“Save our Parks” petition- please act now

28 02 2011

Withywood Park

Many readers will already be aware of the Bristol Lib Dems’ mismanagement of the green spaces consultation.

Many of you will also be aware that when it came to debating this in the Council House the Lib Dems used their majority to steam roller opposition.

If we can collect 3,500 signatures we can force the Lib Dem cabinet into having a real debate. They can ignore the opposition parties but they can’t ignore the Bristol public.

Please take 30 seconds to sign here and verify the signature by clicking the email link sent to you.



Jon Rogers opposes reducing the cost of care… but his excuse doesn’t make sense

23 02 2011

One of the interesting features of this budget debate was how willing Jon Rogers was to mislead the public on numerous points on Labour’s amendment to reduce the burden of the cost of care on elderly citizens and our community safety package.

Ultimately Jon Rogers voted against better protection for the elderly and vulnerable because he felt it was unfair to reduce park and ride subsidy. He and his colleagues said it would cause more disruption or stall Bristol’s economy or discourage people from using the service. This is rubbish.

The strange thing is Jon’s memory seems to have failed him because in June 2009 he told Star FM….

“Park and Ride is paid for primarily through the Council Tax, it’s actually the people of Bristol paying for people who live outside of Bristol to travel into the city … We can’t take money out of many of the other things we’re trying to do in the city to excessively subsidise those Park and Ride routes.”

He told the BBC Website in June 2009

It’s not right that Bristol council tax payers should subsidise the users of these sites. We feel it appropriate to pass the costs on in an appropriate way,”

and in June 2009 he told Ian Onions at the Evening Post

Council taxpayers in Bristol should not be over-subsidising visitors who come to the city and use the park and ride services. They are still extremely good value for money.”

Cllr. Rogers like most Lib Dems only thinks a proposal is worth listening to if its from another Lib Dem. This high handed arrogance means that the costs of care reductions failed, Bristol will not get more PCSOs on our streets, the Bobby van (a victims support and crime prevention service) will fold and extra (and much needed) dog wardens fall away. All because people like Jon Rogers can’t look beyond narrow party politics. Shame

Lib Dems steamroller crushes Labour Bristol Budget amendments

23 02 2011

Last night was the Bristol Budget meeting. Bristol Labour put together a package to alleviate the worst affects from the most vulnerable in our city.

I’m not going to talk about the substance of our amendments because that has been spelled out in other posts. I’d like to talk briefly about the atmosphere.

The Lib Dems never broke rank on a single vote. Anyone who was present will describe how Lib Dems sat there barely listening to their opponents. Jeering down speakers, like clockwork, at the end of speeches they barely listened to.

Lib Dems and Tories screamed down members of the public when they expressed their upset and fears. They cheered as citizens were dragged from their seats and ejected. In one particularly unpleasant moment a protestor appeared (though I can’t be certain) to have hit his head hard in being removed. (there was an almighty smack as he hit the ground) Lib Dem Cllr Steve Comer said “Where’s your revolution now.” One member of the public said all you are doing is pointing fingers at each other Tory Cllr Morris declared words to the effect of “but we enjoy doing that, get out.”

When the public were cleared from the gallery Labour members walked out in protest until the public were readmitted. Which thankfully they were.

Lib Dems regularly behaved in a high handed way.

  • Cllr Rogers  (Ashley) described an amendment reversing his own meals on wheels charges hike as “a petty absence of vision”
  • On the same meals on wheels amendment Cllr. Kiely (Easton) stated in his experience Labour were always “liking to waste people’s money”
  • Cllr Janke (Clifton) described plans for a scholarship for the poorest and brightest kids in Bristol to go to Uni as “tokenism”

There was more of the same and cheers from Lib Dems as they voted down each life line for the poorest.

Perhaps the most telling moment was when Lib Dems and Tories stood shoulder to shoulder to trash Labour scholarship scheme. A last ditch attempt to avoid the very worst of Lib Dem betrayal on tuition fees increases. They sneered. They rubbished it and they moved on.

Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the BCC webcast of the event.

Bishopsworth Tories mourn local services cuts but its their Government causing it

4 02 2011

My Conservative opponent Cllr Richard Eddy is content to mourn reduction in local services but is unwilling to face the ugly truth. It is his party in Government that is delivering these harmful cuts to Bishopsworth’s residents.

Richard Eddy complains that police stations are going to be unmanned for longer. He can’t ignore the fact that this is due to the Conservative Party having cut police funding by 20%.

He can’t ignore the fact that his government have cut funding to the four Greater Bristol Councils by 28% over the next four years. This has led to the Bristol Lib Dem Council cutting the number of Police and Community Support Officers.

He can’t ignore the fact that the Ministry of Justice is facing a reduction of 11,000 front line staff, which will impact on Courts’ abilities to deal with offenders quickly.

I have family members and friends who serve as Police Officers or PCSOs in Avon and Somerset, South Wales Police, Hampshire Constabulary and the Met. They are hardworking people who try to do their best in difficult circumstances. Richard Eddy’s Party has made their job a lot harder.

Last May I and the Labour Party warned that the Conservatives plan to cut so quickly and so deeply would harm our communities. If Richard Eddy wants to raise law and order as a means to get re-elected I am more than happy. His party’s reckless cuts show that they are not the law and order party but Labour is.

Today is my last day in the Chair of Bristol West Labour

25 01 2011

I’ve been a resident of Bristol West for almost 5 years now.

For much of that time I’ve been Secretary of the Constituency Labour Party and in the last few months Chair. I’ve seen the Labour Party rebuild here and whilst we suffered from Cleggomania in the 2010 General I’m certain I’ll see our candidates winning Council Seats in May.

I’m leaving the Constituency in the next few months for St. George West and following tonight’s AGM I’m standing down as a CLP officer in order to focus all my energies in taking on the Tories in Bishopsworth.

It’s been a real honour to work with some great people in Bristol West Labour. Paul Smith our former PPC who did so much to reconnect and reengage our disaffected core. David Jepson who has poured over the constituency figures so many times and organised so much campaigning. Karin Smyth for her direction and leadership. Laurie Derbyshire and Rosemarry Chamberlain for continuing the fight in Clifton and Hotwells (a very tough climate to nurture Labour’s red rose.) Bill Nicks for always being on top of the sums. It’s been great to see Ben Mosley develop from Bristol Uni Student, to Student’s Union Officer, to local party officer and finally to a promising young candidate. It’s been a real pleasure to work with Charlotte Martin who put in a huge number of hours before, during and after the election. She will certainly be a valued representative one day.

Very special thanks belongs to Zanna Wheeler. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me describing her as “no spring chicken” but she has, without a doubt, put in more hours than most party members. Phone banking with a smile on her face and a will to win. I’ve always appreciated her constructive criticism and her kind words.

So good luck to Bristol West Constituency Labour Party in the future. Remember what the 2010 election felt like. Remember what the Lib Dems did next. Winning Bristol West is essential to winning a Labour majority and protecting the very people our party was created to defend.

Finally. If you’re a Lib Dem reading this, don’t take too much heart. The joy of the internet is I could be on the northside of Snowdon and still point out your half truths, broken promises and out and out lies. Come the next General Election, when Stephen Williams runs again, I’ll come back to Bristol West and do my very best to turf him out and deliver the Labour MP that is so desperately needed.

Williams Without Wriggle Room

4 11 2010

Vote for Williams and then he will vote how Mr. Cameron asks him to

In his maiden speech the Lib Dem MP for Bristol West boasted that this was the most intelligent constituency in the Country given its large number of highly educated residents. It’s sad then, that he is currently treating us like we are idiots on the issue of tuition fees.

Listen to the Radio 4 “PM show” broadcast for 3rd November 2010 from 11 mins in. 

(only available for 6 more days)

Stephen Williams says of his pledge
That he: “know(s) what I was signing and what I was pledging to do”

“It was to move away from the existing fees system… to a fairer system.”

“I think what the government is putting together is a fairer system…”

Judge for yourself by looking at the pic on his own website.

The pledge plainly says he will “vote against any increase in fees.” 

Before the election he also said “The Liberal Democrats want to scrap tuition fees and will fight any attempt to raise the cap.” This is still on his website.

To say he meant something else in signing this pledge or that he is right to support an increase in fees or the cap is either cheap spin or a simple plain lie.

A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.

1 11 2010

It’s an interesting sign of how advanced the green agenda is, that we can barely imagine a modern mainstream British Political Party Leader uttering the sentence above. It’s attributed to Maggie some 30 years ago.

A couple of confessions:

a. I’m beyond the age of 26.

b. I find myself on a bus almost every week day

c. I don’t consider myself a failure.

Like a large minority of people in Bristol I try to make do without a car. For a lot of people the hassle, fuss and cost of finding somewhere to park in the centre of town where I go to work puts me off getting one. I’ve made an informed choice and I live in an area well served by public transport with both the Severn beach line and a bus route within 2 minutes walk and my place of work in about 30 minutes walk away.

We as a city should be doing all we can to help citizens make informed choices about transport, all with a view to encouraging them to use public transport where its appropriate. Unfortunately First Buses Website plainly fails to do this.

My partner Kat and I are hoping to buy a house together next year and having found a couple of areas that were affordable and pleasant I took a look at the First Buses website to see how easy it would be to get to work.

When you arrive on the website you notice a handy search function. Try it. Unless the street you type in is specifically mentioned in the timetable you get no results.

If you click on the section marked Timetables “Plan your Journey with ease” You find that you need a detailed knowledge of what service number you actually need to use before using this section. So it’s not easy at all.

When you click on “View our map network” and then on Bristol and South Gloucestershire you finally feel like you are getting somewhere.

A colour coded map of all Bristol shows service numbers which all flows into the city centre.

Finally you think you will get to see where you get on and off. So you navigate to the city centre map and you get this.

I can’t work this out easily. Can you?

This website is abysmal and whoever designed it should be exiled to Steepholm.

Compare this to the Transport for London website. In a City with a fantastically complicated public transport system it seems that local government provide a clever joined up website where you can even search for your post code or a vague street name and find a bus, underground, overground or even a wombling free walking route!

Does it matter? Is this just a grumpy Monday morning rant. Yes. On both counts (I haven’t had my coffee yet).

If we actually want people to get out of their cars we need to make public transport cheaper, more regular but first and foremost we need to let people know that they can use it to get to where they want to go! At the moment we have a system which is as far from user friendly as we can get.

If you agree with me, why not use the clunky First Buses feed back system and let me know by commenting on this blog if you get a response.

But more importantly Gary Hopkins is the person responsible for our Public Transport System in Bristol. Why not email him about how poor our information system is and demand that he actually does something about it. You can email him on gary.hopkins@bristol.gov.uk

Good morning and have a good week.