Clifton eNews - July 2020

Covered in this issue we have:

1. The ending of Covid lock-down

2. Preventing Covid outbreaks

3. Bristol Energy company to be sold by Council

4. Lib Dems secure Covid-19 inquiry

5. WHSmith site to be demolished

6. City Centre road changes

7. Expanded pavements of Princess Victoria Street

8. Clean Air Zone update

9. Cumberland Basin Update

10. Cumberland Road status

11. Support local business in the recession

12. Trinity Care Community

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1. The ending of Covid lock-down...

This is now happening. From last weekend, Bristol's pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses have begun to reopen. It's very important that social distancing continues in all avenues, wherever possible. Here are some key points on various types of venues:

 

Toilets:

Most toilets in public parks are now open. Two new temporary toilet blocks have also been installed - in Queen Square, and by the Lloyds Amphitheatre. Take care using these - socially distance, wash hands thoroughly, etc; both are open 10am-10pm.

 

Play Parks:

Most children's play parks across Bristol openedon Monday 6 July. Those visiting a play park should follow the guidance that will be displayed on clear signage in the park. That guidance includes; only one adult accompanying children at a time; bring and use hand sanitiser regularly; do not bring food and drink into the play area; and leave the area if it becomes too busy and you cannot safely keep two metres apart.

 

Libraries:

From Monday 13 July, a call-and-collect service will be available from the Central Library. Requests for books must be done over the phone, or via email. Three branch libraries, Fishponds, Henbury and Stockwood, will later reopen to the public in mid-August for limited browsing, borrowing and access to computers. The call-and-collect service will continue, with plans in place to reopen the Central Library in September.

 

Museums,  Galleries, Places of worship:

Many of these are planning to re-open soon, with strict rules.

 

Recycling centres:

These are now re-open, but in a bid to help people plan their visit and reduce waiting times, an odd and even number-plate system is in place, which means people will only be able to visit on certain days. All visitors must have proof they are Bristol residents.

 

Registry office & Funerals:

Registry office ceremonies can restart in Bristol from Saturday 4 July, with appropriate guest capacities and social distancing measures in place. From Monday 6 July, the number of mourners will be increased to 20 at both burials and cremations; social distancing measures will remain in place during all funerals.

 

For further guidance on services reopening in Bristol, visit: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/crime-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19-what-you-need-to-know

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2. Preventing Covid outbreaks

Localised lock-downs will be re-imposed if outbreaks of Covid cross certain thresholds. You can find out more details here: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/crime-emergencies/covid-outbreak-management-plan

It's critical that we avoid local outbreaks, and that means maintain vigilance at all times in public. You can now get tested for Covid on request, and you should request one if you feel any unusual symptoms, even if you suspect it is just a regular cold. If you have mild symptoms of coronavirus, you should stay at home, self-isolate and order a coronavirus test to be sent to your home. Book a test on the NHS website or call 119 - www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

Finally, wear face-masks in all close-contact situations with strangers. The evidence that face-masks help cut transmissions is now very strong, and every government in the world and the WHO have accepted this. Face-masks are now mandatory on all public transport. Here's a short video clip of how to make a mask from a sock in under a minute: https://twitter.com/donalscannell/status/1259804672455557120

 (use a thick cotton sock with no holes)

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3. Bristol Energy company to be sold by Council

Bristol’s Labour mayor and cabinet have decided to sell Bristol Energy, the Council’s loss making energy company.

Bristol Energy has received almost £40,000,000 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.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-52894013

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.

https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/call-for-independent-inquiry-into-bristol-energy-voted-down/

There is a petition to call for the independent inquiry: http://www.bristollibdems.org/bristol_energy_inquiry_petition

After years of stonewalling and secrecy, the mayor has finally caved and decided to cut the city’s losses. Without public access to the finances, it is impossible to know if this is the right decision. However, it is almost certain that Bristol residents will have lost tens of millions of pounds from this fiasco.

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4. Lib Dems secure Covid-19 inquiry

The Government's chaotic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic will now be investigate by an independent inquiry, following a campaign by Lib Dem MPs.

Ed Davey MP has been pushing for an independent public inquiry at Prime Minister’s Question and Johnson finally agreed to hold one in his response on Wednesday. And, Layla Moran MP has led a group of parliamentarians from across all parties to set up and hold a parliamentary inquiry that starts work and takes evidence straight away.

This will help our country learn from the mistakes the Government has made in its public health response, neglect of care homes, confusing slogans, and poor guidance. Now, the task will be to hold Boris Johnson to his word - something he’s not known for. We must have a public inquiry NOW, so lessons can be learned before any second peak of the virus hits us.

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5. WHSmith site to be demolished this summer

The proposals for new shops and offices on the old WHSmith site on Clifton Down Road were approved by the planning committee in January, despite objections from Historic England. By June, the Council and developer had signed off the permission and discharged the first conditions applied to it. The developer intends to start demolition of the buildings and clearance of the site this summer 2020.

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6. City Centre road changes

The Council, anticipating lower traffic levels for some time, is taking action to try to cut car usage in the central areas. The "Old City" - around Corn St - will finally be pedestrianised (which has been planned for a long time). There is an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) for further measures:

Bus Lanes:

1) Anchor Road/Canons Road

2) St Augustines Parade

3) Baldwin Street (west end)

4) High Street/Baldwin Street (east end)

5) Baldwin Street (east end) /Bristol Bridge Victoria Street

6) Union Street

 

Related measures:

1) Suspension of prohibition of driving on The Horsefair/Penn Street

2) Suspension of Bus Lanes on Newgate

3) Suspension of Prohibition of Entry eastbound on Newgate

 

"Widen my Path" is a website where you can add your own ideas about where pavements should be wider/cycle routes should be improved - www.widenmypath.com

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7. Expanded pavements on Princess Victoria Street

Pedestrians now benefit from wider pavements outside the shops on Princess Victoria Street with the suspension of parking bays. Barriers have been placed in the road to block the bays, allowing more space for pedestrians to pass.

The wider pavements will aid social distancing, but some are unhappy that the barriers make crossing the road difficult, and give the appearance of a construction site. Nearby residents are also be concerned about enforcement of residents’ parking areas, especially as those using digital payments no longer need to display permits.

“As Britain re-opens, we have an opportunity to create a more sustainable society,” says Clifton Liberal Democrat Nicholas Coombes. “Prioritising pedestrians is the right thing to do, but this has been done in a very clumsy way. This is a useful experiment, but the council must consult local people, business and shoppers to come up with a long-term strategy that works for all.”

The Bristol Cycling Campaign has recommended that the street is pedestrianised entirely, along with several other streets across the city: https://www.bristol247.com/opinion/your-say/there-are-many-streets-in-bristol-which-are-crying-out-for-pedestrianisation/

Let us know your thoughts on pedestrianisation in our area!

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8. Clean Air Zone update

A number of cities have announced delays to the implementation of their Clean Air Zones, due to Covid and its impact on the economy and transport. Manchester has announced a delay until 2022 and Leeds have announced an indefinite delay. Bristol is not at that stage yet, however Council is reviewing with Govt how the impact of Covid will affect the delivery of the programme as well as the recent changes to the transport network and road closures. These, along with the changing patterns of travel throughout the city, will impact the clean air proposals, and it's important that the traffic modelling be updated to reflect the new reality - or the proposals may not have the desired effect.

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9. Cumberland Basin Update

The Labour Mayor’s plans for the Cumberland Basin drew strong criticism from local people earlier this year. He was forced to concede further consultation, to take place after the local elections, then due in May. However, all council engagement is currently paused for public safety. In response to questions from the Cumberland Basin Stakeholder Group, the Mayor has recently re-committed to undertaking the public engagement when it is safe to do so.

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10. Cumberland Road status

After a period of confusion and circumstances changing weekly, the road appears to have settled into a stable state of being open westbound for all traffic, and eastbound only for Metrobus. We understand this will now continue until the riverbank is fixed, which will be a year-ish. The Mayor had intended to make this current situation permanent when the "Diesel Ban" came in next year, but this is now unclear for two reasons, 1) The Government has still not agreed that the diesel ban can proceed; 2) It's no longer clear that the diesel ban will be necessary given the radical new traffic changes now being tested in the city centre.

Note that Avon Crescent remains closed at the junction with Cumberland Road.

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11. Support local business in the recession

The official definition of recession cannot be satisfied for 6 months, but the economic figures show the economy shrunk over 20% in April, which is unprecedented and we are clearly deep in recession. As the economy opens up, Bristol businesses need you more than ever. Please do support local stores, cafes, restaurants and pubs, even if you only get take-out. Many of these businesses cannot now survive for more than a couple of months more, and may never return if they don't get enough income to survive the summer.

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12. Trinity Care Community

Holy Trinity Church building is currently closed but the community is very much active. Below is a message from the church:

Whilst we have had to suspend the popular Thursday Lunch Club, Memory Cafe and the newly opened Community Cafe, we have recognised that our role in helping to combat loneliness and isolation is needed more than ever. Our members have told us that the telephone contact has been invaluable, especially for those not able to access online information. We have therefore extended this opportunity and are now launching a new service for anyone in this local HCCA area. Two's Company is a telephone befriending service that connects local volunteers with local people. The aim of this telephone befriending is to help reduce the impact of social isolation by making connections with others. If you or someone you know would benefit from this befriending service, or if you would like to know more, please call Liz Leaman on our new dedicated line for Two's Company: 07458 300 210.

We are waiting for further guidance from the Diocese with regards to reopening the church building for community gatherings and groups as well as for prayer and worship. In the meantime, we continue to gather as a worshipping community online. Please see our website for more details of these gatherings and updates on our reopening. www.holytrinityhotwells.org

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If you'd like to know more about our work and the goings on in City Hall then look out for our paper newsletters delivered around Clifton or follow us online on Facebook or Twitter!

Best Wishes,

Nicholas Coombes and Max Langer

Clifton Liberal Democrats

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