Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stockwood Pete: Disappearing Data: how to rewrite history

No comments:
Revisiting the webcast of the original meeting, I was surprised to see that it's just been wiped from the public record. It seems to have gone the way of many (but by no means all) BCC meeting webcasts over a year old. So the act of dodgy decision making is now kept from public gaze. Only the bare Minutes of the meeting are there – and of course they tell next to nothing of the whole story...

...It's not just webcasts that disappear from the record. For the last year or so, the 'Public Forum' Statements submitted to council meetings have been disappearing into a black hole – or, at best, a 'Minute Book' somewhere in the recesses of the council house.

Stockwood Pete: Disappearing Data: how to rewrite history

BRT = Busting relative tranquility

No comments:
More news from the public enquiry into bus rapid transit (full story here - and large extract below). Cycling expert Mike Ginger, the Civic Society and Sustrans former boss John Grimshaw are spot on with their comments.

Experts and representatives of cycling organisations have suggested that the buses would put off cyclists and many objectors have focussed on the harbourside as a key battleground.

In documents submitted to the enquiry, Mike Ginger, a former council Cycle Project team leader, said:

"The calm and uncluttered ambience of this unique and historic harbour setting will be shattered resulting in a qualitative reduction in traveller and visitor experience."

He also questioned the general effect on cycling that the new buses would cause.

He said: "It is reasonable to argue that some existing cycling and walking demand will be 'choked off' as conditions deteriorate.

"If cycling demand falls by say a quarter, this would represent a health benefit cost of £8 million euros [£6.5 million] over 30 years."

In a separate document produced by the Bristol Civic Society, objectors said:

"It is proposed that both dedicated BRT buses and regular buses run along the road that separates the new M Shed from the future Umberslade development on WappingWharf.

"We question the desirability of running large vehicles across the new southern entrance of the recently opened M shed."

Finally John Grimshaw, the former Sustrans boss who helped to found the Bristol to Bath cycle path, submitted his own suggestions.

He said: " The proposals cause severance and delay to existing routes, fail to enhance cycling or to provide a continuous route parallel to the BRT, and would, in my view, comprise a worse situation than walkers and cyclists experience at present.

"Overall the BRT provides almost no new benefits for cyclists, whilst at the same time causing considerable severance, delay and inconvenience to existing routes."

He added: "It cannot be desirable to promote an order, largely for the benefit of out-of-town travellers, at the expense of local people travelling by the most sustainable of methods - walking and cycling."

Council costs

No comments:
The city council could close more than 20 of its office buildings in a long-term plan to save £40 million. The shake-up could mean a new lease of life for a former bonded warehouse next to the River Avon, which could revitalise a neglected corner of Bristol near the Cumberland Basin. (see here). Councillors should be asking a large number of questions about the rather bold statement of claimed benefits of this proposal and they should especially scrutinise these kind of figures/estimates:

 "The cost of the offices shake-up would be an estimated £70 million, with money borrowed at preferential rates over many years. But the council's treasury officials believe that within 15 years they will have recouped all the costs. And within 25 years the scheme would deliver an overall saving of nearly £40 million."

Could you not radically change the way the council works and use far fewer buildings in many different ways? Have other options been fully explored? Is this the best option? My concern is the £70 million cost and whether this would stay at £70 million and whether it would be paid back as officials estimate.

Surely not a decision for the council but for the Mayor elected in November in any case.