5. Westmoreland House/Carriageworks Update
6. Low Emission Zone Update
7. Massive Investment in Cycling in Bristol
8. Green Capital Neighbourhood Arts Programme
9. New social network launched
10. 'Citizen Service Point' opens next week / changes to meeting venues
11. New Cut Bridge Approved
12. Final Call - Cabot Residents Survey
13. Other Brief Updates
14. Winter Exhibitions
15. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

_________________
 
1. Cabot Ward to be Abolished?
 
You may have heard that the independent Boundary Commission have been undertaking a review of ward boundaries in Bristol.  This has been triggered by the huge disparity in population size in the current wards - for example, Cabot is nearly twice the size of some other wards in the city.
 
Earlier this week, the Boundary Commission published their proposals, which would see Cabot as it currently exists abolished and instead replaced with two new wards:
 
- Central ward, which would include all of Redcliffe, Queen Square, the Centre, east side of Park Street, the Triangle, Tyndalls Park, Broadmead, and the area around King's Square
 
- Hotwells & Harbourside ward, which would cover Spike Island (west of Wapping Wharf), parts of Hotwells which are currently in Clifton ward, Canon's Marsh and the west side of Park Street and Brandon Hill.
 
Significant parts of Kingsdown (everything north of Dove Street) would leave Cabot Ward to become part of Cotham.
Mark and I have greeted the proposals with mixed feelings.  We strongly felt that a new 'Redcliffe' ward should have been created, ending the bizarre situation where part of Redcliffe was in Cabot, with the rest in Lawrence Hill.  This situation has been resolved in a way with the inclusion of all of Redcliffe in the new 'Central' ward.  However, we are very unhappy to see communities divided by Kingsdown being torn in half along Dove Street, and Spike Island split in half.
 
The Boundary Commission are now consulting on their draft proposals.  More information, and details of how to comment if you want to, can be found at https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/3535
 
_________________
 
2. Metrobus
 
The media reported a few weeks ago on a leaked "secret" Council report, indicating that the Metrobus scheme is significantly over budget, and looking at ways of reducing the cost.  The Metrobus team had not previously communicated this to me and Mark, and we did not see a copy of this report until it showed up in the media.
 
We are very concerned that some of the cost-saving proposals being looked at are the very things which persuaded us that Metrobus was worth pursuing in the first place.  For example, the report suggests significantly reducing the budget to remodel Avon Crescent and Cumberland Road, cancelling a lot of the public realm improvements around the Centre, and stealing money from other budgets to try and meet the shortfall.  Without these things, there is a risk that the benefits of Metrobus are outweighed by the disadvantages.
 
We are astonished that the bill could have come in 50% higher than 6 months ago before work has even started.  We would prefer that the Mayor find money from elsewhere to make sure Metrobus still delivers, rather than cutting it to the bone, and so we sought an urgent meeting with him to discuss these issues.  The outcome was a commitment to look again in greater detail at these issues, and to reply to us more fully as soon as possible.  Look out in the next Cabot eNews for an update.
 
_________________
 
3. Libraries for the Future Consultation
 
Bristol libraries are well-loved and highly valued by those that use them.  However, despite this, only 6% of Bristol citizens use the lending service regularly.  The Council is therefore consulting to try and understand how it can provide a better library service that meets customer needs, whilst at the same time addressing the significant funding squeeze affecting all Council services.  
 
Details about the consultation can be found at www.bristol.gov.uk/libraries, and Mark and I would encourage you to respond.  Cabot ward is of course home to the city's Central Library, and we want the Council to know how much local residents value the services it, and the city's other libraries, offer.
 
_________________
 
4. Christmas and New Year Bus Services
 
First Bus have published information about their services over Christmas and New Year.  Full details can be found at https://www.firstgroup.com/ChristmasServices, but in summary:
 
- In the run up to Christmas buses will operate normal timetables until Christmas Eve 
- On Christmas Eve most night buses in Bristol will run until around 2am.  There will be no buses after this time or on Christmas Day itself.
- On Boxing day the following will run in and around Bristol: Services 1, 2, 6/7, 24, 39, 40, 42, 43/44/45, 46, 47, 48/49, 70, 73, 75/76, 78, 90, 376,  X2, X6, X8 and Service A1 but special timetables will be in operation, 
- On New Year’s Eve, all Bristol night bus services will run throughout the night as per normal.   
- On New Year’s Day, as on Boxing Day, some special timetables will be in operation. 
- From 3 January all buses will revert to their normal timetables
 
_________________
 
5. Westmoreland House/Carriageworks Update
 
The Council has been working with Knightstone Housing Association to try and seek the redevelopment of this monstrous eyesore which has blighted Stokes Croft for too long.  At the same time, the possibility of securing a Compulsory Purchase Order has also been investigated, which would allow the Council to buy the building and thereby ensure that a redevelopment scheme goes ahead.  In order to justify the CPO, the Council needs to be able to demonstrate that the owners of the building have no intention of redeveloping it, and that the only viable way of making it happen is to give the Council the power to acquire it.
 
Both of us have long been enthusiastic supporters of the community vision which has been developed for this site by the Carriageworks Action Group.  However, a separate development company has recently submitted a planning application for the site.  It is deeply disappointing that redevelopment proposals have come forward which have not been developed in line with the community vision, particularly as submitting planning applications has, in the past, been used as a delaying tactic to frustrate any attempt at a CPO.  It means that, until this planning application has been assessed and decided, the Council must pause its efforts.  
 
Details of the planning application can be found on the Council's website at http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple  The application number you need to search for is 14/05930/F.  Mark and I would be very interested to hear the views of local residents - if you have any opinions about this application, please let us know.
 
_________________
 
6. Low Emission Zone Update
 
The harmfulness of old diesel engines to air quality has been in the news again recently. Mark and I have been campaigning to prevent old diesel buses and lorries coming into central Bristol for 2 years now. A reminder that a petition has been created, calling on the Mayor to press ahead and seriously look at a proposal for a Low Emission Zone for Bristol. If you share our concern about air pollution in the city, please sign the petition. You can find it athttp://bit.ly/1o8eCwE
 
_________________
 
7. Massive Investment in Cycling in Bristol
 
One of the issues commonly raised with me and Mark is the lack of decent cycling infrastructure in Bristol.  Despite winning the coveted status of being Britain's first Cycling City back in 2008, and the various schemes which came about as a result, there still remains much work to be done to make Bristol truly cyclist-friendly.
 
We were delighted therefore when, a couple of weeks ago, Nick Clegg announced that Bristol will benefit from a £241m fund being set up to make it easier and safer to ride a bike in the city.  Details of what exactly this will mean on the ground are still being worked out, but we hope that it will make a big difference to the experience of cycling in Bristol.
 
_________________
 
8. Green Capital Neighbourhood Arts Programme
 
We have written a lot about Green Capital in recent editions of Cabot eNews, and this edition contains yet more news, this time about the Neighbourhood Arts Programme.
 
The Programme is a  is a Bristol 2015 project for the Green Capital year that will take a creative look at some of Bristol’s local issues around ‘green’ and sustainability.  A series of arts projects will spring up across Bristol that have come out of partnership working between local communities and professional artists and makers. 
 
If there is a green issue you care about, or you’d like to be involved in making a project happen in your area, then the project team want to hear from you.  You can fill out their form online at www.bristol2015.co.uk/nap, or call 0117 379 0115 and speak to Emma Williams or Marietta Kirkbride.
 
_________________
 
9. New Social Network Launched
 
We have been asked to advertise 'Streetlife', a new social network which has just been launched in Bristol and which hopes to help residents get involved with local events, groups and volunteering opportunities.  Their website can be found at https://www.streetlife.com/
 
_________________
 
10. 'Citizen Service Point' Opens Next Week / Changes to Meeting Venues
 
Next week, on Monday 15th December at 9am, the Council's new "Citizen Service Point" (CSP) will open at 100 Temple Street, the Council's new office premises near to Temple Meads station.  
 
The CSP will provide access to a number of Council-run services, including the homelessness service which is transferring there from its current home at Amelia Court.  This is in addition to the existing service points, including the one most likely to be used by Cabot residents at Phoenix Court on Temple Way.
 
The development of the new building is part of a significant investment by the Council in rationalising its office space, to reduce running costs and deliver services more effectively and efficiently.  As part of this plan, the non-public areas of the Council House are also currently being refurbished, meaning that over the next 12 months, many Council meetings, such as the planning committee, are being held elsewhere.  If you plan to attend any meetings, please check the venue information carefully at www.bristol.gov.uk/meetings.
 
_________________
 
11. New Cut Bridge Approved
 
A new pedestrian/cyclist bridge over the New Cut, from Camden Road in Southville, joining the Chocolate Path at its eastern end has approved by the Council's planning committee, which I chair.  The bridge will help to alleviate pressure on the other two bridges over the Cut (Vauxhall and Gaol Ferry) and will provide a new route from Prince Street bridge, along Wapping Wharf, under Cumberland Road and into Southville.
 
The committee spent some time debating the aesthetics of the bridge, and whether it was a suitable design.  However, in the end, it was felt that the benefit of simply having a bridge outweighed any disagreements about what it looks like, and it was given near-unanimous approval.  In addition, there is a wider benefit, in that the bridge will require the removal of small number of the Chocolate Path's distinctive paving blocks, which will be reused to repair other parts of the path which have been damaged and infilled with tarmac.
 
_________________
 
12. Final Call - Cabot Residents Survey
 
This is a final reminder about the 2014 Cabot Residents Survey, which you can find online at www.bit.ly/CabotSurvey2014.  We normally run the survey for just a couple of months over the summer, but took the decision this year to keep it going for longer, to try and ensure we hear as broad a range of views as possible.  If you haven't already completed the survey, please spend five minutes doing so - it gives me and Mark a real insight in local opinion so that we can best serve the residents of the ward.  And look out in the new year for the results of the survey!
 
_________________
 
13.  Other Brief Updates
 
Here is some brief news/updates on other issues around the ward at the moment:
 
Car Club bays:  Mark and I are big fans of "Car blub" spaces, which allow people to get rid of their car but still have occasional access to a car if they need it. The Council is proposing a number of new such spaces in the central area, and we have supported them: Charles St; Lower Park Row; Tyndall Ave; Deanery Road (a second additional bay); Great George St; Charlotte St; Berkeley Sq; Guinea Street
 
Leaves and other street cleansing:  The Council tries to keep drains and gutters clear of leaves. If you spot a blockage please report it here: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/transport-and-streets/roads-pavements-and-drains-online-services
You can report general street cleansing issues directly at: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/forms/street-cleansing 
 
Bearpit progress: Works are progressing on the Bearpit but are behind schedule and won't be finished until the New Year:
http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Bearpit-revamp-won-t-ready-year/story-23828564-detail/story.html
 
_________________
 
14. Winter Exhibitions
 
Some of the upcoming exhibitions at various venues in Cabot ward over the coming months:
 
Ahead of the Curve: new china from China
13 December 2014 - 1 March 2015
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
 
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
29 November 2014 - 22 February 2015
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
 
Moved by Conflict: Bristol and the First World War – lives changed forever 
11 October 2014 – 1 March 2015 
M Shed
 
Bristol's 'White City'
11 October 2014 - 27 February 2015
Bristol Record Office
 
_________________
 
15. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
 
This will be the last edition of Cabot eNews in 2014, and so Mark and I would like to wish all of our readers a wonderful Christmas, and a very happy New Year.
 
_________________
 
If you know anybody who would be interested in Cabot eNews, please forward it on to them. If you have received this email from a friend and like it, email us to be added directly to the distribution list.  We also welcome feedback. We are happy to help residents, local businesses and voluntary agencies where we can, to pursue issues to make Cabot a better place.  Finally, if you have any items you would like to be included in a future edition of Cabot eNews, please get in touch!
 
Best wishes,
 
Alex Woodman and Mark Wright