Welcome to Clifton Down eNews! This is our regular newsletter to let you know what's going on in City Hall and Westminster. We hope you find it useful and informative, but if you have any questions or comments then please don't hesitate to get in touch.
In this edition:
- Council payoffs continue
- Residents’ parking permit warning
- Consultation on houses of multiple occupation
- New Covid-19 test centre opening at Victoria Rooms
- Ways you can have your say!
- Calls to pedestrianise Cotham Hill
- Bristol University
- Loss-making Bristol Energy sold
1. Council payoffs continue
Bristol City Council has spent millions on unreported payoffs to council staff.
Twenty-four former staff were given over £100,000 each in exit payments since 2016 by the Labour-run council. Government guidance says that big payoffs should be approved by the full council, but none of the payments were.
This is the latest revelation in an investigation that has been led by Lib Dem councillors in to a series of payouts to departing council staff, including an unnecessary payment of £98,000 to a Chief Executive who left after only 7 months.
2. Residents’ parking permits warning
Residents will no longer be notified when their parking permit expires, but they will still be fined.
This is the result of the council’s decision to outsource the residents’ permit system, but not to transfer the necessary information. The Labour run council claim that data protection rules stop them from providing information to enable payment reminders.
Many residents have already been disadvantaged by the switch to digital only permits, introduced without any warning or consultation. Without a paper permit or a reminder email, many users could get caught out.
Permit users will need to re-register at https://secure.mipermit.com/bristol/Application/home.aspx
3. Consultation on houses of multiple occupation
Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are common in our area. The council is currently seeking views about how we can manage these properties to protect tenants and encourage balanced communities. Have a look at the proposals and submit your suggestions by 11 September.
4. New Covid-19 test centre opening at Victoria Rooms
A new Covid-19 testing site has been opened in our area at the rear of the Victoria Rooms on St Paul’s road. Anyone with symptoms, no matter how mild, will be able to book a swab test which will give results the following day. Tests can be booked online at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
You can find out the list of symptoms at the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/#symptoms
5. Ways you can have your say!
There are a number of open consultations which you can contribute to at the moment. They allow your thoughts to be heard on a range issues that affect our area.
- The council are consulting about improvements to the A4018/A37 transport corridor, which includes Whiteladies road. They want to hear your thoughts about making this route better for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport. You can submit comments up until 11th of September here: https://travelwest.info/projects/a37-a4018-transport-corridor
- Post-pandemic we must transition to more sustainable forms of transport and this includes encouraging walking and cycling in our area. The council have set up an interactive map where you can suggest possible improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure in our area. Add your thoughts here: https://bristol.citizenspace.com/management-of-place/bristol-covid-19-transport-request-form/
- Cycling group Cycle Sunday have launched proposals to establish a new cycling and walking route around the Downs. This would see new, wider paths be installed as well as a new crossing on Circular Road. You can find out more and have your say at: https://thedownsloop.com/index.php?contentid=14
6. Calls to pedestrianise Cotham Hill
A group of local residents and businesses around Cotham Hill are working to persuade the Council to trial pedestrianisation of the street from The Penny/Dragon Fountain to the Jubo Raj/Clic Sargent. They hope that this will help facilitate social-distancing, support local business and improve pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Clifton Down Lib Dem campaigner Laura Barry said, “Pedestrianisation can be a great way to encourage more sustainable travel and enable social distancing. However, we must listen to residents and make sure these measures are enacted in an equitable and accessible way.”
Have your say on potential street changes to help fight COVID-19 on Cotham Hill, and other Bristol streets:
7. Bristol University
At the beginning of October the campus will be open to students for the start of the new academic term. Staff are working hard to ensure that student spaces such as libraries, laboratories, cafes and sports facilities will be safe to use, with hand sanitizer and enhanced cleaning in place. Blended learning will be used for teaching, with a mixture of online lectures and in-person tutorials and seminars, subject to ongoing government guideline reviews.
Bristol University researchers have formed a group called Bristol UNCOVER to collaborate on ways to fight the disease. Check out the latest updates on their Twitter feed https://twitter.com/BristolUncover and maybe volunteer to help with this vital research.
8. Loss-making Bristol Energy sold
Bristol Energy has received almost forty million pounds from Bristol taxpayers, to prop up a commercial venture that continues to lose money. Originally envisioned as a way to generate clean electricity in Bristol, under Labour the company is just a failing retail energy company. Most of the customers are not local, despite having their bills effectively subsidised by Bristol residents.
It has been clear for some time that Bristol Energy was in trouble, despite repeated bailouts from the Council. The Liberal Democrats have led calls for an independent inquiry into the company’s finances. Labour councillors have used their majority on Bristol City Council to block this.
There is a petition to call for the independent inquiry: http://www.bristollibdems.org/bristol_energy_inquiry_petition. Please sign, and hold Marvin and the Labour councillors to account for this terrible waste of money, which could have been used for many more worthwhile Bristol projects.
Laura Barry and Merche Clark
Clifton Down Liberal Democrats