281 Redcatch Road, BRISTOL, BS3 5DY
Phone: (0117) 972 8054 E-mail: stephenbs3 @ yahoo.co.uk
14 July 2007
Councillor Mark Bradshaw
Exec member i/c Planning
Bristol City Council
Dear Mark Bradshaw
I have been reading information about public involvement in planning. I am disheartened to read that it does not involve location of specific developments.
The process seems very ponderous, and remote from everyday realities.
Why cannot you simply:
1. Decide what facilities are required (I am only thinking of the central area, but the same could apply throughout the city.) "Facilities" includes roads, colleges, swimming baths, hospitals, public transport, bus stations, markets, open squares…. (Beaches would not have occurred to me!)
2. Decide where best to locate them. Your professional planners should be capable of this. You have many sites, but if not, buy or lease them.
3. Draw a map or make a 3D model. Display it, and ask for comments.
4. Re-iterate every few years.
Last time you asked for public input I sent in a list of facilities I consider we need. This was based on what other cities have - nothing very special. I did not even get an acknowledgement and I have not seen any evidence my suggestions have even been considered.
I am only asking for what other cities have, such as a market, a bus station, a central square, a plan of future transport links.
I speak from the experience of living and working in several cities similar in size to Bristol in the past 20 years. Wolverhampton, Coventry, Brighton, Tower Hamlets in London, Brooklyn in New York, Orlando in Florida, Paris, The Hague. I criticise Bristol on grounds of simple results. I went on a civic visit to Southampton which has many natural and political features similar to Bristol. They have achieved a far better public transport service, and were developing a transport hub adjacent to the railway station, although like Bristol it is not at the Centre.
I have seen and experienced what other cities have achieved and I see no reason why Bristol cannot do likewise.
Little that is good about Bristol is thanks to The Council. The core, the root problem is lack of planning. Councillors MUST get a grip on the officers and insist Bristol simply does what other cities do. I have spoken to several Councillors (I was a co-optee on one of the Scrutiny Commissions) and I have been struck by their air of helpless resignation. I have written and had replies from officers. The quality of the English in their replies is excellent but the content is usually nothing but a string of implausible excuses. A common phrase is "we have no plans for…" as if that were an adequate excuse.
I will say there is one initiative I admire. That is the decision to use Open Source software on the Council's computers. It might be a good idea to analyse how this initiative was conceived and implemented. What went right?
Bristol keeps congratulating itself but the fact is that the city is bottom of most objective polls including the Audit Office's. One reason is lack of leadership by "The Council". The fault probably lies with the officers but the responsibility lies with the Councillors. You - Labour and Lib Dem - have grossly failed the city over many decades.
For instance, it's pathetic to claim to be a Green City when we have such outrageously bad public transport and no bus station. (The so-called 'bus station' is in fact a coach station. It serves no local buses.)
There's NOBODY to blame but the Councillors. Right now the buck stops with you.
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