Friday, December 30, 2011

Bristol's empty homes

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No mention in this report 'Plans for 10,000 new homes in Bristol back on agenda' of any efforts to bring the 7000 empty homes in Bristol into good use. Surely making optimum use of houses already built should come before consideration of new house building, especially on green land?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christian Community Christmas

Priests brawl in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity:  Scuffles have broken out between rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics in a turf war at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.

Bemused tourists looked on as about 100 priests fought with brooms while cleaning the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas, on 7 January.

Palestinian police armed with batons and shields broke up the clashes.

Groups of priests have clashed before in the church, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born.

"It was a trivial problem that... occurs every year," Bethlehem police Lt-Col Khaled al-Tamimi told Reuters.

"No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God," he said...

Full BBC story

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


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The Pope said we need to "see through the superficial glitter". Er...knowing the power of imagery, hasn't the Catholic Church used a fair bit of 'glitter' itself? See picture. They know how to sell themselves. Many other religions have done likewise - so lets cut through the superficial and look for the substance.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Efficiency drive

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This sort of energy efficiency and renewable energy scheme (here) is long overdue but whilst the headline is current and active saying 'Ten-year energy efficiency drive will create jobs' the first sentence of the story immediately damps that down, referring to 'council plans to develop' the scheme.

Its good to see this project but £2.5 million over ten years, less than a quarter of a million per year, does not amount to a 'multi-million pound' scheme in my book - unless the council is going to get much more money from a range of other sources (are they?).

Work on 6000 homes and buildings is a decent start but Bristol has hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings, which gives some perspective to this. The 1500 jobs figure sounds more like hope than realism given the amount of money per year mentioned here.

Though the council setting up its own energy company to operate at arms length is a good move I'd ideally like to see many community based energy companies in the city - and I just hope the council is more dynamic than it has proved to be and gets on with it! Having said that they have been and are not helped by central govt policy, so lets see that change for the better.

These developments should be driven by our need for energy security, community resilience and what best science says about the rate at which we need to be cutting fossil fuel use and carbon emissions - if you work back from what they say to the consequent energy efficiency and renewable energy plans you get investment figures that are much higher and orders of magnitude more installations.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sustainable suggestions

‘Creative’ and ‘exciting’ ideas sought for derelict depot land Bristol Temple Meads station. Er...its right next to Temple Meads so doesn't that strongly suggest a sustainable transport development of some kind and/or something that large numbers of people would need to get an arena? Also next to a river with big water movements, which suggests a renewable energy facility...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Diversity and dynamism

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Great column here by Peter Madden, Chief Executive of Forum for the Future, the sustainable development charity:

I WAS speaking at a conference in the Watershed recently, about whether Bristol should have an elected mayor. One of the delegates stuck up his hand and asked why there were so few Bristol-born people there?

He argued that there is a serious division in the city, with so-called 'incomers' pushing themselves forward to run things, ignoring what 'genuine locals' want.

Now, as an 'incomer' myself, I responded by saying that Bristol is – and always has been – an inclusive city. In fact, it has been from medieval times, when it saw the arrival of Welsh, Irish, Cornish and Jews, to recent decades, when it welcomed Afro-Caribbeans, Polish, South Asians and Somalis. Indeed, I subsequently discovered that Bristol has had ethnic minority citizens for centuries, with a person of African heritage recorded as living in Bristol as early as 1641.

Given this long history of people coming into the city, I said there shouldn't be some kind of 'birth-test' whereby only people who were born here get to have a stake in the city. Go back far enough and surely everyone was an outsider once?

OK, perhaps I am touchy on this because I'm originally a Londoner. But I have chosen to live here. My kids were born here and I'm bringing them up here.

I've committed to Bristol, and I do contribute as much as I can to making Bristol a better place.
Certainly, lots of other people who have chosen to live here – rather than being born here – feel the same passion and pride about the place.

And I do think that incomers bring lots of dynamism – not just to Bristol, but to cities in general. Cities are places people move to in order to improve their lot. If incomers weren't allowed to do anything leading in this city, what would the alternative be? Should we all just to sit back and let things float along? Is that really going to give us a dynamic 21st-century Bristol?

You wouldn't expect to hear people in London say: "Why aren't the Cockneys running everything?" A world class city is open and inclusive.

However, where I think the questioner did have a point – and it was one reinforced by the Dean of the Cathedral – was in his view that we live in a very divided city. Outside London, Bristol is the most unequal city in the UK and there are certainly big chunks of the population who feel that their needs and priorities aren't being properly met.

The challenge, then, is not so much about Bristol-born versus outsiders, but whether we live in a genuinely inclusive city, where discussions about the big priorities include – and respond to – all the people who live here.

So, maybe the next time there is a big debate on how to run Bristol in the future, it should happen in Southmead, Easton or Hartcliffe, rather than on the Harbourside?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cameron's Christianity?

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More creationist Free Schools planned for 2013 opening

'Cameron's traditional Christian values' to be in action in Bedford, Barnsley...? This from the British Humanist Association:

More Free Schools are being planned for opening in 2013 by creationists or groups with links to a creationist organisation, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has learned. The BHA has concerns about proposals in Bedford and Barnsley, in addition to plans in Sheffield and Newark that the BHA had commented on earlier this year.

In Bedford, Destiny Christian School is being proposed by the Miracle Church of God in Christ, and if approved to open, will be a member school of the Christian Schools’ Trust (CST). At an open meeting attended by a BHA supporter, the group were asked about their policy on creationism and responded that they believe creationism is science and intend to teach it as such.

In Barnsley, the independent Barnsley Christian School is hoping to enter the state sector as a Free School. Like Destiny Christian School and Sheffield Christian Free School, Barnsley Christian School is a member of the CST. The CST is founded by creationist Sylvia Baker, author of Bone of Contention, and while not every CST school advocates creationism, the organisation as a whole has a statement explaining that the organisation is creationist and recommending the teaching of creationism in its member schools.

The BHA has already commented on applications to open a Free School in 2013 by Sheffield Christian Free School and Everyday Champions Church, who are also creationist groups. In November, Everyday Champions Church had a meeting with officials at the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss why their application to open in 2012 was rejected, and their local MP, Patrick Mercer, additionally met privately with Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to voice his support for the bid.

Other creationist groups have also applied to open Free Schools in the past, without their views on creationism getting public exposure. One example is The King’s School in Nottingham, another CST school that openly teaches creationism in science, also previously applied to open a Free School, both in 2011 and a second time in 2012, though it is unclear if the school intends to apply again in 2013.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘It is easy to see the appeal of Free Schools to certain religious groups, not only because they have freedom to discriminate in employment and admissions but because of the considerable latitude they have over the syllabus taught, which would in practice permit schools to promote religious dogma in place of objective teaching on issues such as creationism. Even more concerning is that so many groups with openly creationist positions believe they have a chance of receiving government approval for their schools to open within the state sector as Free Schools.

‘In supporting and coordinating the ‘
Teach evolution, not creationism!’ position statement, we are calling on the government to make statutory and enforceable the current guidance that creationism and ‘intelligent design’ should not be taught as science in schools, and to ensure that all state-funded schools must teach evolution. Without such measures, the risk that one of these creationist schools will gain approval to become a Free School remains.’

Crystal ball forecasting

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60,000 new jobs from the new transport plans in and around Bristol?? Story here. This will sound like a gross exaggeration to many people. On what basis have they made this claim exactly? Crystal ball gazing? This is an argument technique many use to try to justify schemes, such as new roads, that many local people have concerns about. Chief executive of Bristol Airport and transport lead for the Local Enterprise Partnership Robert Sinclair say they believe this is the figure but of course they have an interest in talking up developments they favour - and the only people backing them up in the report are business and political figures who have the same interest, so they add no weight to the claim at all. So, all we are left with is a jobs figure a few say they believe in and no substance.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cameron's Christianity Codswallop

David Cameron's pronouncements yesterday on Christianity are confused and send out mixed messages. He trumpets that we are a Christian country, when for many practical purposes we are not (see here) - Cameron himself said he was only a vaguely practicing Christian and over half the country said they were non-religious in the latest social attitudes survey! He calls for the revival of traditional Christian values but says he is full of doubts on major theological issues (see here). He's hardly setting a Christian standard is he, so what is he playing at?

His stated idea is that the return of Christian values would help us fight our 'moral collapse'. He's wrong to think that Christianity and the Bible or any other religion and its texts are the basis of our morality. Human beings developed a sense of what is right and wrong long before any formal relgions existed and very likely for evolutionary reasons.

Instead of pronouncing on Christianity his focus should be on effective, practical action to tackle the poor moral standards so evident in politics, policing, banking and financial services, in the media, and in the Christian Church itself. I'm fed up with expenses scandals, police corruption, greedy bankers and business-people, 'mafia-like' newspaper organisations, sexism, homophobia, child abuse scandals...and the advocacy of materialism we've long had from all political colours.

He should be looking at the privileged, influential position of Christianity in the UK and planning to make us a better secular society. He should think through whether the Bible is actually a consistent guide to anything at all. Richard Dawkins says in his book The God Delusion that '...the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and 'improved' by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unkown to each other, spanning nine centuries...unfortunately it is this same weird volume that religious zealots hold up to us as the inerrant source of our morals and rules for living.'

David Cameron should recognise that actually his doubt is a good thing. Doubt means you are thinking. It means you are asking questions, not accepting the status quo - seeking change for the better. Doubt helps us break away from unjustifiable traditions. With no evidence for the existence of God - quite the contrary in fact - and no convincing arguments either, why believe? If there is a God why is there so much undeserved suffering in the world eg those homeless, cold, hungry, thirsty, lonely, subject to war, terrorism and crime, in hospital...? As Woody Allen said God 'is an underachiever' !

The 400th anniversary of the King James Bible that prompted David Cameron's comments has its significance of course. This book is a major, if not the major work of English literature. Atheist Richard Dawkins sums this up nicely in The God Delusion, '...the main reason the English Bible needs to be part of our education is that it is a major source book for literary culture. The same applies to the legends of the Greek and Roman gods and we learn about them without being asked to believe in them.'.

Council Consultation Codswallop

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Excellent letter from Anne Lemon Secretary of the Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance here. Reproduced below,

BRISTOL City Council's process of scrutiny and consultation on the budget cuts proposed for 2012/13 is a sham. Discussions are taking place based on the absolute minimum of information that the Lib Dems think they can get away with publishing.

Unless there is a major fightback the budget, which includes the expected savings from closing and privatising care homes and day centres, will be agreed on February 28. But the details of the closures/privatisation and the impact on users and the community won't be announced until mid-March. You can already hear Barbara Janke and Jon Rogers telling us "It was agreed in the budget" if anyone suggests the facilities should stay open. Similarly over £1 million is to be saved by privatising Youth Services, yet no detailed proposals are available.

Either the detailed proposals on these important services must be published now, or the closure/privatisation policies should be removed from the budget. Any attempt by the council to approve the policies as part of the budget without being prepared to discuss the details in public is nothing less than underhand.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hitchens vs Blair

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Following his death, millions will, along with me, be greatly missing Christopher Hitchens, his speaking and writing. Here's a clip to illustrate:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Planet, people, problem

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Bit of discussion on population between me and rocketbob here following some letter about countryside protection from development. Here's my most substantial contribution:

Yes rocketbob population is a very sensitive issue in many ways, as you say for religion and racism, to name just two. All the more reason for wide-ranging, inclusive debate before any changes are decided on. It wont be easy. I would propose we aim for optimum population by reason, information, education and any changes we can establish a reasonable consensus on. This has the advantage of breaking the taboo on this debate and being less controversial but the disadvantage of perhaps not being enough to achieve meaningful change fast enough. Its better than no action at all and allowing problems to build such that we are forced into draconian action by events. The point is on a finite planet and in a finite city resources available are limited and so there are limits to population size and growth rate whether we like to acknowledge them, as you do, or not.

Dont take my word for it. In Sir David Attenborough’s view, there is no major problem facing our planet that would not be easier to solve if there were fewer people and no problem that does not become harder — and ultimately impossible to solve — with ever more. We must find agreed ways to achieve optimum population in cities, countries and around the globe and especially those with already high populations, those with intense impacts and those with very rapidly growing population and impact intensity. See:


*We [Bristol] have a population of about 441,300 - the largest city in the South West.

*Bristol's population is expected to reach 559,600 people by 2028

*World population reached an estimated 7, 000, 000, 000 ie 7 billion last month.

*2 extra people every second, that is 200,000 each day or nearly 80,000,000 per year is human population growth on this planet - all needing food, water, warmth, shelter and aspiring to have good choices and a decent life.

'Let them eat carbon'

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Roger James: Climate change deal is no good for the planet Bristol24-7

Excellent article - here's an extract:

...These, then, are the achievements, but sadly these still leave the planet and particularly its poorest people hurtling towards catastrophic climate change. We have a roadmap, a timeline which might become a protocol, but meanwhile crucial action to limit greenhouse gas emissions is postponed for nine years.

Scientists believe global mean warming could reach about 3.5°C by 2100 with the current reduction proposals on the table. They are definitely insufficient to limit temperature increase to 2°C. Approximate estimates indicate that the most extreme costs will be felt in West Africa and South Asia, with residual damage of 3.5% of regional GDP for 2°C warming and 5-6% for 3°C warming.

With a 2°C warming, adaptation costs would be half those associated with a 3°C temperature rise. Global emissions, which have risen by nearly 50% in the past 20 years, must peak within the next five years. The prospect of stronger action on emissions in the years ahead was minimised, ensuring no new, deeper targets would take effect before 2020...

Badger culling

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Anger as badger culling given go-ahead for next year - Nature - Environment - The Independent

Also see:

Bristol: Carbon City

1 comment:
Really Cllr Kent is deluded - he blows his trumpet very loudly indeed when he says Bristol will get the transport system it deserves. Cllrs love it when they can announce they've got money for something almost no matter what it is. For a start building a new road will ultimately add to the congestion and pollution existing now at high levels - its already very costly to business in pounds and costly to people in health and the environment in lost quality and quantity. Bus Rapid Transit is often not the best technology - and persistently asking just a few questions at public meetings on BRT reveals environmental decision making 'systems' that are simply not joined up thinking. Whatever happened to building a low carbon city with a high quality of life for all, the aim of Bristol Green Capital?



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Cllr Richard Eddy says he sympathises with '...the desire to protect our precious countryside from major development ' (here **). Why then does he favour constructing the South Bristol Link Road through it, stressing that he is a 'long-standing supporter of getting it finished' (see here)? Obviously protecting the countryside is not that high on his agenda - and mostly features in his world when seeking public political advantage with greenspeak!

Or is this more of Bristol Tory Cllr Eddy's special kind of 'logic'...the kind that allows him to say that the link road will 'ease congestion'(see here), despite all the weight of research evidence and experience for decades that shows building roads encourages car use which quickly fills them up to the point of congestion.


**(Great letter on countryside protection from James Burden and Des Baker on the same page by the way - go to the link they give for more )

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lord Mayor's limo

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I see that Bristol's Lord Mayor may have to have his limo written off after an accident (see here). Er...why should Bristol's Lord Mayor be provided with a car in the first place? Or a chauffeur to drive it? And what about the expense of the Mansion House (pictured)? And any other expenses and trappings of Bristol's Lord Mayor...Why not sell the car and house, get rid of the Lord Mayor and use the money directly to help keep public services alive? No doubt some would point to the Lord Mayor's charity work or promotion of the city but there are too many unmeasurables to know whether having a Lord Mayor really pays its way - and we can easily see what the expenses are (see picture). Maybe having some other person from the council doing the basics of what the Lord Mayor now does without the frills would be better. These are hard times that will get harder in the coming years - and we are all supposed to be in it together!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Green' Investment 'Bank'

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I’m strongly in favour of a Green Investment Bank and if Bristol can be its home that’s great (see here, though beware the scary photo!). But is what the government is proposing a bank at all given that it will have no powers to borrow until 2016 at the earliest and only then if certain fiscal targets are met? And will it really be green in the sense of impacting big-time on establishing a sustainable society? There is a danger of it simply being there as a very limited pot of money that can’t impact much on the long term. £3 billion seems to have become up to £3 billion when the first figure was too low to begin with. It has to avoid putting money into dodgy energy from waste schemes to sustain green credibility too.

We’ve all seen reports of bank mismanagement in recent years. Will this bank have a board that turns out to be highly competent, broad-based and representative of economic, social and environmental priorities? It must be there for a broad range of purposes, foremost being beginning the establishment of a society we can sustain, generating quality of life for generations to come - profit in the broadest and best sense.

Environment Agency - Drought to be 'commonplace' by 2050s

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Environment Agency - Drought to be 'commonplace' by 2050s

Campaign For Better Transport: how to reduce the need to travel - Make a difference - The Ecologist

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Campaign For Better Transport: how to reduce the need to travel - Make a difference - The Ecologist

Plastic pollution

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Here's a good report about a serious but still low profile pollution problem. Film producer Jo Ruxton tells us about plastic pollution and her documentary 'Away' about it.

..."People kept mentioning this gyre – a sort of enormous vortex of oceans currents – in the middle of the Pacific, that was drawing together an enormous mass of waste plastic," she says.

"It was all washing off the beaches and being flushed through the drains of the Pacific rim countries – mostly the United States – and was being swept up by this natural gyre, until it was all massing in the middle of the ocean – like a sort of enormous floating island of plastic, miles across and many metres deep.
"I later discovered that it wasn't just happening in the Pacific. There were similar gyres of plastic pollution in all the oceans of the world – the one in the North Atlantic that we contribute towards here is every bit as sinister as the Pacific gyre.

"I was so intrigued that I arranged to go out and see it. In my naivety, I had imagined millions of plastic bottles, but it was more insidious than that.
"A lot of it is small pieces of plastic – tiny pieces, small enough to be swallowed by fish and whales – the big plankton eaters are particularly prone to swallowing it up.

"At first glance the water looks immaculate, but dive below the surface and you are surrounded by these millions of pieces of plastic, which have generally at some point either blown off landfill sites, or been washed down streets into sewers and eventually out to sea.

"It takes 20 years for the plastic to reach the centre of the gyre, so we're not even seeing our recent pollution there yet. When you realise that in the last 20 years we have produced and discarded more plastic waste than in the entire century before that, you'll start to realise just how enormous a problem this is turning out to be.

"We have to start asking why we produce so many non-reusable items out of a material that is non-degradable. We have to start acting on this right now."...

..."The real problem is that these plastics don't degrade, so they're not going anywhere. They're just building up and up. And the problem is not just that they can kill creatures by blocking their digestive system. These tiny pieces of plastic are also carrying numerous toxins, that can easily get into the food chain.

"For example, one of the fish that is consuming this plastic is the little lantern fish, which is in turn the prey of the tuna, which of course we eat. So these toxins very quickly return to us, and research is showing they could potentially be leading to everything from certain kinds of cancers to certain kinds of arthritis – both of which I've had....

...Jo has named the film simply Away."It's where people's rubbish goes," she explains.

"You ask anybody where their waste goes, and they say they just throw it away. There is no magical 'away' – people have to realise that it all ends up somewhere. Often that 'away' is in the middle of our oceans."

For more details about the project, visit the website at .

Monday, December 12, 2011

New economic model needed

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This letter in the Post (copied below) from nine environment and wildlife organisations is pretty much spot on:

THE environmental movement has spoken out repeatedly against policies that put short-term profit ahead of our countryside and wildlife, eroding our natural capital and quality of life.

But rarely have we been as incredulous as we were last week on hearing the Coalition's autumn budget statement. The stunning disregard shown for the value of our natural environment not only flies in the face of popular opinion but goes against everything the Government said in June when it launched two major pieces of environmental policy – the Natural Environment White Paper and the England Biodiversity Strategy.

It is increasingly clear that society needs a new economic model [perhaps something like the one I've sketched out - see image] that accounts properly for our natural capital. Yet with this statement, its "red tape challenge", sudden cuts to solar subsidies, and its ill-conceived planning reforms, the Government is continuing an out-of-date approach that casts regulation and the environment as enemies of growth.

In a region like the South West, one that trades beyond all on the quality of its environment, this is madness.

Is the environment really an obstacle to economic productivity or is it in fact the very basis of it, as well as of our national well-being? Not a hard question to answer and there is an increasingly powerful body of evidence that demonstrates this, including the Government's own National Ecosystem Assessment.

How can the Prime Minister tolerate this gaping intellectual and political inconsistency, and walk with open eyes down a policy path that condemns future generations to a lower quality of life and to a massive and costly struggle to rebuild the country's natural riches?

We appeal to you Mr Cameron to show leadership and champion long-term, sustainable economic policies that will bring much-needed prosperity without destroying all that millions hold dear.

Harry Barton, Chief Executive, Devon Wildlife Trust;
Mike Birkin, Regional Campaigner, Friends of the Earth;
Simon Cripps, Chief Executive, Dorset Wildlife Trust;
Trevor Edwards, Chief Executive, Cornwall Wildlife Trust;
Steve Grainger, Chief Executive, Avon Wildlife Trust;
Gary Mantle, Director, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust;
Dr Gordon McGlone, Chief Executive, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust;
Simon Nash, Chief Executive, Somerset Wildlife Trust;
Tony Richardson, South West Regional Director, RSPB

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Euroland: grand??

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The recent EU summit agreement - the UK aside - to economically integrate, harmonise and centralise is aimed at creating a fiscal union. I cant see how the agreement solves the fundamental problems with the nature of the euro zone though, either economically or politically. Can economic harmony be achieved with socio-economic systems as varied as Greece and Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, Italy and Denmark, Portugal and Sweden? Wasn't it always going to be a problem having one exchange rate over such a huge area? And what of the politics of this? Surely the attempt to bring together such diverse economies - almost creating one much larger country - is likely to cause huge political problems as the people in those countries realise the implications of what has been agreed? There's no realistic joined-up - systems - thinking here. The plan for Euroland is not grand.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Wonderful World Wonderful David Attenborough

1 comment:
Just take a look at this:

What A Wonderful World With David Attenborough -- BBC One - YouTube

If this is released its going to number one for Christmas - and could raise a good deal of money for a charitable cause(s). Release it BBC!!

Equality - not

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I assume that those vehement critics of Occupy Bristol (see here) are happy with huge and unfair inequality that exists - perhaps they are even advocates of it. The 2010 report, An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK showed that the richest 10% of the population are more than 100 times as wealthy as the poorest 10% of society - and comparison between the richest here and the poorest in the world is of course even worse.

Large scale income inequality cuts quality of life and eats away at the fabric of society. Look at the evidence here . We should adopt income inequality as one of the key indicators of progress in our society and urgently enact measures to cut inequality (see ).

Savage for Mayor? Uncivilised?

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The book - High in Hope - and all the surrounding hype sounds like John Savage's (and through him Business West's) bid the become the Elected Mayor of Bristol! Has he ruled out this possibility??

The project says ' 2050 the area’s [Bristol's] population will have massively increased, perhaps by as much as 500,000, meaning 300,000 jobs will need to be created and a further 200,000 homes built.'

Dont they have any grasp of the unsustainability of this? Given the unsustainability isn't it reasonable to try now to shape the future we want? Better to at least make an effort rather than simply going along with 'crystal ball gazing predict and provide' as if its an inevitability we can do absolutely nothing about.

More here:

Power to the people

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This Post headline is not accurate. It says 'Move to give city greater power' when in fact its just city leaders that would get the power - and of course if we had an Elected Mayor as the govt want then that power would be mostly in the hands of just one person. Yes to more power locally - but give that power to local people, neighbourhoods and communities eg give them the power to recall local politicians who prove themselves inept or corrupt and genuine opportunities to participate in decision making between elections.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Five a day

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Very informative feature on the BBC website showing that on average from 1999 to 2010 five people were killed on the roads every day (see map of road deaths in the Bristol area for this period - click to enlarge). The time lapse maps are really striking.

Britain has one of the best records in the world for road casualties. However, hundreds [more like thousands] still die on the roads every year. In 2010, the police recorded 1,850 deaths, 22,660 people seriously injured and 184,138 who received light injuries.

About this data:

Using official data recorded by police in Great Britain between 1999 and 2010, we have plotted every road collision in which someone died. In all, 36,371 fatalities are marked on this interactive map [click link to BBC site bottom of this post]. You will also find partial data for Northern Ireland, for 2004-2009.

Detailed information about each crash is recorded by the police at the scene. It is subsequently transferred onto a computer database. This is available to researchers from the
Economic and Social Data Service. As with any large collection of data, there will be errors and omissions that occur in this process and some of these will be found in this map. The BBC apologises for any distress or offence that may be caused by the inclusion of these errors.

If you find any errors, please use the feedback form below and let us know. We will endeavour to correct them where possible.

Feedback: Road casualties feature

Answers to some of your frequently asked questions are here.

BBC News - Every death on every road in Great Britain 1999-2010

Monday, December 05, 2011

Video games increase aggression and recklessness: Susan Greenfield

Its certainly right to debate this more - and look at all the research and the views of a wide range of stakeholders. Generally I'm with Prof Greenfield on this one. If people were moderate in their use of video games and screen-based stuff generally perhaps there wouldn't be an issue - but many seem to be heading in the opposite direction!

BBC News - Video games debate: Susan Greenfield and Tom Chivers

Neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield claimed people who play a lot of video games can have an increase in "aggression and recklessness".

She is leading a debate in the House of Lords on Monday evening about the impact of digital technologies on the mind.

But The Daily Telegraph's science writer Tom Chivers said people can use screens and still talk to others, and research shows those with an active life in social media tend to have a more active "real life".

Elected Mayor for Bristol?

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Change the way things are run locally:yes. More power locally:yes. Make decision making more effective and representative: yes. Mayor for Bristol, or perhaps Greater Bristol: no. The options on the referendum ballot paper for next May wont include those we really should be considering, such as proportional reprentation for local govt elections, a recall system for local councillors, proper devolution of power from city level to neighbourhoods and communities, additional mechanisms to facilitate participation in city-wide democracy between elections - these things truly empower people and so are real localism as opposed to the sham we get from the coalition govt.

Video: Should Bristol have an Elected Mayor? This is Bristol

Thursday, December 01, 2011

On closing the gap between rich and poor

Author Danny Dorling claims the British people need to learn the lessons of the 1930s and do something about the growing gap between the super rich and everyone else.

BBC News - Author Danny Dorling on closing gap between rich and poor