Tag Archives: Hartcliffe

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.