Thursday, 27 November 2008
The meetings are really useful, both in terms of creating a constructive dialogue between the different parties, as well as specific problem-solving initiatives. Of note this time is that the Students' Union are producing a community strategy about how they interact with residents and others for implementation in the near future. As part of this, they will be recruiting reps for specific roads and areas who can be a point of contact for residents and councillors. All sounds great and all power to their elbows!
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
I'm finding it a useful update about what kit is out there and what's being developed at the moment. Really interested to hear about the new generation of combined PV and thermal solar panels. Have also been talking to local companies about subsidised renewables for schools and community co-operatives... more about these another time.
With all this good work going on, it's a real shame that Bristol is dragging its heels on on-site renewables. I managed to get cross-party agreement back in June for a radical new approach to new building developments. However, nothing has been done by the Labour administration to take this forward, not even setting up a working group of experts to develop the details.
Got to dash - workshop on microgeneration!
Thursday, 20 November 2008
We had a great turnout - maybe 100 people. The meeting was a good scene-setter, but I think a few people were frustrated about not getting their questions answered. This is always the problem with a first meeting of anything - everyone wants to do everything all at once! I am hoping that future meetings are more focused on solutions and answers.
I've taken away a few specifics to do, not least to continue my campaign to get bushes and hedges cut back where they are blocking the pavement and stopping people walking.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
In brief, the Labour administration have thankfully rowed right back from their original draconian one-size-fits-all approach - yet another U-turn in the face of fierce public opposition! They are now proposing two pilot zones to be implemented by the end of 2009 - one in south Clifton (which doesn't really impact on Cotham) and one in Kingsdown. These are the two areas where more than 50% of people said they were in favour of Residents Parking Zones. The 24/7 operation has gone and the zones are proposed with either 9am-5pm Mon-Fri (Kingsdown) or 8am-9pm Mon-Sat (Clifton). There is now flexibility about parking across own drives and the cost of permits has dropped. There are provisions to assist local businesses. This is pretty much in line with the criticisms which I and other Lib Dem councillors made when opposing the original plans - which were never discussed with us in advance!
The proposed Kingsdown zone is based around the area south of Cotham Road and so is not in Cotham Ward (except about 10 houses which have been included for strange reasons!) - see the report for a map. However, the boundaries are still very much open for discussion and I think there are two concerns for Cotham residents. The first is the impact on people living in the triangle between Cotham Brow and Cheltenham/Gloucester Road. They may suffer the knock-on impact of displaced commuter parking from the proposed zone. I have asked that people living in this area be actively involved in any further discussions about the Kingsdown Zone. The second impact is potentially for those people living just north of Cotham Road who may also be affected.
My position (and that of the Lib Dems in general) is that we support communities that want Residents Parking Zones to improve their quality of life, but that we oppose the implementation of Zones where people don't want them.
The next stage after the meeting next week (provided that the plans aren't thrown out wholesale) is that there will be a new consultation exercise in the areas affected. I have asked that this involves the local community organisations and councillors in a way in which didn't happen with the original exercise. The Council will then finalise plans and check that people in those areas are still in favour. The senior officer I spoke with last night was quite clear - the Zones won't be imposed against the majority will of the residents. He also stressed that the first two Zones would be pilots and I pointed out that pilots (a) need measures of success, and (b) need an exit strategy in case they don't work. This was agreed. I also asked for the Council's commitment to car clubs to be bolstered to help people to lose their second/third/fourth cars.
Do drop me a line if you would like further information or to express a view. I stress that I have no agenda on this issue - I have seen Residents Parking Zones work well in other places, but you need to get the formula right for local people, business and community organisations.
The focus of the committee is going to be how the Council persuades people to reduce their car use and switch to other forms of transport. We aren't going to focus on public transport provision per se as this has been addressed before and select committees don't have decision-making powers. We are going to focus on the carrots we can offer people to change their behaviour and we heard about the success of projects designed to do just this.
We are very keen to hear from people about their personal experiences and any ideas that they have for helping people to make the switch. In particular, we need to go beyond the standard responses like "make buses cheaper" and look at the next generation of technologies. There is a 'public forum' at the start of each meeting and any Bristol citizen can make a statement about their thoughts or ideas.