Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

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Watched this with great interest, especially given all the stadium debate in Bristol that's been going on for ages. The extent and scale of the corruption was shocking. Well done to the BBC and others in the media for exposing it. Interesting that the Dutch have found, having looked at both the costs and benefits of staging a world cup, that they'd make a 150 million euro loss - so much for the economic benefits of staging the event! Make a case to stage it because you love football. Make a case to stage it because football originated here...and we are so well set up for it because its inherent in our culture - but dont bleat on about the value to the economy because net financial benefit is very hard to establish. Same goes for the Olympics and other major international sporting events.

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

The program is available in iPlayer here.

Green stadium design for an aspiring green capital?

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'Why not outline for us how a man like yourself with so many letters after your name would achieve for the people of Bristol such a facility along sustainable development principles?' says sharp tongued Bristol Evening Post online debater Mark from Bristol.

I dont pretend to have all the answers but sustainable development is good sense not rocket science. First, dont build over green land in the green belt - either redevelop Ashton Gate or find a suitable brownfield site near existing good transport links. Second, seriously consider sharing any new ground. Thirdly use well established green design principles eg the One Planet Living Principles that are outlined here:http://www.oneplanetvision.org/one-planet-living/opl-framework/

I took part in the BCFC consultation and submitted some ideas on green stadium design plus examples of several football clubs who have used green design principles (see here and Dartford FCs Princes Park stadium design, pictured). Despite asking for a response by email and phone call I received none. Had city gone for a top notch green stadium design it would have been much harder for people like me to oppose it - and perhaps it would have been harder for Ashton Vale people too. Shouldn't our aspiring 'green capital' have a green football stadium??

New ground in the green belt is unsustainable development

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The Bristol Evening Post is absolutely right to speak out against plan to sell off and build over parks green spaces within the city (‘Council must see bigger picture’, Post June 29). I fully agree with them when they said that green spaces are ‘not simply there for this generation’ and that we are merely ‘custodians of these open spaces’. This sustainable development argument also applies to the green belt land where the new BCFC stadium is proposed. As a strong supporter of the proposed stadium however the Post is being very inconsistent - and one has to ask why.

Building a new BCFC stadium in the green belt is based on outmoded, old fashioned, discredited economic thinking. Our council has 'green capital' ambitions and so should be implementing sustainable development as an alternative to the current economic orthodoxy. Mainstream politics has said it was signed up to sustainable development decades ago but has done little or nothing to implement it.

Current economic thinking centres on growing the economy based on resources that are finite and non-renewable. There is only so much land for instance and we and other species need it for multiple purposes - using it for a game of football is hardly top priority.

We need instead to be selective about what grows in our economy -including football grounds - and ensure that economic development meets tests of: resource efficiency; renewability; being within environmental limits; meeting needs now and into the future; local and global fairness; human health, wellbeing and quality of life; stronger local communities. Town Green status for the land in Ashton Vale is in tune with sustainable devleopment and so I fully support it.

More on 'ground vs green'

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Copies of further comments I made yesterday in the online 'ground vs green' debate (below). 'Dog Walker' was one of the few to respond to my posts:

Dog Walker - by 'dealt with' you mean ignored or dismissed! This must be so because: f this stadium is built green belt land will be lost; carbon emissions will rise; natural flood drainage space will go; land with food production potential will go; wildlife habitats will be smaller in area; green space important to human health will be cut. Our current system has warm green words but little or no green action - which is why planning permission was given.

We are in agreement that our MPs are not competent drafters of the law! I dont agree with your assessment of my democratic credentials however - your way of thinking would mean that law has no value in a democracy and that there should be, in effect, no such thing as local democracy. I believe our democracy is not localised enough whereas your line of argument leads, in effect, to Vogons from another planet [pictured, from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film] being allowed to turn up out of the blue and destroy the whole planet.

You make the big mistake of assuming that building this stadium will have a net positive effect on jobs and investment. To my knowledge no-one has done the research sums to see if total benefits exceed total costs, taking into account all factors, including those I've mentioned above. Mostly what we hear about is benefits - my point is ok but what about the costs?? This the opposite of selfishness, Carl, because its trying to account for the impacts both on current generations and the generations of people to come - once green land is built over its nigh on impossible to get it back again.

Dog Walker - its so convenient for you to simply dismiss a whole range of health and environmental arguments isn't it. Is this a ground vs green debate or not? You seem to be ducking out to me. The planning process has no objective evidence whatsoever that total benefits outweigh total costs - and a decision taken on the basis of little or no evidence is irrational.

Why is it that you dont want to talk about and deal properly with climate change, biodiversity, habitats, flood management, human health and quality of life?? Where is your evidence that net economic benefits will result (you only state a possible benefit and mention no disbenefits)? Could it not be argued that the stadium proposal is an inappropriate development based on outmoded, old-fashioned, discredited economic thinking and that therefore persuing it would be unwise ? Bristol is supposed to have 'green capital' ambitions after all.

Given that we've gone beyond the planning process now wouldn't giving the land town green status mean that it would be maintain our ability to: fight climate change; increase wildlife; manage flooding; keep people healthy...If you built a stadium the opposite would happen and therefore shouldn't someone estimate the costs/benefits of all this in order for a rational decision to be made?

My point about Vogons [pictured] is not extending the argument to absurdity at all. Its my view that local democracy should count for much more than it does - and that the law should help prevent locals from being bullied into a situation they dont want. The law on town greens does empower people to apply for their space to be protected. You have not indicated that you would like any form of local democracy or legal processes to protect a community and its space and so in effect you are saying that if, as in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Vogons turn up one day to destroy our planet then that's all ok.