Friday, 30 December 2011

Bristol's empty homes

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

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christian Community Christmas

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


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

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

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

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

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

Full BBC story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16347418.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Superficiality

The Pope said we need to "see through the superficial glitter". Er...knowing the power of imagery, hasn't the Catholic Church used a fair bit of 'glitter' itself? See picture. They know how to sell themselves. Many other religions have done likewise - so lets cut through the superficial and look for the substance.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16328245


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Efficiency drive

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sustainable suggestions

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

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Diversity and dynamism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 19 December 2011

Cameron's Christianity?

More creationist Free Schools planned for 2013 opening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crystal ball forecasting

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

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Cameron's Christianity Codswallop

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

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

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

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

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

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





Friday, 16 December 2011

Hitchens vs Blair

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



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16212418

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Planet, people, problem

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



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


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

______________________________________________________

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

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


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


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

'Let them eat carbon'

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



Excellent article - here's an extract:



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



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



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


Badger culling

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

Also see: http://www.bristol247.com/2011/12/15/bristol-mp-vows-to-fight-badger-cull-decision-23128/

Bristol: Carbon City

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

See http://www.bristol247.com/2011/12/15/bristol-to-finally-get-transport-system-it-deserves-15367/

Eco-Eddy??

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


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

________________________________________________

**(Great letter on countryside protection from James Burden and Des Baker on the same page by the way - go to the link they give for more http://www.cpre.org.uk/ )

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Lord Mayor's limo

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

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

'Green' Investment 'Bank'

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

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







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

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

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

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

Plastic pollution

Here's a good report about a serious but still low profile pollution problem. Film producer Jo Ruxton tells us about plastic pollution and her documentary 'Away' about it. http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/man-monster-threatening-oceans/story-14123137-detail/story.html



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



"It was all washing off the beaches and being flushed through the drains of the Pacific rim countries – mostly the United States – and was being swept up by this natural gyre, until it was all massing in the middle of the ocean – like a sort of enormous floating island of plastic, miles across and many metres deep.

"I later discovered that it wasn't just happening in the Pacific. There were similar gyres of plastic pollution in all the oceans of the world – the one in the North Atlantic that we contribute towards here is every bit as sinister as the Pacific gyre.



"I was so intrigued that I arranged to go out and see it. In my naivety, I had imagined millions of plastic bottles, but it was more insidious than that.

"A lot of it is small pieces of plastic – tiny pieces, small enough to be swallowed by fish and whales – the big plankton eaters are particularly prone to swallowing it up.



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



For more details about the project, visit the website at http://www.plasticoceans.net/ .

Monday, 12 December 2011

New economic model needed

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




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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Euroland: grand??

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






Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wonderful World Wonderful David Attenborough

Just take a look at this:

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

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

Equality - not

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


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

Savage for Mayor? Uncivilised?

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

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



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

More here:
http://www.bristol247.com/2011/12/08/lets-end-curse-of-poverty-in-bristol-by-2050/

http://www.bristol247.com/2010/07/05/bristol-group-call-for-new-debate-on-elected-mayor/

http://bristolmayor.org/about/

Power to the people

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

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Five a day

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

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

About this data:

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

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

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


Feedback: Road casualties feature

Answers to some of your frequently asked questions are here.

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

Monday, 5 December 2011

Video games increase aggression and recklessness: Susan Greenfield

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

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

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

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

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

Elected Mayor for Bristol?

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

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

Thursday, 1 December 2011

On closing the gap between rich and poor

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

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

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Autumn Statement: visionless

George Osbourne's Autumn Statement could have been used as an opportunity to put our economy on the right road. This chance was wasted. It could have been used to set us on the road away from the unequal, unfair, wasteful and polluting rat race we have – it did not. It could have helped create a way of life we can afford in both economic, social and environmental terms – it did not. It could have helped create the jobs that need people, by building on the resources of the people – it did not.

It could have helped to build a more self-reliant and stable economy – instead we are still reliant on a system of international finance which cannot last much longer. It could have started to establish an economy which can be sustained into the future, without killing our environment and exploiting the people – it did not. Instead the Chancellor produced a statement totally lacking is any vision of a better society at all. Actually pretty much par for the course as far as such statements - and budgets - go.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15937446

George Monbiot – Big Farmer

George Monbiot – Big Farmer

South Bristol link road bulldozed through (along with many others)

The Treasury neatly side-stepped a year's work by experts, campaigners and civil servants on 45 local transport projects in the DfT's 'development pool'...as the Chancellor announced he was providing funding for all 45 schemes and gave the go-ahead to the Kingskerswell Bypass and the South Bristol Link Road to grab headlines...

...As well as the Kingskerswell Bypass and the South Bristol Link Road, the go-ahead was also given to the Lincoln Eastern Bypass, the A164 Humber Bridge to Beverley, and the A43 Corby Link Road...

We are all justifiably angry as ourselves, the Kingskerswell Alliance and Transport for Greater Bristol had hired consultants to produce an evidence-based response to the funding bids showing major flaws in the plans. Instead it appears the schemes have been bulldozed through to allow the Chancellor to do some headline grabbing posturing today.

Analysis of the Kingskerswell Bypass showed that it would simply move traffic jams further down the road. It would also be environmentally devastating, trashing the habitats of rare bats, birds and newts. The South Bristol Link Road will at best shave just 2 minutes off journey times, and passes through Common Land and the green belt.

This is unlikely to be the end of the road for the campaigns as there are grounds for legal challenges now, and later there will most likely be protests.

Roads blog Campaign for Better Transport

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Long-winded decision on Bristol's green spaces branded 'waste of time'

The principle of flogging city green spaces was always wrong - we need more green spaces not fewer! What's happened in practice has added insult to injury - the council has wasted time, wasted money and badly misdirected their efforts when they have a lot of things on their plate. This situation was on the cards from the start and I remember repeatedly saying so from the earliest opportunity. Someone should do a study on how often and to what extent Bristol City Council shows this pattern of behaviour across the range of policy.

Long-winded decision on Bristol's green spaces branded 'waste of time' | This is Bristol

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Sustainability and action

Screencast making sustainablity clearer, more measurable, assessable - and most importantly making it action focussed.

Sustainability: some general definitions

Screencast I've put together about some of the various ways sustainability has been - or can be - defined, as well as asking how satisfactory these definitions are especially in terms their focus on action.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Aye! But for what??

Whatever your political views you have to admit that this situation is ludicrous. What kind of MPs are content to cast their vote without knowing what the vote is about? Sheep are more thoughtful and independent-minded it seems.

Caroline Lucas Scandal that many MPs have no idea what they're voting on

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Thoughts of a Wall St. occupier

So little about this in the media generally, so was pleased to see something here:

Thoughts of a Wall St. occupier Red Pepper blog Red Pepper

Blog Action Day 2011, Oct 16 - Food

Since 2007, Blog Action Day has focused bloggers around the world to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change and poverty.

This year, Blog Action Day will be held on October 16, which coincides with World Food Day, so naturally our 2011 theme is FOOD

Find out more about Blog Action Day

To take part in Blog Action Day all you need to do is register your blog and then on October 16, 2011 post your blog about food with the #BAD11 tag.

Bigger Bristol??

Bristol's Tory leader Cllr Peter Abraham, says the council stands in the way of city interests but wants to extend control under one bigger Bristol authority to Kingswood, Keynsham, Portishead*... This potentially spreads the problems still further. He's been a very prominent feature of local politics on the council for decades but it appears it has not occurred to him that he is therefore part of the problem. He refers to the need for a new order so maybe voters should start by getting rid of him and the rest of the old order.

...Mr Abraham wants Bristol to be ambitious but feels the council often works against the city's best interests rather than for them.
He said: "I think my job as leader of the Conservative group is to get this council as a credible council.
"Bristol is a great place to work and live and even in times of great economic difficulties we are successful.
"But Bristol is successful in spite of the city council not because of it.
"I also want to be realistic. This is a city that seems to promise and not deliver.
"I think that's the perception. I think we tell people we're going to do things before realising we can't do them.
"How long have politicians been promising an arena? Then we had the Knowle West regeneration, with pages of Anthony Negus saying no one would be interested in doing it any other way.
"Then within three months it's all changed. Why don't we get it right?
"What I want is a new order in this city."



*Let's make Bristol bigger This is Bristol

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Why throw £75 billion into a banking black hole?

The Bank of England today announced that it is to inject a further £75bn into the economy through quantitative easing.

Responding to the decision, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said:

"While it's clear that quantitative easing is one of the only options left to get our ailing economy off its knees, the Bank of England's decision to usher in £75bn worth of unregulated QE is problematic.


"Unless we impose constraints on private banks to ensure the money reaches the real economy, we're effectively throwing money into a banking black hole - a recipe for systemic economic failure and further social inequality.


"What we need is properly regulated quantitative easing directed towards actually creating jobs, increasing lending to small businesses and facilitating the move towards a green economy.


"A job creation strategy like the Green New Deal, for example, would ultimately pay for itself by generating incomes and boosting emerging green industries.


"As the average annual energy bill reaches a shocking new high of around £1,000 per household, surely now is the time to consider a green quantitative easing programme to help fund energy efficiency solutions such as home insulation to help keep people's bills down, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process."


Caroline Lucas Caroline calls for green quantitative easing as Bank of England announces £75bn injection

Friday, 30 September 2011

Lucas leadership impact

Look who is making her mark ! Again - previously ‘MP of the Year' in the Scottish Widows & Dods Women in Public Life Awards; ‘Best All Rounder' in the Total Politics End of Year MP awards; ‘Newcomer of the Year' by the Spectator... http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/08/which-of-the-class-of-2015-are-making-an-impact-neildotobrien-has-the-answers.html

Euro: no

'Bailout for Greece' - but is it? Isn't it more a bailout for bankers who lent to them, a bailout for corrupt politicians who fiddled Greek national accounts, a bailout for those who have and still seek to protect their euro currency project and the closer political union across the continent...The idea of a common EU currency, the euro, was always a daft idea - poor economics and poor politics. Just look at the situation now. Greece is on the edge, perhaps already over it, economically and socially. It cannot devalue its currency as its in the euro and it is having its economic policy dictated to it by other countries. Its already very difficult in Greece and whatever they do there is going to be more pain but they would be better getting out of the euro - and it would be better if the whole euro project was brought to a controlled end or very significant scale down. But instead...

Greek PM presses EU leaders for new bailout tranche: The Greek prime minister is having a day of talks with fellow EU leaders to approve a new bailout tranche Greece needs to avoid bankruptcy in October.
George Papandreou is meeting European Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and others in Warsaw before seeing French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.
International inspectors in Athens to decide whether Greece should receive the 8bn euros (£6.9bn; $10.9bn).
Protesters forced the rescheduling of a meeting on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, the expansion of a general bailout fund for the eurozone looks on track for approval...



Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Planning for...destruction

Given the public's emphatic rejection of the plans to sell off our forests, you might have thought the government would tread more carefully with its reforms to the planning system.
But no. The proposed
new planning framework now out to consultation is, if anything, a worse threat to our countryside, because "economic development" (read "developers' profits") will override environmental protection...

Planning reforms are bigger threat to our countryside than forest sell-off Caroline Lucas Environment guardian.co.uk

BBC News - European Commission financial tax opposed by UK

Our country is being shortsighted here, backing banks and preventing the EU from offering a lead to the world: The UK has said it will "resist" a financial transaction tax on EU members proposed by the European Commission.
The tax would raise about 57bn euros ($78bn; £50bn) a year and would come into effect at the start of 2014.
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said banks must "make a contribution" as Europe faced its "greatest challenge".
The UK said it had no objection to a financial tax in principle, but it would have to be introduced globally.
A transaction tax would need the approval of the UK in order to be implemented across the EU...


BBC News - European Commission financial tax opposed by UK

Saudi woman to be lashed for driving car - Telegraph

This apalling and outrageous news from the UKs 'ally': A Saudi woman has been sentenced to to 10 lashes for challenging a ban on women driving.

Amnesty International reported the sentence just two days after Saudi King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections...

Saudi woman to be lashed for driving car - Telegraph

China population to become world's biggest polluters - Telegraph

China's carbon emissions for each member of its population could overtake that of Britain as early as the end of next year, it has been revealed.

The prediction comes in a report which shows that the country's carbon footprint is expanding far faster than predicted.

A combination of an infrastructure building spree and the ramping up of carbon-intensive industries after the 2008 financial crisis means China is now being catapulted into the ranks of developed world countries when it comes to per person CO2 emissions.


China already emits more carbon per person than France and Spain and on current trends will surpass the United States in per person emissions as early as 2017, according to the report conducted by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment agency and sponsored by the European Commission...


China population to become world's biggest polluters - Telegraph

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

People's theatre encouraging interaction and community

Show Of Strength Theatre Company warmly invites you to TRADING LOCAL: 54 live performances of 18 pieces of new work created especially for Knowles Broadwalk Shopping Centre. It all happens on Saturday 8 October. And its all free. Full details from the webiste below, where you can also view or download a flyer. It will be a great day out; Show of Strength very much hope to see you there.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Effective participation in planning: public information and workshop

How we can get involved in Planning

Date: 27th September 2011
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Venue: Coniston Community Centre, The Parade, Coniston Road, Patchway, South Gloucestershire BS34 5LP

The Environmental Law Foundation invites you to a free public information event and workshop.

Our upcoming event in Patchway aims to educate and inform attendees about effective participation in the planning system. This will be a great opportunity to find out how you can be involved in the decision-making process.

Presentations will be given on the South Gloucestershire Local Development Framework, the planning policy that will shape the way the area develops over the next 15 years and on how the planning process works. Potential changes in the light of the National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Bill will also be considered. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

If you would like to attend please RSVP

Please feel free to forward this e-mail to any of your colleagues who may be interested.
If you would be able to advertise this event for us by displaying a poster please let us know.

For more information about the event or to book a place, please contact
scp@elflaw.org or tel 020 7404 1031.

This event is brought to you by the Sustainable Communities Project funded by
the Department for Communities & Local Government through the Empowerment Fund.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

UK children stuck in 'materialistic trap' | Society | The Guardian

This impact of our consumerist society is no surprise and has been discussed several times on this blog - British children are caught in a "materialistic trap" in which they are unable to spend enough time with their families and instead are bought off with "branded goods" by their parents, the United Nation's children's agency Unicef warns...

UK children stuck in 'materialistic trap' Society The Guardian

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Seligman: wellbeing, happiness, PERMA

Looking over the views of Martin Seligman on the psychology of wellbeing and happiness today. His work is so valuable. Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., works on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression, and on optimism and pessimism. He is currently Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is well known in academic and clinical circles and is a best-selling author... See:

















Mabinogogiblog: Extreme weather: is there a link with global warming?

Excellent blog post by Dr Richard Lawson here - have a read! Some really interesting, useful and valuable facts, figures and trends...

Mabinogogiblog: Extreme weather: is there a link with global warming?

Monday, 12 September 2011

From a culture of war to a culture of peace

Bruce Kent, Vice-chair of CND, will speak at a public meeting on Tues 4th Oct at the Central Quaker Meeting House, Champion Square, BS2 9DB on the subject: 'From a Culture of War to a Culture of Peace'. He asks why our society is dominated by military values and thinking and whether this leads to greater security and happiness. Refreshments from 6.30; informal conversation with Bruce from 7.00; Bruce's presentation at 7.30 p.m. followed by questions and discussion.Admission free but retiring collection. Organised by Bristol Quakers.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Seven billion of us

Human population is currently 6.989 billion. It will reach 7 billion next month. You can see the statistics in real time here http://www.worldometers.info/ .

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday singled out sustainable development as the top issue facing the planet with the world's seven billionth person expected to be born next month.
Key to this was climate change, and he said time was running out with the population set to explode this century.
"Next month, the seven billionth citizen of our world will be born," the UN secretary general said during a speech at Sydney University.
"For that child, and for all of us, we must keep working to fight poverty, create decent jobs, and provide a dignified life while preserving the planet that sustains us.
"That is why the sustainable development agenda is the agenda for the 21st century.
"Above all, that means connecting the dots between challenges such as climate change and water scarcity, energy shortages, global health issues, food insecurity and the empowerment of the world's women."

Bristol Independents Day 17 Sept: buy local!

The Bristol Independents campaign is asking all of Bristol to join them on Saturday 17 September to support Bristol’s independent food businesses and…


Try something local, from somewhere local on Bristol Independents Day!


On the 17th, the Bristol Independents campaign will launch a pilot project highlighting 8 of Bristol’s local shopping areas on recipe postcards featuring ingredients that can be purchased from local shops in each area. There will also be a competition where you can nominate your favourite local food business, and in turn, be entered into a free prize draw to win local goodies.


You can pick up the recipe postcards around the city, or download them from the website, where you can also email them to a friend. You can also make your competition nomination online at:
http://www.bristolindependents.co.uk/


Please pass this on as widely as you can!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Climate change means a new economic model of development

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ..."Climate change is not about tomorrow. It is lapping at our feet - quite literally in Kiribati and elsewhere."
..."The science has made it plainly clear that climate change is happening now and, unfortunately, much, much faster than you may think," he said.


"Having visited Kiribati and the Solomon Islands has strengthened my conviction that climate change is a distinct threat to humanity, it is even a threat to international peace and stability."


Ban said the rising oceans were sending a signal that something was "seriously wrong with our current model of economic development".


"We will not succeed in reducing emissions without sustainable energy solutions," he said.



Evidence and explanations on climate change are available from many highly reputable sources. Listed here are a selection from: the Met Office; the United Nations; the Royal Society; the UK Government's Dept of Energy and Climate Change; and NASA.






http://climate.nasa.gov/ (click image above to see a larger version).

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Gaddafi and friends

Gaddafi and his friends Blair, Brown, Obama, Sarkozy, Assad, Putin, Rice, Van Rompuy, Berlusconi...


Click image to see a larger version.

Proper planning prevents poor performance

Proper, prior, preparation and planning prevents poor performance. Pity the coalition government intends to take us even further away from a proper planning system then - they talk of sustainable development but yet again we have a government that empowers development without sustainability. See this excellent piece by George Monbiot:





This wrecking ball is Osborne's version of sustainable development
Economic growth is not the purpose of a planning system. It should meet human needs while the environment is protected



Impervious to experience, strangers to reason: the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, and the chancellor, George Osborne, have learned nothing from the economic crisis. They claim that laxer town planning "is key to our economic recovery". But the European countries hit hardest by the economic crisis – Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland – have weak planning controls and urban sprawl. The nations that have proved most resilient have tougher laws and compact settlements.



Strong planning is one of many factors, but it is symptomatic of a political culture that puts the national interest above the self-interest of the rich and the long view above the quick buck. Pickles and Osborne are seeking to rip up England's planning system for the same reasons that they want to drop the proposed new banking rules: corporate power, cronyism and plutocracy, the forces that got us into this mess.



Weak planning exacerbates economic problems because capital is diverted from productive uses into speculative ventures; cities decline as they hollow out; and badly sited businesses, disaggregated settlements and long travel times drag down economic efficiency...





Monday, 5 September 2011

Future Fit Bristol: please register your support

From KWMC: Supporters help local environmental project through to second round of funding. Help to keep Future Fit Bristol in with a chance! The Future Fit Bristol project, which will support Knowle West residents and builders to make their homes more sustainable, is through to the next round for Energyshare funding. We couldn't have progressed this far without our online supporters and signatories and we’d like to thank everyone who has already supported the project. However, in order to be in with a chance of securing the funding we need more like-minded supporters.



Please support the group if you haven’t already and invite your friends to do the same. 'Likes' on Facebook aren't counted, so please visit www.energyshare.com/future-fit-bristol and click the red 'Support this Group' button.



Future Fit Bristol will:



• 'retrofit' local homes - adding new features to existing buildings to make them more environmentally friendly

• support builders to develop skills in renewable and green construction

• work with residents to encourage more sustainable living



Future Fit will make a difference to Knowle West, a South Bristol estate that ranks highly in statistics for poverty, poor health and educational under-achievement, but where, through the Carbon Makeover project, residents have already shown a commitment and determination to become more sustainable.



Every supporter counts. Thank you again for your support.



The Future Fit Bristol Team

Somalia in crisis

Somalia famine: UN warns of 750,000 deaths
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14785304

Please send a donation to the East Africa Crisis Appeal organised by the Disasters Emergency Committee: http://www.dec.org.uk/appeals/east-africa-crisis-appeal

Friday, 2 September 2011

FixMyTransport

FixMyTransport website has launched. In their words its 'a site specially built for public transport users in Britain who want to make public transport better for us all. We've worked hard to make the site work well, but we're sure there are plenty of things we won't have got quite right - so please do send us feedback if there's anything that's not right, or anything you'd like to see added or improved.



If you're here and you don't have a problem to report today, why don't you
look through the list of recent problem reports, or browse your local area. If you're feeling sunny you could even leave a compliment about a route or station that you think is particularly good - we're not all doom and gloom here.'



FixMyTransport: Report, view and resolve public transport problems

Avaaz - Australia: the next great hope for climate

Right now, a major climate fight is blowing up in Australia -- the government is about to pass a law that would cut carbon emissions and get polluters to pay. But big businesses, backed by Rupert Murdoch, are trying to kill the bill.



This carbon pricing law is a win win measure -- it will push dirty businesses towards clean production and tax polluters, generating more resources for working families. If it passes, it will spur other major emitters to follow suit and could be the next best hope for climate. But Murdoch's megaphone of fear is massive -- he owns seventy percent of Australia's press. If together we can drown out his campaign to crush the bill with messages of hope from across the world, we could help it pass.



This battle is being fought on the Australian air waves now. Sign the urgent petition to back this bold initiative -- when we reach 250,000 signatures, we’ll run inspiring radio ads that deliver our global messages, lay out the benefits of the law and rouse public support:



Avaaz - Australia: the next great hope for climate

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Legal Challenge Appeal

From Stop Hinkley, about their campaign against nuclear power: Locally, West Somerset Council decided at the end of July to allow EDF to carry our preparatory work for Hinkley C. This would mean desecrating a large area of West Somerset countryside, including ecologically sensitive areas with national and international conservation designations, and even before the company has secured permission to build the nuclear power station. Despite the fact that the application has met with universal disapproval from local residents, the Council has blindly forged ahead, forgetting whose interests it is supposed to represent.



At the moment there is a pause whilst the Council finalises the planning conditions attached to this permission. Once properly ratified, there will be a 12 week period during which this decision can be challenged.




Finally, EDF's application for a sea jetty (as part of the Hinkley C preparations) has gone to a public inquiry to be heard in November.



We are currently taking legal advice about which of these decisions Stop Hinkley should challenge, but whichever we choose, the financial burden will be huge. There won't be much time to raise these funds, so with this in mind we would like to ask all Stop Hinkley supporters to make a donation to our legal challenge appeal - no matter how large or small. Click the link below for details on how to donate:



Legal Challenge Appeal

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

New blow to Bristol City's Ashton Vale stadium plan

BRISTOL City FC have suffered another blow in their hopes for a new 30,000-seat stadium at Ashton Vale – the future of the site is now expected to be settled in court, which could take weeks if not months to resolve.

The Evening Post can exclusively reveal that an application for a judicial review over Bristol City Council's "split site" town green decision is expected to be made in the next few days.




This is Bristol New blow to Bristol City's Ashton Vale stadium plan

Friday, 26 August 2011

Nuclear consultation

Received from the Environment Agency: We are consulting on two environmental permit applications we have received from EDF Energy's new nuclear build company, NNB Generation Company Limited (NNB GenCo) relating to operation of a nuclear power station at their Hinkley Point site. All comments must be with us by 6th October 2011.



Environment Agency - Hinkley Point, Somerset

Monday, 22 August 2011

Opposing the 'South Bristol Link' (ring road)

Passing on details of this group and campaign (campaign postcards are now available I think): For the past five years, Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance has opposed the West of England Partnership's proposal to build a new road through South Bristol and its greenbelt. A previous application to build a road by North Somerset was turned down by the Government in 2002 as 'poor value for money'. As originally proposed in 2006, the road was seen as completion of the Ring Road, a dual carriageway running between Long Ashton through South Bristol to link up with the existing Ring Road at Hicks Gate. The Council decided to drop Stage 3 (Hartcliffe to Hicks Gate) due to strong local opposition. The road was renamed the 'South Bristol Link' and a Bus Rapid Transit has been added. The SBL is now being sold as an essential part of a wider BRT network. We continue to oppose the current scheme.



On 9th Sept 2011, the Partnership (four local councils) is applying for funding to the Department for Transport (DfT) for this £45m scheme along with BRT2 (Long Ashton P and R to Cabot Circus) and BRT3 (Northern fringe to Hengrove). TfGB has produced postcards addressed to Norman Baker, Under-Secretary of State for Transport for members of the public to use to object to SBL (deadline 7th October). You can get
postcards and further information from pip_sheard@hotmail.co.uk. On the campaigns page is a four page briefing outlining details of the current scheme and why we believe the combined road and Bus Rapid Transit is poor public transport value for money and environmentally damaging and should be rejected by the DfT.



Transport for Greater Bristol

Schumacher Centenary

The Schumacher Centenary Business Dinner will take place on Friday 7th October from 7:00pm and 11:00pm. The venue is @Bristol. This marks the beginning of the Schumacher Centenary Festival that runs over the weekend of the 7th to the 9th of October, 2011. The event is sponsored by Sustain – a carbon reduction company.



The evening will be a reception and talks followed by dinner to celebrate the centenary of E.F. Schumacher with various guest speakers including: Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency; John Whitmore - leading business coach, author of 'Coaching for Performance'.




It will also be a chance to meet the speakers who are talking the next day. They include: Peter Blom, CEO of Triodos Bank, authors Bill McKibben and Prof Tim Jackson, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and co-founder of the Transition Towns movement, Rob Hopkins.



Tickets can be obtained from http://schumachercentenary.eventbrite.com/



If you would like any more information about this event, please don't hesitate to contact Lucy Fleetwood at The Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems
www.schumacherinstitute.org.uk


Monday, 25 July 2011

BRT = Build Ring-road Tomorrow

Millions of pounds on what is supposed to be an integrated, 'seamless' approach to public transport - and the bendy buses wont even stop at Temple Meads! No joined up thinking there then.

BRISTOL City Council's flagship Ashton Vale to Temple Meads bendy bus route will not actually stop at the station, it has emerged.

The £50 million scheme is one of three rapid transit routes the council is finalising, ahead of submitting funding bids to government in September.

The idea is that the three routes will make life much easier for people who want to get from one end of the city to another.

It is also supposed to be part of an integrated approach to transport, so buses, rail and rapid transit all work seamlessly together.

The problem is that the latest version of the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads route doesn't stop at Temple Meads because there isn't enough money to pay for a stop there.

That means people arriving into Bristol by train won't just be able to just jump on the bendy bus or vice versa.

Instead the stop for the Temple Meads area is actually outside the KPMG building in Temple Street, the other side of the Temple Circus roundabout.

So anyone who wants to get from the bendy bus to catch a train has at least a five-minute walk across one of the busiest roundabouts in Bristol and several sets of traffic lights...

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/New-bendy-buses-stop-Bristol-Temple-Meads-station/story-13003610-detail/story.html

I'm not a fan of bus rapid transit Bristol-style - especially as it involves new road building. The Lib Dem Cabinet member in charge, Cllr Kent, says "They will cut congestion, reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere" There is no evidence for this. I persistently asked questions at public meetings about modelling and projections that had been done and the 'answers' given to me were totally inadequate. Where was the early, timely, high quality information when it was being asked for?? Increasing the capacity of the road network has on all past occasions increased total carbon emissions as the space fills with traffic and becomes congested and this 'link' - as their spin is now calling it - will do likewise.

Cllr Kent has also referred to 'massive public transport improvements'. Massive? No - and certainly not matching the scale of Bristol's transport problems. Improvements? Evidence of this is seriously lacking. Developments like a transport hub at Temple Meads and an integrated transport authority would begin to bring significant improvements - but these dont appear to be on the table at all due to political failures over decades.

Cllr Kent and Libe Dem colleagues seem to have forgotten that its hardly green to build over green space that is finite in supply, with its consequent loss of biodiversity, aesthetic and health benefits - and of course the greenery is no longer there to soak up carbon dioxide emissions.