Less than 24 hours to lobby both Green Party Cllrs to help save ALL Green Spaces

21 11 2011

Over 8 months ago Labour Bristol pledged to end the Lib Dems Green Space Sell off and send all decisions on Green Space sales to neighbourhood partnerships. Though we didn’t end up running the Council 5 Labour gains and 1 Green gain forced the Lib Dems to listen to opponents and the people of Bristol and halt the central sale of green spaces.

A cross party committee was set up to resolve the issue. Initially Labour, Greens and Tories recognised how unpopular the Lib Dem parks sales were but then something happened.

The Bristol Green Party and other Green Cllr gave Cllr Tess Green authority to negotiate on the committee on their behalf.

We now have the incredible position that Labour and the Tories favour sending decisions on the disposal of green spaces to neighbourhood partnerships and THE GREENS and the Lib Dems favour a central sale of 38 sites in working class areas. It seems the Greens fight against a Costa on the leafy Gloucester Rd but not FOR the parks of working class Bristolians.

I can well understand Bristolians will not believe this so check out paragraph 18 of the proposal. The situation having been discovered and publicised Bristol Green Gus Hoyt reversed his previous support for Tess Green’s freedom to negotiate and said he would support decisions going to Neighbourhood partnerships and always had… this was despite previously refusing to comment on the matter.

The situation has been described to me by one anonymous Green Party member as the local party’s “Clause IV” moment and I’m told there are serious misgivings in the local party.

THE WORST thing about the situation is that due to illness the vote is looking very very tight. It would be a disaster if the motion fails but for Cllr Green not backing down from this position that runs contrary to everything most people think the Greens stand for.

What can you do? You can lobby Tess Green here  and ask her to change her vote and send decisions to local people and you can lobby and email Gus Hoyt and ask him to persuade the other 1/2 of his Bristol Party to change her mind.

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11 responses

21 11 2011
turningbristolred

Update: I’ve been pointed to this press release from Bristol Green’s on 9th May

http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/News/lets-keep-our-promises-to-stop-the-parks-sell-off.html

Including these hostages to fortune

Gus Hoyt, Ashley’s newly elected Green councillor, said:

“Promises to cancel the sell-off were made before the election by the three parties that now make up the majority of the council. It’s very important those promises are honoured by the new council”

His colleague Cllr Tess Green, of Southville ward, added:

“This is a golden opportunity to look again at the funding for parks improvements. What the LibDems wanted to do was unpopular, unsustainable, and regressive – and wouldn’t even raise the cash that’s needed. A new administration must not make the same mistake”

21 11 2011
Elisabeth Winkler

Hi Darren

The Green Party is against selling-off green spaces in Bristol and everywhere.

But saying “NO” is not an option.

So the decision is about how the selling-off decision is made and what is the best way to limit the loss of the green spaces

Is it for Neighbourhood Partnerships to decide? But what if every Neighbourhood Partnership decides to sell-off its green spaces?

In which case, is it better to sell off a certain amount – so there is at least a fixed number?

It sounds as if Cllr Tess Green is thinking of choosing this latter option as the lesser of two evils.

While you – and Cllr Gus Hoyt – think Neighbourhood Partnerships are the best ways to save green spaces.

But only time will tell which decision was correct and whether either will minimise the loss.

As for the “38 sites in working class areas” please can you list the areas? I am wondering how you came to that opinion.

Sometimes politics is not as black-and-white as might you wish to portray it.

Elisabeth

22 11 2011
turningbristolred

I didn’t see such qualification from Tess at or immediately after the election

This was their press release entitled “Let’s Keep Our Promises to Stop the PArks Sell off. http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/News/lets-keep-our-promises-to-stop-the-parks-sell-off.html

Presumably it’s like a Lib Dem promise and only good until a decision has to be made?

In Labour Bristol we trust local people to save land they value (which I assume will be most of it) and dispose that which is truly low value obviously Tess does not.

21 11 2011
Jo

Just had a chat with Tess Green- it was horrifying. She insisted that something had to be done about green spaces, and that lacking money to make these spaces disabled accessible meant that we needed to do something with them. she tried to calm me by saying that they wouldn’t be selling the *whole* parks anyway, just chunks of them. She told me that these parks were largely very ugly places where people don’t like to go, although didn’t seem to appreciate my comparing that with the ex-dump sight proposed for the new stadium! She told me that the only thing making her think she wouldn’t vote in this was that she felt Labour had undermined the working committee. The last bit of the call was most interesting- having told me the key problem here was the council lacking funds, she said the best things locals could do would be to wait until this passed, then lodge a town green application, costing the council an obscene amount!

22 11 2011
turningbristolred

So Tess is admitting to members of the public her opposition is about party politics not principle? The idea of trying to encourage town green applications may well help recruit Green Party activists but will cost Bristol City Council a lot of money.

Grim approach to an important issue.

21 11 2011
thebristolblogger

Town Green applications don’t cost an “obscene amount”. It’s the cost of an inspector for a few days – a few grand.

What costs is McNamara’s insistence on employing barristers to represent the council to fight the application. Then employing barristers again to query the inspector’s decision. Then holding another inspector’s inquiry, once again employing barristers to represent them and so on …

If McNamara and his team did their job and represented the council at these types of informal quasi-judicial inquiries it would save a small fortune.

The only reason for hiring the barristers is that McNamara requires them to find loopholes in the law to prevent communities getting the town greens they’re legally entitled to.

22 11 2011
turningbristolred

You see now this is high quality mischief making. Much more effective than mere name calling.

The fact is that Council solicitors have broad specialisms but Town Green law has taken on a strange evolution and so you need an expert to scrutinise.

I’m not an expert but it seems to me that it’s wise to scrutinise the merits on an individual basis which is what they do.

… and that’s all I’ll say on that subject.

23 11 2011
Tony Dyer

Darren,

Town Greens applications only cost a lot of money if they are opposed.

If the council accepted the wishes of local people to protect their green spaces permanently by agreeing to voluntarily register those green spaces which local residents wish to see retained then the costs to the council will be minimal and will offer a level of protection to green space above and beyond that offered by a policy which could potentially be altered under a future administration.

Or are the Labour Party not in favour of local residents deciding on the future of their green spaces after all?

23 11 2011
turningbristolred

The point is that it is mad for Tess to suggest to Jo (who I have no reason to disbelieve) that locals should not resist green spaces consultations and later raise a town green application. It’s her playing politics with people’s green spaces. It creates local stress and local effort to be expended unnecessarily.

Any town green application is going to generate costs and a sensible way of circumventing those costs is the administrative process we are now going through and having local input at this stage. I don’t think that’s controversial is it? If green space is threatened and all else fails then I can well understand a town green application being made.

Tess’ suggestion is just bizarre and a desperate way of getting herself out of hot water with previous supporters and her own party. Happily circumstances overtook her and she was released from her difficulties by the Lib Dems.

23 11 2011
Tony Dyer

A voluntary registration of a park or green space as a Town Green has no costs beyond that of registering the land and provides a legal protection to its green space status above and beyond that endowed by the PGSS – given that in 2008 Labour itself approved the strategy of selling off green space that you have been so vehemently attacking, it is easy to see how another change of heart, could once again place green space at risk of being sold for development.

The Bristol Parks Forum has also expressed their concern about potential threats to public assets like parks and green spaces implied by the new national planning policies being pushed through parliament by the current government.

Meanwhile, the council has spents 10’s of thousands of taxpayer funds on blanket opposition to all Town Green applications – including that successfully achieved for Brierley Leaze one of the sites referred to in the PGSS.

The policy of opposing all TVG applications has never been discussed by councillors, let alone scrutinised.

I have not heard a single Labour councillor or party representative question this.

The real point is that Labour says that we should let local people decide on the parks and green spaces where they live, yet has not once questioned the costly policy of opposing all TVGs regardless of their merits, and regardless of their level of support amongst local residents.

Why is that? Perhaps you would like to raise the question at the next Labour Group meeting?

23 11 2011
turningbristolred

The Government’s general willingness to change the planning laws are very concerning. I’ve already spoken against their willingness to relax standards for free schools and the risks to kids.

If you are concerned that the blanket policy of resisting TVG applications has never been raised by Cllrs as a Green Party member I imagine your first complaint is to your own Cllrs for not giving your issues a higher status?

There may be merit in applying TVG status to parks that are saved as a result of this review. As I’ve already said TVG law is not something I’ve scrutinised in detail. My focus at the moment is care cuts, law centre funding and on a national level the attack on employee rights.

I’ll pass your comments on to the Labour Cllrs but I’m afraid the big parties are now gearing up to the budget with the details only trickling through now. So from now until budget day we’ll be working hard on seeing essential services can be saved. I’m sure Gus & Tess will continue to work hard in trying to get loos for the Occupy camp and not the sort of things that mattered to the communities you and I grew up in. 😉

The point remains Tess’ suggestion that the public do not resist consultations but then apply for TVG is odd and duplicitous. It’s playing politics to get herself out of party political trouble.

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