May 3rd to May 11th was our Neighbourhood Festival, co-ordinated by the Bishopston Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership. Several events happened on the Gloucester Road area, including the Heritage Mapping Session on Wednesday May 7th lead by a Council officer.
(A full report of this event is on this website here: http://www.bishopstonsociety.org.uk/news/our-news/595-gloucester-road-bishopston-our-place-survey ) and organised by The Bishopston Society.http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/transport-and-streets/walking. On Saturday May 10th there was the Super Forum at St Michaels and All Angels Church on Pigsty Hill which was open to all local people and replaced the separate public forums held 3-monthly throughout the Partnership area.(the next ones are in September – see below for the dates.). Stephen Williams our MP and Kris Donaldson of Green Capital 2015 were speaking, and there were opportunities to debate in small breakout groups, local issues like policing, highways, our high streets and how to improve our area.
Kris Donaldson spoke about the implications of Bristol winning the award of European Green Capital for 2015. Bristol will join a list of other cities which have previously won the award, including Stockholm and Copenhagen. It won the award because:
• It has already a neighbourhood partnership structure
• It had already established a local Green Capital Partnership of 450 organisations
• Its re-cycling success in reducing landfill to virtually zero
• Its intent to set up a municipal energy company.
Green Bristol 2015, a community enterprise company, has been set up to co-ordinate events during 2015, and its small staff group have devised a 2014/15 Action Plan which will, among other issues, address:
- Energy saving
- Local food production and distribution
- Moving “recycling” to “re-use”
- Improving transport and traffic congestion to improve air quality
- Encouraging businesses to re-focus its investment plans to incorporate sustainability
So how much will this cost? The Council has put in some money (about £1 million) but central government has provided £7 million and there is support from the private sector as well. Bristol will be expected to showcase sustainable projects which could be copied by other cities through the UK and Europe. Green Capital 15 is planning a big community engagement exercise so no doubt we will be hearing more from them over the next few months. Go to greencapital and http://www.bristol2015.co.uk/ for more information.
Stephens Williams MP spoke about the relevance of the Localism Act 2011 for local people wanting more control over their local communities. For example:
• The right to register a local building or service (eg a pub or post office) as a “community asset”. This means that if the owner wishes to sell it , there is a six month breathing space when the community could raise the money to buy it
• The right to develop a Neighbourhood Plan
• The right to challenge a local authority-provided service where the community feels it could provide it more effectively themselves.
My personal view is that such “rights” are for exceptional circumstance; it makes more sense to influence our Council to deliver quality and relevant services – and that is why the Neighbourhood Partnerships are an important part of our local political and democratic landscape. There is no doubt that the Council is structuring itself to this end, but the cutbacks in funding leading to fewer resources and less staff makes the process more tortuous.
The 20 MPH speed limit has been in force for a few months and the feeling recorded in the Local Forums this year is that many motorists are driving over the limit. The police are organising Speed Watch events when volunteers are trained to use a “speed gun” which will record the speeds in locations suggested by local people – offenders are then sent letters by the police.
If you are concerned about the speed of traffic on your road or your immediate area, then get in touch with one of our local PCSO’s (Police Community Support Officer): or make contact directly with the police website here: speedwatch. Once you have been trained and had some experience, you can volunteer to be a co-coordinator where you will have loan of the radar gun, and can call together local volunteers at times convenient to yourselves to do a speed check.
The quality of the streetscene impacts on the feeling of wellbeing within our communities, and the Partnership has a role to play in this:-
• Section 106 money which is paid to the Council by the developers at the County Cricket Ground will be spent on pedestrian facilities within one kilometre of the Ground by 2018, and will include improving the bus stop arrangements on Gloucester Road.
• The Partnership on March 24th has agreed to spend its £65,000 budget on upgrading pavements on the top four recommended locations arising from an assessment by Highways staff. These are:
- Cotham Brow between Cheltenham Rd and Arley Hill
- Belmont Rd between Somerville and Greville Rd
- Kings Drive
- Collingwood Rd.
If there is any money remaining at the end of the year then part of Springfield Avenue and Elgin Park will be improved.
• Other schemes from last year from a variety of budgets will be completed by December 2014 and include:
- Increased parking for shoppers above Pigsty Hill
- Either a build-out or speed table on Effingham Rd outside St Andrews Park gate
- Consultation on improving the junctions on North Rd/Cromwell Rd and Cheltenham Rd/ Zetland Rd.
• The Partnership has £51,426 to spend on a local traffic scheme in 2014/15. Various options will be put to the Partnership by the Council’s Highways department for a final decision at the public Neighbourhood Partnership meeting on Monday June 23rd.
• At its meeting on March 24th the Partnership adopted the draft local action plan in principle for implementing the Council’s Walking Strategy. (The Council strategy can be downloaded at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/transport-and-streets/walking). The aim is to encourage walking to promote health and as an alternative to using the car. The Partnership will need to consider promotion of walking within its activities and in how it spends the few budgets it controls. Local volunteers are needed to help plan safe walking routes; for example where dropped kerbs are needed for wheelchair and buggy access, the need for seating in hilly areas, where seasonal overhanging vegetation is a problem for walking safely, where wheelie bins are a nuisance etc. If you are interested in this please contact our co-ordinator Andrew Mcgrath ( or telephone 0117 9036898).
Overall the Bishopston area should see improvements in its streetscene over the next year.
In my January webpage article I referred to the Neighbourhood Working Priorities: various departments of the Council have been tasked to work in a co-ordinated way to improve local areas. On March 24th we were updated on work in progress on those issues identified by the Partnership as important:
• Working with traders to reduce the impact of commercial bins and A-boards on Whiteladies and Gloucester Road
• The police have been fining cyclists cycling on pavements and without lights after dark and warning motorists of the illegality of stopping within the cycle box at traffic lights. They have also surveyed the Gloucester Road to improve cycling safety and have identified the Zetland Road junction as a problem (see above for consideration this year of redesigning that junction
• Dealing with issues of recreational drinking in St Andrews Park. Council officers have improved the fencing on Leopold Road to discourage use of local gardens as unofficial toilets. Further work is planned to integrate students into the community, thus reducing antisocial behaviour.
The first tranche of applications to the Wellbeing Fund will be agreed at the next Neighbourhood Partnership meeting on June 23rd. There is a total of £30,000 to allocate by the end of this financial year. The next and final deadline for applications is September 5th 2014. Go to the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland website to download the application form and the guidance notes or contact Andrew Mcgrath, our Co-ordinator (see above for contact details)
A lot of Neighbourhood Partnership time has been spent on the Redland and Cotham North Resident Parking Zones. The councillors have been taking on board people’s concerns and negotiating with Council staff on timetables for implementation and who should and should not be included. However the latest information is that the parking schemes for the Bishopston area and St Andrews are “on hold”: a resident parking scheme will only be taken to the Council Cabinet for approval if residents request it or there is an overwhelming reason from the Council’s point of view. In either instance there would be a prior consultation period.
The local elections on May 22nd have led to a different political landscape within the Partnership: now there are 3 LibDems and 3 Green councillors. It appears that the Mayor wants Neighbourhood Partnerships to stay, but with electoral ward boundaries possibly changing next year, the number of Partnerships could be under question. Senior management in the Council are currently reviewing the whole structure – without doubt there are changes ahead.
Bishopston Society rep to the Neighbourhood Partnership
DATES OF THE PUBLIC FORUMS May 2014-December 2014
These are public meetings open to all local residents. Check the website for the venue: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/council-and-democracy/bishopston-cotham-and-redland-neighbourhood-partnership OR ring Andrew Mcgrath, Co-ordinator (0117 9036898)
Saturday 10th May 1-5pm Super Forum for the whole Partnership area
Tuesday September 16th at 7pm Bishopston
Thursday September 18th at 7pm Cotham
Tuesday September 23rd at 7pm Redland
Thursday December 11th at 7pm Bishopston
Thursday December 4th at 7pm Cotham
Tuesday December 9th at 7pm Redland
DATES FOR THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PARTNERSHIP
These are public meetings open to all local residents at 7pm. If possible have a look at the agenda and reports beforehand on the Council website (see above for the web address) and check the venue.
Monday June 23rd
Monday 20th October
Monday January 19th