The first tranche of
new housing at HENGROVE PARK, courtesy of corporate developer Kier, has
appeared next to Hengrove Park Leisure Centre. Despite being obviously located
in SUBURBAN SOUTH BRISTOL, it’s called ‘Urban Quarter’ and is being marketed
with the tired strapline “Modern living in Bristol”. Meanwhile,
Kier’s website illustrates its Hengrove Park location with photos of, er,
COLLEGE GREEN and the WILLS BUILDING.
It also says here, “Urban Quarter is an EXCITING DEVELOPMENT of 261 new homes. The development offers a
variety of bespoke 2, 3 & 4 bedroom homes. Ideal for FIRST-TIME BUYERS,THOSE
LOOKING TO MOVE UP THE PROPERTY LADDER along with GROWING FAMILIES looking for their forever home.”
Although any first time buyers or Bristolians with a growing family may be
interested to hear that prices for a 3-bed home start at £310,000 and for a 4-bed at £410,000.
This means any property available in this “attractive urban living
environment” is, at least, TEN
TIMES MORE than the average salary in south Bristol.
Calling Notice: Rally
on College Green, Bristol, Thursday 30th May 1pm-3pm all welcome
Parents, children and supporters are coming together in
central Bristol, as part of a coordinated day of action by SEND National Crisis
across the country, to highlight the underfunding and exclusion from education
of so many children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Dozens of demonstrations are being planned across the
country by SEND National Crisis who are also handing in a petition of over
12,000 signatures. This will be followed by rallies in Parliament Square and
across the country including Bristol. 1000s of parents, children and teachers
are expected to be involved as part of the coordinated action.
The Bristol and South Gloucestershire Send National Crisis
demonstration is being organised by campaigners from SEND National Crisis
supported by volunteers from Bristol Independent Send Crisis (BISC) – the same
group that won the judicial review against Bristol City Council stopping over
£5 million of cuts to Special Educational Needs. It also being supported by
South Glos and Bristol National Education Union (NEU)
Tara Northen, a parent and SEND National Crisis South
Gloucestershire co-ordinator said:
“South Gloucestershire is the lowest funded Education
Authority and this has led to the loss of teaching assistants, cuts to SEND
spending and far too many SEND children not receiving the support they need to
access education. The whole area around SEND is now at crisis level and we need
schools, councils and most importantly national government to act.”
Kerry Bailes, a parent and SEND National Crisis Bristol co-ordinator
“As a parent fighting for the best future for my child,
fighting against a system that chooses to put barriers in my way, I know the
toll this has on parents and our children. The failure to address their needs,
the failure to ensure they have an inclusive education, the failure to even get
them into a school. I am turning my heartbreak into action, my frustration into
deeds and we will not stop, we will not be silenced, and we will secure a full
and inclusive education for our children.”
Sally Kent, a parent and BISC representative said:
“Last year as parents we stopped horrendous cuts being made
to the education and support to our most vulnerable children here in Bristol.
That was just the first step in our campaign to ensure that all children
receive the education they are entitled to under law and that we would expect
to be provided within a country like ours. The system, and the politicians that
lead that system, will hear our voices and we will ensure that our children’s
education is provided.”
Tara and Sally confronted Secretary of State for Education Damian
Hinds on Thursday during a school visit in South Gloucestershire raising the
issue of funding and support for children with SEND.
The Bristol rally will be a family friendly affair combining
a picnic, games and speeches about the the SEND National Crisis objectives, the
need to improve funding, improve outcomes for children with SEND and ensure
councils work with parents rather than against them.
11 speakers have been organised from parents, campaign
groups, unions and political parties. The event will bring people together from
across the political spectrum to demand change for the sake of the next
Notes and Statistics:
Nationally the funding gap for SEND last year was £287m but
projected to reach £1.6bn in the next 2 years (Source: ISOS Partnership “have
we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people
with SEND in England”, December 2018). In South Glos the audit office identified
that there was a £12.5m deficit in High Needs funding.
Half of all local authorities have failed their Ofsted/CQC
inspection (Ofsted website, 17th May 2019) – locally North Somerset
and South Gloucestershire have failed, Bath & North East Somerset passed,
and Bristol is due to be inspected soon.
Pupils with SEND are six times more likely to be excluded
from school than those children without. Only 6% of people with learning
disabilities are in paid employment. 1190 exclusions in South Glos in 2017 involved
children with SEND and only 1% of excluded pupils get five good GCSEs. Bristol
was recently named in a Government report as one of ten authorities with very
high exclusion rates.
The application around Education and Health Care Plans
(legal documents that replaced statements) is in crisis. In Bristol the council
has lost nearly 90% of appeals made against their decisions to assess. Local
Authorities must complete assessments and issue plans within weeks but both
South Glos and Bristol are now taking over 40 weeks for many plans contrary to
The recent EVICTIONS of homeless people living in vans and caravans from Greenbank, Easton and an ENCAMPED PROTEST in July on the council’s doorstep on College Green has focused attention on BCC’s homelessness prevention and provision services. As well as its new draft policy proposal on van dwellers and rough sleeper encampments.
As The BRISTOLIAN recently highlighted, a private for profit company, Social Impact Bristol Ltd is to commodify and make a profit from homeless people through a SOCIAL IMPACT BOND.
So it may not entirely be a coincidence that the recently launched DRAFT POLICY ON ROUGH SLEEPER ENCAMPMENTS is proposing to wholly outsource homelessness provision to St Mungo’s. An organisation that is intimately involved with Social Impact Bristol Ltd. and will be paying interest to the ‘high net worth individuals’ that have invested in it.
Bristol is seeing increasing numbers of people BECOMING HOMELESS, with some taking control of their own living conditions by squatting, living in vans, caravans and tents and refusing to pay exorbitant rents to landlords.
Sadly far too many are falling through our social safety net and ending up on the streets. Against this backdrop, a policy proposal that would seem to originate from the DEPUTY MAYOR’S OFFICE seeks to coral all rough sleepers into a ‘pathway’ through St Mungos. Encampments, even if deemed “low impact” with no anti social behaviour complaints, are only going to be tolerated for a maximum of 3 months and then dwellers will be forced into a “pathway”.
Whilst Marvin has been jetting off to Asia to seek international finance at a Green Growth seminar, there are people who are living environmentally LOW IMPACT LIFESTYLES that are going to be directly affected by the Draft Policy proposal on Rough Sleeper Encampments. A policy headed by Tom Gilchrist, BCC Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officer, who has publicly stated he “wants to see everyone in bricks and mortar”.
How does this draft policy proposal fit in with Marvin and Deputy Mayor Asher Craig’s public statements about inclusivity, sustainable living and other corporate drivel?
Many homeless people refuse to engage with St Mungo’s, citing reasons of chronic drug dealing, serious substance misuse issues, violence and theft within St Mungo’s hostels. St Mungo’s own outreach workers state that they don’t have the capacity to deal with the number of homeless people, and admit that St Mungo’s hostels are DANGEROUS AND UNSAFE for those that do use them.
We ask why would a draft policy proposal that comes under the remit of the Deputy Mayor be calling for all homeless people to be CORRALLED into St Mungo’s when St Mungo’s doesn’t have the capacity or the safe conditions to properly assist some of the most vulnerable people in our city?
It wouldn’t have anything to do with providing a financial investment return to those high net worth individuals that have invested in Social Investment Bristol Ltd would it?
BRISTOL BIGWIGS HAVE HISTORY FOR THIS SORT OF THING…
If our illustrious millionaire mayor George Ferguson and his idiot boy wonder Councillor Augustus Hoyt have it their way, it’s soon going to be illegal to climb trees, play ball games or skateboard in Bristol Parks.
The LUDICROUS BYELAWS these nobs tried to rush through council the other week hit the national press and threatened to trash Bristol’s reputation as a ‘fun city’. The nationally publicised backlash frightened Fergo, who then bottled it like the cheap snake oil salesman he is. He pulled the byelaws out from a vote (at least for now) and forced his ‘Assistant Mayor’ Hoyt to appear on the local telly news to defend the policy – just as he was putting it on hold!
Ass Mayor Gusty Hoyt – a ‘shaved chimpanzee’ who hates kids, ball games and free family fun in the park?
But whilst amusing to watch Gusty sweat like a PARTIALLY-SHAVED CHIMPANZEE with glandular problems in the face of a mild probing from Ian Axton, the whole fiasco also underlined an age-old point. When nobs who think they own our city bang on about ‘public freedoms’, they mean that there are only two types of ‘fun’ allowed in our streets and parks: stuff organised by them (like the boring official ‘street festivals’ in town); or commercial events they can profit from, like the Arc Festival.
If you don’t fit into these categories then at best you’ll be nicked and fined, at worst riot police go in and you’ll be kissing truncheons (like in Easton at the impromptu Thatcher’s Dead street party).
Bristol’s international reputation for free, self-organised fun is based on things like the original Ashton Court Festival, St Paul’s Carnival and ‘free parties’ in general. But it will always be under threat from posh tossers like Fergo and Hoytie-Toyty, who just don’t get it, and never will.
None of this is new. For hundreds of years Bristolians have been fighting over control of public space.
Back in the 17th century after the Church had stopped a land grab by GREEDY CLIFTON MERCHANTS (things don’t change), College Green became a popular place for recreation. Trouble was Bristolians weren’t interested in going to Church but just wanted to hang out and have a laugh.
In 1634 a report sponsored by Archbishop Thomas Laud stated:
…it is made a receptacle for all idle persons to spend their time in stopball and such lyke recreations, even of times from morning until night, the time of divine service not excepted.
Ironically in 2001, the Dean of Bristol Cathedral complained about disturbances to his services by skateboarders on College Green (who weren’t interested in church, funnily enough) and started a campaign to get a byelaw forbidding skateboarding to be enforced. In the summer of 2007 the police served a ‘dispersal order’ on College Green and the surrounding area for the period of the school holidays.
The order was aimed at the SKATEBOARDERS and other youth who had gathered on College Green for many years. Bristolian youngsters reacted in style with demonstrations and an active media campaign protesting against the order.
The fight over College Green continues to this very day, but in nearby Brandon Hill the battle was lost over a century ago.
Overlooking the whole city, Brandon Hill in the 17th and 18th centuries was symbolic as the ‘PEOPLE’S HILL’, where Bristolians came to play, party, meet and demonstrate.
However, after the 1831 ‘riots’ – essentially a violent attack on Bristol’s wealthy elite – the rich began to move in droves up to Clifton as they were too scared to be near the working class areas of central Bristol. The last thing these posh types wanted was a free party or a working-class demonstration going on just up the road.
It comes as no surprise that one of the first police stations in Bristol was built on Brandon Hill in 1836 to keep an eye on working class Bristolians having a party, whilst the real colonial thieves and SLAVE-TRADING CRIMINALS lived right round the corner.
In the 1840s, the People’s Hill was the scene of mass Chartist meetings and demonstrations, calling for democracy for everyone not just the wealthy. This frightened the rich Cliftonites, who began a long campaign to stop the demonstrations and get control of the People’s Hill.
In the late 19th century, after a series of sneaky legal manoeuvres, they managed to get the top of Brandon Hill covered in rock gardens to stop any parties or gatherings, and celebrated their victory by planning to build a massive statue of slave-trader Edward Colston overlooking the city!
In the end they settled for Cabot Tower, a monument to their robbing and enslavement of the New World. Brandon Hill was completed sanitised and has so many byelaws that most Bristolians don’t bother with it. It was transformed from the People’s Hill to Nobs’ Hill in just one hundred years.
So, bollocks to their byelaws – The ‘Smiter’ says ‘Fight for the Right to Party’, just like Bristolians have done for centuries!