Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year??

So, its not going to be a 'happy new year' then! The Coalition Govt say they believe in measuring the progress of society via wellbeing and happiness but have no policies likley to improve either of these. I have to say that I agree with the general view of the TUCs Brendan Barber here - he's also probably right to say, "It's hard to pick out the unkindest cut of all, but a top contender must be the 10% cut in housing benefit that kicks in after someone has been unemployed for more than a year."

BBC News - Union leader says 2011 will be 'horrible' year

The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, has said 2011 would be a "horrible" year of cuts. In his New Year message the union boss claimed there would be cuts in jobs and real cuts in living standards.

He added the year could also be a tough one for the government, which may face further angry protests.

Meanwhile, another union leader, Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union said strikes next year were "inevitable".

"The more of us that stand together against the cuts, the more problems we can create. Unless you look like you want a fight, they won't negotiate," he told the Times newspaper, predicting that the disruption would begin in the spring. "The Government has to see we are serious."

The TUC's Mr Barber said a demonstration in London in March against spending cuts looked like being one of the biggest events his union had ever organised.

In his New Year message, he said: "It's hard to pick out the unkindest cut of all, but a top contender must be the 10% cut in housing benefit that kicks in after someone has been unemployed for more than a year."

The Times reported senior union figures would meet at a TUC meeting early in the New Year to discuss their response to the cuts.

Also see this comment from Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Forensic Science Service cuts are criminal -

Here's yet another example of a serious lack of respect for science from Government:

Forensic Science Service cuts are criminal -

I've posted on this issue before, including saying, 'It strikes me that this Government is doing well in continuing the trend of successive Governments in not following the best available scientific advice and taking action of the type, scale and speed that the evidence suggests. Just off the top of my head in addition to the badger culling issue there is also: drugs and their classification; climate change; over-fishing...The grasp of science, scientific issues and their interrelationship with socio-economic and environmental factors in Parliament, in political circles generally and in the media is, with few exceptions, pretty poor.'

More on this issue:

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Illogical and incoherent Cllr Rogers...

Cllr Dr Jon Rogers [pictured] says, ‘We are determined to see the quality, quantity and accessibility of our parks and open spaces improve all across the city in the next 20 years’ (‘Land sell-off is right’, Post, Letters Dec 27). But hang on this man has, along with all Lib Dem and other councillors except the Greens, said it’s the right thing to do to plan to sell many acres of Bristol’s parks and green spaces over the next 20 years! That’s a decrease not the ‘quantity...improved’ that he claims he wants to see. As for improving accessibility to green spaces, well it’s self-evident that you make it more difficult to achieve this if you plan to sell some of them off and allow building over them. It’s worrying in the extreme to see such a lack of logic and coherence from Cllr Rogers. It was always illogical, inconsistent and incoherent to plan to sell-off chunks of our parks and green spaces whilst saying you are committed to health, wildlife, climate change and economic policies that require protecting and increasing green spaces.

Cllr Rogers contact details on the Bristol City Council website are:
email - , or telephone (0117) 914 2558, if you want to get in touch to set him straight.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

BBC News - 'Big four' supermarkets get 577 stores agreed, BBC finds

BBC research has found at least 577 UK supermarkets were approved in the past two years, with campaigners concerned at the growth of the 'big four' stores.
Planning authorities gave Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons permission for at least 480 stores in England in the two years to 1 November.
Campaigners say the stores are putting independent traders out of business...

BBC News - 'Big four' supermarkets get 577 stores agreed, BBC finds

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Cain on Culture - The King’s Speech: does it live up to expectations?

Apparently the answer to Cain's querstion is yes this film does - great perfomances, gripping and emotionally engaging. Saw Ed Balls commenting on this film and saw him in a new and refreshing light.

Cain on Culture - The King’s Speech: does it live up to expectations?

...The film begins and ends with a key public speech given by the King (in the first the Duke of York), both of them utterly compelling but for quite different reasons. The first is jaw-droppingly humiliating for Bertie. The second is nothing short of a triumph and hugely moving. You realise just how much you’ve invested in his journey when you’ve been crying tears of pride for its entire length.

So try and put aside the weight of expectation and see this film as soon as you can. Not only is it terrific but you’ll leave the cinema feeling something quite rare – that your capacity for compassion has greatly benefitted.

Mabinogogiblog: A quick review of the state of our home planet

This a great way to paint a vivid picture of what's going on - well worth a look (click on the image on Dr Lawsons site to see the image in full) and a think...and more.

Mabinogogiblog: A quick review of the state of our home planet

BBC News - Poorest pupils '55 times less likely to go to Oxbridge'

No surprise at all that there is huge inequality and unfairness in our education system (and beyond) but this study puts figures on it. Shows the abject failure of the Blair and Brown Labour Governments, despite claims that their aim was a more equal society. Coalition Govt policies are likely to be inadequate and ineffective at tackling this issue despite claims of being 'radical' - they may even make the problem worse! Do you trust former members of the socially exclusive Oxford University student dining club* like PM David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Chancellor George Osbourne to cut inequality? See the Bullingdon Club* photos - inequality goes right through to the Cabinet!
Pupils on free school meals are 55 times less likely to go to Cambridge or Oxford than those from private schools, the Sutton Trust has said.
The charity said it feared rising fees and the axing of a support programme would make it harder for poor students to get into England's top universities.
It also raised concerns about proposed measures to widen participation...

BBC News - Poorest pupils '55 times less likely to go to Oxbridge'

Monday, 20 December 2010

Why you wouldn’t want to be Mark Harper MP (Jonathon Porritt)

On flogging the forest and the right of recall.

Mark Harper is a Tory MP for the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. He’s also a Junior Minister – for Constitutional Reform. He’s also in the process of engineering his own political extinction at the next General Election...

...And here’s a wonderful irony. The Government has mooted the idea of introducing a ‘right of recall’ for constituents who have lost all faith in their MP. As Junior Minister for Constitutional Reform, Mark Harper will be responsible for bringing forward this proposal – and would almost certainly be the first MP to be evicted from the House of Commons as a consequence of it...

Why you wouldn’t want to be Mark Harper MP (Jonathon Porritt)

BBC News - How Helsinki airport deals with snow and ice

Interesting perspective on one aspect of dealing with snowy weather from Helsinki - basically they expect a lot of snow and very low temperatures; they are more prepared, with more staff and equipment types and numbers; our snow is wetter and ice problems are more likely; Helsinki airport does not have to handle as many flights as Heathrow...If this kind of weather is likely to occur in the UK more frequently then we have to be more prepared and perhaps change our attitude to travel intensive lifestyles.

...It looks as though there will be another snowy winter, like last year's, says Anika Kala, a spokesperson for the airport. But she says she's relaxed because the airport is "well prepared".

The preparation consists of good equipment, extra winter staff, and a choice of three runways.

While one runway is being cleared of snow or ice, the other two are open for business.

Snow storage
In exceptional circumstances, two runways may be closed. It takes a rare combination of heavy snow and high wind to close all three - as happened, briefly, seven years ago.

What about the equipment?

"We have 250 vehicles of different kinds," says Ms Kala.

"We have sweepers, snow ploughs, vehicles that blow snow from the runways, and friction testers that check the surface is fit for use."

The snow is removed to a special storage area within the airport perimeter. When that fills up, it is taken to other facilities outside.

Last winter 7,000 truckloads were carted off the runways, apron and taxi-ing areas.

Temperatures in Helsinki can drop to -25C - but Ms Kala explains that a good hard frost is much easier to deal with than a temperature of zero or -1C.

"When it's zero degrees, it's moist and there will be ice," she says....

She acknowledges that there is a big difference between Helsinki, which has a total of 600 landings and take-offs per day on its three runways, and Heathrow which has twice as many - on two runways - and five times as many passengers to deal with.

Running a big airport like Heathrow - which is privately owned by BAA - would be a bigger operation than running state-owned Helsinki airport.

But the principles for dealing with snow and ice, Ms Kala suggests, are probably the same.

BBC News - How Helsinki airport deals with snow and ice

Friday, 17 December 2010

Talks between town green and new stadium sides

Its a good thing for both sides to talk issues through. Polarisation and vilification that has occurred during the debate has hindered rational consideration. I watch with interest to see what is proposed, by whom, and what the final outcome is.

A DOOR has finally opened which could break the deadlock over Bristol City building a new stadium at Ashton Vale.

Poll: 56% support the alternative vote

The campaign to reform Britain’s voting system has been boosted by a new opinion poll showing that a majority of the public supports change.
An ICM Research survey for the Electoral Reform Society found that 56 per cent of people favour the alternative vote (AV), in which voters rank candidates in order of preference, while only 44 per cent want to retain the existing first-past-the-post system...

Clegg to be sidelined from his pet project - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

Spending cuts 'will see rise in absolute child poverty' | Politics | The Guardian

If we were genuinely all 'in this together' our government would not be enacting policies that will push more and more children into both absolute and relative poverty. Those who 'have the broadest shoulders' as the Coalition Govt have put it are supposed to be 'taking the biggest load' - clearly they aren't! See this Guardian report on an authoritative study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies,

The government's radical programme to slash spending will see the first rise in absolute child poverty for 15 years, with almost 200,000 children pushed into penury, according to an analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Tax changes introduced by the coalition government will, the leading independent fiscal thinktank finds, increase absolute poverty by 200,000 children and 200,000 working-age adults in 2012-13.

Cuts to housing benefit alone will force a further 100,000 children into poverty.

In the next three years the IFS says average incomes are forecast to stagnate and this, coupled with deep cuts in welfare, will see a rise in relative poverty for children and working-age adults of 800,000 and a rise in absolute poverty for the same group of 900,000.

The institute directly challenges the government's claim that the impact of the budget would have no effect on child poverty...

Spending cuts 'will see rise in absolute child poverty' Politics The Guardian

Thursday, 16 December 2010

FIFA vs International Olympic Committee rules

Was going to write a piece about FIFA vs IOC rules, following the corruption allegations against FIFA and the farce of taking the Wold Cup to Russia in 2018 and in particular Qatar in 2022. However, I see that the BBCs James Pearce has already done a good job on this issue.

BBC - James Pearce: Fifa should learn from IOC

...Wide-ranging reform at Fifa is unlikely to happen in the short term. But even if Blatter wants to nudge his organisation gently on to a path of greater transparency, then he could do a lot worse than follow the IOC's example. Look at how the IOC reformed its voting system after the Salt Lake City scandal. In particular, there was one major change that dramatically lessened the opportunities for corruption.

If you are an IOC member, you are no longer allowed to visit any candidate cities without permission. Instead, the IOC members are told to form their opinions from the official technical report. Yes, in Olympic circles technical reports are actually read, unlike the Fifa ones that appear to have been ignored. A city that had been branded "high risk" in the way that Qatar was by Fifa would be very unlikely to win an IOC vote.

In contrast, the 24 members of Fifa's executive committee were able to travel the world for free during the contests for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. If one of them fancied a weekend in London with his wife, then all he needed to do was pick up a phone or click his fingers and it was all laid on. A five-star hotel, limousine, hospitality at the Premier League game of his choice... The bid teams had no choice but to pander to the voters' every need. These lucky men were wined and dined in destinations stretching from Moscow to Sydney, via New York, Tokyo, Seoul and many other of the world's great cities.

The IOC put a stop to all this. The rules for Olympic voters are now far tighter.
If Fifa voters are banned from travelling to the bidding countries, it would not be enough to make the process appear clean but it would at least be an important first step....

Bristol City Council due to decide on sell off plan despite unresolved questions

TODAY the city council's cabinet is due to decide on a plan to sell off up to 64 parks and green spaces, despite a string of unresolved questions on the controversial scheme.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Despite cuts, Bristol City Council offers deputy job for £120k a year

The council should scrap this idea, not employ anyone in this role - and save £240,000 over two years. We are all supposed to be 'in it together'. You can afford to employ six people on £20,000 on two year contracts with this money - or keep a library open for the same period...Very bad choice Bristol City Council.

BRISTOL City Council is advertising for a new deputy chief executive on a salary of more than £120,000-a-year – at a time when the council is in the grip of the biggest cuts in its history. [salary alone for the two yr contract is £240,000 - there may be other costs involved]

The council is shedding hundreds of jobs and has had a freeze on vacancies to try to balance the civic books.

The advert says: "We have recently reviewed our senior management team and are looking for a new deputy chief executive to join us initially for the next two years...

Opposition to green space sell-off plans overwhelming

MORE than 15,000 people have signed petitions against Bristol City Council's plan to sell of green spaces – but not a single person appears to have signed any petition in support.

BBC News - Lollipop patrols axed by council

What! Lollipop patrols protect our kids and in any case cost only a very small amount of money. Lollipop men and women aren't exactly overpaid - get rid of the Chief Executives on extortion salaries and stop using all those consultants that cost a fortune instead! I hope this suggestion is not made in Bristol or elsewhere.

BBC News - Lollipop patrols axed by council

With councils in England facing big cuts to their funding from central government, some jobs and services are likely to be axed.
The need to save money has led to Suffolk County Council to propose getting rid of its lollipop men and women to save £174,000, a move that's upset some parents.

Monday, 13 December 2010


I'm all for spreading out and sharing power much more. There is far too much power in central government and in other large organisations - including councils - and not nearly enough in the hands of local people, local communities and those served by large organisations. But does the government's Localism Bill give real power to the people and in all respects? An Elected Mayor puts an awful lot of power in to hands of one person for instance. Government claim to be giving more power to local councils - but at the same time they are disempowering them by cutting the money they get by 27% over four years! I welcome any genuine shift of power but money has to go with it.

BBC News - Councils to see grants cuts by average 4.4% - Pickles

The Localism Bill's measures are expected to include:

*Giving local people and organisations the right to buy community assets like shops, pubs and libraries. If a council decides to sell a property community organisations will get extra time to develop their bid.
*Communities can question how services - such as children's centres, care homes and transport - are being run and potentially take them over.
*More power for local people to overrule planning decisions, decide where new homes should go and protect green spaces.
*Powers to create directly elected mayors in 12 cities
*Powers for people to approve or veto "excessive" council tax rises

Saturday, 11 December 2010

No Need for Nuclear

Been looking over this campaign website: No Need for Nuclear

This is a campaign to stop the building of new nuclear power stations.
All but one UK nuclear power stations are due to close by 2023. We think this generation of nuclear power should be the last.

Nuclear power is
not necessary to meet the UK's electricity demand, it is more expensive than renewable alternatives, and is not carbon-neutral.

This is a big campaign ask, since the new coalition Government has already decided that the UK nuclear industry should be allowed to grow. This means we're going to need all the help we can get in order to convince them otherwise. Please visit
our activism pages to find out how you can help.

Green Party | Greens offer free membership to students and young people

Join the Green Party here.

In an unprecedented move, the Green Party today offered free membership to people under 30 or in full-time education.

Any student or young person who applies to join the Green Party before 1 January 2011 will pay no subscription for the coming year...

Green Party Greens offer free membership to students and young people

Friday, 10 December 2010


Guest blogger, Terence Blacker decries the ‘Ozymandian’ stupidity of holding the 2022 World Cup in air conditioned stadiums in Qatar, one of the world’s hottest countries and FIFA’s feeble greenwashing of its stupendously destructive choice of host country.


AV is much fairer: letter

Great letter on a fairer voting system by Chris Millman in todays Post: AV is much fairer

IN his letter to the Post on December 4, Oliver Tunnah shows little faith in the intelligence of the British electorate, who he thinks will be "befuddled" by the alternative vote (AV) system. But it is he who is confused. He claims "with AV you must vote for a party you don't believe in."


The AV is quite simple. It allows the opportunity to list candidates in order of preference. If only one candidate is acceptable to you, you only list one.

The beauty of the system is that it allows you to vote for the candidate you want, rather then backing the one you think most likely to beat the candidate you don't want. This is the precise opposite of what Mr Tunnah is suggesting.

In May we have an historic chance to scrap outdated first-past-the-post and bring in AV, which is fairer.

Chris Millman, Coombe Dingle.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Green Party | Government must halt its “savage attacks” on UK higher education, say Greens

Good quality Higher Education is one of the key factors to manitain and develop if we are to achieve a sustainable society - but its struggling to survive in places! Education is not a commodity to be bought and sold.

Green Party Government must halt its “savage attacks” on UK higher education, say Greens

Green Party | Greens now the only political party fighting for free education

Green Party Greens now the only political party fighting for free education

Need for urgent action on climate change - but its not forthcoming

I agree whoelheartedly with this excellent letter in todays Post about the need for urgent action on climate change from Oxfam's Roger James - but sadly both he and I are going to be very disappointed with what results from the meeting at Cancun.

T HE weather is very much in our minds at the moment and while it may seem odd to be concerned about man-made global warming while we struggle with the cold, the latest Royal Society research indicates that on present policies we have little chance of avoiding a 2C global temperature rise.

These projections send a powerful reminder why progress at the current international climate change conference in Cancun is more urgent than ever.

A new Oxfam report shows that 21,000 people suffered weather-related deaths during the first nine months of 2010, more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.

This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the ten-year average of 770.

It is also one of the hottest years ever recorded with Pakistan logging 53.7°C – the highest ever in Asia.

Climate change affects us all: The Association of British Insurers tripling by 2050. In the South West such events seem to have become more common.

Building a greener economy is an even more necessary solution in a time of recession.

The poorest communities around the world who are the most vulnerable urgently need funds to adapt to climate change and to build a low carbon economy.

Oxfam South West campaigners are among many thousands of people in this region who have raised these concerns.

The Cancun conference is a real opportunity for the world to decide on an effective response to climate change.

This challenge is also an opportunity for those countries that move fast to prosper in a greener, fairer future.

Roger James, Oxfam South West, Brunswick Square, Bristol

Bristol wins £260k green grant as biofuel decision delayed | Bristol24-7

If sustainability - full and proper - is going to be used By Eric Pickles to judge this biofuel plan then I'm confident it wont go ahead.

Bristol wins £260k green grant as biofuel decision delayed Bristol24-7

...The news comes as it emerged that a decision on the controversial biofuel power plant planned for Avonmouth would be delayed by the Government.
Communities and Local Govt Secretary of State Eric Pickles was due to decide this month whether planning permission should be granted for the power station. He has announced a delay to allow all sides to submit more evidence on the central question – is it sustainable to burn biofuels to produce electricity?...

BBC - Richard Black's Earth Watch: Unlikely marriage powers ahead

No-one here really wants to be doom-laden about it, but it's a reality that more and more are having to face: the UN climate process could be grinding to a halt.

BBC - Richard Black's Earth Watch: Unlikely marriage powers ahead

Bristol will merge with Bath by 2050????

I thought it was 9 Dec today not the 1 April! What ridiculous rubbish this prediction is - and its also ridiculous that its taken John Savage, his 'expert' team of town planners and £250,000 to come up with this idea and say that its a good thing!

WITHIN 40 years, Bristol and Bath will have merged into a single sprawling conurbation – to become one of the major economic powerhouses of Europe.

What will this mighty new supercity be known as? "BristolBath", is the name on the lips of John Savage, executive president of GWE Business West. Some might even shorten this to Brath.

The chamber of commerce has spent £250,000 on creating a new "blueprint" for the way Bristol will evolve over the next two generations.

Mr Savage, and his team of expert town planners, are predicting that Bristol will be a very different place by 2050...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Views on the Bristol City new stadium in the green belt issue

Several excellent letters in this series in today's Post (link below). Have a look at the one that describes how staging major sporting events does not boost the economy - and also the one about how Bristol City Council gambled away hundreds of thousands of pounds on trying to get a bit of world cup football here for a few weeks.

I T is argued that Bristol City cannot go forward without a new stadium. Well, lots of Premier League and Championship teams have not gone to new stadiums and are still doing okay.

Monday, 6 December 2010

   Stockwood Pete: Whipping Yarns

"We're not being whipped" Cabot's LibDem councillor Alex Woodman told the council debate on abandoning the sell-off of the city's green spaces....

Stockwood Pete: Whipping Yarns

BBC News - Child poverty 'rises' among working households

Child poverty within working households is rising and now accounts for 58% of all UK cases, a report has found.
A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report says there are 2.1 million impoverished youngsters in homes where parents are in work - up slightly on last year.
Co-author Tom MacInnes said it showed work alone was not the answer to lifting people above the bread line...

BBC News - Child poverty 'rises' among working households

BBC News - Judges to consider equality challenge to Budget

The government will be forced to defend its Budget in the High Court later, against claims it broke equalities law.
The Fawcett Society is seeking a judicial review, arguing that ministers failed to consider the impact of tax and welfare changes on women.
The women's rights group says £5.8bn of the £8bn savings outlined in June's Budget would come from women...

BBC News - Judges to consider equality challenge to Budget

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Vote Yes to changing our unfair voting system

Good that an office has been opened in Bristol to campaign to change the voting system in next May's referendum. AV is a step in the right direction and has the advantage of demonstrating that electoral system change is wanted, if voted through. AV undermines tactical voting because every vote - not just votes for the eventual winner - will count given that voters can express first, second, third - and further - choices as appropriate.

A CAMPAIGN office to promote a Yes vote to change the voting system in a referendum next May is being opened in Bristol today.

More on why the alternative vote (AV) is an improvement on the current first past the post voting system here.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Climate Change Denial » ONE REPORT- TWO HEADLINES

Great example on George Marshall's blog: How does one scientific report generate two entirely contradictory stories and headlines? This is a perfect example of how information on climate change is filtered by the newsmedia and distorted to fit the politics and worldview of their readers.

Climate Change Denial » ONE REPORT- TWO HEADLINES

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - American Dream, Plenty and Paranoia

This is a great series and for me is very compelling viewing. Its not endearing me to a lot of what America stands for...

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - American Dream, Plenty and Paranoia

"The American dream" - a phrase coined in 1931 that has become a national motto. It represents a unique brand of optimism that goes to the heart of what it is to be American. It is a simple phrase but a complex notion whose meaning is sustained and challenged by each generation.

After World War Two ended, Americans faced a future that seemed not only full of promise but also replete with danger. The United States emerged as the richest and most powerful nation in the world yet its safety and even its existence were widely perceived to be threatened as never before.

This series features those who helped foster and sell the dream, those who feel they have lived it, as well as those who challenge or reject the very notion. Through rare archive and eyewitness testimony, this series explores the realities behind America's most powerful myth - from the eve of the Second World War to the end of the Vietnam War.

More information and links here.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

Watched this with great interest, especially given all the stadium debate in Bristol that's been going on for ages. The extent and scale of the corruption was shocking. Well done to the BBC and others in the media for exposing it. Interesting that the Dutch have found, having looked at both the costs and benefits of staging a world cup, that they'd make a 150 million euro loss - so much for the economic benefits of staging the event! Make a case to stage it because you love football. Make a case to stage it because football originated here...and we are so well set up for it because its inherent in our culture - but dont bleat on about the value to the economy because net financial benefit is very hard to establish. Same goes for the Olympics and other major international sporting events.

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

The program is available in iPlayer here.

Green stadium design for an aspiring green capital?

'Why not outline for us how a man like yourself with so many letters after your name would achieve for the people of Bristol such a facility along sustainable development principles?' says sharp tongued Bristol Evening Post online debater Mark from Bristol.

I dont pretend to have all the answers but sustainable development is good sense not rocket science. First, dont build over green land in the green belt - either redevelop Ashton Gate or find a suitable brownfield site near existing good transport links. Second, seriously consider sharing any new ground. Thirdly use well established green design principles eg the One Planet Living Principles that are outlined here:

I took part in the BCFC consultation and submitted some ideas on green stadium design plus examples of several football clubs who have used green design principles (see here and Dartford FCs Princes Park stadium design, pictured). Despite asking for a response by email and phone call I received none. Had city gone for a top notch green stadium design it would have been much harder for people like me to oppose it - and perhaps it would have been harder for Ashton Vale people too. Shouldn't our aspiring 'green capital' have a green football stadium??

New ground in the green belt is unsustainable development

The Bristol Evening Post is absolutely right to speak out against plan to sell off and build over parks green spaces within the city (‘Council must see bigger picture’, Post June 29). I fully agree with them when they said that green spaces are ‘not simply there for this generation’ and that we are merely ‘custodians of these open spaces’. This sustainable development argument also applies to the green belt land where the new BCFC stadium is proposed. As a strong supporter of the proposed stadium however the Post is being very inconsistent - and one has to ask why.

Building a new BCFC stadium in the green belt is based on outmoded, old fashioned, discredited economic thinking. Our council has 'green capital' ambitions and so should be implementing sustainable development as an alternative to the current economic orthodoxy. Mainstream politics has said it was signed up to sustainable development decades ago but has done little or nothing to implement it.

Current economic thinking centres on growing the economy based on resources that are finite and non-renewable. There is only so much land for instance and we and other species need it for multiple purposes - using it for a game of football is hardly top priority.

We need instead to be selective about what grows in our economy -including football grounds - and ensure that economic development meets tests of: resource efficiency; renewability; being within environmental limits; meeting needs now and into the future; local and global fairness; human health, wellbeing and quality of life; stronger local communities. Town Green status for the land in Ashton Vale is in tune with sustainable devleopment and so I fully support it.

More on 'ground vs green'

Copies of further comments I made yesterday in the online 'ground vs green' debate (below). 'Dog Walker' was one of the few to respond to my posts:

Dog Walker - by 'dealt with' you mean ignored or dismissed! This must be so because: f this stadium is built green belt land will be lost; carbon emissions will rise; natural flood drainage space will go; land with food production potential will go; wildlife habitats will be smaller in area; green space important to human health will be cut. Our current system has warm green words but little or no green action - which is why planning permission was given.

We are in agreement that our MPs are not competent drafters of the law! I dont agree with your assessment of my democratic credentials however - your way of thinking would mean that law has no value in a democracy and that there should be, in effect, no such thing as local democracy. I believe our democracy is not localised enough whereas your line of argument leads, in effect, to Vogons from another planet [pictured, from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film] being allowed to turn up out of the blue and destroy the whole planet.

You make the big mistake of assuming that building this stadium will have a net positive effect on jobs and investment. To my knowledge no-one has done the research sums to see if total benefits exceed total costs, taking into account all factors, including those I've mentioned above. Mostly what we hear about is benefits - my point is ok but what about the costs?? This the opposite of selfishness, Carl, because its trying to account for the impacts both on current generations and the generations of people to come - once green land is built over its nigh on impossible to get it back again.

Dog Walker - its so convenient for you to simply dismiss a whole range of health and environmental arguments isn't it. Is this a ground vs green debate or not? You seem to be ducking out to me. The planning process has no objective evidence whatsoever that total benefits outweigh total costs - and a decision taken on the basis of little or no evidence is irrational.

Why is it that you dont want to talk about and deal properly with climate change, biodiversity, habitats, flood management, human health and quality of life?? Where is your evidence that net economic benefits will result (you only state a possible benefit and mention no disbenefits)? Could it not be argued that the stadium proposal is an inappropriate development based on outmoded, old-fashioned, discredited economic thinking and that therefore persuing it would be unwise ? Bristol is supposed to have 'green capital' ambitions after all.

Given that we've gone beyond the planning process now wouldn't giving the land town green status mean that it would be maintain our ability to: fight climate change; increase wildlife; manage flooding; keep people healthy...If you built a stadium the opposite would happen and therefore shouldn't someone estimate the costs/benefits of all this in order for a rational decision to be made?

My point about Vogons [pictured] is not extending the argument to absurdity at all. Its my view that local democracy should count for much more than it does - and that the law should help prevent locals from being bullied into a situation they dont want. The law on town greens does empower people to apply for their space to be protected. You have not indicated that you would like any form of local democracy or legal processes to protect a community and its space and so in effect you are saying that if, as in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Vogons turn up one day to destroy our planet then that's all ok.

Monday, 29 November 2010

BBC - Live - Ground v Green debate

Here's where you can watch the debate live, if you dont have a ticket to get in.

BBC - Live - Ground v Green debate (UK)

Or listen here if you are not in the UK.

Ground vs Green

Just chipped in to the 'Ground vs Green' debate going on on the Evening Post website, particularly in response to someone calling themselves 'another cynic' because they did not regard opposing building a stadium in the green belt as rational. Here's my contribution to a debate that is, as usual, of the very highest quality (!!):

'I think most rational people would be pro stadium. The only thing to be cynical about is the use of the TVG laws by a minority of people to undermine the workings of the democratic planning process.' said another cynic.

What's rational about:

- designating land as green belt and then not protecting it?

-the council/govt saying we need to fight climate change and then turning land from a net absorber to a net emitter of carbon?

-expressing concern about the need to be ready to deal with flooding caused by the sudden heavy rains we now get and then removing land that naturally absorbs and steadily releases flood water?

-saying wildlife needs to be protected but then concreting over habitats?
-having government agencies like Natural England working to show how necessary to our physical, mental and social health green spaces are and how we all need to live close to a green space and then removing said spaces?

-saying what a good idea local food production is, especially in view of things like peak oil, and then reducing the land area available to grow food locally?

-MPs strengthening the law on town and village green establishment in both 2000 and 2006 then going on to campaign against the use of the laws they established??

By the way another cynic, the current planning process is a statutory ie legal process primarily and not a democratic one. Though it has a democratic element to it through the involvement of elected Councillors and Secretary of State, they are supposed to be guided by rules and regulations not a party line...hopefully to establish a rational outcome. The Ground vs Green debate will not be finally resolved by petition or voting but by the law that is an essential feature of a modern democratic system - and in this instance it may well prevent a wider majority view prevailing over a very local majority view.

Debate on new BCFC ground

THE Ground v Green debate to discuss plans for a 30,000-seat stadium at Ashton Vale will be broadcast live tonight from 7pm.

The Evening Post and BBC Radio Bristol have joined forces to organise the high-profile debate on one of the biggest issues in the city for years...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Stop Sainsbury's on Ashton Gate

Link to Stop Sainsbury's website...

STOP SAINSBURY’S is a group of local residents, campaigning to stop plans to rebuild the local store at DOUBLE ITS CURRENT SIZE on the Ashton Gate football ground. This would make it a regional destination and “the biggest Sainsbury’s in the South West”.

Find out more about the
revised Sainsbury’s proposal, or find out what you can do to help by writing to the planning department or getting in touch with your local councillor. Every letter and email will count in this decision process, so make sure that your voice gets heard.

use the contact form to send us your details and we can keep you up to date.

Together we can stop a new superstore in BS3 for the third time.

Science Museum's Atmosphere Gallery

Energy and money saving website,, is hosting a live Q&A session with the Science Museum on Monday between 1 and 2 pm to celebrate the opening of the Science Museum’s Atmosphere Gallery on Friday 3 Dec. You can learn more about the new gallery here.

The Atmosphere Gallery is a new permanent feature of the museum which explores climate science. Gallery content developer Alex Fairhead will be on hand to answer questions on how science and technology will shape the future, and to discuss living in a low-carbon world. There are more details here.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

European countries need to triple efforts to decarbonise

A new tracking tool launched today by WWF and renewable energy business Ecofys reveals only about a third of the action needed to put European Union countries on a path towards a low carbon economy by 2050, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95%, is currently underway. The report and which available online by clicking here is called the Climate Policy Tracker for the European Union and claims to provide for the first time an up-to-date snapshot of greenhouse gas emission controls across the EU using a state-by-state and sector-by sector analysis...

European countries need to triple efforts to decarbonise

House of cards economics

Work on the economy continues at the Treasury, in Ireland, in the EU, at the IMF and in many other places around the globe. There's little stability in a house of cards however.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Tesco ignore the need for planning permission??

Tesco were refused planning permission for the entranceway/doors and windows they wanted in the former Friendship Inn - but they appear to have gone ahead and installed them anyway! They have appealed against the refusal - but it cannot be right for them to install ahead of permission as this would make a mockery of the whole system. Obviously they feel they can give themselves permission!

PLANS to bulldoze hundreds of homes in Knowle West as part of a massive regeneration project might be scrapped.

I hope they abandon plans to knock down hundreds of homes in Inns Court - not least because the people living there - and the community around them - dont want this destructive demolition. Just think of what a home means to people and what they have of themselves invested in their home. Great to hear that the most popular regeneration plan is the one produced by the Knowle West Residents Planning Group.

PLANS to bulldoze hundreds of homes in Knowle West as part of a massive regeneration project might be scrapped.

Council officials have collated the views of residents and discovered while 84 per cent support regenerating the area, only about one in three (36 per cent) agreed with knocking down Inns Court.
More than half (52 per cent) said the estate should be infilled with new homes.
The residents' option, put forward by the Knowle West Residents Planning Group, offered alternatives to widescale demolition and was the most popular, with 40 per cent support...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Mabinogogiblog: Greens must uphold the principle of non-violence.

Good post reminding us of a key green principle.

Mabinogogiblog: Greens must uphold the principle of non-violence.

Here's an extract from one of my previous posts about when, why and how breaking the law (non-violently) might be justified...

Few people, if any, would argue that law breaking is never justifiable - think of prominent examples of law breaking to achieve positive social change like Vaclav Havel and the 'Velvet Revolution' in 1989, perhaps inspired by people like Mahatma Gandhi to gain independence in India and Martin Luther King Jr campaigning for civil rights in the USA.

I do belong to a radical party that has this core value: 'Electoral politics is only one way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.'

It is justifiable to break the law when campaigning and in fact some may feel compelled or duty-bound to do so, often inspired by people like Gandhi (who in turn was influenced by Henry David Thoreau) . However, if the law is broken it must, in my view, generally: appeal directly to the sense of justice of the majority; not reject the rule of law; be non-violent; accept lawful punishment that results; be a shrewd tactical move (why do it otherwise?); be consistent with core green values.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

CAMPAIGNERS fighting Bristol City Council's plans to sell off green spaces are calling on people to join a protest meeting next week.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting Bristol City Council's plans to sell off green spaces are calling on people to join a protest meeting next week.

The council has faced ongoing criticism for the area green spaces plan, which proposes selling off 62 sites across the city to fund improvements in other parks. Public consultation officially came to an end at the end of October, but residents are still hoping to get their message across. The protest is planned for 1pm on Tuesday, ahead of the full council meeting at the Council House on College Green at 2pm...Depending on the outcome of the motion to scrap the plan, a second protest is pencilled in for December 16, when a decision on which sites will be sold off is due to be made by the council cabinet.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Research: biofuels significantly worsen climate change

Britain's promise to more than double its use of biofuels by 2020 is "significantly" adding to worldwide carbon emissions, the Government admitted yesterday. Britain is signed up to a European guarantee to source 10 per cent of its transport fuel from renewable sources, such as biofuels, within the next 10 years.

But ministers have said that the policy is proving counter-productive and the greenhouse emissions associated with biofuels are substantially greater than the savings. They are now urging the European Commission to rethink the plan. The admission coincides with a major study published this week which concludes that biofuels will create an extra 56 million tons of CO2 per year – the equivalent of 12 to 26 million cars on Europe's roads by 2020.

This is because Europe will need to cultivate an area somewhere between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland with biofuels to meet the target, which can only be done through land conversion – and more controversially, deforestation. The work will be on such a scale that the carbon released from the vegetation, trees and soil will be far greater than those given off by fossil fuels they are designed to replace.

The study, from the Institute for European Environmental Policy, found that far from being 35 to 50 per cent less polluting, as required by the European Directive, the extra biofuels will be twice as bad for the environment...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010 » The Lax Tax Pact

Trying saying this quickly! Another great piece from George Monbiot. » The Lax Tax Pact

Letters: Greed not greens cause hunger | Environment | The Guardian

Excellent letter in The Guardian:

Letters: Greed not greens cause hunger Environment The Guardian

Channel 4 documentary What the Green Movement Got Wrong (Last night's TV, 5 November) in our view made a series of misguided and inaccurate allegations and assumptions. It identified GM as a solution to hunger and implicated anti-GM campaigners for exacerbating food insecurity. As development organisations, we consider the documentary was extremely biased against environmental organisations that do so much to promote positive solutions. Hunger is a blight on humanity, but it is a political and economic problem. Its root causes include the broken and biased trading system; the bankers who gamble on the price of staple foods; and land grabs by financiers – all of which make food unaffordable for the hungry and deny their right to food.

In our view, the most significant impact that GM companies have made is to dominate the seed chain, selling expensive and patented seeds to farmers, seeds that are used more for livestock feed, cotton and biofuels – not for feeding people. The documentary didn't include any independent voices from civil society in the global south who are campaigning against GM and for local sustainable food production.

Had they done so, it is likely to have become clear that the small-scale farmers who provide food for most people in the world are not calling for GM technologies that are beyond their control. They are calling for political will from governments to take on the corporate lobbyists and protect their land, natural resources and production systems; a fair trading system to ensure fair prices; and a fair hearing from governments and documentary-makers on the future food system.

Deborah Doane
World Development Movement
Patrick Mulvany
UK Food Group
Andrew Scott
Practical Action
John Hilary
War on Want

BRISTOL City Council has admitted it may have to make up to £70 mil- lion of spending cuts over the next four years – £20m higher than previously announced.

I'm worried about the implications of this for vital services eg care for the elderly. Aren't we supposed to be remembering the contributions people made in the world wars? Many of these people are now in care homes or in need of care support to remain in their homes - we should be looking after them well.

BRISTOL City Council has admitted it may have to make up to £70 mil- lion of spending cuts over the next four years – £20m higher than previously announced.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Will Cameron live up to this statement??

David Cameron Strategy Challenge (Jonathon Porritt)

“Our action to cut the deficit might be making the headlines today. But if we get it right, our action to cut carbon emissions and move to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy could become one of the defining stories of the new politics of the Coalition. This Government will back strong rhetoric with decisive action”.(David Cameron)

Great quote. And good to see a contrast made between the kind of leadership required to deal with the deficit and the kind of leadership required to address climate change.

Six months on from the General Election in May, not a single citizen in the UK will have any residual doubt about the deficit priority. But apart from the usual suspects that make up the Green Movement today, that quality of leadership on the environment and climate change has been largely invisible to everyone else.

Sometime soon, the Prime Minister is therefore going to have to get his vision of “the greenest government ever” out and about. However beautifully crafted by his speech writers, one or two ‘keynote green speeches’ just won’t cut it. Warm words sort of help people feel better about things, but, in reality, they are next to useless when it comes to making things happen.

Happily, David Cameron has a perfect opportunity to hand to get this sorted before the first anniversary of the General Election next year – via the simple process of developing a brand new Sustainable Development Strategy for the UK.

The current (but time-expired) strategy played a hugely important role in getting Sustainable Development out of the clutches of DEFRA and properly embedded across the whole of government – and indeed across the whole of the UK. It helped make a lot of things happen, and the Sustainable Development Commission was able to use it to make considerable progress in a host of areas. It was widely admired by other countries struggling to make sense of their own sustainable development challenges.

So all the Prime Minister has to do is to take the same approach as he did with CO2 emissions through the organisation 10:10 – committing to a 10% reduction in emissions from the central government estate by May next year, and then instructing his Cabinet Ministers (and Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell) that there was to be no further discussion about this – something that Tony Blair (let alone Gordon Brown) never did in quite such robust terms.

So all he has to do is to instruct Caroline Spelman to get on and do what she already should have done in committing to a new Sustainable Development Strategy, given that the existing five year strategy came to an end in July. Instruct Chris Huhne, Vince Cable, Michael Gove, Philip Hammond and Andrew Lansley to help get it sorted out as expeditiously and as positively as possible. And instruct George Osborne not to let the Treasury bugger it up.

With that kind of prime ministerial push behind them, “delivering a new Sustainable Development Strategy” seems a suitably modest additional test for Spelman and Huhne. After all, these were the two that were stupid enough to make a knee-jerk decision to get rid of the Sustainable Development Commission, before they had any clue at all about what they were really doing, and have rather pathetically been trying to put things right since then. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the evidence that the Sustainable Development Commission has just presented to the Environmental Audit Committe’s Inquiry into what should happen to SD in Government, once the SDC disappears next April.

Far more eloquently and reasonably than I could possibly manage (still being more than a bit pissed off about what happened earlier in the year), it lays out exactly what it is that the SDC does, exactly how it gets it done, and exactly what the outcomes have been. No false claims, no whingeing – just a comprehensive, very professional account of what happens today and what the Government will now need to get done by other means.

So do have a look at it:

No world cup football here??

Yet another reason not to build a new Bristol City football stadium in the green belt - looks like the chances of England hosting the 2018 World Cup have nosedived...

BBC Sport - Football - Fifa row has "harmed" England 2018 World Cup bid

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Ruscombe Green: University decision a disgrace

Well said Green Cllr Phillip Booth, this is my view exactly. Private up, public down.

Ruscombe Green: University decision a disgrace

...University education it seems must now be viewed solely as a personal asset, and those lucky enough to get it should foot the bill. This is a radical departure from how we once conceived the public realm. When I was lucky enough to go to University higher education was seen as a social good, enriching our whole society rather than merely an individual's future salary. Universities passed onto the next generation knowledge and added to it. As one commentator said: "They were about learning rather than earning."

Higher education should be a shared public good not just a prize for individuals. Already we have seen under Labour more wealthy children going to the more prestigous universities - the Coalition will now be entrenching still further the inequalities.

Are you sure religious faith is a good idea?

Just a few topical examples to back my point:

Rev Wallace Benn: Campaign for women bishops 'just like Nazis in 1939' Mail Online

A Church of England bishop caused outrage last night by linking those who support the ordination of women bishops to the Nazis.
An Iranian woman who faced being stoned to death will hang today, a human rights group has claimed.
The International Committee Against Stoning said that the authorities had given the go-ahead for the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
Her fate has provoked international outcry after she was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

How experts found that the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco are seriously harmful

BBC - Mark Easton's UK: Drugs debate hots up

...the ISCD [Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs] has returned to the fray with what is called multicriteria decision analysis.

This approach includes 16 criteria including a drug's affects on users' physical and mental health, social harms including crime, "family adversities" and environmental damage, economic costs and "international damage".

The scientists, based on their expert knowledge, score a substance on each category from zero to 100...

The problem remains, however, of how much weight to give each of these categories.

"The weighting process is necessarily based on judgement, so it is best done by a group of experts working to consensus," the report authors say.

"Extensive sensitivity analyses on the weights showed that this model is very stable; large changes, or combinations of modest changes, are needed to drive substantial shifts in the overall rankings of the drugs."
What emerges is a ranking of drugs at complete odds with the official Home Office classification system.

The fact that alcohol emerges as the most harmful drug leads the authors to conclude that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy" but its place at the head of the table also suggests a legal status in stark contrast to the much less harmful effect of Class A drugs including ecstasy and LSD.

It is also notable that cocaine and tobacco emerge with very similar rankings in terms of harm...

We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

It suits governments to let us trash the planet. It's not just that big business gains more than it loses from converting natural wealth into money. A continued expansion into the biosphere permits states to avoid addressing issues of distribution and social justice: the promise of perpetual growth dulls our anger about widening inequality. By trampling over nature we avoid treading on the toes of the powerful.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Green Party | Public sector cuts are economically illiterate

I very strongly agree with Caroline's analysis - just as you cant sober yourself up by continuing to drink more whisky, you cant solve economic, social and environmental problems caused by business-as-usual growth with growth.

Green Party Public sector cuts are economically illiterate

In an article this week for Compass, Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion, labels the coalition government's public sector cuts as "socially divisive ... environmentally disastrous ... and economically illiterate."

She goes on to emphasise that our economic prosperity "may be built on rotten foundations ... the growth that has paid for our welfare state is built on the exploitation of natural resources, and on the exploitation of people here, and round the world."

"When we talk of a green recovery, we're not talking about a traditional economic recovery boosted by selling some home insulation or building some windmills.

"Millions of environmental campaigners seem to seriously believe that we can address climate change, slow the loss of threatened species and habitats, manage chronic water and resource shortages and put an end to over fishing and continuing soil erosion, whilst pursuing pretty much the same kind of economic growth that brought these natural systems to the edge of collapse in the first place.

"In other words, the trade off appears to be to ignore the inevitable long-term consequences of business-as-usual growth in order to help to protect short term organisational effectiveness. It may make sense from a tactical point of view, but strategically it's unsustainable."

For the full article, please click here:

Lancet: study on harm from drugs

Given the results of this study we should be taking significant action to tackle legal drugs eg alcohol and tobacco, as well as illegal drugs. Surely there is a strong case for increasing the price of both very significantly through higher taxation? The higher the price the more use is discouraged. We are after all cutting housing benefit, child benefit etc at the moment and the more tax we raise on undesirables like alcohol and tobacco the smaller any cuts would need to be.

BBC News - Alcohol 'more harmful than heroin' says Prof David Nutt

Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack, according to a study published in medical journal the Lancet.
The report is co-authored by Professor David Nutt, the former UK chief drugs adviser who was sacked by the government in October 2009.

It ranks 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society.
Tobacco and cocaine are judged to be equally harmful, while ecstasy and LSD are among the least damaging...

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The potential environmental costs of space tourism

Caught part of the Radio 4 program Material World last Thurs on the potential impact of space tourism, with soot pollution of the stratosphere being a key culprit. Given that the development of space tourism looks set to accelerate, this research and debate is very important.

The American Geophysical Union is warning that the environmental cost of space tourism will be greater than the $200,000 price tag passengers will be paying to travel on the Virgin Galactic spaceship when voyages begin in 2012. Marty Ross of non-profit research organisation The Aerospace Corporation in California and key author of the AGU's paper, explains why.

More here:

Being positive about feminism: a new academic study - Philobiblon

Being positive about feminism: a new academic study - Philobiblon

Bristol business supports elected mayor as consultation ends | Bristol24-7

This may well be because they see it as it is - more power for business rather than more power for local people...not that I'm at all happy with Bristol City Council, the councils around it and the way they work (or rather dont work) together and with local people.

Bristol business supports elected mayor as consultation ends Bristol24-7

86% of the 200 GWE Business West members who responded to a survey said they favoured having an elected mayor. On Nov 16 Bristol City Council makes a decision on what they favour - I cant see the council voting for its power to be removed can you?

BBC - Nature UK - Get invovled in nature on the web

BBC - Nature UK - Get invovled in nature on the web

The web offers some great ways you can talk to other nature lovers, share experiences and find answers to questions, all from the comfort of your computer (or even mobile phone). A warning though – they can become very addictive!...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

How departments dealing with energy, climate change and environment fared in the spending review


Overall conclusion [Energy and Climate Change]: Chris Huhne just about passes his CSR test, but won’t be counting any green chickens yet.

Overall conclusion [Environment, Food, Rural Affairs]: outright failure. Spelman was already the weakest Minister in the pack before the Comprehensive Spending Review, and emerges from it as little more than the Secretary of State for Degreening, Intensive Agriculture and Rising Floodwaters.

BBC News - Caroline Lucas: 'Brussels more efficient than Westminster'

BBC News - Caroline Lucas: 'Brussels more efficient than Westminster'

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Flog the green spaces of the poor, give the money to the rich?

More on council plans to flog parks and green spaces in poorer areas - and raise money that could be spent in richer areas! Good for Clifton and Cabot that their green spaces wont be sold but in that case cant Hartcliffe, Southmead, Brislington, Stockwood etc be treated the same?

Not a single plot of land in either Cabot or Clifton has been put forward for sale, but they have one of the longest lists of parks that could be improved...

CASTLE Park in the city centre could be revamped as part of the green spaces plan, with a new footbridge crossing the River Avon.

Cuts threat to public order, public safety, public security

Spending cuts on this scale, at this pace, and of this nature, threaten many aspects of public life - not least public order, safety and security...

BBC News - Spending Review: Police 'not ready for budget cuts'

A police watchdog says it has "real concern" whether police authorities can manage cuts in the Spending Review.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said less than one in five of the bodies it examined were ready to help forces cut effectively.
The Home Office will cut police funding by 20% over four years, with chief constables warning of job losses...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Ministers plan huge sell off of Britain's forests - Telegraph

Ministers plan huge sell off of Britain's forests - Telegraph

Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020.
The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.

   Stockwood Pete: Strategic Diversions in the Parks

Great post that comprehensively trashes the councils policy of flogging off Bristol's green spaces.

Stockwood Pete: Strategic Diversions in the Parks

BBC News - UK needs green economics minister, advisers urge

BBC News - UK needs green economics minister, advisers urge

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Thousands sign petitions to save Hartcliffe and Bishopsworth green spaces

MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition demonstrating against the proposed sell off of land in Hartcliffe, and 800 more in Bishopsworth.

...Keith Way lives in Hartcliffe and is concerned about the proposal to sell off two plots of land along Valley Walk, which includes Pigeonhouse Stream.

He said: "We've got a lot of wildlife in south Bristol, I don't think people realise.
"That's a nice quiet park, lots of trees, good for wildlife.
"These sites should never have been put forward in the first place."

Environmental campaigner and former Hartcliffe resident Glenn Vowles has been involved in the petition against this part of the proposals, so far signed by around 120 people.
A petition against the general proposals for Hartcliffe has attracted more than 1,000 more.

Mr Vowles said: "I look at it from a quality of life, health and wellbeing point of view. You need green spaces to provide a decent standard of life.

"People simply don't like the sell off policy. It seems to be a sales target for selling off land.
"Like so many council consultations, most people you talk to have not known about it."...

Friday, 22 October 2010

£1'stealthy' nuclear submarine...

Apparently we are in the process of building two more of these
'£1 billion',
nuclear submarines - but with three of them running around [or should that be running aground] instead of one are we three times as likely to experience just how stealthy they really are? Just how justified is our high defence spending?

BBC News - Grounded nuclear sub dragged free

A nuclear-powered submarine which ran aground in shallow waters off the Isle of Skye has been towed free, the Royal Navy has said.
A tug had been carefully pushing along one side of HMS Astute, which got into difficulty a few miles from the Skye road bridge.
Described as the stealthiest ever built in the UK, the £1bn boat was out on sea trials and was not armed....

Poor suffer most from spending review cuts

Deputy PM Nick Clegg is very unwise and unmeasured indeed to launch such an outspoken attack on the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) - using words like 'frightening people' and 'airbrushing' - because it is very widely respected for its expertise, independence and authority. This is not good leadership and in fact both Nick Clegg and Chancellor George Osbourne praised the IFS highly during the summer general election! Take a look at why the IFS regard the spending review as on the whole affecting poorer people more than richer people here. For me it makes very good sense to conclude that the poor will suffer most because they are the ones most reliant on the public services and benefits that have been savagely cut - and even the government's own figures (see image), calculated in their own way, show that the bottom 10% are hit hard. Government attempts at making the cuts 'fair' are far too small.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Countering the cuts myths - Red Pepper

Excellent piece in Red Pepper: Countering the cuts myths

The government and the press say we are in the grip of a debt crisis caused by the ‘bloated’ public sector. Here, Red Pepper debunks the myths used to push cuts to jobs and public services...

Thanks to Charlie Bolton for pointing me in the direction of this article - its a good read with important information.

Supermarket plans thrown into turmoil

Its a good decision to refuse Tesco permission for new windows and doors etc as they would have drastically changed the appearance of the former Friendship Inn, with the top and bottom parts of the building also mismatching - but permission should have been refused for the cash machine, condenser and air conditioning units too. Discussions referred to in the report below should include representatives of the local community in broad terms, not just council officers and/or councillors, though I strongly suspect it wont as Tesco have had no such contact right from the start - that's how interested in the local community they are!!

PLANS to turn a former pub into a Tesco Express store have been thrown into turmoil because councillors have refused to give planning permission for a new shopfront.

...Afterwards a planning consultant working for Tesco said the decision was frustrating and there would now be a meeting to discuss the issue, before the company made its next move...

What public spending cuts will mean for you

JOB losses, service cuts and more expensive public transport are all on the way for the Bristol area as part of the government plan to slash the country's £109 billion deficit

For me yesterdays spending review announcements are a direct assault on most things that involve the concept 'public' - including the general public themselves.