Monday, July 25, 2011

BRT = Build Ring-road Tomorrow

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Millions of pounds on what is supposed to be an integrated, 'seamless' approach to public transport - and the bendy buses wont even stop at Temple Meads! No joined up thinking there then.

BRISTOL City Council's flagship Ashton Vale to Temple Meads bendy bus route will not actually stop at the station, it has emerged.

The £50 million scheme is one of three rapid transit routes the council is finalising, ahead of submitting funding bids to government in September.

The idea is that the three routes will make life much easier for people who want to get from one end of the city to another.

It is also supposed to be part of an integrated approach to transport, so buses, rail and rapid transit all work seamlessly together.

The problem is that the latest version of the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads route doesn't stop at Temple Meads because there isn't enough money to pay for a stop there.

That means people arriving into Bristol by train won't just be able to just jump on the bendy bus or vice versa.

Instead the stop for the Temple Meads area is actually outside the KPMG building in Temple Street, the other side of the Temple Circus roundabout.

So anyone who wants to get from the bendy bus to catch a train has at least a five-minute walk across one of the busiest roundabouts in Bristol and several sets of traffic lights...

I'm not a fan of bus rapid transit Bristol-style - especially as it involves new road building. The Lib Dem Cabinet member in charge, Cllr Kent, says "They will cut congestion, reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere" There is no evidence for this. I persistently asked questions at public meetings about modelling and projections that had been done and the 'answers' given to me were totally inadequate. Where was the early, timely, high quality information when it was being asked for?? Increasing the capacity of the road network has on all past occasions increased total carbon emissions as the space fills with traffic and becomes congested and this 'link' - as their spin is now calling it - will do likewise.

Cllr Kent has also referred to 'massive public transport improvements'. Massive? No - and certainly not matching the scale of Bristol's transport problems. Improvements? Evidence of this is seriously lacking. Developments like a transport hub at Temple Meads and an integrated transport authority would begin to bring significant improvements - but these dont appear to be on the table at all due to political failures over decades.

Cllr Kent and Libe Dem colleagues seem to have forgotten that its hardly green to build over green space that is finite in supply, with its consequent loss of biodiversity, aesthetic and health benefits - and of course the greenery is no longer there to soak up carbon dioxide emissions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


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It appears in our current system that the purpose of holding positions of power and responsibility in banking, the media, police and politics is to 'know little/nothing' and to resign. Useless, corrupt...

Phone hacking: MPs to quiz Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks [and Former Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and many others!!]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Talk, talk, talk on local rail and integrated transport

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This is spot on: ...GREATER Bristol is more interested in carrying out rail studies than actually reopening stations, according to a rail expert.

Former London Rail boss Ian Brown has published a study for the Railway Development Society, which looks at investment in local rail services.

The study shows that while 356 stations have re-opened across the country since 1960, in Bristol there has been just two in half a century.

Mr Brown concludes that "the Bristol region has not as yet shown any evidence of fulfilling the role of an effective 'client' for rail, although there has been considerable expenditure on seemingly endless 'studies' ".

Local rail campaigners point out that areas with one body to sort out transport – Integrated Transport Areas – have fared much better, and Mr Brown agrees.

That includes West Yorkshire with 22 re-opened stations, Merseyside with 16, and Greater Manchester with 15...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zero Carbon Britain Day Saturday July 16th

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...There are, in fact, a lot of things we can do to reduce our emissions. A list of what you can do is too long for this post but I would suggest insulating your house, unplug things that arent needed, cut flying. Get a more efficient car, boiler, light bulbs, fridge etc. Use a shower not a bath, uses less water and less energy to warm the water. Choose local food and services Eat more vegetables, and be more choosy about meat, chicken has less emissions than beef, the smaller animals are better...

Green Reading: Zero Carbon Britain Day Saturday July 16th

More here

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy 175th birthday Bristol Zoo!!

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With media coverage of the 175th anniversary of Bristol Zoo (see here and here) I'm reminded of the debate within the green movement on zoos. I've said in past public debates* that I dont agree with those greens who have called for the closure of all zoos (*see images from letters written in 2004, click to enlarge). I certainly have reservations about zoos but dont want to see the good work that the best of them are doing thrown away.

If designed properly zoos can entertain by encouraging people to wonder about and marvel at the natural world. Bristol Zoo was a big part of my childhood, my upbringing and my environmental education and in turn that of my daughter and I'm very grateful for it - especially with the huge improvements they have made in conditions for the animals over the years.

As a teacher I've taken several school groups to Bristol Zoo and they have gained real insights as a result eg into zoology and into the huge illegal trade in wildlife. I agree on the whole with what naturalist Terry Nutkins, formerly a presenter on the BBCs The Really Wild Show, has said in the Evening Post,

"I know you get a lot of romantics who say we shouldn't have zoos – that all animals should be allowed to roam free. But, although I know these people are well-meaning, they're talking absolute nonsense.

"The role of zoos these days is all about conservation, and none more so than Bristol Zoo. Places like Bristol Zoo are the modern day Noah's Arks. If these places didn't exist, hundreds, if not thousands of species of animals would be wiped out.

"Some of these creatures simply aren't capable of surviving alone in the wild at the moment, but by keeping them in zoos and working on special breeding programmes, we can nurture them until the time when we've sorted out their natural habitats or got their numbers up sufficiently for populations to thrive once again."

In the past zoos helped to create and reinforce the wrong attitudes towards the natural world - one of a lack of respect and understanding. The natural world was plundered to find exhibits, animals kept in entirely unacceptable and inappropriate conditions and used to entertain in unacceptable ways. Zoos of this type still in existence in any place around the world should change drastically or be closed.

Habitats have changed or are destroyed as, simultaneously, the best zoos conduct campaigns, research and captive breeding programs. Habitat destruction cuts the chance of successful reintroduction to the wild. The best zoos are increasingly working to protect habitats and to attempt to re-establish habitats that have been removed by human activity. We need to see much more work like this - it is pretty pointless to captive breed just for breedings sake.

The best zoos are very good at informing and educating the public and involving them in the issues. I have no problems with zoos as places of entertainment as long as the methods are acceptable and it is remembered why people are being entertained ie to promote respect and care for the natural world.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Save Chatterton House: petition

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Passing this on -"Chatterton House, the birthplace of famous Bristolian boy-poet Thomas Chatterton, has over the past seven years fallen into a serious state of disrepair - despite the council's obligation to maintain the building due to its listed status. We have recently occupied the building and are taking direct action to save both the building and its cultural status. We think it is terrible that the works of Thomas Chatterton are so little known in his own city and aim to spread the word through poetry open mic nights and other cultural events. Recently we have come under pressure from the council to leave the property. They have claimed that they were planning to do work on the building in July but this seems unlikely since they have left the building empty for the past SEVEN years without doing anything to it.If you support our occupation and renovation of the building and would like to see Bristol celebrate the heritage of Chatterton then please sign this petition. Your support is much appreciated."

Sucessful restoration and use of this house would be a valuable contribution to the sustainable development of this part of Bristol.

38 Degrees | Murdoch BSkyB takeover petition

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Please sign the 38 Degrees Murdoch BSkyB takeover petition

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Cut the power and influence of the Murdoch empire

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Dear Mr. Cameron and Mr. Hunt,
Murdoch's empire is far too big and pervasive already, so I'm opposed to allowing it to own all of BSkyB. It's necessary to take a firmer line on media plurality as large corporations cross-promote, harm their rivals, cut the choice and narrow the range of information, its interpretation and any critique. In this way analysis and opinions available for consideration by the public are cut - taking us further away from a more informed and fairer society.

As we've seen all too clearly in the case of the phone hacking scandal the Murdoch empire lacks scruples, ethics and decent standards. There should be tougher penalties for breaches of standards and more teeth for the Press Complaints Commission. The Murdoch empire is unlikely to stick to decent standards without tougher penalties and an empowered regulator - it might not do so even with these things and so reviewing the law may necessary.

Please refuse to give Murdoch full ownership of BSkyB. At least have the proposed deal reviewed by the competition commission. I ask you to arrange for a full judicial inquiry into the hacking scandal and not to make any final decisions on Murdoch and BSkyB until it is full and complete.

Yours sincerely
Glenn Vowles
85 Somerset Rd, Knowle, Bristol, BS4 2HX - go here to send a message to the government on Murdoch fully owning BSkyB. Be qucik though - the deadline is approaching.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Love Parks Week: 23-31 July

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Love Parks Week is an annual campaign, organised by parks charity GreenSpace. Founded in 2006, the campaign has grown steadily and is now established as a major event that is celebrated in parks across the country. Each year hundreds of events take place enabling thousands of people to get out and enjoy their parks and help put forward the case for reinvestment.

NB: I was reminded the other day that the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change said in one report that a 10% increase in green space was needed to help protect us from climate change. I hope therefore that not only does Bristol City Council permanently abandon plans to sell off parks and green spaces but that in the process of reviewing policy it plans, with private and voluntary sector involvement, to create an overall increase in total city green space of all kinds, whether publicly or privately owned, whether classed as a park, allotment or other type of green space.