Tag Archives: St. Paul’s

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.]

‘For Lambros’ – Bristol commemorates Greek anarchist killed by police

Remembering Lambros Foundas, killed by cops in Athens

Things seem to be heating up around St. Paul’s and Stokes Croft. Yesterday saw a large public gathering to protest against the police-supported eviction of the Jesters social centre, readying it for another Tesco Express; this morning I noticed this graffiti and paint bombing on the side of Decourcy House, the Avon & Somerset Probation Area office on Upper York Street. It memorialises Lambros Foundas, a Greek anarchist shot dead by Athens police last Wednesday. There is an obituary on Act For Freedom Now!

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: 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.

Welcome to St. Paul’s

The Fuck You van

Local elections 09 – Bristol City Council gets LibDem overlords, no new Green

The minority LibDem leadership in Bristol City Council has been converted into a LibDem majority after yesterday’s local elections. The Green’s targeting of Ashley ward wasn’t enough to unseat sitting LibDem Dr Jolly Jon Rogers, despite Shirley Not’s CoconutGate race shenanigans threatening to complicate matters.

I’ve been busy on other matters lately, so here’s some handy links to other Bristol bloggers on the elections:

As a postscript, he’s the sum of all the politicking I’ve been subjected to in the trenches of St Paul’s…

Election campaign results from the BunKRS

Leaflets-through-the-door count (alphabetical):

  • BNP (Euro) 1
  • Green (BCC) 1
  • Labour (Euro) 2
  • No2EU (Euro) 1
  • UKIP (Euro) 1

Leaflets-seen-in-windows etc count (alphabetical):

  • All parties (BCC) 0
  • All parties (Euro) 0

Canvassers for BCC elections:

  • 0

Conversations about BCC elections with local neighbours:

  • 0

Conversations about BCC elections with others in Bristol:

  • 1

This is all down my ends of Ashley ward. Seeing as we were supposed to be some kind of battleground, I was surprised there was no doorstep business from Greens or LibDems, and only one leaflet from either! The nearest to any kind of canvassing was a Green who buzzed my flat asking to be let in to the block on a Sunday to deliver leaflets, but they didn’t knock on the door to talk or anything.

Watch out, watch out, there’s a thief about

Casing cars on Wilder Street

Apologies for the crappy photo – I was in a hurry to snap this chap and didn’t have time to put the flash on.

Last night I was turning my pootie off and caught this fellow out of the corner of my eye. He was cycling along the pavement on Wilder Street before circling round this car, ending up by the driver’s side. He had a good look inside whilst straddling his bike, even getting out a torch. Then he wheeled across the road and cased a couple more cars up Brunswick Street. If I see him again I’ll try and get a better shot of his face.

Fat batty and cider

A large-eyed bottle blonde woman and her weather-beaten faced male companion, walking a little too fast of a sunny Saturday morning:

Fat Cat… Fat Cat was there all night, sitting over a Magner’s… I told him, ‘he’s a batty boy’…

Local twittocracy

I came across a project called CllrTweeps earlier today. It intends “to compile the definitive list of UK councillors on Twitter, no more, no less.”

I noticed that there were no Bristol City Council members listed, so I emailed one of my ward councillors, Jon Rogers (LibDem), with the link. I pointed out that currently I know more about Northern Irish municipal affairs via Twitter than I do about what is going on in my own city by ‘normal’ means.

Anyway, Jon has now joined Twitter, so we shall see. I have also emailed local Green councillor Charlie Bolton to see if he was interested.

Obviously neither blogging nor twittering is a substitute for actual local democracy and accountability, but having spent the best part of two months reporting the same blocked drain to the council (officers, not councillors, I hasten to add), I am game to try anything.

ETA

Local councillors, MPs and other politicos now on Twitter:

  • cllr Alex Woodman: CllrAlexWoodman (Cabot ward, LibDem)
  • James Barlow: JamesBarlow (Conservative constituency chairman, Bristol West)
  • cllr Jon Rogers: CllrJonRogers (Ashley ward, LibDem)
  • Kerry McCarthy MP: KerryMP (Bristol East constituency, Labour)
  • cllr Mark Bradshaw: mark_bradshaw (Bedminster ward, Labour)
  • Paul Smith: BristolWestPaul (prospective Parliamentary candidate, Bristol West, Labour)
  • cllr Sean Beynon: seanbeynon (Southville ward, Labour)
  • cllr Terry Cook: terryrobc (Avonmouth ward, Labour)

T766 KCJ, the CTA2008, FIT, NETCU, BJP, Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all

Undercover police in unmarked car T766 KCJ on Wilder Street

Oh look, it’s our friends the undercover coppers! In their amazing undercover family estate once again! Yes, it’s the return of Avon & Somerset constabulary’s shiny unmarked Saab 9-5 stationwagon (registration T766 KCJ), today apparently being used to watch over Wilder Street and Brunswick Street. Information received relating to a daring doughnut heist, perhaps?

I thought they might stay longer, seeing as one of them unpacked his trunk:

Didn't your mother tell you that's disgusting, officer?

Of course, there may not be many more opportunities for further such pictorial mockery of the plod. From 16th February anyone who

(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—
(i) a member of Her Majesty’s forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) publishes or communicates any such information…

…will risk being accused of committing an offence under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

As the British Journal of Photography comments:

A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places. ‘Who is to say that police officers won’t abuse these powers,’ asks freelance photographer Justin Tallis, who was threatened by an officer last week.

Tallis, a London-based photographer, was covering the anti-BBC protest on Saturday 24 January when he was approached by a police officer. Tallis had just taken a picture of the officer, who then asked to see the picture. The photographer refused, arguing that, as a press photographer, he had a right to take pictures of police officers.

According to Tallis, the officer then tried to take the camera away. Before giving up, the officer said that Tallis ‘shouldn’t have taken that photo, you were intimidating me.’ The incident was caught on camera by photojournalist Marc Vallée.

"Artist's impression"

“Artist’s impression”

The image above [original picture removed at request of the photographer, Marc Vallée] is of the very incident described in the BJP, with the policeman in the Forward Intelligence Team jacket pulling on the camera cord around Justin Tallis’s neck. Photographer Marc Vallée has blogged in the first person about the incident.

Superintendent Steve Pearl, head of NETCUAnti-police state activist group FITwatch has, meanwhile, called for mass resistance to the act, and pledged to continue publishing photographs taken of FIT, EG and other police specialists. To underline this commitment, it has posted up a lovely photograph of Superintendent Steve Pearl, the head of NETCU, a police unit tasked with smearing political activists as terrorists.

In other news: The House of Lords has ruled that police forces can do whatever the fuck they like, against anyone, on a whim.

Further reading:

Edited 9/3/9 to correct the bloody title! :O

Criterion: April sentenced

April Bright, who was yesterday found guilty of the murder of Mohamoud Muse Hassan, was today sentenced to life, with a minimum tariff of twelve years.

She is eighteen years old.

Justice Roderick Evans, at Bristol Crown Court, said he hoped that, in handing down the minimum term of 12 years, it would deter other teenagers from equipping themselves with knives.

Sentencing Bright, the judge said there was no excuse for anyone to arm themselves with a knife.

“When you went out on carnival night you took with you a knife, that you told the jury was for your own protection,” he said.

“That is no possible justification for taking a knife.

“The carrying of knives is a matter of grave public concern and the presence of knives on our streets in clubs, pubs and in the hands of young people of your age so often leads to serious injury or in this case death.

“A slight, an insult, an inappropriate behaviour, real or imagined, so often leads to the production of a knife and to the consequences in this case.”

Bristol Evening Post

Criterion: April convicted

April Bright was convicted of the murder of Mohamoud Muse Hassan today. She has yet to be sentenced.

Shit graffiti rolleyes UK!

Shit 'political' graffiti on the CEED building

As being done on the side of CEED in St. Paul’s tonight.

The full text was eventually:

FUCK WAR

IRAQ BURNS
RAYTHEON EARNS

MAKE
LOVE
NOT WAR

ACID
NOT
BOMBS

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.

Criterion: The trial

Last year, the (mostly) annual St. Paul’s Carnival was put back from its usual slot in July to September, due to police pressure. In the early hours of Sunday 16th September following Carnival, a man died, having been stabbed at the Criterion pub on Lower Ashley Road. That man was Mohamoud Muse Hassan.

For the past week or so, a young woman has been on trial for his murder at Bristol Crown Court, having already admitted manslaughter. That woman is April Bright.

Today I went down to watch proceedings, for the simple reason that this happened in my neighbourhood, and that the accused is a neighbour. There’s not really much to say, except that it’s a sad case in which many lives have been touched in horrible ways.

This morning there were three witnesses. First was Ms Bright’s friend Courtney Wood, who was presented with a verbal statement he had made to police on the day of the killing, as well as a subsequent statement made this October. Mr Wood had great difficulty recalling details of the day after Carnival, of his talking with police that day, and of the October interview. He did, however, accept that Ms Bright had told him about the incident with Mr Hassan. He denied that she had told him that Mr Hassan had been sexually harassing her, though he said others had told him that. Mr Wood often answered questions “I don’t know,” or “I can’t really remember”.

The second witness was Roy Burnett. He had been at the Blue Mountain until the early hours of the Sunday morning. After leaving the club at around 2:40am, he headed down Wilder Street with a friend in a car, where he spotted Ms Bright with a man called Eldon. Mr Burnett approached Eldon, but he ran off. Mr Burnett asked Ms Bright to get him back, but according to him, she became aggressive and pulled out a large, kitchen-style knife, at which point he pushed her away by the throat, and then left the area. The defence suggested that he had punched her in the face, but Mr Burnett denied this, asking in retort, “Did she have any marks?”, and insisting he had pushed her away by the throat.

The third witness was Simon Curran. He had been at Carnival during the day with his girlfriend and her friend, and then later at the Blue Mountain. On leaving the Blue Mountain some time around 4am, the three walked down Wilder Street. Here there was an altercation with a young woman who broadly matched the description of Ms Bright, in which a large, kitchen-style knife was brandished, with which Mr Curran’s girlfriend was nicked in the face. Mr Curran had a distinctive way of talking. When asked a question, he would often preface his reply, “I believe I said in my statement…” He described the woman he came across on Wilder Street as “petite, slight.”

Also presented by the prosecution were witness statements from a friend of Ms Bright [ETA: Kasmira Conlon], who had been with her and her family for most of Carnival evening, and who had been in Tasties when two Somali men had been harrassing Ms Bright and her friends, and later at the Criterion when Mr Hassan staggered out of the pub with his neck wound. She was in the area still when the emergency services arrived, with the police taping off the scene. She saw Ms Bright there, and described her as looking “pissed off”.

One thing in particular from the day’s evidence does stick out: a statement from one police officer [ETA: PC Jeremy Cowburn] was read out. In it he detailed how he was on duty on the Sunday afternoon following Carnival, in the aftermath of Mr Hassan’s killing. He described being in a patrol car with a colleague, which had responded to a call on Brunswick Square. On leaving Brunswick Square, they drove up Upper York Street towards Stokes Croft, where he spotted Ms Bright and Mr Wood by the billboard at the junction of City Road, Stokes Croft and Upper York Street. The officer describes Ms Bright turning away from him as if to hide her face. The officer says he recognised her from having previously seen her picture. The police car turned left onto Stokes Croft, then all the way around the St. James’ Barton roundabout and up Stokes Croft again, and then turning right onto City Road, down which he could see Mr Wood walking on his own, with Ms Bright nowhere to be seen. It was here that Mr Wood is said to have told police that he had just been with Ms Bright, that she had told him about Mr Hassan’s death earlier that day, and that she had gestured with her hands in a manner which suggested a stabbing motion. Today Mr Wood could not recall such details.

Yet Upper York Street between Moon Street and City Road is one-way; only traffic either making a right turn from Stokes Croft or a left turn from City Road can turn down it. Traffic going up Upper York Street must turn left onto Moon Street, which leads to the North Street end of Stokes Croft outside the Blue Mountain and by St. James’ Barton roundabout.

The trial is still going on, so I guess I can’t really say much more about some of what went on in the court, or outside, or what happened around here when it was all going on last September. All in all it’s a sad little affair, with no winners.

The Evening Post’s reportage of the court proceedings:

My blog posts about the killing from last year:

Edited 5pm 25/11/08 for typos, to add names and latest Post link
Last edited 1pm 3/12/08 to add latest Post link