Tag Archives: Hartcliffe

HENGROVE PARK LATEST

Labour housing czar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith’s efforts to “build communities not just houses” on Hengrove Park continue to go badly awry as his planning team persist in their attempt to dump 1,400 homes in a field in south Bristol and call it “planning”.

Some progress was made when Wolfie’s planners caught up with the rest of the sentient universe and agreed that a public road access to their development was REQUIRED from Hengrove Way, the only major arterial route to the site.

However, planners then decided that this route must STOP one third of the way into the development to prevent “rat-running” between Hengrove Way and Whitchurch Lane. However, this will also PREVENT vehicle access to two thirds of the proposed homes from the road with the best capacity to handle the traffic. Planners, when asked where they think they are preventing rat-runners going, deliver the BLANK LOOK of someone who’s spent about as much time in south Bristol as the average Japanese Puffer Fish.

Concern for rat running then DISPELS less than a mile away where an existing residential road and ‘rat-run’, Bamfield, will provide vehicle access for two thirds of the development. Is the plan to prioritise the quality of life in the NEW DEVELOPMENT by reducing traffic there at the expense of an EXISTING residential area already handling supermarket traffic for Asda, school run traffic for Perry Court Primary School and existing “rat-runners” going home to Hengrove and Whitchurch?

How Bamfield, a residential road, is supposed to cope with even more traffic is NOT EXPLAINED. While enquiries regarding how many vehicle movements the new development might generate go UNANSWERED by planners who are, apparently, near the end of their “masterplanning” with NO CLUE how much traffic their development might generate.

Throughout this process, planners have remained DEAF to concerns regarding traffic issues in the area. Instead, the council’s mantra is that the new housing is a major benefit that residents have been calling for. A view CONTRADICTED by the council’s own Quality of Life Survey, where concern over traffic and transport dwarfs housing issues by about four to one.

So far, planners’ only real response to impending TRAFFIC HELL, reduced air quality and increased pollution is to enthusiastically draw little blue lines all over their plans indicating where their cycle lanes will go. This is for an area where their own data shows ZERO PER CENT of people cycle to work and any new roads will be cycle-friendly 20mph anyway.

Another “benefit” planners are keen to highlight is the £10MILLION proposed spend on park facilities and landscaping for the open space they haven’t concreted over. Although the reality is that residents are losing huge amounts of open space to housing and roads while any benefit from more park facilities is QUESTIONABLE while the council is proposing to close the existing Hengrove Play Park on Mondays and Tuesdays.

It also appears that there will actually be £10million worth of landscaped PSEUDO PUBLIC SPACE as the land will be turned over to a dodgy Carillion-style private management firm, procured by a skint council, to run. The level of maintenance and upkeep of this space is therefore likely to be LOW with ZERO community or democratic oversight once the council signs our land away to the private sector to manage.

The latest highlight of this public-private pseudo public space LANDSCAPING BONANZA is an optimistically named “village green”, planned to be built over the popular Family Cycling Centre. However, any traditional sound of leather on willow may be a little subdued by the main road into the development running DIRECTLY THROUGH this village green.

It’s obvious that this development is being pursued at a RAMPANT PACE by Wolfie in order to chase numbers for a manifesto pledge on housing numbers. While it might – if we’re lucky – support the housing needs of the rest of the city, it provides little that’s much use to locals who’ll have to live with the predictably DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES of it all.

Wolfie needs to get back to the drawing board or accept responsibility as the architect of a new Hartcliffe (another public housing development full of bold promises where there was never any money for the services and facilities to fulfil them).

NEW YORK – LONDON – BRUSSELS – HARTCLIFFE

There was a very LOW KEY decision from the Vicar last month to continue spending £351k a year to keep open his Bristol City Council office in Brussels and to provide a nice little slush fund for his aimless mayoral trips abroad.

This will no doubt come as especially good news for residents of HARTCLIFFE, SOUTHMEAD, LAWRENCE WESTON and FISHPONDS. As, following his destructive Tory cuts budget that closed all neighbourhood Customer Service Points, the Reverend can now proudly boast that his council has an office open for business in Brussels but not in, er, Hartcliffe!

How convenient for paying the rent …

HARTCLIFFE HOUSING OFFICE BETRAYAL

Although the Reverend Rees and his hapless Cabinet sidekick Asher “Close-It” Craig haven’t officially announced it yet, Bristol City Council’s housing office and Citizen Service Point, Symes House, in Hartcliffe will be CLOSING on 31 March 2017.

Councillors actually voted that things like libraries, Citizen Service Points and neighbourhood partnerships would close or be wound down over the NEXT TWO YEARS. So closing the Hartcliffe office immediately doesn’t seem in the spirit of the plan.

Especially as Councillor Close-It had told both BBC Radio Bristol on 17 February and residents at a well-attended Mayoral event held at the Withywood Centre on 9 March that there would be a CONVERSATION with the local community partnership before anything happened

Councillor Close-It had even mentioned that the popular Citizen Service Point could be incorporated into the library situated in the @Symes building next door. Although efforts to contact Councillor Close-It to start that conversation have failed as she’s NOT RETURNING CALLS!

The Reverend’s cuts consultation last year provoked an impressive response from the local community in Hartcliffe. More people took part in the BS13 area than most other areas in Bristol. There was also a community petition with over 1,400 signatures asking the mayor NOT to cut services in one of the most deprived areas in Bristol.

Many people in Hartcliffe now say they feel BETRAYED by the Reverend and Councillor Close-It as they clearly haven’t lived up to the undertaking they had given to people. Instead, council bosses have been given FREE REIN to do what the hell they feel like in Hartcliffe and shut down the office without an exit strategy, a long term plan or, even, an explanation.

Another Rees policy delivery shambles.

TOP JOB NEWS

Can you find Hartcliffe Mr Hughes?

The Reverend Rees told long-suffering journalists daft enough to attend his stillborn ‘CITY OFFICE’ launch in November that he planned to tackle “inequalities within leadership roles” by changing the people who are awarded the top jobs.

“This will mean having leaders from HARTCLIFFE and AVONMOUTH as well as Clifton”, the Reverend assured an audience  invited, organised and managed by his old, white, highly paid, Cambridge educated right hand man and personally appointed “leader”, council Chief Exec, Stephen “OAP” Hughes from, er, Birmingham.

Who thinks Hughes could even find Hartcliffe on a map?

OFFSHORE REGEN SCHEME SCANDAL

More local gossip: Shut down and offshored

More local gossip: Shut down and offshored

We kid you not … A flagship New Labour regeneration scheme in south Bristol, once described by former MP “Dim Prawn” Primarolo as “a dream come true”, has been moved OFFSHORE to avoid tax!

Touted as a solution for jobs, long term economic decline and inequality in a deprived part of south Bristol, the Morrison’s supermarket scheme on the site of the old council-owned Symes Avenue shopping centre in Hartcliffe opened to HUGE FANFARE in 2007.

Along with a supermarket paying CRAP WAGES and an enormous and under-used car park, this “first class district centre in which we can all take pride” included a community centre, a library and EIGHT smaller shop units that were supposed to accommodate LOCAL BUSINESSES AND RETAILERS and tick the “mixed use” regeneration box.

Bristol City Council assembled the land for this scheme at considerable EXPENSE to us. Paying through the nose to buy back – through compulsory purchase – their long-term lease on the old Symes Avenue shopping centre that had been shifted to an asset stripping firm, Panther Securities.

They also used their compulsory purchase powers to seize sections of residents’ back gardens in Holbrook Crescent so that these gardens could be transformed into an unused and abandoned section of supermarket car park. Again, at a CONSIDERABLE COST to us.

Once the costly development site had been assembled, the council handed the whole lot over to Morrison’s for FREE as a ‘sweetener’ to get the supermarket and its associated ‘benefits’ built.

Fast forward to 2014 and – with remarkably little fanfare – Morrison’s engaged in their own little land and property transaction and SOLD THE LEASE for the eight ‘local’ shop units on the site to a property firm based offshore in tax haven Jersey – BNP PARIBAS!

Now, in 2016, we learn that the locally owned and run hairdressers’ on the site – ‘The Local Gossip’  – has CLOSED after they were landed with an enormous RENT HIKE by their new offshore owners. And we learn the locally owned and run Post Office on the site is on the verge of CLOSURE due to the huge RENT INCREASE!

We are happy to report, however, that the four distinctly unlocal corporate retailers occupying the remaining units, like bookies, Ladbrokes, are having no problem affording the new high cost rents.

Meanwhile, shareholders at BNP Paribas are, no doubt, appreciating the cool double whammy of easy extra rental income extracted from a deprived area while not having to bother with the expense of paying much tax to help the community they’re BLEEDING DRY.

Now that’s what we call regeneration! Trebles all round!

NOT CLEAN, NOT GREEN

explosive-art-1434120503Bristol’s time as European Green Capital is not going at all well when it comes to the cleanliness of the city’s streets.

Even before the start of Green Capital year, Bristol had an unenviable reputation as the dirtiest place in the West of England. Government statistics reveal that in 2013/14, 10,472 incidents of fly-tipping were reported to Shitty Hall. This compares with 1,258 over the same period for South Gloucestershire and a mere 413 for Bath & NE Somerset.

Things haven’t improved much with the advent of the elite greenwash bunfight either. While the city’s great and good slap each others’ backs over their pretended environmental credentials, Bristolians from Lawrence Hill to Lawrence Weston are complaining about unacceptable levels of litter and fly-tipping in their areas.

But it’s not just in north Bristol that the locals are concerned about filth on the streets and the city in general. South of the Avon too, residents are complaining that fly-tipping is being made worse by the lack of a household waste recycling centre in Hartcliffe. The main reason there isn’t one is that the proposal that is being opposed by Mayor George Ferguson.

Presumably he thinks it’s acceptable for people in south Bristol to drive miles across the city to Avonmouth or St Philips, adding to the city’s congestion and pollution? Nice one George!

And when it does take action against litter louts and fly-tippers, there’s only one word to describe the council’s response – pathetic. Since 2010 only 120 people have been fined or taken to court by the city council for dropping litter, while in the BS5 area – one of the city’s hotspots – enforcement action has been taken against only 32 people.

This low level of enforcement is due to one major reason: council staff cuts. Before 2010 Bristol had a complement of 10 so-called ‘streetscene enforcement officers’ to deal with fly-tipping, litter, fly-posting, dog fouling and other such banes of modern urban living. These 10 officers were assisted in their work by 2 technical support/admin staff and a streetscene enforcement manager whose only other remit was to manage 3 dog wardens.

Following the 2010 general election and George Ferguson’s election as mayor the city was promised “no cuts to frontline services”. Yet the streetscene enforcement team has since consistently lost staff and no replacements recruited. The team is now down to 4.7 officers only and managed by a man with no knowledge of environmental legislation or how to investigate and prosecute a case.

Is it any wonder that reported fly-tips in the city more than doubled over the period in which the team has been more than halved?

The word from the streets is that this situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. Since August waste management and street cleansing have been taken back in house after Kier/May Gurney walked away from their contract with the council pleading lack of profitability despite doing a crap job and BCC never penalising them for doing so.