31 Oct 2006

Friends of St Georges Parks 1st Meeting

Update: 9th of November 2006.

A big thank you to all who attended the meeting. As I entered the hall I was taken aback by the enormous support shown for our Parks. The Beehive Centre was literally packed and as I found, broadly representative.

I found the advice by our council officers very useful and the positive comments made by the majority extremely helpful.

We were told of the many other parks that had organised themselves and found sources of funds ranging up to £100,000 in one year.

My special thanks to Stella, who organised the exhibit featuring the history of our park, Grenville, our esteemed retired local headmaster who I think spoke very eloquently about the park, helping us younger ‘folk’ (as he would say) to get some perspective on its heyday and our aspirations and thanks to our ‘tea ladies and gentleman’. Oh yes, and to the majority who offered their support either to steer or to help practically.

Mr Ben Sullivan our community beat officer sent his apologies as he was away training and filled in our survey on which he ticked every box and stated his full support.

We now have a rather healthy database and with the other identified groups that I shall contact we are on our way.

I do ask that we all spread the word and for all interested parties to get in touch.

Please post your comments. I will keep this blog up to date with our progress. I hope to have compiled the data and organised the interested parties within two weeks.

31st of October 2006
As we go to press we have organised the first meeting of a new "Friends of St Georges Parks" group for November 9th at the Beehive centre. This is in response to the large numbers of people willing to be involved and help look after our parks and green spaces as a result of our on going survey.

The council the police and local experts are all supporting this new group which we hope will not just sit around for years begging for money but organise practical things in our parks such as regular litter pick-ups, community events, campaign for improvements, liaise with schools and other community groups as well as take action to see that these services are supported by our council in the future. Already several local people have made suggestions of the kinds of activities and campaigns that the group could organize. Please contact me if you want to become involved, have your own expertise to offer or would like a copy of our survey.

24 Oct 2006

Kensington Road Residents Association & Neighbourhood Watch

The association was formed two years ago with the aim of supporting and celebrating our community. We have our own mission statement that aims to address any issues that affect our community and the residents who live in the road. The overall aim is to support each other and improve the quality of life and our environment.

We maintain the timeless values of being friendly, polite and being good neighbours. We meet regularly to discuss any issues that arise and aim to work in close partnership with the Police, the Council and any other relevant agencies, in order to represent the needs of all the residents who make up our lively and diverse community. All meetings are informal, but we take minutes and maintain an agenda. I regularly produce news letters which are circulated to all the residents to keep everyone up to date.

Earlier this year in 2006 we were awarded the Neighbourhood Watch Award from Avon & Somerset Constabulary, (Urban category) and I was awarded the coordinators award. When I received the award from the Chief Constable I was proud to do so on behalf of the whole community, as it recognised our team efforts.

We are currently addressing two main issues of concern, our connecting footpath and the replanting of the trees on our road. (Please check the comments attached to this post for more information.)

On a personal level, (and the following views are not intended to reflect those of our residents group,) what is now evident to me is that the councillors are refusing to work cooperatively and collaboratively for the sake of our city and its residents. There seems to be a total lack of vision for Bristol and our area. Bristol council in my view needs a good shake up, and the councillors and officers need to realise that they are working for the city and its citizens, and that they are charged with considerable responsibilities, but are privileged to represent such a lovely city. Sadly, it is declining rapidly and they need a wake up call.

I was born 57 years ago and raised in St. George, and have lived in the area and worked in Bristol all my life. Until my retirement two years ago I was a Primary Head teacher. I have seen our city and St George decline over many years. It has fantastic potential, but needs the support of a Councillor with vision and a dynamic approach to tackling the issues of concern that affect us as residents in this area of St. George.

For me, it is so refreshing to hear from Angelo, and his vision for the area. As an addition, he lives in St. George and really knows the area and has clearly demonstrated that he wants real changes and positive improvements but also he takes a "hands-on" approach.

We rarely see or hear from our elected Councillors (except when elections are on the agenda or when we contact them with concerns) and they are certainly not high profile in my view.

Come on Bristol we can do it!

The motto for the city used to be "Ship - shape and Bristol fashion " Its time to clear the decks of Bristol City Councils clutter and sail with real pride and vision.

Other cities are leaving us in the docks!!

Grenville Johnson. Secretary Kensington Road Residents Association & Neighbourhood Watch.

Down Your Street

Dragons Walk Footpath:

A disabled resident of Ventnor Road told us that because of trees overhanging the lane that links Ventnor with Holmes Hill Road she had to walk the long way around. It was impossible to pass as we found it.

Having reported it to the council and seen no response after three weeks we took positive action and trimmed it back ourselves.

We find it to be unacceptable that a public footpath was allowed to become impassable for months on end for the sake of 15 minuses of work with a hedge trimmer.

The tenants news letter ‘Inside Housing’ recently explained that until now, the council have not had a co-ordinated way of maintaining all the trees on land managed by neigbourhood and housing services. They have now teamed up with Culture and Leisure Services to look after the 15,000 trees on public lands in Bristol.

If you have concerns about trees around you, either contact me or call council officer Jonathon Pattison on 0117 9664605.

Fly-tipping that we have reported:
Naseby Walk, Albert Grove South and Plummers Hill (Pre-fab estate) as well as the lane between Kensington Road and Battenburg Road see upcoming post about ‘The Kensington Road Residents Association’ that is campaigning to improve the street and clear up this lane. There is an appalling amount of fly-tipping around the ward, is it my imagination or has the tipping increased since the two weekly rubbish collection?

Street Lighting issues we have reported:
The lack of street lighting and an uneven path at Sycamore Close which is a hazard especially for the elderly and disabled people living along it and a streetlight on Beaufort Road which was reportedly obscured by overhanging trees from the cemetery.

21 Oct 2006

Plummers Hill Field

Plummers Hill Field:

The issues with this large open public space were drawn to our attention by local people horrified at the amount of fly-tipping, vandalism and antisocial behaviour associated with the field in recent months. The effect of this and the lack of imaginative use has been to put local people off enjoying its benefits.

In September we contacted the council on behalf of the residents. In particular to clear up a disgusting unhygienic ‘den’ including an abandoned boat which was attracting crowds of youngsters indulging in under age drinking and minor arson. See the picture.

Assistant Community Park Manager (East) Bristol Parks, Claire Adams gave us this reply on the 4th of October 2006. “On 27 September I asked our contractors to clear the den and any flytip from Plummers Hill O/s. I have also arranged for the BMX ramps, which have been dug in the park to be levelled and made safe. Youths digging holes in the park for bike ramps has become a new problem for us across the East of Bristol and is being reported to the ASB team. Currently we are filling in the holes and making the area safe as soon as the holes are seen or reported. It is very disappointing that the police are observing but taking no action.”

The council acted promptly to our report and have also put additional gates at the entrance to Plummers Hill to stop motorbikes from being driven in. (Picture, Angelo talking to local youngsters who have ideas for a five aside pitch.)

(Update 26/10/06) Sadly there have been recurring problems with the availability of the key to the gate. A couple of months ago hooligans started a fire and emergency services were unable to access the field and only the other day a council contractor drove in to cut the grass and left the gate locked in the wide open position. Residents from the nearby estate have suggested that a ‘responsible tenant’ should hold a key to avoid these sorts of issues in the future.

We are hopeful that the new ‘Friends of St Georges Park Group’ will adopt this open space and that local residents will campaign for improvements. A little ‘under age thinking’ gave us the idea that a simple 5 a side football pitch marked out in the small field would encourage local children and their parents to make more use of the space. Perhaps this could be linked by the city parks review into some sort of little league like the ones on the Downs. Other ideas are more community events in the field to encourage community participation and discourage yobbish behaviour.

(Update 20/11/2006) There are continuing problems with motorbikes etc. getting in to the fields. There are currently five entrances including the unofficial one through the hedge at Naseby Walk.

We have been told by the police beat manager PC Ben Sullivan that funding has been secured for a permanent gate to block the Cecil Avenue entrance. The council also agreed back in February this year to fence off the Naseby Walk entrance.

PC Sullivan shares our frustration that these pending improvements to our security are taking so long for the council to implement, especially bearing in mind the extra costs resulting from the on going vandalism, fly-tipping and wasting of police time.

18 Oct 2006


I have to report a great discussion with Professor Tariq Modood, MBE, from the University of Bristol’s department of Sociology, on the issues around racial equality.

He helped to flesh out the subject for me with which I have some breadth of understanding. I have broadly come away with two main articulations.

Firstly the notion of equality not uniformity that is the laudable English tradition as opposed to say the French or American greater tendency to equality by conformity. Based around the foundation of equal citizenship (Oh, you didn’t know it was unequal? Post a comment if you want more.)

And secondly and this is a personal comment that the above being so and its implied rights to the individual, a main secondary issue is of security and appropriateness. I am a biker. It was not always so, but now if I go to a petrol station I am usually required to take of my helmet and there are often detailed signs pointing this out. At first I resented this, but I understood it and I respect it.

Some people from all quarters and for different reasons fear the veil. My esteemed friend reports that a cross section of wearers reveals a majority of teenagers rebelling who’s own mothers do not wear the veil and furthermore are embarrassed by their children’s behaviour.

I welcome all views; I do not believe in sweeping difficult issues under the carpet, please send me your views.

I feel that a combination of straight talk, at the petrol station or in front of an official, if asked to remove your helmet or veil, either do it or don’t shop there and on the other hand talking about it takes it out of the realm of the decent Muslim families embarrassment and into a perhaps more realistic perspective of teenagers will protest and dress up as mods, punks, with hoodies and veils.

Bearing in mind the issues that we all face, we need to save ourselves from future misunderstandings. Lets talk about this.

When I encounter tensions in my local community, I wonder why our officials have not been more vocal and communicative with the respective community leaders. Keep me informed and I shall keep you posted, let us not be beaten by ignorance.

I do not apologise for summarising here, this is by no means a finished statement, it is an invitation to discussion.

17 Oct 2006

Vital Footpath Saved

Residents of the Whitehall Avenue/Plummers Hill Pre-Fab estate braved the rain to celebrate after receiving assurances from Bovis Homes that their vital footpath link through to St Georges Park and the Church Road shops will be saved in Bovis’s new development.

Earlier this year residents petitioned the council to keep the footpath between Whitehall Avenue and Howard Avenue open. For the elderly and disabled people living on the estate it is their only direct route to the shops, the library and the park. However the council’s original correspondence did nothing to allay their fears that the residents might lose their path.

St George West Conservatives contacted Bovis and received this assurance from their manager Alan Cook. “We are very concerned to reassure residents that we will maintain free access through our new development for pedestrians and cyclists. The footpath will close TEMPORARILY when work starts, but I will make sure that the builders understand the importance of the access and reopen it as soon as possible.”

Angelo says, “ I have seen the plans (see picture) and the new pedestrian access closely follows the route of the existing footpath. I am very grateful to ‘Bovis Homes’ for being so helpful in reassuring the residents and keeping in touch with them while the new houses are being built.”

This project is an estate of 106 houses some of which are ‘affordable social housing’ on land sold to Bovis by the city council after the rebuilding of the old pre-fab estates. Anyone interested can look at the planed at the planning office behind the council house application number 06/02890/F.

11 Oct 2006

No Speed Humps On Church Road Thanks To Campaign!

We had a fairly satisfactory meeting with Mr Steven Bird of the highways department. Mr Bird was kind enough to help put things into perspective. I have to spend some times with my Dictaphone but I promise to post a more thorough update soon.

Broadly Mr Bird conveyed the good news that there would be no speed sofas on Church Road and that we would be getting satellite controlled bus time information at our stops and via SMS on our phones!

Are these the sweeteners?

So far Mr Bird has been very kind and we applaud him. He has promised to communicate with me and I hope to receive a schedule of works and procedures soon.

So for the moment, it seems that our voices are being heard if we bother and we should stop whinging. All we need to do is enter the debate with our Mr Bird who says that his agenda is only the laudable one of encouraging environmentally friendly transport.

Makes me glad I didn't show him plan B, 'NO 24 Hour Bus Lane!'

Feel free to print our poster and display it if you live or work along the bus route or will be affected by the proposed alterations.

Let us talk of upgraded parking behind our high street and what this could mean for the improvement of our derelict lanes along this route and so on. Suggestions anyone?

Lets ask him for a tram! ;-)

UPDATE: 31st of October 2006
Have you got the hump? Residents of St. George West have, over the councils (increasingly sneaky looking) plans to impose unnecessary speed humps as part of the so called "showcase bus route", speed humps which mysteriously do not appear on their original plans but which are being advertised on your nearest lamppost!

Now, as we go to press, residents of QUEENS ROAD and THE AVENUE are worried that they will have a speed hump or humps imposed on them as part of speed restrictions resulting from the proposed alterations.

We say, "NO BUS LANE THROUGH ST.GEORGE!" Go into the advice shop on Church Rd opposite Tescos, tell the council what you think. Put up a "No 24 hr" or "No Peak Hr bus lane" poster in your window. Sign our petition in local shops or by sending your name and address to my e-mail (top right of this site). Come to the council house on Tuesday December 5th at 2pm to tell the councillors imposing this on us exactly how you feel. (Contact me and I will advise you how to do this.)

Update 14th of November 2006
Feel free to print out our petition and canvass for signatures. Please return any signatures before December the 5th