- Parking. There was a long discussion about problem parking. We clarified that the Council traffic wardens have responsibility for enforcing yellow lines. Where there is parking not on yellow lines (including junctions), this is the responsibility of the Police, who will deal with it as an obstruction (if it is!). This includes junction parking which is causing danger, parking blocking the pavement or parking blocking dropped kerbs. Call on the non-emergency number (0845 456 7000) or contact the Cotham beat team.
- Parks. We talked about young people congregating in parks, especially Redland Green, at night, drinking and making lots of noise. The Police outlined the process they use to deal with persistent problems, but also talked about the challenges of addressing the problem. They appealled for information to be given to them about particular time or locations and they agreed that they would try to increase their patrols.
- Waste, especially students. It was noted that the situation concerning end-of-year student waste was much improved this year. I reminded the meeting that the universities and the Council had been working together to provide special collection services to remove fly-tipping outside houses. I also described the new booklet which the University of Bristol has produced for students moving into the community. It was agreed that it would be helpful for Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators and others to have access to these in the run up to September when the next generation of students will be moving in. If there is any remaining fly-tipping from this year, it needs to be called in to the Council's Customer Services on 0117 922 3838 or email@example.com, explaining that it is student rubbish.
- Hedges. Residents pointed out that the wet summer meant that lots of pavements and footpaths are blocked by over-enthusiastic bushes, hedges and trees in people's gardens. The Council can apply pressure to householders to cut them back and this should also be reported to Customer Services as above. I have been asked particularly to look at the footpath off Redland Road towards Chapel Green Lane and I have started this process.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Sunday, 24 August 2008
There should hopefully also be signs too on the entrance pillar to the station car park and within the Clifton Down shopping centre.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
The plan at the moment is to do the following :
- Add a new 'springie' for toddlers in the sand pit
- Add a 'low rotator' roundabout near the climbing equipment
- Add a concrete table tennis table for older children (and adults!)
- Remove the redundant basketball pole
- Retarmac the area where the surface is poor
The existing equipment has also been repainted and the drainage problems are also being looked at. We are also working on getting the trees and bushes cut back a little. I am very positive about the makeover this should give to the play area. The current equipment was the initiative of former Lib Dem councillor Anne White, when she lived locally and it's nice to have a small role in the improvements now ten years on.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Thursday, 14 August 2008
It's the same story each August, with someone (usually the Tories or a right-wing journalist) claiming that they are getting easier every year. In fact, it's usually the same Tory or journalist who spends the other 51 weeks of the year complaining how school standards are dropping! This begs the obvious question of what they would say if the results got worse...
The first thing I would say is that the day should be given over to the (usually) young people and their families and the teachers who've worked hard to help them learn. For many it is a great day, without public figures sniping from the sidelines. For others it is disappointment that they haven't done as well as hoped, and the last thing they need to hear is that A Levels are getting easier. So please put a sock in it those who would seek to detract.
The second thing I would say is that A Levels are changing, but this is a good thing. It would be a very hard position for someone to argue that teaching methods and facilities were better a generation or two ago. Our young people are learning different things in different ways now, and in some subjects there is simply a lot more to learn. To try and compare an A Level today with even those I took in 1991 is a fool's errand of the first order.
"I've asked you before about making sure you don't mix your cans with plastic", he said. "Please try to get it right..."
Once I'd explained that it wasn't my house, I encouraged him to have a word with the real resident. Afterwards I realised that I'd been told before that SITA collectors do challenge residents who don't recycle correctly, but I'd never seen it in action. Well done SITA man!
It amazes me walking around on collection day how many houses don't get it right despite the regular literature from the Council. Maybe we need a new approach. The problem is that the stuff that isn't being sorted properly often ends up in landfill and not being recycled at all.(In response to the bristol blogger's comment below, let me clarify that the person had the 'wrong' waste in their black bin, not that they had simply mixed cans and glass.)
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
'Policy Exchange' was set up by Tory MP Michael Gove and Cameron has been using it as a test-bed for loads of their vapid 'policies' (what they 'exchanged' them for, I'm not quite sure, but I could make some suggestions!). It's also been closely aligned to the truly odious Boris Johnson as well.
So, if the Tories get their way, we can expect a wave of immigrants from the frozen wastes of the north to arrive shortly. Whether this is on top of the 35,000 homes which Bristol is supposed to be adding in order to meet demand is not yet clear! Think of our poor Green Belt. Apart from being nonsense, this is dreadfully offensive and I am glad that sensible Labour and Lib Dem politicians have been busy today rubbishing the report and its authors.
In a nice twist, 'Policy Exchange' is the former employer of London-based Tory apparatchik standing in Bristol North West, Charlotte Leslie. One wonders if David Cameron's faux rejection of the report as "insane" applies to all the 'Policy Exchange' reports, like the ones she helped with, or just the ones that get bad press coverage...
David Cameron : "I've got some magic beans. What policy could I exchange them for?"
Policy Exchange : "How about some media-friendly nonsense about improving public services while cutting taxes and blaming poor people?"
David Cameron : "That's certainly insane - I'll take it. Thanks a million!"
Friday, 8 August 2008
Without rewriting my speech for you, the basic thrust of my thinking is that we currently as a city, and probably as a nation, place too much weight on heritage and not enough on sustainability, especially within planning law. One of the first pieces of casework that I did as a newly-elected councillor was to try to support a resident who wanted to put solar panels on his roof, but was being blocked because his house is a Listed Building. In reality, the panels would only have been seen for about 30 metres in one direction... and I don't even think they are that ugly.
Don't get me wrong. I am not some architectural philistine who would tear up our historic buildings on a whim. However, if we are going to fight climate change, we need to accept that the way we act has also got to change and if this means swapping a nice view to save some carbon, then I think we need to look at it carefully. The comment I often make flippantly to people is "there is no point have historic buildings if they are under three foot of water". It's a deliberately silly and provocative statement, but there is an element of reality to it. We need buildings to be 'living' and to be able to adapt to the times we are in, not be set in aspic in the 1830s.
In my speech I also touch on the issue of financial support for climate change adaptations. There is an interesting political question here. On the Select Committee, the Lib Dems and the Green Party argued that grants should be offered to all residents who wanted to make adaptations like installing insulation. Labour argued that it should only be poorer people who benefited. I can see both arguments. On the one hand, we believe that climate change needs radical solutions and that not all people in historic houses are rich enough to pay for the expensive forms of work which are needed to insulate them. On the other hand, there is a good case for helping the poorest people first as there is the added benefit of cutting their fuel bills. My view, on balance, is that I think we are going to need to hold our noses and do things were aren't entirely comfy with if we are going to stop climate change getting any worse than it already is.
Otherwise, I am just left waiting to find out what the consultation reveals. I have confirmed with Mark Bradshaw that this will be publicly-available, although he wasn't sure in what format when I spoke with him. I have asked for maps where we can see different levels of response and support for the ideas.
(And yes, I do have a black eye - over-enthusiastic cricket celebrations and probably the most silly sporting injury I've ever sustained!)