Thursday, 30 July 2015

Statement to cabinet supporting energy efficiency proposals

Statement to cabinet on agenda items;

5 Report title: Warmer Homes Project – External Wall insulation to High-Rise and Low-Rise Flats in Bristol


6 Procurement of Domestic Heating Installation; and New Bathroom

Installation Contracts for Council owned homes.


Bristol Green Party councillors would like to welcome the proposal to spend £70m on insulating the 45 multi-story and low-rise blocks of flats – which includes 1,715 individual flats. We further welcome the proposal to procure domestic heat insulation.


The first proposal has the capacity to cut the fuel bills to the residents of these blocks and therefore cut levels of fuel poverty. It will also cut Bristol’s carbon emissions. It is therefore a win-win project.


The second project also has the capacity to deliver similar benefits – and, in general – we welcome it too.


We do wish to make a number of comments however:


1.    We note that the Economy 7 heating system will be replaced with gas central heating in something like 200 properties per year. While we accept that these will be a more efficient heating system, we are aware that an electricity-based system is usually easier to source from renewable energy generation. Gas central heating, however efficient, offers greater challenges in ensuring a renewable energy supply. We therefore ask that, where possible, measures are taken to ensure the future use of  renewable sources that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

2.    We ask that any heating systems installed are future-proofed so that they are compatible with any potential district heating systems and/or – as far as possible – compatible with renewable energy sources

3.    We ask - given this is a 30 year programme, and that by the end of this timeframe, (unless the Tories abolish our climate change targets), we will be close to the point whereby we should have cut our carbon emissions by 80% -– will this programme be making a sufficient contribution to our emissions reduction targets?

4.    In view of the Tory government attacks on social housing, we also ask if these proposals are affected by changes to the potential rental income the council may receive into its housing revenue account


We ask the mayor to take this into account, when making his decision.



Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Speech on Place scrutiny intergrated transport enquiry day


I have to say my memory of the integrated transport inquiry day was that we received a massive amount of information over a relatively short period of time, and then did not have adequate time to discuss the detail.

I suppose it sums up one of the problems of scrutiny. ‘Integrated’ transport is a huge issue. You won’t just do it in one day. The problem therefore is to either devote a lot of your limited time on such an issue or to focus down on a subset of it.

The second point I’d like to make about the day was the thought that I’d seen quite a bit of it before. This is partly true – in 2009 I was a member of a sustainable transport select committee which met a number of times over the course of the year and came up with a set of recommendations.

These included the need for a transport authority – a combined authority is still being discussed, of course. It included the need for smart cards, something still being asked for.

It mentioned the need for improved travel information to allow people to make informed choices.
It talked of ‘Improve cross boundary working in the Greater Bristol Travel area.’ Also suggestions made in the latest report.

SO I’m not actually sure whether or not to be pleased or alarmed to see so many things repeated in a report 6 years after its predecessor. On the one hand, there is a consistency in recognising the need. On the other, progress does seem to be painfully slow.

Having said that, there are parts of the report which are clearly valuable. For example, the report calls for :

‘ a universal approach to traffic management and network development be developed between West of England (WoE) authorities, to increase co-ordination and ensure that there is strategic overview at the planning stage and when developing operational infrastructure. ‘

I’m sure everyone would like to see a consistency of approach. - although my current view of the West of England partnership is that they already have this as long as it benefits the Tory shires.

I was certainly interested to see the item about ‘increasing segregated bus routes’. I would certainly support this on the grounds that it uses existing road space, rather than taking out green space.

I also note that the day and the report included a discussion on bus quality contracts. I disagree with the item in the report stating that ‘that approach is unlikely to work in Bristol alone as the boundaries are too tight to design an effective network’. I remember quite specifically asking the expert speaker about this issue - and he saw no reason why you could not have agreements which crossed boundaries. I believe there is merit to further consideration of bus quality contracts or seeking to gain similar powers.

There are many other aspects to integrating transport - cycling barely gets a mention - and yet we need to integrate cycling into both bus and rail services in a consistent and positive manner. We need to look at measures to increase the number of buses operating in the city. We need a Henbury loop. We need a station at Ashton Gate. We need to adopt the sort of measures contained in Sustrans excellent ‘Good transport guide’ produced for the Green capital project.


To sum up then, I see the inquiry day as making a contribution to the on-going need to address all aspects of improving sustainable transport in this city. I would, however, like to see much more rapid progress.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Camden Road bridge consultation

Strictly speaking, this is a response to the consultation from the new bridge (when it comes) to North St

We are extremely pleased that Camden Road bridge is being built. We are generally supportive of the proposals contained in this proposal and the likely increase in cycling and walking that it will bring.


However, we consider it vital that there is a controlled crossing over Coronation Road from the bridge to Camden Road itself.


We support the closure of Camden Road to traffic. There is an opportunity for this to be an entrance to Southville (or South Bristol even!).  We would like to see some sort of entry arch, some planters and perhaps a row of Sheffield cycle stands (with letters in the middle spelling out the word ‘Southville’).


The speed tables on Raleigh Road are likely to reduce speed on this road, which we regard as important, especially with the new school on Upton Road.