The pastors at the Reverend Rees’s church, the Hope Community Church in Hotwells, are Chris and Alice Bond. A quick search on the Hope’s website uncovers a sermon from Alice on the subject of gay marriage.
The Hope Church therefore refuses to wed or bless gay couples. Maybe all well and good? Everybody’s entitled to their views no matter how hate-filled or obnoxious they may be. Similarly, people are entitled to attend a church where obnoxious views are promoted.
However, Chris and Alice Bond also share a seat on the Western Harbour Advisory Group. A group set up personally by the Reverend to support his controversial proposed corporate redevelopment of the Cumberland Basin.
Oxford educated Chris Bond is also the chair of governors at Hotwells Primary School. Our question is, should open homophobes be sitting on public bodies?
The recent successful Judicial Review by the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society of the planning permission granted by Bristol City Council to build 62 homes on Bristol Zoo’s car park puts a spotlight on the planning officer responsible, Peter “Deemed Consent” Westbury.
A judge agreed that permission for this “major scar on the landscape” was unlawful because it ignored Historic England Advice while Westbury’s report to councillors failed to consider the harm to heritage and weigh up the harm and public benefit.
Westbury also produced and presented the planning report for the controversial “monolithic blocks” on St Mary-le-Port at Castle Park. An application granted by councillors in December 2021. This has now been referred to the Planning Inspectorate by Bristol Civic Society for a public enquiry.
One concern is that Westbury’s report and the public forum at the planning meeting included the support of the ‘Friends of Castle Park’. However, it transpires that the support of the ‘Friends of Castle Park’ is actually the support of one person, Russ Leith. The self appointed moderator and “leader” of a ‘Friends of Castle Park Facebook group, he provided an ‘analysis’ of comments on his Facebook page to Westbury that allege public support for the application.
Word out of Bristol City council’s planning department is that Westbury, who also happens to be an elder at the Reverend Rees’s church, The Hope in Hotwells – enjoys a very poor reputation among planning colleagues. “Can’t administer policy for toffee, we’ve been told and “he’s the patsy they put on any scheme the mayor wants to go through.”