11 Sep 2007


By Stella Hender: Update 11th of September: Tonight's full council meeting is the first one ever to be web cast (we will have a link asap) and guess what, some lazy bleeping councilors of tried to CANCEL the meeting! The Lib Dem whip Mark Baily tried to pressurise councilors and officers to abandon the meeting on the grounds that there was not enough business on the agenda after the Summer break.

For a change, Stephen McNamara the town clerk stepped in as a champion of local democracy and told them that it was a scheduled council meeting which the public were taking part in and he could not cancel it.

Back bench councilors now receive £11,000.00 per year of our tax payers money (each) and the 10 council meetings are the only ones that they are legally obliged to attend in order to receive that salary. That's £1,100.00 per meeting!!!

Trust the "'Liberal' 'Democrats'" to instigate this action. Earlier this year they already tried to reduce the number of council meetings from 10 to 6! That would be £1833.33 per meeting!

The full council meeting is the only opportunity that the public have (that's you and I folks) to see in action and make representations to, the full council.

Is it a coincidence that the very first meeting scheduled to be web cast is the one the Lib Dems wanted to cancel? They would not wish us to be able to so easily see that their behaviour in the chamber is at best that of naughty school children and at worst, animals in the zoo (though a lot less interesting).

Update additional:
At the first web cast meeting, the Liberal Democrat group on Bristol city council bizarrely, but quite deliberately, made themselves the enemies of Bristol's large student population, and in the process may have lost their MP Stephen Williams' chances of keeping his seat(Bristol West) at the next general election.

Despite having ten councillors in the "Clifton" wards which are the home of many hundreds of students of Bristol University, and 2 in Lockleaze, where students for UWE live, they put a motion to council to support an Early Day Motion in Parliament which specifically calls for the licencing of "student properties" to make them easier to control in the planning process, so that they will not all necessarily be concentrated in these wards.

Not surprisingly, this singling out of students and clearly naming them as being responsible for problems such as noise, anti social behaviour, rubbish, extra cars,etc, was not appreciated by the Student Union, who sent a delegation to the council to forcefully argue their case. They wanted cllrs to omit the part of the motion that mentioned the EDM about students,which was an amendment put forward by the Labour cllrs. (Even though the EDM was being placed before parliament by a Labour MP!)

The Conservative cllrs all voted with the Lib Dems.
The student leader said to "Eyes Right" outside, "If the words 'black' or 'Jewish' were used instead, they would not dare to support it." (the EDM.)

However, the most shocking scenes came when the amendment had been lost and the students left the public gallery. Without exception, the whole "Liberal" "Democrat" group began to gesture, heckle and jeer at them, with shouts of "oh, poor little loves, we'll put your fees up next year" and so on. Such scenes are a disgrace to local democracy and it remains to be seen whether this episode will be screened on the web cast. "Eyes Right" will make a protest if it is censored out!

10 Sep 2007

The Forgotten Estate

I am very pleased that members of my team have helped residents of the re-built pre-fab estate (Whitehall Rd/Plummers Hill) start up their own newsletter called "The W.A.S.P"

(Whitehall Rd & Ave, Alder Drive, Sycamore Close & Plummers Hill) Because this estate has a large number of elderly and disabled residents and no warden.


This newsletter is designed for them to keep in touch with one another and share their problems, give help and advice, organise meetings, days out, and advertise useful local events and services.

Residents are taking it in turns to edit and write the newsletter, which is funded by local donations, and not influenced by the council or any politician.
One of the first questions the W.A.S.P. asked was , did anyone who signed the petition for improvements on the estate, which I handed in to the council in June, get an answer? Within a few minutes of delivering the newsletter, a resident handed us a letter from IAN CRAWLEY, Director of Housing, dated August 9th. This was the ONLY letter received by anyone as far as we know.

This letter is promising footpath improvements on Plummers Hill, Alder Drive and Whitehall Rd, as well as one of the entrances on Plummers Hill, when they have received quotes from contractors.
(As yet no work has been started.) Well, this is a start, although they have ignored the request for the lanes at Sycamore Close to be looked at, or the other two entrances on Plummers Hill!

Apparently the council are also re-acting promptly to reports of individual blocked drains on the estate, which is good news.
By far the most interesting part of the letter is the fact that the works are being organised by an estate manager for Bristol North, Andy Baynton. Mr. Baynton is based at Southmead, so we can only speculate as to why he has been put in charge? Could it have been the total lack of response from the local housing office over the last two years? Whatever the reason, things seem to be moving at last, and I am sure "The W.A.S.P." will continue to buzz around bringing news and advice and chasing the council over the many problems the residents of the re-built pre fabs are experiencing.

I am particularly pleased to see that BOVIS HOMES have agreed to use the newsletter as a way of regularly informing local people of the progress of their new estate, which will be built over the next two years.

Update 17th September 2007:
Following on from the above, we have news of a major success as a direct result of the residents petition which I presented to the council. Sycamore Close is at last having their unsafe path completely repaired and resurfaced with tarmac, after 5 years of complaining.

All the paths in the estate are to be spot repaired with concrete to make them less hazardous. The council has also promised to build proper kerb stones at an entrance to the estate from Plummers Hill to stop mud and stones washing over the path every time it rains.

They are also promising to look into the other issues raised by the petition. Indeed the director of housing Ian Crawley has stated that he will look into the background of the problems faced by residents and take a personal interest.

We hope that these promises will be kept and will be monitoring the progress or otherwise of these long awaited improvements.

Update 25th October 2007:

Success from our petition: Contractors have actually been to cost up and give the council a quote for the works on the lanes.

W.A.S.P. newsletter has commented that the residents hope that the council will look at the quotes and see that it makes more financial sense to completely renovate and not just spot repair these lanes.

The bad news is that Bovis Homes has yet to respond to recent queries regarding the recent closure of the residents vital footpath link through to Howard Avenue.

Last year Bovis Homes promised us that they would keep this access way open for the many elderly and disabled locals who rely on this shortcut to the park and shops. I hope that they are not reneging on this promise made by Alan Cook their technical services director. We are waiting to hear of their reply to W.A.S.P.

More bad news for the council tenants on the estate. The council has recently told individual tenants that council workers will no longer come out to replace their security light bulbs. They say that it is now the tenants responsibility, but no one has had anything in writing about this change in their tenancy agreements.

The security lights are over six feet up the wall and therefore virtually impossible for those who are disabled to change without help. in view of the fact that we are so concerned these days to help the elderly/disabled to live in their own homes and enjoy a secure environment, we think this is disgraceful.

As usual one step forward two steps back for the forgotten estate. As we are constantly reminding them (the council), perhaps we should rename it the forgettable/ignored estate.

Add to this the councils latest wheeze to charge these and 2,500 other similar tenants £3.50 per week for their emergency alarm system. You would be forgiven for thinking that the council would have them all just, shut up and die.