Tag Archives: Bristol City Council

The Bristolian is back! (slight return)

The Bristolian returns (again)

So, it seems that Bristol’s “favourite muck-raking scandal sheet”, The Bristolian, has returned (again).

Now in its third iteration (lovingly retconned to v4.0 through a quick history lesson that drags in James Acland’s 19th century anti-establishment rag serendipitously of the same name), there’s also a website to back it up, plus Twitter account and Facebook page. How terribly modern!

One gripe: first issue seems to be rather council-focused (I know, it does say ‘CRAP COUNCIL SPECIAL’ in big letters on the cover) – hopefully they shall be casting their net a little wider with future issues.

Anyway, there’s stuff on outgoing council capo Graham Sims getting a sweetheart deal from new Mayor George Ferguson, a new crap legal supremo replaces old crap legal supremo, and some righteous anger at adventure playgrounds & youth centres being dumped as large swathes of our public play facilities and services are privatised…

There’s a growing list of places to pick up paper copies (I suspect it will take a while to get it out though, so might be best to contact the Bristolian people first before trekking out).

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Bristol City Council ‘consultation’ on care services: “Keeping things as they are is not an option”

In line with central government’s desire to strip away services which provide a safety net for the most vulnerable amongst us whilst financially benefiting the richest in society, Bristol City Council is “seeking your views on the future of care services in Bristol”.

Hey, groovy! It’s a meaningless consultation exercise with predetermined parameters!

Reductions in funding for local services, coupled with the fact we are living longer – mean keeping things as they are is not an option. The changes being proposed reflect the demand for people to make their own choices about tailoring their care (personalisation). This will see the council becoming more of a commissioner of care services rather than a provider.

Consultation runs until the end of Feb and looks at day and residential care services.

Join the online debate on ASK Bristol

Cabinet Member Jon Rogers is reading all your comments and has joined the online discussion.

Perhaps it is less a case of “becoming a commissioner of care services” and more about providing “don’t care services”?

Of course, any similarity between the Liberal Democrats (party of national government) and the Liberal Democrats (party of city government) is of course a coincidence. It’s some other bugger’s fault cuts ‘have to be made’!

If you want to add your voice to the (obviously not pre-determined) consultation on either day care or residential care, you have until the end of February.

Obviously whatever necessary changes are ultimately put into effect it will be for the good of Harry, England and Saint Geo- sorry, I mean Bristol and the nation. Sacrifices have to be made, and if that means your Aunt Nelly has to get bashed about a bit in a private ‘home’ run by some carpetbagger who once threw a bung sideways at some snivelling party apparatchik’s election campaign, so be it. Think of the national interest!

Just make sure you and your loved ones never get sick, laid off or unable to pay your rent. Otherwise they’ll be going the same way as Aunt Nelly.

ETA:

Reminds me of the “there is no fifth option” warning trotted out during the trial of welfare-to-work prototype Project Work in the 1990s. There is always another option – where there is the political will backed up by action.

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?

Bristol’s Big Freeze: The word on the blogosphere

I thought I’d collect together all the local blog posts on the recent cold snap that I can find in one handy spot for your reading pleasure…

Aurea Mediocritas (Tony D)

Bristle’s Blog From The BunKRS

Bristol 24/7

Bristol Blogger

Bristol Traffic

Charlie Bolton’s Southville Blog

The Enemies Of Reason (Anton Vowl)

Eugene Byrne

Green Bristol Blog (Chris Hutt)

People’s Republic Of Stokes Croft

Stockwood Pete

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything out in the comments below, cheers 🙂

And wrap up warm!

Bristol’s Big Freeze: What would the good people of St. Petersburg do?

When the local authorities fail to get to grips with the snow and ice, it seems that people in St. Petersburg get out onto the streets and clear it themselves, whilst wearing masks mocking their governor Valentina Matviyenko.

Let’s hope conditions in Bristol don’t descend to the level of the Siege of Leningrad, or else we’ll all be chopping up panelling in the council chamber for firewood and going on frenzied flesh hunts through the zoo.

Whether we should be doing this whilst wearing Jan Ormondroyd or Babs Janke masks is up for debate.

Bristol’s Big Freeze: Snow joke in St. Paul’s – council abandons inner city Bristol (again)

I see that Councillor Jon Rogers (Executive Member, Transport & Sustainability) has been getting stuck into tackling ungritted pavements in Bristol. He spent forty minutes last night with local blogger Chris Hutt, gritting footpaths around Queen’s Road.

That’s Queen’s Road. In Clifton.

I look forward to seeing Councillor Jon Rogers (Ashley Ward) doing the same in St. Paul’s in the near future. Because the council he helps lead certainly doesn’t look like getting down to it anytime this side of summer.

Meow! What’s prompted this rather uncharitable assessment of Cllr Rogers’ Blitz-style, everyone-pitch-in-together gesture?

Pull up a chair, and I’ll tell you…

You could be mistaken for thinking that Britain had been visited by the horsemen of the Apocalypse judging by the institutional paralysis that the recent snow visited across our fair isles has caused. The failure of local authorities to adequately prepare for what has been, in all honesty, a fairly mild few days of snow and frost is both sadly expected and wholly needless. The weather was predicted accurately, the UK is a socially advanced state with a multi-layered and complex infrastructure, and the resources to deal with any big freeze are available.

But then the capacity to deal with a problem is no guarantee that the problem will be dealt with, certainly not in Bristol.

The snow began before Christmas, and then eased off. Gritting took place in the mornings, and Bristol rumbled on. Come the 5th January, though, and the people whom we pay to run our city on our behalf failed us. The snow began light, but continued through the day. It then continued through the night, heavier and heavier. We awoke on Wednesday morning to a chocolate box cover, a twinkly cityscape beneath a fluffy white blanket. It looked beautiful; it was not to last. There had been no widespread gritting this time, so roads had quickly become impassable. Bus services across the entire city were cancelled. Schools and workplaces were forced to shut down. Things ground to a halt.

A little personal side: I visited my parents in their small village over Christmas. They told me of similar inertia on the part of their own local council. The whole village had been ignored by gritting lorries, so my father rang up the council. ‘Why hasn’t our village been gritted?’ ‘We’re prioritising main roads, sir,’ came the reply. ‘But there’s a main road through the village!’ ‘I mean bus routes, sir.’ ‘But there are two bus services that use this road!’ ‘Ah, I mean main bus routes, sir.’ Or, to decode the municipal gentility, ‘Fuck you, prole – we’ll grit where the fuck we want.’

I live in St. Paul’s, which is in Ashley Ward. We’re not important enough to be gritted. I mean, sure, Stokes Croft has been gritted, leading up to Cheltenham Road and the Gloucester Road – a main artery into and out of the city. But what about the Frontline – Grosvenor Road and Wilder Street – which links the Easton end of the neighborhood with the city centre end? Nada. The same with Portland and Brunswick Squares, which are our interfaces with Cabot Circus and Broadmead. And you can definitely forget any of the side roads, the residential streets zigzagging across our densely packed ends.

Now, fair enough, priorities have to be made. I can understand that there are primary routes which need to be kept open before other roads can be dealt with. But the whole of St. Paul’s has – again – been ignored, and regardless of the potential for catastrophic accidents.

For example, the corner of Cave Street and Wilder Street. Cave Street leads off Portland Square, and gives way to Wilder Street. It inclines down onto Wilder Street, and visibility is restricted by Balloon Court to the north and Cave Court to the south. The junction has (obviously) not been gritted, and is now a dangerously slippery ice rink. All day long since Wednesday cars, vans and trucks have been caught out by the conditions on that junction, many sliding right across the road, some spinning out completely, often only narrowly avoiding other vehicles or – even more frighteningly – pedestrians. At least one car has slid across the entire width of Wilder Street and crashed into the fence enclosing the car park opposite. And let’s not even get onto the subject of pavements – because the council certainly hasn’t. I’ve lost count of how many people have fallen flat on their arses on the corners of Wilder Street and Brunswick and Cave Streets.

It seems that it is only going to be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured in St. Paul’s – or worse. Much worse.

So, because it seems unlikely that Bristol City Council will get round to protecting local people by gritting in St. Paul’s, I’ve been getting on with it myself. This afternoon after work I made a start, taking two hours to drag back four bin loads of salt from the grit store opposite McDonald’s, which seems to be the nearest to us (obviously, there are no grit bins actually in St. Paul’s*). There is now a rudimentary path on the eastern pavement of Wilder Street between Cave Street and the entrance to Cave Court flats, a well-gritted corner on Brunswick Street, as well as other patches through the ice across the mouth of Brunswick Street, at the entrance to the cemetery and on the path between Bond Street and Brunswick Square.

Passersby were keen to pass on their opinions of the council and its policy (or lack thereof) on gritting as I was doing this. One particularly angry local man walking back into St. Paul’s with his family talked of big public meetings, liability for preventable accidents, putting politicians out of office and those kinds of thing. He was particularly unimpressed that our local councillor was out gritting in Clifton whilst St. Paul’s people slipped on untreated pavements and roads. As we were talking his son slipped flat on his back trying to negotiate a particularly icy corner of Brunswick Square.

With an absentee, race jibe councillor on the one hand, and another, Clifton-preferring councillor on the other, one wonders what it would take for St. Paul’s to get noticed by its own representatives. I suspect that Jon Rogers’ new Facebook page will not be what local residents are looking for.

* Don’t believe me? Then check out this map of grit bins in relationship to St. Paul’s. It’s based on the Bristol City Council’s own map of grit bins across the city, and St. Paul’s Unlimited Partnership’s map of St. Paul’s.