Monday, 15 December 2014

Bring rail back under public control - press release

From: Charlie Bolton
Sent: 15 December 2014 14:55
Subject: Press release: Greens call on local MPs to support bill to bring railways into public hands

Greens call on local MPs to support bill to bring railways into public hands
Bristol Greens have called on local MPs to support a private members bill to bring railways back under national control. Green MP Caroline Lucas has introduced a private members bill under the rail network would be brought back into public ownership step by step.
When franchises come up for expiry, or private companies break the terms of their franchise agreements, they would revert to the control of a public body.
A report published last year by Transport for Quality of Life found that the private sector has not delivered the innovation and investment that it promised, that the costs of back-room staff have massively increased, and that the cost of train travel has risen by 23% since privatisation. It estimated that £1.2bn is being lost each year as a result of fragmentation and privatisation.*
Tony Dyer, Green parliamentary candidate for Bristol South said
‘The East Coast franchise delivered £200m to the public purse last year. We need to get back to the idea that railways are a service to be run for the benefit of people, not simply something to profit a shareholder.’
Darren Hall, Green parliamentary candidate for Bristol West
We need a new vision and the political will to tackle transport issues head on. Bristol is really lucky to have railway lines criss-crossing the city. The trouble is that some of it is under utilised or in the case of the Portishead line not used for passengers at all, whilst other bits are crammed full to bursting point. However, there is no incentive for the big private companies to bother with local rail, and yet it is a very simple solution to a lot of Bristol’s road congestion and air quality problems. If the rail system was run with customers in mind, with profits being reinvested in the system, Bristol could take a hugely important step towards providing a public transport system that is fit for the future. ‘
Green councillor Charlie Bolton has submitted a motion to Bristol City Council calling on MPs to back the rail bill, although it is unlikely to be taken.
“The irony is that some of the biggest profiteers are the state-owned rail companies of our European neighbours. Taxpayers’ money that should be reinvested into services is ending up in the hands of overseas shareholders. By taking back individual franchises when they expire, the Government could save over £1 billion a year every year.
*Notes to editors
1) View Lucas’ Private Member’s Bill at The second reading will take place on 9th January 2015.
2) Rebuilding Rail Report by Transport for Quality of Life:
3) Green Party motion to full council
Council welcomes the private members bill produced by Caroline Lucas which will receive its second reading in the House of Commons on 9th January 2015.
Council notes that RMT research shows that
* £1.2bn a year is squandered through the fragmentation, inefficiency and cash leaking out of the service in the form of profits and dividends as a result of rail privatisation.
* This would correspond to an 18% reduction in rail ticket prices.
Action for Rail tell us
* Since privatisation, more than £11 billion of public funds has been misspent: on debt write-offs, dividend payments to private investors, fragmentation costs including profit margins of complex tiers of contractors and sub-contractors, and higher interest payments in order to keep Network Rail’s debts off the government balance sheet.
The Bill will require the Secretary of State to assume control of passenger rail franchises when they come up for renewal.
Council calls on the Mayor to contact Bristol’s local MPs to demand that they attend the second reading and support the bill and requests devolved powers over local rail to a Greater Bristol region.

Charlie Bolton
Councillor for Southville ward
Green Party

Joint Statement to full council on Faithspace

Faithspace, Stackpool Road, Southville

As Labour and Green Party councillors for Southville, we jointly submit the following statement.

Faithspace is the former Methodist Church on Stackpool Road. It lies between the Southville Centre and Southville Primary School.

It has been a community venue for as long as people can remember. Users, however, have recently been stopped from using it, and the venue has recently been boarded up.

There has been a significant increase in the population of the Southville ward over recent years. This has resulted in an increase in the pressure on local resources and infrastructure. For example, there is a serious shortage in nursery provision in the area.

There is significant local concern over the closure of Faithspace. It has been registered as a 'Asset of Community Value'. There is a local petition in support of its retention as a community venue.

We have no knowledge of plans for its future. However, there has to be a possibility that it will lost as a community venue.  We believe we simply cannot afford to lose community venues in our local area. We urge the council and the mayor to take whatever actions it can to help ensure it remains as a venue for the benefit of the community of Southville as a whole. In particular, we ask that the council do all it can to protect its current planning use

Sean Beynon (Labour Party Councillor, Southville)
Charlie Bolton (Green Party Councillor, Southville)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Letter to the editor - the Post

Dear Sir

I'd just like to register my consternation at the way in which the Bristol Labour Party, in cahoots with the local Tories have got together to try and derail 20mph zones at the recent council meeting.

The 20mph debate is riven with misinformation by the car lobby. It ranges from claims (as put by local Tories) that accident levels have gone up in the original 20mph zone in Portsmouth to claims that there has been a national increase. (In Portsmouth, if you speak to their Road Safety Team - you will see that there has been a substantial reduction in accidents. Nationally, figures for accidents in 20mph zones went up, but only because the numbers of zones also increased substantially. Academic research tells us that there is ‘
convincing evidence that these (20mph) measures are effective in reducing accidents and injuries, traffic speed and volume’
I have no expectations of the Tories when it comes to having a decent environment for our children, for pedestrians, for cyclists, or for pensioners. They talk the ‘green’ talk from time to time, but you can tell, in their heart of hearts, they simply don’t believe it.
But Labour?
They have called for a stop to the 20mph rollout for an unspecified period of time, and any future measures will be at an unspecified cost. Why couldn’t they have allowed it to go ahead while finding imaginative ways to make sure it really works for everyone. Traffic management may help, but at heart this needs a cultural shift in the way drivers use the city's roads.
20mph is part of package which also involves promoting cycling and walking and public transport.  If we are to develop into a truly green city, we need to make profound changes to our travel patterns, and this is just one part of the solution.


Councillor Charlie Bolton
Bristol Green Party

Monday, 10 November 2014

Why the Tories are oh so wrong on 20mph

The Tories have submitted a motion try and stop the roll out of 20mph.

It says:


Council notes with concern the growing doubts which have been expressed over the efficacy of the mayor’s controversial 20 mph speed zones.  At the time of writing, the Authority is halfway through this costly roll-out, with a Speed Limit Order pending for the so-called Inner Ring East section of the city.

Evidence from the prototype (Portsmouth) model and anecdotal reports locally suggest that these limits may actually make some of our roads/streets more dangerous or are simply being routinely ignored by motorists.

Accordingly, Council calls on Mayor Ferguson to put an immediate stop to this programme to allow an objective assessment to be made into these schemes.   Their success should be judged in strict scientific safety terms and not rely on some shifting, subjective, criteria such as whether or not speed limits have a ‘civilising effect’ on Bristol communities and neighbourhoods.

This is why I think they are oh so wrong.....


They cite Portsmouth as an area where 20mph make our streets more dangerous.

Well, one has to ask where they get their information from.  Because I asked the Road Safety Team at Portsmouth Council and this is what they said (see end of this post for full statement):

The analysis shows that in the three-year period prior to the scheme there were a total of 505 collisions. The corresponding figure for the three-year period following implementation is 410 collisions, which equates to a reduction of 18.8%. Across the rest of Portsmouth’s roads, during the same period the number of collisions fell by 10.3% - from 1,618 to 1,451.

Since 2011 there has been continued reduction in collisions within the 20mph roads. In 2011 there were 98 collisions recorded by Hampshire Constabulary Stats19, in 2012 there were 67 and in 2013 there were 68.

In other words, there has been a 20% reduction if you compare the 3 year period before with the three year period after.

If you compare the three year period before (505 collisions in the time frame ie 168.33 per annum on average) with the last two years (67 and 68), the numbers of accidents have reduced by around 60%.

One assumes that a motion which suggests that 20mph be judged scientifically, would itself should do a basic bit of science (ie check that it has got its facts right).

Elsewhere than Portsmouth

So the Institute of Advanced Motorists have claimed a 26% increase in accident levels in 20mph zones.

20s Plenty refute this

So do others. They all point out that the IAM figures fail to point out that the numbers of accidents have gone up quite simply because there are more 20 mph zones.

They link to a BBC radio programme which precisely backs up what they say. Frankly, I find it utterly shocking that a serious organisation such as the IAM would produce such sloppy statistics.

I don't know if the Tories mean't this IAM report when putting in their motion (because they don't source their evidence, despite expecting others to take a scientific approach), but if they do, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Perhaps they just accept local evidence?

It did occur to me that the Tories might be saying you can only use local information on the impact of 20mph, because there are local factors which effect the outcome. This might be right.

But you'd then be in the scenario where

'you can't implement a policy because you have no evidence to back it up, and you will never get the evidence to back it up because you haven't implemented the policy'.

I do hope the Tories apply the same logic to all their policies.

Peer-reviewed science says 20mph is good

Peer reviewed science is something a little more substantial than stuff you find with 'Mr Google'.

A report 'Go slow: an umbrella review of the effects of 20 mph zones and limits on health and health inequalities' Cairns/Warren/Garthwaite/Greig/Bambra University of Durham tell us

Five systematic reviews were included. Overall, they provide convincing evidence that these measures are effective in reducing accidents and injuries, traffic speed and volume, as well as improving perceptions of safety in two of the studies. There was also evidence that such interventions are potentially cost-effective.
and conclude

Twenty mile per hour zones and limits are effective means of improving public health via reduced accidents and injuries. Whilst there was no direct evidence on the effects of interventions on health inequalities, targeting such interventions in deprived areas may be beneficial.

The London Road Safety unit

 A report to the London Road safety unit (Chris Grundy, Rebecca Steinbach, Phil Edwards, Paul Wilkinson, Judith Green from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) conclude:

All methods used in this study confirmed previous findings that London’s 20 mph zones have had an effect on reducing casualties.

The time series regression analysis estimated a 42% reduction (95% CI 36%, 48%) in all casualties within 20 mph zones compared with outside areas, adjusting for an annual background decline in casualties of 1.7% on all roads in London. The largest effects of 20 mph zones were found for all casualties aged 0 -15 killed or seriously injured (KSI) and for car occupants. A reduction was evident for all

Road Safety GB

Road Safety GB produce a handy graphic

In fact, they probably won't accept any evidence at all

If you go to Place scrutiny commission meetings, you will see opponents of RPS disagreeing with any statistic or piece of information that doesn't fit in with their case. (They'd probably argue the same about its supporters). But their is no level of evidence which they will believe.

....and if the motion passed

well, what would happen? The Tories ask for an objective assessment to be made into these schemes

One can only assume that the Road Safety team at Bristol City Council would perform such an analysis. Actually they already have - indeed they specifically agree with what I have said re national figures.

It is part of a package

Every now and again, the Tories talk the talk of sustainability. But they never actually seem to like any of the solutions.

It is obvious to anyone who recognises the vital need to maximise those travelling by walking, or cycling that we need to make it a more attractive option. Too many cyclists are intimidated off the road by cars. Too many potential cyclists do not start in the first place for the same reason. We must reverse this trend.

If we actually want to combat climate change, we have to make these changes, along with many others. 20mph fits with slowing the traffic and in doing so, encouraging cycling. The same rationale exactly applies to motoring.

And the odd other point

There is even some evidence to suggest that driving at 20mph is fuel efficient because you do less braking, gear changing etc. Not conclusive, as far as I am aware, but more than possible.

BRAKE tell us that at 20mph, your stopping distance is 12 metres. At 30mph, it’s 23 metres [Typical stopping distances, The Highway Code, 2011). The conclusion is self evident.

Bristol City Council tell us 'The most up to date and robust evidence shows 31% of pedestrians are killed if hit by a vehicle travelling at 40mph, 7% are killed at 30mph – a four-fold difference, and at 20mph the rate is lower still. '


There is a substantial amount of evidence that 20mph is working and reducing numbers of accidents. The evidence for the opposite is flawed.

We, as Greens, believe we need to improve the effectiveness of our 20mph zones - make them work better by the appropriate measures, be it enforcement, filtered permability, traffic calming, DIY streets or whatever.

There is no doubt we need to shift the balance on our streets away from being car dominated.

There is no doubt that we need streets for playing, streets for walking, streets for cycling, streets, in fact for the future - and we encourage measures which will achieve all of these objectives (along with better public transport!).

As such, 20mph is a vital part of the process and a vital part of the package which will help us achieve a green, sustainable transport future.

Portsmouth 20mph scheme
Summary: mature, area-wide scheme under which collisions have reduced by 18.8% on the roads where a new 20mph limit has been implemented, compared with 10.3% across the rest of the city’s streets.

Portsmouth City Council was the first local authority in England to implement an extensive area-wide 20 mph speed limit scheme covering most of its residential roads which previously had a 30 mph speed limit. The scheme, which covered 94% of the city’s residential road length, was implemented in 2008.

In terms of the some of the headline figures showing increases as a result of 20mph implementation, this is false. The difficulty here is that we must compare like for like in terms of roads analysed. Some studies have used 20mph casualty data for the years the scheme was being implemented (2007 to 2008).  These studies searched for 20mph casualties rather than studying the roads themselves which means that from 2007 to 2008 the data would show an increase in casualties because there are an increasing number of 20mph roads. It is best to avoid studying this implementation phase altogether and focus on the geographical area before and after.

Analysis has been undertaken of all injury collisions which occurred in Portsmouth for the three years before the 20mph scheme was implemented (2005-2007) and for the three years after (2009-2011). Collisions occurring in 2008 have been excluded as this was the implementation year.

All injury collisions were included to ensure a large sample size and to avoid any skewing of the data where severity levels might have increased with higher speeds.

The analysis shows that in the three-year period prior to the scheme there were a total of 505 collisions. The corresponding figure for the three-year period following implementation is 410 collisions, which equates to a reduction of 18.8%. Across the rest of Portsmouth’s roads, during the same period the number of collisions fell by 10.3% - from 1,618 to 1,451.

Since 2011 there has been continued reduction in collisions within the 20mph roads. In 2011 there were 98 collisions recorded by Hampshire Constabulary Stats19, in 2012 there were 67 and in 2013 there were 68.

This period compares favourably with the reductions within the rest of Portsmouth's road network during the same period.  There was a 31% reduction of collisions in 20mph roads compared to a 10.5% reduction in 30mph roads and an 11% reduction for all roads.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Statement supporting councils continued commitment to Sustainable transport via LSTF funding

The Green Party in Bristol would like to welcome  this continued investment in Sustainable transport.

We may have some disagreements about elements of the detail of the project, but are in no doubt that the overall thrust of the project is precisely the sort of thing which Bristol City Council should be pursuing.

We have no doubt that we need to massively increase levels of cycling, walking and the take-up of public transport, and this fund is one of the mechanisms that we should exploit in order to achieve this.

We further believe that we need to maintain investment in cycling in order to justify the title 'Cycling City'. Bristol should also seek to be come a 'Walking City'.

We believe it vital that investment is continued and accelerated in the years post-2016. This could, for example, help to deliver a comprehensive cycle network as outlined in the putative cycling strategy.

We therefore urge the council  and the Mayor to keep LSTF type projects as a priority for the council in the years beyond 2016 and seek opportunities to fund them.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Process by which a planning decision be considered by committee

From an officer.....

The criteria are contained in the Constitution, in Part 3 – Responsibility for Functions, Section 2 D Guidance.  For convenience I have copied them below.

D. General principles applying to the exercise of delegated powers by
(a) Delegated officers must refer matters to the relevant committee as
they consider appropriate having regard to the following factors:-
i) whether the matter would have such an effect on
communities, businesses or individuals such as the matter
ought to be considered/determined by councillors;
ii) whether a councillor, applicant or other person with a
significant interest has requested that the matter be
determined by committee;
iii) whether there is evidence that the public or councillors have a
significant actual or potential interest in the matter such as
would give rise to a desire or expectation that it be determine
by councillors;
iv) whether the matter is likely to involve consideration of
disputed or uncertain matters of fact or law or whether the
decision gives rise to a fine balance between various options
such as might reasonably give rise to an expectation that the
matter will be considered by councillors;
v) where it is desirable that representations made in relation to
the matter by an applicant, objector other interested party
should be heard and considered by councillors;
vi) the need for consistency of approach in the council’s decision
making process;
vii) whether there are any specific national or local policy or (in
relation to development control decisions only) development
plan implications arising from the matter under consideration
which are of such significance that they might reasonably
give rise to an expectation that they ought to be considered
by councillors;
viii) whether the legal consequences of the matter of such
significance that it should be considered by councillors.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

What the Windmill Hill LibDems forogot to mention about St Catherines Place..............

I noticed this little piece from the latest Windmill Hill LibDem Focus.

I hasten to say that I supported the St Catherines Place development. I know others didn't but I decided for a variety of reasons to support, and did so publicly. (All explained on another post on this blog)

Anyway, what the LibDems have failed to mention is the following:

Firstly, the SCP development ran across two meetings. At the first meeting neither LibDem councillor Christian Martin nor LibDem Councillor Alex Woodman turned up.

It is only by the merest chance that there was no decision at that meeting, and therefore only by the merest chance that these LibDems had a say.

And at the second meeting, I understand that the proposal was approved by 7 votes to 2.  Who proposed the motion to accept the proposal (the one about which LibDems in Windmill Hill are complaining)?

The same LibDem councillor Alex Woodman.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Supporting Camden Road Bridge planning application 4/04262/FB

I have decided to support the foot/cycle bridge which will cross the New Cut between Camden Road and the Chocolate is my submission

I strongly support the building of this bridge.

I think it will be extremely popular with Southville and Ashton residents and will become a significant walking and cycling route into town. It therefore has obvious benefits in terms of helping sustainable transport in the city.

I support the resolution passed by the Greater Bedminster Community partnership which states

'1. A protected crossing of Coronation Road in the area of Camden Road be provided due to the severe difficulties faced by pedestrians and cyclists.

2. That the new bridge is linked into existing and planned cycling/walking routes in Greater Bedminster, notably the 'green-walkways' and through legible city signage. The partnership requests that council travel planners work with the GBCP to ensure these element dove-tail together.

3. Existing natural history including trees should be protected and suitable mitigation be provided where there is a loss of trees or other vegetation.'

I have read other comments and do not particularly agree that the design of this bridge is any worse than the other options considered.

I note a comment about the impact on the Chocolate Path, but can't tell from the design whether this is so. Even so, I regard the building of the bridge as more important.

Finally, I would also support at least a partial closure of that end of Camden Road to traffic, and we take the opportunity to create an people-friendly entry point to Southville

Friday, 15 August 2014

Council response to bus petition

Here is the council's response to me handing in a 1300 signature bus petition requesting a better bus service from BS3 to Templemeads. What I really want is an additional bus down North St, but it looks like the council isn't very interested.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Letter to the post re cycing and the Cycling campaign strategy

Dear Sir

While I am in no way surprised at the way in which the local media has focussed on the crass and insensitive use of a tank by RPS protestors at last weeks council meeting, it has drawn attention away from other parts of the council meeting.

In particular, it has drawn attention away from the excellent cycling manifesto. The manifesto, produced by Bristol Cycling Campaign, asks for a number of things which will increase the rates of cycling within the city. It has substantial levels of support – indeed, like the RPS protest, also broke the 3,500 vote barrier to force a debate.

The measures proposed will be familiar to many of us. A cycling network and proper funding for cycling. A cycling network would be great value for money compared with other transport schemes. Implemented properly, it would act as an encouragement for cyclists of all age and all levels of experience.

And more cycling benefits us all in terms of health, fitness, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It is  the fastest way to travel over shorter distances. And being a value for money solution for the individual, employers and authorities is truly socialism on wheels.

Bring it on.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Open letter to George, Brian Allinso and Metrobus re Blue finger/Stoke Park

This is already doing the rounds, but then I wrote it, and for that matter, I suggested it, and asked people to support it.

To George Ferguson, Brian Allinson and the Metrobus  proponents
Cc to Mark Bradhsaw

From Kerry McCarthy MP, Charlotte Leslie MP, and Councillors Daniella Radice, Lesley Alexander, Estella Tincknell, Gill Kirk, Claire Hiscott, Bill Payne, Wayne Harvey, Rob Telford, Tim Malnick, Gus Hoyt, Charlie Bolton

We the undersigned call on you to reconsider elements of the Hengrove-Northern Fringe metrobus project.

We believe that low carbon efficient public transport AND local, accessible food and places to grow it, are both a vital part of the future to Bristol’s position as both a sustainable city and the ‘Green capital of Europe’.

We support any action that can be taken to ensure that Bristol and South Gloucester local authorities find innovative and collaborative solutions to transportation and congestion challenges, without compromising the excellent and valuable work that is producing food from some of our best land.

As such, we call on you to devise and implement alternative public transport solutions which will NOT result in the loss of ANY Grade 1 agricultural land along the M32 corridor, specifically at Stapleton allotments, Feed Bristol, Sims Hill, or on any former market-garden sites. Any proposed transport solution should look first at brown field sites, and should resolve rather than cause  congestion in the local area. It should not compromise the use of high quality agricultural land by important and effective charities, community groups and local people, for the benefit of all. We note the proposed changes you suggested at cabinet on 1st July but need to be convinced that these make any meaningful difference to the land affected.

We are also concerned about the proposal to run a section of the new road across Stoke Park. This historic piece of landscape is valuable not only as the 'green lungs' for North Bristol but also because it contains ancient woodland, rich meadows full of rare species and a number of heritage buildings.

We believe the loss of such land is utterly incompatible with Bristol’s ambitions to be a Green Capital, and we urge you to think again.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Supporting development at St Catherines Place

Planning Application 13/05616/P

I have decided to support the above application (subject to adequate provision of affordable housing).
I do so for the following reasons

Helping the local trading streets

The application will support the local traders on East St in particular in two ways. Firstly, it will provide a significant extra population who it is to be hoped will make use of the local shopping available. Secondly, the redevelopment of St Catherines Place is likely to offer opportunities for events, such as farmers markets, which can attract additional footfall to support local shops.

Use of brown field site

This is a brownfield site, and as a Green, I have promoted brownfield development for many years. Furthermore, I recognise the need for new housing in the city, of different types.

Potential for use of public transport

The development is close to Bedminster station, and there is clear potential for use of the station to get to Bristol Temple Meads (and elsewhere). This could benefit the station as well, because it can help increase demand for trains. There is also a decent range of bus service from the area. I further note the provision of significant numbers of cycle parking stands. I wonder if there is the possibility of other measures to promote people to choose cycling as a means of travel.


I support the use of CHP as a sustainable heating system.

Affordable housing

I believe there is a need to maximise the amount of affordable housing  in the development. My support is contingent on this being achieved.


I don’t like the scale of the development, nor particularly the look of it. To be honest, I cannot remember a substantial development I do like the look of. However, my personal preferences have to be outweighed by the need for an adequate supply of homes for people in the city.


I am aware that this is a tall building with impacts from various views. But this has to be seen in the context of the existing (and ugly) DSS building. I am aware the developers have been at pains to try to demonstrate the minimal nature of this impact, but again, I think the importance of providing adequate numbers of homes outweighs objections for this reason.
I admit that the building will in no way impinge on my view (which is of a church hall).


Overall, I have increasingly come to the conclusion that those of us who own homes increasingly – and probably unwittingly – have ‘pulled up the drawbridge’ against those who do not.
House prices alone should tell us there is a clear demand for flats and houses way in excess of supply. And given the alternatives of ‘greenfield’ or ‘brownfield’ development, I have to choose ‘brownfield’.
I am aware that this brings further pressure on infrastructure, but ultimately, I think we have no choice but to try and meet the demand for extra housing.

Charlie Bolton
Southville ward
Green Party

Monday, 30 June 2014

Support Independents Day on 4th July

Council press release, copied verbatim
30 June 2014
For immediate release

Bristol celebrates Independents Day - July 4


The Bristol Independents Campaign is urging Bristol's shoppers to "shop independently" on July 4th - Bristol Independents Day.

Twenty thousand Bristol Independents Day cards are being distributed around the city, encouraging shoppers to shop independently on July 4th and to discover a range of special offers and surprises in Bristol's independent businesses.

In some shops, these cards can be shown at the till in order to claim an Independents Day discount or special offer.

In other shops you'll need a certain codeword, or to be paying in Bristol Pounds in order to make your claim - details of all of these offers are on the website at

Elsewhere in the the city, you can find special events, or Bristol-themed delights on the menu for one day only. These offers and events are updated regularly so please keep an eye on the website for the latest information.

How can Bristol shoppers can celebrate Independents Day?

Grabbing a sandwich for lunch or popping out for a coffee? Why not give the chains a miss for a change, and check out an independent sandwich bar, café or takeout.

While you’re there, why not try some local produce? – we all know Cheddar from Cheddar, but what about Somerset Brie, Mendip Halloumi or Bath Blue?

Need to find a birthday present? Why not seek out something more individual from one of Bristol’s many designers, artists and craftspeople?

There are some great quirky stores and pop-up shops around town, where you can buy direct from makers.

Buying something for yourself? Skip the chainstores, and experience the staff expertise of an independent bookstore, record stall or hardware shop. Stand out from the crowd – you’ll find something different in the city’s great independent clothes shops.

Going out for the evening? What about some independent entertainment at an independent cinema, or pub theatre? Why not try a local cider in an independent pub or bar.

Who wants to eat and drink exactly the same things, wherever they go in the country? Celebrate Independents Day by raising a glass of something brewed in Bristol.

Why shop independently?

Bristol's independent retailers keep our high streets alive, diverse, and interesting. They stop Bristol from looking just like everywhere else. They help make Bristol special.

Bristol's independents also help support our local economy. Every pound spent in a local retailer selling local things, puts twice as much money back into the local economy as a pound spent in a national multiple - because local traders tend to use local services supplied by other local traders.

But it is easy to forget the great contribution which Independents make to Bristol - they're always there - till the next big supermarket comes along. 4th July is a reminder to us all to support Bristol's great Independents, and to explore a bit further around the city to discover some other hidden gems.

Bristol's high streets and local shopping areas have changed a lot over the past few years - if you haven't visited them lately, you're likely to be surprised by just how well some of them are flourishing.

Who's involved?

Bristol Independents Day is a joint campaign, involving the Bristol Pound, Bristol City Council, Your Street Gift Cards, City of Bristol College, The Federation of Small Businesses, alongside Bristol Independents.

On the day, some of the participating organisations will be staffing a stall opposite the Hippodrome, where people can come along to find out more about business support for start-ups and existing businesses. (10am-3pm Friday, July 4)

Councillor Gus Hoyt, Assistant Mayor with responsibility for Neighbourhoods, said: “Bristol has an excellent range of independent traders, offering something to everyone, from those who just want something tasty to eat or drink to the casual and serious shopper.

“Independent businesses are the back-bone of the city’s unique rich and diverse character that has seen us named as the best city to live in the UK. Let’s all help to keep it this way and on Independents Day, show our support.”



Save Show of Strength from funding cuts

Arts funding – Show of Strength

As ward councillor for Southville, I urge the mayor to reconsider the proposal to cut the funding for ‘Show of Strength’.

I have lived in Southville for 24 years and in that time seen various incarnations of ‘Show of Strength’ at the Tobacco Factory, Hen and Chicken and elsewhere. In particular, more recently, I have seen ‘Show of Strength’ put on plays in the local shopping street. This is a win-win, in that it benefits the local economy thrice – traders benefit, the theatre company benefits, the community benefits. I have also seen plays which have a historical aspect, thereby bringing local history to the attention of the local community. I have further seen plays which are based on contributions from local residents – giving their memories of local traders.

‘Show of Strength’ preceded the Tobacco Factory by a number of years, contributing to the regeneration of the local area, and have continued to make a fantastic contribution in these innovative, accessible and collaborative ways.

Green Party colleagues advise me that the proposed cuts have not been scrutinised. I urge the council delay its decision until scrutiny has taken place, but, more to the point, to support this fantastic local enterprise.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Time to abolish myself

The Green Party, now we are 6, has been offered places on a number of external bodies.

So I got on the Bristol Buildings Preservation Trust, and attended my first meeting this morning. (I found out about it last night, but that's another story).

Anyway, the lead item was the Lower Lodge in Bower Ashton, and discussions of plans (and bids for funding) to save it.

But the last item of business was to vote to change the make up of the board. It is currently 10 politico's and 5 experts.  The proposal was to make it the other way round.

Unanimously agreed.

I find myself somewhat amused to finally get on one of these positions to immediately abolish myself......

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Lets 'Make Sunday Special' in places other than the city centre

I am in the process of submitting a statement to - well, I think it is 'members forum' to - support a request from the Bedminster Town Team and GBCP for 'Make Sundays Special' to travel around the city.

Statement re ‘Make Sundays Special’

I attended a meeting of the Bedminster Town Team board a few weeks ago.

At that meeting, a trader pointed out that he closed up on the one Sunday a month when ‘Make Sunday Special’ was on in town, because he did not get enough trade to justify remaining open.

At the Town Team meeting, he made a suggestion that a request be made to move ‘Make Sunday Special’ around the city, with a view to holding  events in Bedminster.

Subsequently, the Greater Bedminster Community Partnership adopted a motion supporting the proposal.

We welcome the recent celebratory Sunday events in Bristol City Centre, but are concerned that they may be damaging trading activity in the Bedminster high streets by drawing large numbers of people away from BS3.    Several traders have reported a decline coinciding with city-centre events.   We therefore think that the celebrations should be more evenly spread across the city, with several events per year being held in out-of-centre areas such as Bedminster.

As one of the ward councillors, I would also like to place on record my support for such an idea, to ask officers to investigate it, and to let us know the outcome.

Charlie Bolton
Southville ward

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Working Together

A blog post from Tess Green

I am very thankful for the support offered by people in my ward throughout my term as a councillor. I didn’t expect this warm reception but it became very important to me.

One of my ambitions as a councillor was to challenge the waste of energy which is used by political groups on the council in sniping and undermining one another. I discussed this with Colin Smith when he became Lord Mayor and I believe that he was able to influence the behaviour of councillors during council meetings. This good work was continued by subsequent Lord Mayors. I believe that I avoided this negativity in my speeches to council and did my best to set a good example of working together. When we do work together across party divides we achieve much more for good across the city.

Unfortunately this change has not extended to press and other public statements and we have continued to see councillors undermining or bad – mouthing others to make political advantage. The negative claims that are made are often petty and only loosely based on truth, but they still do damage. As a Green, I hate this type of politics. There is nothing wrong with criticising the policies of other parties – we should do this – but personalising criticism, sometimes behind the victim’s back is unsupportable and I believe the public dislike this too.

So, I was upset to discover that my contribution to the work towards solving the lack of primary school places in Southville was being anonymously criticised. The fact is that I worked with officers of the council to try to find suitable sites for school expansion and some of my suggestions were taken up. Council officers worked tirelessly to address this problem.

Parents and schools worked well with the council to secure good outcomes here in the challenge which is being faced all over the country. Councillors including myself, contributed to this and made sure that the problem was taken very seriously and that solutions were found.

It is part of being a councillor I suppose, to be exposed to spin and negativity, but usually people are appreciative of the work I have done and this has helped to keep me going, when there was too much work and too many complex problems to cope with quickly.

The most important resource available to councillors is the feedback and support of their electorate. It helps to keep us on track to address the most important issues in our wards, so please keep it coming forward.

Tess Green

Monday, 17 March 2014

Letter to the Post, supermarkets

Dear SIr

I see your anonymous letter writer claims we need supermarkets ( 'Like it or not, we need supermarkets', letters, 16/3/14). This is of course nonsense. What we actually need is food.

What we don't need is a food system which results in massive numbers of car journeys, and therefore pollution. What we don't need is an absurdly centralised distribution system - resulting, for example, in raspberries, picked in Scotland, packaged near Bristol, and sold back in Scotland. What we don't need is a food system which - through the dominance of a few - results in areas of this city being turned into food deserts. What we don't need is a food system which sucks money  and jobs out of the local area.

Supermarkets do all of this.

What we do need is a system based on local production for local needs - where everyone has the opportunity to walk or cycle to local shops, which are actually local. What we do need is a system where - as far as possible - the money remains in the local area - through mechanisms such as the Bristol Pound. We need to make use of the high grade local agricultural land (such as the 'Blue FInger') to get food to local people. We do need to preserve the wholesale market.

By doing these things we can create a virtuous circle which helps local people, provides local jobs, keeps people healthy and cuts pollution and congestion. This is a 21st century solution. Supermarkets are part of the problem. Time to move  on.


Charlie Bolton
Green Party candidate

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

E-news for March

Residents parking

If you haven’t seen it (and I imagine you will have seen the posters!), then please respond to the residents parking consultation:

It is going to happen anyway

Like it or not, residents parking will happen anyway. Or at least thats what Tess Green and Charlie Bolton have been told personally by mayor George Ferguson.

But that doesn’t mean you will get no changes to it. In fact, lots of minor changes are possible (and were made to other schemes). These include changes to the distribution of pay and display bays to residents only parking bays; to check those streets which were initially described as parking on one side only; and possibly to hours and days of operation.

There will also be a major review of the scheme 6 months after its introduction.

To reverse its introduction once it is in will require a change of mayor.

A Green perspective

Charlie Bolton, Green candidate for Southville in the May council election has said ‘I intend to support the implementation of residents parking - with the proviso that I think it needs to be cheaper for those on low incomes.

Also, I would like to have seen local people have the choice over whether or not it is implemented - for example in a local referendum - but I would have campaigned for its introduction (again subject to making it cheaper for those on low incomes).

I’ve lived in Southville for 23 years, and in that time seen it fill up with cars. When I was a councillor between 2006-2010, I was told that growth in car ownership ran at about 2% per year. While that may have been halted by the recession, I see no reason for this growth not to continue now we are getting out of it.

Basically I think we are now at or near capacity. We have a free for all, which is slowly getting worse. And we need to do something to try and control the situation. At its most basic, residents parking is a system of control - which could allow us to consider car-free developments

I’d also add that I am a member of the Green Party and I want to see us live in a sustainable city with a sustainable transport system.  Ultimately, it means journeys by car need to be the exception, not the rule. Along with more local shopping and jobs, more cycling, better buses and trains, more walking, more city car club cars, slower speeds, more playing out - some sort of control over the number of vehicles locally is also part of the solution.’

Better bus service from BS3 to Temple Meads

Many thanks to all those who have already signed our petition for a better bus service toTemple Meads.But we need more. Lots more.

Please sign the petition

And get your friends to sign it too!

The Council Budget

For Cllr Tess Greens report on the budget, please follow the link

Match day parking

Many thanks to all those who have completed our survey on match day parking. We have had around 140 response to date, and will report fully next month.

If you haven’t completed it and still want to, here is the link

It takes about a minute

Islington Road pocket park

There has been a 5 or 6 year saga concerning a site which used to be garages on Islington Road. Local residents would like it to be a facility, perhaps a pocket park, for the local area.

The council appears to want to sell it off, despite the fact that it was turned down by a housing association as being too small.

We will keep you updated!

Tenants Resource Centre

Concerns have been raised over the future of the tenants resource centre in Redcliff. It is used by thousands of tenants per year as a place to get advice. But may be facing council cut backs.


Tess Green - Councillor Tess Green can be contacted at

The Green Party in Southville can be contacted at


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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A plea for the tenants resource centre

The tenants resource centre is based on Redcliffe Hill. I first came across it in 2006/7 when the Bedminster Area Housing Committee used to meet there. The council abolished it soon after because - one suspects - the members of the committee weren't afraid to express their opinions (which weren't terribly complimentary!)

However, its main work has been volunteer tenants helping other tenants. To quote the council website

The Tenants' Resource Centre exists to give tenants appropriate help and information on housing issues. It is run by volunteers for the benefit of council tenants all over the city.
  • The centre offers free support and information in person and by phone.
  • It is run by a group of enthusiastic volunteers.
  • It provides a voice for council tenants across the city.
  • The centre is fully accessible.
There were 3,700 visitors in a year to the centre according to a report on the same council link.

Anyway, 7 years later, the cuts are kicking in and the centre is a target. It currently receives some officer support and a grant. Both look set to go.

When I mentioned this on Twitter, this was a response.

My understanding is that the volunteers have been offered some options for their future, some of which mean they cease to exist or have access to the centre.

They accept the need for change, and would like to seek an arrangement which means they keep going.

I can only give my personal perspective which is that tenants advising tenants sounds like a great idea. Tenants will know best what tenant needs are. And they are volunteers as well. It sounds to me like something to be encouraged.

So Bristol City Council. Please keep them going. They are an asset to be nurtured.