Category Archives: Yuppification & All That Jazz

Broadmead expansion, ‘Bristol Alliance’, Cabot Circus, loft living, serviced apartments etc

Just what is Junket Janke hiding? The mystery of Bristol council’s Eurocities 2010 gravy train

For some reason Bristol City Council has been dragging its feet over a Freedom of Information request relating to a trip to Zaragoza for the Eurocities conference back in early November by council leader Barbara ‘Junket’ Janke, her £72,000 per year ‘director of place-making’ Mike Bennett, and possibly other hangers-on.

With the suspicion that this little four day jaunt to sunny Spain cost a pretty penny or two and serves little to no purpose at a time when the city council is threatening massive cutbacks to services and jobs across Bristol, it seems curious that the council has not been keener to wheel out its no doubt entirely valid and deep-ranging justifications – I am sure we are all waiting with excitement for old favourites like “value for money”, “strategic partnerships” and even “post-industrial destination economy”.

But, despite being legally obliged to respond within a month, the council still has yet to even acknowledge the original FoI request, so requester Steve Woods has politely resubmitted it:

Dear Bristol City Council,

I have not yet received a reply, or even the courtesy of an acknowledgment, to my FoI request for information on the visit of Barbara Janke and the Director of Place to the Eurocities 2010 conference
in Zaragoza, Spain.

A full reply should have been received by 6th November and Bristol City Council is therefore in breach of the law by not having responded within the stipulated term.

I set out below verbatim the text of my original request for your information, just in case it has slipped into oblivion down the back of the municipal filing cabinet.

“Dear Bristol City Council,

I understand that the Leader of the Council, Barbara Janke, and the Director of Place recently attended the Eurocities 2010 conference in Zaragoza, Spain.

My queries under the FoI Act are as follows:

1. Did any other representatives of Bristol City Council attend this conference, apart from those mentioned above?

2. What was the overall cost (registration, travel, accommodation, etc.) to the City Council of its representatives attending the Eurocities 2010 conference.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Woods”

Can you please advise by return just what the current position is with this request, as well as when I can expect a reply.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Woods

Exuding the sense of opaque entitlement often found with a certain kind of ‘knowledge economy’ technocrat, somewhat cantankerous servant of the city Bennett – formerly the chief self-facilitating node at Bristol Media – has not even mentioned the Eurocities event on his blog since October (before it took place!), much less than offered any insights on what ‘the team’ learned there to us, the Great Unwashed of the city… Could this be because he and Babs got up to some unsavoury Spanish practices of their own at the taxpayer’s expense out there?

Stokes Croft versus Tesco

Right, so I’ve missed out on all the excitement, but anyhow, here’s the story so far on the campaign to prevent the old Jesters building on Cheltenham Road from getting turned into another Tesco Express…

8th February

11th February

12th February

13th February

14th February

20th February

15th March

16th March

17th March

18th March

19th March

20th March

23rd March

Related links

I leave the last word to Al Shaw from Redland People/Trym Tales:

“…I am surprised that on the official press release by Avon and Somerset Constabulary announcing the eviction the force find it necessary to assist Tescos in their PR campaign by quoting a Tesco spokesman uncritically in connection with the company’s desire to open the controversial store.

“It’s one thing for the police to enforce the decision of a court (which is part of their job); when they act as a mouthpiece for a huge company which is widely disliked and criticised by people from a range of social and economic backgrounds, it seems to me that the force has stepped over the wrong side of a line and manifested a poitical bias.”

[Edited to add links.]

The West Country’s whitest city? SWRDA thinks so…

Of course, the private sector doesn’t have a monopoly on trying to whitewash Bristol – unaccountable regional policy wonks at the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) fancy trying their hand at it too!

As anyone who has been through the back streets to get to Temple Meads train station will know, much of the area is boxed off with big purple boards, adorned with flashy, laminated adverts promoting all the good works SWRDA is doing for the local area. These, if you have ever been so bored as to look closely, are illustrated with the smiling faces of various people which SWRDA, it seems, believes best represent inner city Bristol. So you’ve got the communications director of an organic Somerset farm, and the Stroud-based boss of an electricity company – both white.

There’s also the touching tale of a ‘romantic rambler’ and his bride-to-be, a rock collector from Bristol (“We chose the ring the next day – I found a beautiful antique jewel which had to be mine. We celebrated by the waterside with bubbly from a local vineyard; the perfect end to an unforgettable weekend”) – again, both white.

In addition there’s various random people populating more generic boards in which the fine work of SWRDA in ‘Temple Quarter’ (“a multi-phase regeneration programme which is reinvigorating the heart of one of Europe’s leading commercial and cultural cities”) is trumpeted to the accompaniment of photos of white-teethed catalogue model types enjoying al fresco lattes or cycling or just generally being busy doing Very Important Things on schematics in offices – and guess what? All white!

Makes you wonder exactly what SWRDA is planning for the much-awaited ‘multi-phase regeneration programme’ in the ‘Temple Quarter’…

Yuppie developers say ‘Bristol’s all white for us’

Recession or no recession, there seems to be no let up in the breathlessly hyped world of property developments across our fair city. There’s hardly a plot of land not fenced in and surrounded by big glossy pictures of pretty models enjoying aspirational lifestyles – but just what sort of people are the developers trying to attract?

At Canon’s Marsh off Anchor Road, Crest Nicholson calls its development Harbourside. The advertising hoardings claim “inspiration from Bath’s classical Roman architectural history” (Eh? Do they realise where they are?) and promise “a new view of living”. Well, so long as you aren’t too dark skinned it would seem – all the models in its cosy scenes of hip urban dwelling are young and white.

Down on the Centre, at the foot of the refitted old Bristol & West tower, is the Broad Quay development, courtesy of property consultants Knight Frank and Lambert Smith Hampton. Here the slogan is “Be Close To Everything”; except – judging by the pale faces smiling out of the laminated boards – Black and Asian Bristolians.

Heading north we find ourselves on the outer edge of Montpelier at the old VW garage on the corner of Bath Buildings and Cheltenham Road. This is Essence, “an exciting collection of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments” being assembled (after a fashion – they appear to have run out of money) by Linden Homes. This 129 flat development celebrates its vibrant nature with hip names for its different sections, like ‘Vibe’, ‘Spirit’ and ‘Origin’ (I shit you not!); but again, some kind of unspoken colour bar prevents any non-caucasian faces from being featured enjoying life in the “distinctive and diverse” properties on offer.

Finally, let’s see what life in trendy young development-land has to offer south of the Centre… Wapping Wharf – tucked between Wapping Road and the new Museum of Bristol – is an Umberslade project, and is promoted with the tagline “Creating a thriving environment in a historic harbour setting”. Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? And the pictures really reflect the Floating Harbour’s heritage, with anchor chains and cranes and ropes and… Ermm… No non-white people?

So, what do you reckon – are the developers trying to tell us something? Perhaps we ought to be telling them something straight back.

Banksy stormed!

Banksy stormed!

In the early hours of this morning, Banksy’s ‘Mild Mild West’ on Stokes Croft in Bristol (UK) was repainted by a member of Appropriate Media, presenting an alternative version of this ‘alternative Bristol landmark’.

Through this action, Appropriate Media asks ?What is the value of street art??. How much time and money will be spent to restore this urban ‘masterpiss’ by urban masterpisser, Banksy.

Come on, you only care about it cos its a Banksy and he sells his lazy polemics to Hollywood movie stars for big bucks.

Come on, you only care about it cos makes you feel edgy and urban to tour round the inner city in your 4×4, taking in the tired coffee table subversion that graffiti has become.

Graffiti artists are the copywriters for the capitalist created phenomenon of urban art.
Graffiti artists are the performing spray-can monkeys for gentrification.
We call for the appropriate and legitimate use of public and private property.

We are taking matters into our own hands

We will not seek permission

We will retaliate

From Appropriate Media

ETA (1):

Just to clarify, I am not Appropriate Media, I just saw a post about it on Bristol IndyMedia – so anyone itching to dole out some death threats, hate mail, notes of congratulations or whatever, please bear this in mind 😉

ETA (2):

Some media coverage:

Bristol blogs on this:

‘National Squat Meet’ to take place in Bristol in March

National Squat Meet 09 flyer

NOW IS A PERFECT TIME TO SQUAT
Now is a perfect time to come together to share our collective creativity, rage, and pride in our cultural identity; to come together for ourselves and look to our future with solidarity and passion. Let’s meet and empower ourselves in our common struggle!

CRACKS ARE APPEARING…
We feel it necessary to meet at a time when those at the top are losing their grip to discuss ways we can work together to change our world from the bottom up. New spaces and opportunities are opening all around us and there is a growing potential for more widespread recognition of the need for autonomous housing action. The threat of eviction and homelessness hangs over more people every day. There are over a billion squatters in the world. Now is the time to build a stronger network of resistance.

THIS IS A CALLOUT
This is a callout for all those involved in securing and maintaining squats and autonomous spaces across the UK, and beyond, to meet and discuss issues that affect us all as a community. Following on from the hugely successful national meeting in Leeds last year, and many smaller local gatherings, that have happened throughout the year, this year’s meet up will be in the Bristol area. Please bring your positive energy, enthusiasm and thoughts to share skills and engage in open dialogue.

WE CAN CONSTRUCT A POSITIVE VISION OF THE WORLD
We hope to discuss ways of strengthening our network in defence of autonomous spaces, share success stories from last year’s day of action and formulate future plans and schemes for creative chaos! The agenda will be decided between us all on Friday evening. Please arrive early if possible to help us create the space. Any comments/ suggestions/ mad ideas please contact squatmeetup@googlemail.com

Squat Meet 09 blog

Ashley Road roof protest enters third week

Protesters have been camped out on the roof of 87 Ashley Road for two weeks today.

An open public meeting about the situation has been called for this Thursday, at 6.30pm at the St. Paul’s Learning Centre (or, erm, library).

Here’s the text of a leaflet as posted on Bristol IndyMedia:

On Thursday 27th of November an open public meeting is being held in The St Pauls Learning Centre at 6.30pm to discuss this situation. Supporters of the rooftop protesters will be in attendance to answer questions, respond to local concerns and open a dialogue with PfP.

Places for People are publicly invited to state and openly discuss what their intentions for 87 Ashley Road are. This will help assure everyone that they are in fact going to rehouse people on the housing waiting list.

We hope you can attend.
For further information contact:
Email: 87AshleyRoad@gmail.com
Phone:07722 786 379

Background:

On November 12th 2008 Places for People (PfP) executed an eviction order on 87 Ashley Road, a squatted building occupied by 20 people who have been made homeless by this action. This building was unused by PfP for four years and left empty until May 2008 when squatters working to house as many people as possible moved in.
PfP have refused all attempts to negotiate a mutually benifical agreement, repeatedly submitted incorrect possession claims to Bristol Magistrates courts and threatened illegal eviction. At one stage the sitting magistrate called PfPs representation “a right dog’s breakfast.”

As bailiff’s and builders working on behalf of Places for People entered the property several squatters moved onto the roof to resist eviction and have been there ever since.
As far as the courts are concerned the eviction has been served despite protesters being on the roof.

This press release is being written on the 14th day of continual rooftop occupation and is being sent to community groups and individuals in the St. Pauls area, and Places for People.

Builders have boarded up all normal exit points from the roof, leaving the roof protesters no safe, immediate access. PfP have instructed builders to render the property uninhabitable by removing ALL fixtures and fittings.

There are no planning applications currently under consideration by Bristol City Council for 87 Ashley Road. PfP have been vague about their intentions for the property, however they have mentioned plans that would not benefit anyone on the housing list.

The protest is part of a continuing concern over Places for People’s treatment of empty properties and it’s selling off of rental stock on the open market. PfP are selling properties via the “shared ownership” scheme while not replacing rental properties for those most in need. This will lead to an eventual return to the unaffordable rental market and a worse deal for low-income families seeking decent accomodation.