Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Planning committee meets tomorrow to consider Tesco/Friendship plans after site visit

Statement on planning application 08/04903/F – Tesco/The Friendship Inn - for 1 April Development Control (South and East) Committee, which I hope to present in person:

Having visited the Friendship Inn site...I hope you will agree with me that the proposed car park does not provide safe and convenient access. I hope you will agree with me that giving planning permission for additional car parking in this area is entirely inappropriate on sustainability and quality of life grounds.

I remind you of the weight of local opinion, given that nearly 1500 people signed the paper petition, nearly 100 signed the e-petition and over 100 people packed out a public meeting called to discuss the matter.

I ask you to remember who is making this application, why they have made this application and how they have made this application. Its not really about a car park for a pub is it!! The approach they have taken has been remote and unapproachable, not locally involved and neighbourly.

The guidance sheet on having your say on planning applications states that the ‘…City Council has to take into account national and local policies…’. In a previous statement to you I raised the new Climate Change Act as an example of a relevant national policy that should be at the front of your considerations. I also raised the wide range of local policies aimed at making Bristol a green city and green capital.

The effect of building a new car park over a pub garden following a planning application from a major supermarket chain with plans to set up a new store in the pub, at great cost to local small businesses, will raise not lower carbon emissions and dent the strength of local community and quality of life. It will move the city away from not towards its green city and green capital aspirations. Therefore there are clear policy grounds for refusing planning permission.

Cast your vote on this planning application to favour: road safety; local democracy; a participatory approach to development; strong local communities; small local businesses; improving environmental quality; improving quality of life.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Seeing Green: never more relevant than now!!

'The dilemma is simply stated: for every year we delay making a move in the right direction, the consequences become proportionately more serious. Developed and Third World countries alike must seek to map out a different course for themselves, renouncing the maximisation of production and consumption based on non-renewable resources, moving towards a sustainable society based on renewables and the elimination of waste. The challenge is to meet the inner demands of basic human needs without violating the outer limits of the planet's wealth. The old system is bankrupt, and it is only the wisdom of ecology that will show us how to create a new economic order.'

So said Jonathon Porritt in his book Seeing Green (page 143) 25 yrs ago. This work informed and inspired me then and it still does now (I've obviously been looking through it again!). The truth of his words are surely clearer than ever, with the current economic system bankrupt and ecological principles still a long way from being practiced coherently and routinely. Great to see all the immensely valuable work Jonathon has done though, not least as Chair of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission. He recently endorsed the Green Party's European election candidates in the region (lead by Cllr Ricky Knight), speaking at the launch in Bristol.

See Jonathon Porritt's blog here.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Bristol City Council: where's the beef??

Its very odd that the public and other organisations, the Soil Association aside, have not been asked by the council for their views on their plans to run their own cattle farm on Stoke Park (front page story 'Pull the udder one', Post, March 26). Why the distinct lack of information and wider discussion?There are serious questions as to whether a council should be farming at all, with all the core responsibilities they already have for education, transport, housing and so on.

Even more odd to go for beef farming because its hardly a green option and apart from that it could be dogged by all sorts of problems especially in the event of disease outbreak. If the council was to run a farm far better for it to be at arms length, for it to be a mixed one, perhaps with fruit orchards (great for birds and bees), perhaps with areas set aside for schools to conduct environmental education, perhaps with areas set aside for Bristol's people to grow their own food at very low cost....like another city farm. This makes more sense to me than beef farming and the methane emissions that come with it.

The Posts comment on this issue echoes my MP Kerry McCarthy and correctly makes the point that this particular farm would be pretty small and so the impact of this enterprise on its own is not great. However, there is nowhere near enough emphasis on the greenhouse gas methane as one major cause of climate change and the council should be encouraging low meat diets. I'm not a veggie or a vegan but its certainly more environmentally friendly to eat less meat whilst at the same time being cheaper, healthier and more ethical.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Put People First March and Earth Hour events tomorrow

Passing on this message from Do Something About It:

Put People First March: Tomorrow
The Put People First march will take place in London tomorrow, Saturday 28 March. This is our chance to tell the G20 that there can be no return to business as usual, that they must act now to lay the foundations for a fairer and environmentally sustainable future. DoSomethingAboutIt.org.uk is one of over a hundred organisations supporting the event: we need your help to make the protest impossible to ignore. The rally will assemble along Victoria Embankment from 11am, before setting off at noon. For more information, check out the official Put People First website.

Lift a Finger, Flick a Switch, Save the Planet

The Put People First rally is not the only event that's taking place tomorrow. If you can't make it to the march, you can still participate in a protest of global significance - and you don't even need to leave the house. To campaign against climate change, all you need to do is turn off your lights between 8.30 and 9.30pm. The organisers of Earth Hour aim to collect millions of 'votes' from around the world, which they will then present to politicians at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year . Wherever you are in the country, wherever you are in the world (if you're outside the UK, just flip the switch at 8.30pm local time wherever you happen to be), this is a great opportunity to show politicians that you're taking global warming seriously - so they better do so too.

Spread the Word

The more people we can get involved in Earth Hour and the Put People First march, the more effective they will be. Please take a moment to spread the word by forwarding this email on to your friends and family!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

'Cycle House' Plans Statement - Taking full account of all community views

Copy of email sent to Bristol City Council:

Please ensure that the planning committee meeting of 1 April dealing with the 'cycle house' plans (08/03862/F) has the statement below submitted to it (I'd be grateful for an email confirming submission). I hope to be there to present the statement in person.

Statement - Taking full account of all community views:

The Bristol to Bath Railway Path consultation has finally been published. It cost £12,000 according to an FoI request. It dealt with all issues relating to this proposed development, not just the land sale/lease issue (as you can see from the its conclusions - see bullet points below). In any case the development cannot proceed as it is without land sale/lease and so the matters are intimately entwined and inseparable.

We were lead to believe by Cllr Rosalie Walker, then Executive Member responsible for green spaces, that this consultation was the next best thing to an Area Green Space Plan (which the council could not get itself together to do in time to inform this committees decision). What was the pointof the consultation if you are not going to fully account for it??

The Executive Summary and the Conclusion of the report state what bloggers and campaigners have been saying all along!! Developers, who say their work on this is rooted in the philosophy of community participation, and this committee, should to see to it that the 'cycle house' plans are modified to match what local people want.

These bullet points are directly from the consultation report:

* That green, open space should be preserved.

* That the wildlife corridor, in particular the hedgerow, should be protected.

* That the regeneration of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory site should take place within the existing boundary and that the Bristol and Bath Railway Path should stay in the public domain.

* That the individual accesses to the cycle houses are flawed with concerns about safety risks; changing character of path; de facto private gardens; impact on existing natural environment; security risks.

* The importance of Bristol as a ‘Cycling City’ and the need to protect cycle routes.

* Concern that land sale would set a precedent.

In conclusion, although there is general support for the regeneration of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory site the majority of those participating in the consultation felt that the development should be contained within the original footprint of the factory site and the Bristol and Bath Railway Path should stay in the public domain. The majority of individuals and organisations felt that plot 1 should not be sold although there were some suggestions for a compromise solution with partial development. A greater majority felt that plot 2 should not be leased particularly for individual access points – many respondents felt that these were unnecessary to the development. There was, however, some agreement to provide an access across plot 2 to the square, caf├ę and other facilities.

Do the facts show that a low meat diet is more ethical...?

Got involved in the online debate on the 'Bristol MP calls for cow flatulence debate' story in today's paper. My contribution drew quite a bit of response, including the one below from Grahame P. Thought it was worth posting on it here to invite responses on the ethics issue. To me it seems absurd to say that ethics is not part of this, and perhaps all, debates and wrong to say that you cant have a reasonable debate with someone who says that his moral position is backed by the facts - but what do readers think??

My post was addressed in reply to Glenn Vowles who said "....the facts show its healthier, more ethical and more ecological to freely choose to eat a lower meat diet..." Whilst I'd agree with his very first assertion, the argument that it's somehow more 'ethical' to eat less meat rankles because how can the facts show eating less meat is more ethical? Ethicality is a moral assertion, individually subjective, and therefore the 'facts' can't show anything of the sort!
(Grahame P, Central Bristol).

My reply:
Dont agree Grahame. The more people eat a low meat diet then - the more animals can be farmed in a non-intensive, healthier and higher animal welfare way; the fewer animals need to be farmed, leaving less forest cleared, which helps save species and save our climate; the more likely each person is to stay within a sustainable carbon budget, leaving nature less harmed for future generations. Isn't the result of all this that a low meat diet is more ethical??

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Stop the Pope speaking out against condoms: petition

Received the message below today from Jean. I've signed the petition and hope many others will too.

Did you see the Pope's anti-condom speech in Africa? He said condoms could risk increasing the spread of AIDS! This goes against all the research and is a massive set back to years of prevention and education projects on a continent with 22 million men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. I have just signed this petition which will be delivered to the Vatican asking the Pope to stop speaking out against condoms. A massive global outcry could influence any further statements he makes...just click on the link to add your name to this urgent petition; together, our voices could save lives:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/pope_benedict_petition/98.php?cl_taf_sign=dc63c4204bb886e4d4f31f3ac41b53b4

Thank you!

Further information:

The official position of the UN and the World Health Organization on condoms and AIDS prevention: http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/Resources/FeatureStories/archive/2009/20090319_preventionposition.asp
The Pope's statement opposing condoms
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7951839.stm

European governments criticise Pope Benedict for his statement http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7950671.stm

Condoms 'aggravate' AIDS scourge, Pope says: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=1399781

CNN Report on the Pope’s anti-condom position:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhxqvVmgEbg&feature=related

Vatican backtracking on condom statement: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5934912.ece

Growth of the Catholic Church in Africa, see:
http://www.zenit.org/article−18894?l=english
and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29777984/

South African Bishop supporting condom use:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29777984/

UNAIDS Report on the AIDS epidemic: http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Regions/default.asp

Monday, 23 March 2009

Green energy/waste plans in and around Bristol

Big money for green energy and waste management?

Things are moving in the renewable energy and recycling field, including locally with projects worth a possible £2bn in and around the Avonmouth area of Bristol. These would apparently be paid for by commercial investors and could, if the local, regional and particularly the national energy and waste strategies and mix of technologies is right, contribute towards making Bristol much greener – as well as creating many jobs. At this stage though the £2 billion investment figure is somewhat speculative, though may turn out to be a reasonable estimate from those in the know!

The Bristol's Environmental Technology and Services Sector project (BETS) established about three years ago to really get environmental technologies and services going in Bristol and the surrounding area are of course intimately involved in all this. After all BETS are all about: encouraging and facilitating networking and cooperation projects within the sector for business innovation and growth, including provision of better market intelligence; knowledge transfer; access to finance; training and marketing support, and appropriate sites and premises; harnessing the strengths and achievements of the sector for the wider marketing and promotion of Bristol for investment and regeneration; raising the public profile and promoting products, services and benefits on a local, national and international scale.

BETS are saying that nine different projects are proposed in and around Avonmouth, including 'green' power stations and recycling/waste operations. Full details of all these are not yet publicly available – its likely that debate will surround just how green some projects actually are. This is where energy and waste strategies, and technology assessment are crucial and will be in the spotlight.

We do know that Bristol City Council wants to build two wind turbines and Wessex Water four wind turbines. The Port of Bristol already has three wind turbines and may want two or three more. There are at least three proposals around for biomass power stations burning such fuels as woodchip, along with some interesting ideas for combined heat and power (where ‘waste’ heat is circulated and put to some use). The viability of this at Avonmouth needs looking into - can the heat be efficiently used there?? How?? Then there are a number of possible ‘energy from waste’ proposals, from pyrolysis/gasification or ‘waste cooking’ plants to conventional mass incineration with energy recovery (electricity generation). Mass burning and other heat treatment of waste is very controversial. The nature and origins of any biomass fuels used should is also a crucial green consideration (http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/index.php).

There are claims that Bristol is leading the green development agenda and could position itself as the so-called ‘green-collar capital’. There will be ongoing debate about how the scale of green investment matches the scale of the economic, climate and energy security problems though, with some calling for very large ‘green new deal’ plans to create an entirely different kind of economy and society out of the entwined economic and environmental chaos we now have.

In many ways the Avonmouth area is a good one for many of these energy and waste projects due to the accessibility to the port and to materials. Whether there are sufficient businesses and homes in the area to make best use of the Bristol City Council proposed grid to harness the heat generated from the various ‘green’ projects is an uncertainty. There may be far better locations for such good ideas and we need to think things through to ensure the overall strategy and technology mix give the best total net benefits. A lot of heat can be generated from several projects, should they come to fruition in difficult economic times. The potential is there to tackle two birds with one stone by generating genuinely clean, renewable energy and managing wastes efficiently within a low waste strategy, and generating loads of jobs in the process.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Condescending, undemocratic rubbish from Livingstone

I've strongly argued the case for congestion charging in Bristol but Ken Livingstone, who also favours the charge of course, has been talking trash on the issue in the city. Speaking in Bristol recently former London Mayor Ken Livingstone said that, '...it would be pointless to have a referendum on congestion charging in Bristol.' He went on to justify his view using these phrases: referendum would be pointless; you couldn't get a yes vote; we need to just do it; you cant boil down the complexities; competing priorities have to be managed; we need to avoid just arguing about it; I could do exactly as I wanted to do (yes he is quoted as saying this!). See the report here.

All this is insulting, condescending and undemocratic rubbish. The statement that got to me most however was this one, 'The whole role of the political class is that they are privy to knowledge and they can think long term in a way the general public doesn't.' What a hugely arrogant and ignorant thing to say. Knowledge and long term thinking are exactly what we dont usually get from many politicians. They are often out of touch with the real world, often limited by their party line or by their ideology or their ambitions, and thinking mostly about the next election rather than solving problems for the long term. Has he not heard about the entwined environmental and economic deep water we are now in?? Ken, you're having a laugh.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

For a good green glow...

This very smart UK technology helps to promote and extend the use of green infrastructure! TraxEyes glow in the dark marker studs can ensure a safe route along pathways, cyclepaths, canal towpaths, mooring points and jetties, bridleways, camping and caravan sites and parks in conditions that would otherwise be low or no light – and they do it in an extremely effective, economical and environmentally-friendly way! Its no wonder that Bristol City Council, British Waterways and English Heritage are experimenting with them.

The studs glow because of photoluminescence – they absorb light energy in daylight and then emit light at night. Amazingly they emit good light for twelve hours of darkness after a mere eight minutes of exposure to daylight! One stud costs just £3.89! A box of twenty studs, enough to cover 50 metres of cyclepath, costs just £77.80. If electrical lighting was used for the same distance, the cost of hardware installation alone would be much greater – add in maintenance and energy use and costs exceed the total cost of using TraxEye studs each and every month!

Councils like Bristol spend a significant portion of their budget on electricity for lighting. Bills run to millions! It costs from £36 to £90 a year to run just one street light as opposed to zero running cost of the studs. Bristol City Council has opted to try out the studs in St Werburghs as part of its Cycling City work.

Inside them is a resin disc embedded with light emitting crystals, encased in a clear plastic shell for protection against the elements. A small steel pin penetrates the disc and this is used to anchor the stud. The head of the pin is encased in tough plastic which keeps the stud safe during the straightforward installation and marks its location. Checking for vandalism and the occasional wipe over to remove debris is all the maintenance needed.

The studs are far greener than street lighting or reflectors, including perhaps solar powered ones, in several senses. They are non-toxic, non-radioactive and contain no harmful chemicals. They emit a soft green light not radioactivity!!

Its a major advantage that they consume no electricity during their working life and thus consume no fuel and produce no polluting emissions! They don’t require expensive and polluting batteries either and don’t have to be wired up as they are self-contained. The studs work in total darkness, unlike reflectors, and are longer-life than solar lighting – five years is guaranteed and fourteen years or more of useful life is expected. http://www.traxeyes.co.uk/

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Nuclear power: too slow to help solve climate change

The Post yesterday reported that, 'Farmland immediately north of Oldbury nuclear power station in South Gloucestershire has been identified as the most likely location for a possible new atomic energy plant. But people who visited a three-day exhibition staged by energy company Eon were told construction of the UK's next generation of nuclear sites – if given the go-ahead – was unlikely to start for another four years...'

I've previously posted my views on nuclear power and so would here focus in on the issue of time. The story above says that construction of new nuclear power stations is unlikely to start for four years. This is a considerable delay - we need to be building our energy security and cutting our carbon emissions now and so there are many technologies more appropriate than nuclear!! Sustainable Development Commission evidence, not disputed by the Government, shows that building ten new nuclear reactors can cut carbon emissions by a measly 4% and only after 2025! Doubling existing UK nuclear capacity produces an 8% cut by 2035. This is very little and very late in the day!!

The Sustainable Development Commission go on to indicate five major disadvantages of nuclear power, disadvantages they say outweigh the benefits:
1. Long-term waste - no long term solutions are yet available, let alone acceptable to the general public; it is impossible to guarantee safety over the long-term disposal of waste.

2. Cost - the economics of nuclear new-build are highly uncertain. There is little, if any, justification for public subsidy, but if estimated costs escalate, there's a clear risk that the taxpayer will be have to pick up the tab.

3. Inflexibility - nuclear would lock the UK into a centralised distribution system for the next 50 years, at exactly the time when opportunities for microgeneration and local distribution network are stronger than ever.

4. Undermining energy efficiency - a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers and businesses, implying that a major technological fix is all that's required, weakening the urgent action needed on energy efficiency.

5. International security - if the UK brings forward a new nuclear power programme, we cannot deny other countries the same technology (under the terms of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). With lower safety standards, they run higher risks of accidents, radiation exposure, proliferation and terrorist attacks.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls: Home Office online survey

Just completed an online survey about violence against women after being prompted by a message from a friend (below). Please consider completing the survey yourself and looking at the results so far - they are very, very striking.

....if you feel strongly about his (as I do) ..'Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls' is an online survey from the Home Office which asks you to comment on:

• general questions about you and your views


• the sexualisation of young girls

• education

• personal safety (women only)

• impressions and attitudes

This survey should take about five minutes, and it is anonymous.

Visit www.homeoffice.gov.uk/keepwomensafe/survey/ to take part.

Further information:
http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Petition: suspend the Regional Spatial Strategy

Passing on a message I received today from Steve. I hope many more people will sign the petition before the 3 April deadline.
I came across your website recently. I would like to bring this petition to your attention. It was drafted by a Worcestershire politician, but as far as I can see, it is applicable to all areas.

I got it from a website representing myarea: http://www.habsh.co.uk/

The response is pitiable in my eyes. I’m staggered that it has not been more widely distributed. http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/SuspendRSS/

I would be obliged if you could circulate it.

Friday, 13 March 2009

'Green' consultants fly off to plant some trees!!

This story in todays local paper ('Bristol Airport security detects toothpaste but not live bullets', Post, 13 March) raises the very serious issue of airport security, which must be got right of course. However, the fact that 'Four staff at green consultancy Carbon Managers were setting off for a tree-planting trip in Scotland from Bristol Airport...' is also most noteworthy to say the least! What are carbon managers doing flying like this?

These people should surely recognise that there is no substitute for reducing emissions at source. Its hardly taking all practical steps to reduce carbon emissions if they are flying off to Scotland is it! But that is what the best advice says should be done before considering carbon offsetting, which is what these 'four staff' would probably say they have done with their emissions from the flight.

Even at the offsetting stage one has to be very careful indeed about the scheme chosen because there are some very dodgy ones out there - you just can't 'magic away' our climate problems by handing over some dosh to a consultancy. If the solution was that easy the problem would have been solved years ago!!

Earth Hour 2009

Received a request to pass on the message below about Earth Hour 2009 - I hope many people will support this event!

Big changes start with small gestures; turn off to show you care about climate change


On 8.30 pm on 28 March an extraordinary global event called Earth Hour will take place and we would like to enlist your help to ensure that Bristol is a part of it.

Up to a billion people around the globe will switch off their lights for one hour to send a powerful message to our politicians and decision makers. Earth Hour 2009 is really set to ‘switch off the globe’. Already 377 cities and 74 countries are committed, including Bristol. Earth Hour 2009 is setting the platform for an unprecedented global mandate for action on climate change. This is especially important now because 2009 is a critical year for action on climate change, with the world’s leaders due to meet at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December to sign a new deal to supersede the Kyoto Protocol.

The initiative, which began in Sydney in 2007 as a one-city environmental campaign, has evolved into a grassroots action that has really captured the attention worldwide. In 2008, 371 cities across 35 countries turned their lights out in a united call for action on climate change.

The list of cities confirming their participation includes 37 national capitals and many of the great cities of the world, including London, Beijing, Rome, Moscow, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Athens, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Sydney, Mexico City, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Manila, Las Vegas, Brussels, Cape Town and Helsinki. We want to add Bristol to this list!

Along with the great metropolises of the world, Earth Hour 2009 will also see the lights go out on some of the most recognised landmarks on the planet, including Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Table Mountain in Cape Town, Merlion in Singapore, Sydney Opera House, CN Tower in Toronto, Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the world’s tallest constructed building, Taipei 101. We hope that the Clifton Suspension Bridge will be in this list of iconic structures.Earth Hour by its very nature is the essence of grassroots action. This is the opportunity for individuals from all corners of the globe to unite in a single voice and demand action on climate change. Bristol needs to play its part in this global clamour for change; please help us to make a difference.

You can help by letting all of your members and contacts know that this is happening and encouraging them to participate, by turning off any lighting not required for safety reasons on the 28th at 8:30pm. We would be very grateful if you could feedback to us the response you receive and the likely numbers who have agreed to participate.

More information is available at
http://www.earthhour.org/

Many thanks

Alistair Sawday, Chair, The Bristol Green Capital Momentum Group
green.capital@bristol.gov.uk

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

20's Plenty For Us

20's Plenty For Us was formed in order to work for the implementation of 20 mph as the default speed limit on residential roads in the UK, in place of 30mph. The balance is shifting towards roads and streets as public spaces for people rather than just motors – safer, cleaner, healthier and more civil.

The Bristol group was recently launched. 34 neighbourhood champions are in place, including myself in Knowle. The target is 100 champions so if you want to be involved either as a champion yourself or as part of a team then email Knowle@20splentyforus.org.uk or champions@20splentyforbristol.org.uk.

20mph is an idea whose time has come, with growing numbers of cities doing it, including Portsmouth, Oxford, Norwich, Leicester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Bristol will begin a 20mph pilot scheme in two areas soon.

Research has shown that the vast majority of the public, over 80% in polls, would like 20 mph on residential roads. After all its where people live!! Recent changes in Dept of Transport guidelines have relaxed the recommendations and in many residential areas 20 mph limits may be set without any physical measures at all – which means the cost of the change is small.

Further information from:

http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/ http://www.20splentyforbristol.org.uk/

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Bristol's local food update

Passing this on from a friend: The newsletter on all things food in Bristol has been given a new look. The newsletter helps community groups and projects in Bristol to share information about what they're doing, to promote courses, events, training & skill-sharing, and advertise jobs & volunteering positions. The newsletter covers food issues from plot to plate, and in this issue, there are details of lots of "growing" courses in Bristol.

To have future issues of the newsletter delivered to your inbox, send an email to Claire Milne at claire.milne@bristol.gov.uk with a subscription request.

Or to download a copy, go to:http://www.bristollocalfood.co.uk/

Thursday, 5 March 2009

National Science and Engineering Week

Science is crucial to establishing the condition of the world and its people. Its vital in identifying and assessing the options for change. It can help us make better choices to solve problems and tell us how we are progressing towards the goals we set. Science does this effectively when operating within a set of generally agreed rules. Technical change alone isn't usually enough to solve significant problems but it can and should be used to facilitate/encourage individual, community and societal behaviour change. National Science and Engineering Week, 6-15 March, is a great time to find out more - education and entertainment are to be found in abundance!! Bristol, as one of 6 Science Cities in the UK, has plenty of events you can be part of.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Save the Great British Pub!!

The post today reports that, 'MPs will today demand urgent action to "save the Great British Pub" after alarming figures revealed 48 have been lost across the Bristol region in just four years. A panel of five government ministers, including Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo, will be grilled on why more and more pubs are being forced out of business, in a growing crisis many are comparing to the closure of local post offices.' This sparked a lively online discussion, including this comment:

'There are far too many pubs that have been slow on the uptake in changing their business model. Smoking is not going to come back to pubs so publicans and punters have to get used to it. Get in the local ales, get in good European lagers, chuck out mass produced lagers, get in the food (doesn’t have to be fancy bistro style - a good ole pie goes down a long way). If your pub is good, reasonably priced and welcoming, entertaining (bands, free juke box etc) those that have to smoke will be happy to smoke outside (get them an awning so they are dry). '

This is spot on from Steve.

Great report on the Daily Politics show today involving actor and publican Neil Morrissey,
saying that 39 pubs per week are now closing in the UK. Pubs should be supported and developed as community focal points. They can be a great leveller, with all sorts of people as customers.

In Knowle and the surrounding area we've lost: The Talbot; The Red Lion; The Venture Inn; The Happy Cocks; The Glasscutter...and others are struggling. Tesco want to convert The Friendship Inn into a Tesco Express, though we've managed to delay a planning decision and get councillors to come and look at the site before deciding whether to give permission for the pub garden to become a car park. There does not seem to be any thinking or planning ahead from either council or govt to maintain, improve and diversify local pubs even though it would contribute very well to community building.

Pubs are an important part of the community along with shops, banks, post offices etc and so councils and govt have a key role to play, especially in strengthening neighbourhoods through coordinating and encouraging community involvement and working with businesses so that pubs adapt/change their to suit demand.

Further information: