Thursday, July 22, 2010

PLANS for a £92-million football stadium in Bristol have been thrown into disarray after councillors refused permission for a new Sainsbury's superstore at Ashton Gate.

PLANS for a £92-million football stadium in Bristol have been thrown into disarray after councillors refused permission for a new Sainsbury's superstore at Ashton Gate.

This is a good decision. Its proposed that the stadium would be in the green belt where its building would be very likely to stimulate many other damaging developments and further loss of green belt land. The proposed Sainsbury's is huge and would be very damaging both to the environment and to the existing community of small shops and businesses locally. There's been a lot of froth and hype surrounding the benefits of a new stadium, huge supermarket and the mere possibility of a few world cup games being played in Bristol - and few well established hard facts on net benefits. Big business and big money people have for once not got all their own way, though there may well be an appeal of course.


  1. The thing which got me was how few fans went to the meeting.

    Given that this is supposed to be the lynchpin in the clubs plans for its stadium, then it is astonishing that something like half a dozen of them turned up.

    I can only conclude it means either the club are incompetent for failing to organise for the meeting (which questions their ability to build a new stadium anyway), or it means the club is much less well supported than people think.

    Thinking back to the Tesco application, despite piling money into it, the club could only get a couple of thousand people to sign up for Tesco.

    Perhaps they should start to get real about what they are. Small. Not very good.

  2. Your comments on the following post from the Bristol City fans forum would be welcome:

    'The CHAIR of the South Bristol planning committee is Sean Beynon, who lives in and represents the local ward of Southville. He had to stand down from the planning decision meeting as he is a Bristol City Football Club season ticket holder and therefore he was considered to have a conflict of interests.
    The VICE CHAIR of the South Bristol planning committee is Simon Rayner, who represents Kingsweston in the north of the City but lives in Clifton. Neither of which, not that you need reminding, are in South Bristol.
    Simon Rayner not only chaired the Sainsbury's application meeting but had a vote, which he used against the plans.
    Simon Rayner was also in the minority of 2 out of 9 who voted against the successful application for the stadium itself.
    Simon Rayner commented at the time in the media that he did not like football.
    Simon Rayner works for Alec French Architects a business who, like George Ferguson, has a commercial interest in alternative opportunities to develop the land
    Here's the best bit "Alec French Partnership" and George Ferguson's "Acanthus Ferguson Mann" are well established partners under the name of "Concept Planning Group" who tender for urban planning projects in Bristol
    Simon Rayner's employers "Alec French Architects" and George Ferguson's "Acanthus Ferguson Mann" partnered to win and execute the £90 million taxpayer funded tender to develop @Bristol
    Simon Rayner's employers "Alec French Architects" and George Ferguson's "Acanthus Ferguson Mann" are preferred partners of Westmark Developments, a privately-owned developer in Bristol specialising in, wait for it, residential and mixed use schemes, precisely what George Ferguson advocates and Simon Rayner voted for

    So there you have it:

    A Bristol City Season Ticket holder who represents the local neighbourhood declares a conflict of interest on participating in this decision, but his deputy, who chairs and votes on the decision and does not represent any BS3 neighbourhood, does not declare that he works for a firm that has a very well established partnership with the firm owned by the proposal's most outspoken critic George Ferguson, and who collectively have an interest in alternative uses of the site, apparently with no conflict of interest.

    Just to be absolutely clear on the level of conflict of interest here, George Ferguson attended the meeting and spoke against the plans as a highly visible member of those against the plans. Across the room from him, the chairman of the meeting and a key decision maker with a vote on the application, works directly in partnership with George Ferguson since his employers are commercially aligned with George Ferguson in seeking opportunities to work on mixed-use development in the greater Bristol area.

    After seeing his feeble non-explanation for his vote on Points West last night I wrote to Simon Rayner (copy of the letter here: this is before I found out how close his ties and loyalties to George Ferguson are. A Bristol City season ticket holder's indirect conflict of interest in wanting Sainsbury's application to succeed is no greater than Simon Rayner has in voting for it to fail. Arguably the Bristol City season ticket holder gains only a seat in a new stadium while Simon Rayner has a clear commercial interest.

    The fact that this gross hypocrisy was not addressed tells you all you need to know about the make up of this decision making committee and our Liberal cabal, sorry council.'

  3. There may well be something in what you say about Rayner and Ferguson. I've had my run-ins with Ferguson and his 'contacts' on the council myself over planning matters. I suggest that all this material and any supporting evidence, direct and indirect, is sent to the council and to the press, copied to the legal people on the council. No doubt Lansdown and others have their 'contacts' on the council too, so it works both ways - its just that this time the power struggle has resulted in a decision that is in a greener direction than it usually is (though I would not necessarily argue that its been by fair and objective means as I've long argued that the planning system and Bristol's planning system are not fair and objective!).

  4. Anonymous's conspiracy theory doesn't hold water. It's too convenient to mention one excluded Southville councillor, BCFC season-ticket holder Sean Beynon, without mentioning the other, Tess Green, who was elected only a couple of months ago on a platform of opposition to the Sainsburys application. Both have seats on the Development Control committee - both were quite properly excluded from the decision because of their personal interest in the outcome.

    Likewise, all praise to Simon Rayner and the other LibDems on the committee, who refused to bow to the wishes of their Cabinet bosses (who want a stadium so much that the following evening they handed over £4.6 million worth of council-owned land to the club).

  5. Actually, this is nonsense.

    Ferguson came up with a plan for an alternative use of Sainsburys, precisely because BCFC and its fans were saying that opponents of the stadium had no alternative use for the site.

    They now - in supremely two-faced and hypocritical fashion use this against him.

    They fail to mention that Tess Green also stepped down from the committee. She is cllr for Southville.

    They fail to point out that both Tories voted the same way, and were seen to 'collude' oh,I mean 'talk' to each other. ...they have clearly acted on party lines - when the LibDems well, one of them abstained.

    The idea that someone should be excluded for 'not liking football' is utterly childish.

    The fact is - supporters of Bristol City Football Club failed to turn up at the most important meeting in the clubs history. The club could not organise a 'demo in a council meeting'. And yet these people have been given serious amounts of public funding - at the same time that they have demonstrated their own gross incompetence.

    The question that should be asked is why is the council giving public funding to these incompetents?

  6. Anonymous and Stockwood Pete - I need convincing that Rayner had no interest to declare to agree with you fully. Should he have chaired the committee? Is his link to Ferguson strong enough to mean he should have taken no ative part in the committee??


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.