Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flogging of Bristol green space: why no consultation?

Letter to the appropriate Executive Member of Bristol City Council's Cabinet seeking views and clarifications about the Bristol to Bath Railway Path land sell-off.

Dear Cllr Rosalie Walker

Please see the letter below I've just sent to the Bristol Evening Post [an adaptation of this blog post]. As the Executive Member for Culture and Healthy Communities I'd appreciate a response from you on the issues raised.

I'd be particularly grateful if you could clarify the status and designation of the land due to be sold on the Bristol to Path Railway Path. What are the council's 'stringent procedures' (according to the council's Pete Webb) on land selling that mean public consultation beforehand is not a requirement?

Does the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy not apply to this land? If not then could you please explain why? The strategy certainly mentions the Bristol to Path Railway Path as an example of an important green corridor so the lack of consultation before selling is most puzzling.

In your letter to me (dated 30 July), responding to my e-petition on the flogging of green spaces, you were at pains to empasise public consultation via the production of Area Green Space Plans. You also indicated that land outside the marginal, low value and surplus category would not be sold and yet land on the Railway Path is to be sold.

I look forward to your response.

Interesting link between this local issue and what new Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP has posted on her blog today (extract below):

Participation, co-operation and community ownership are the solutions to creating sustainable urban environments, Green Party leader and MEP for the South East will say at a panel debate in London today (11 September).

In a session entitled ‘Rethinking sustainability’ at the Stephen Lawrence 8th Annual Memorial Lecture, Dr Lucas will attack the ‘bricks and mortar’ approach of mainstream models of regeneration which prioritise quick profits over the need to empower community residents.

At the event hosted by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, Dr Lucas will say:
“Plentiful green space, access to good public services and improved safety all lie at the heart of successful and sustainable communities. But in order to create neighbourhoods that really ‘work’ – economically, socially, culturally and environmentally – we also need to give people a stake in their communities.

“Reducing crime, improving prosperity, and ensuring access to services like a GP, good schools or just somewhere to kick a ball around are hugely important. Most of all though, a sense of community is crucial. Residents must be given genuine opportunities to participate in decision-making regarding their homes and areas.

1 comment:

  1. Sent a reminder/complaint email on 18 Sept, about this letter, originally sent on 11 Sept. This drew a reaction yesterday evening (22 Sept) from cabinet member Cllr Rosalie Walker - she phoned me early evening (around 6.55pm) taking me completely by surprise! Someone got my number from my blog??

    She was very keen to stress that she had acted on my email immediately by forwarding it to officers (!). I informed her that I had heard nothing from anyone at the council and that she should by now have at least acknowledged or perhaps asked officers (!) to acknowledge my reminder message and initial message. I asked her the questions in my original letter about the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy etc... and she said that she did not know if the Railway path was covered by it, she thought it might not be and that she would have to check with officers (she stressed she would get on to this urgently).

    During the conversation she was very keen to stress how she had been against BRT down the Railway Path and that she had stressed this to Cllr Mark Bradshaw at the time...She made no mention of her position on the cycle houses development or land sale, though did talk up Cllr Choudry and his support of the petition on the issue.

    Actually, as I write this I'm now not so sure whether it was my reminder email (still not acknowledged or replied to either by councillor or officers) that drew Rosalie's response. She told me it was whilst on the phone but actually news that I have put in a formal complaint, about lack of use of the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy, lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment of the 'cycle' house plans and lack of response to emails on the matter, may also have reached her (??).

    I've been told to expect a written response to my complaint from the council or a message that they need more time to respond (!) by 3 Oct (15 days from the time they received the complaint form).


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