Conversation, not confrontation ...
BRISTOL Mayor Marvin Rees met local people from Bishopston, Cotham and Redland on June 15 for a ‘Community Conversation’.
An audience of around 50 turned up for the afternoon meeting at the Quaker House on Gloucester Road, including local councillors, representatives from community groups and local business.
The tone was set to be conversational rather than confrontational as Marvin Rees explained in his introduction: “These meetings are about making the political process accessible. If I don’t know the answer I will come back to you with one.”
With these positive words the audience split into three groups and the discussion began. Liz Kew, from BCR Streetscene, whose valuable work keeps the local area looking at its best, raised the need for more support for volunteers from the council such as helping with Public Liability costs.
A discussion about the need for partnership on reporting flytipping and trade waste violations arose and the issue of waste blowing on to Horfield Common on bin day. The Mayor promised to look into the public liability issue for community groups and issues of waste.
Sam Thomson and Clare Bishop from the Ardagh Community Trust raised the question of why six tennis courts were added into the Lawn Tennis Association funds without consultation. They stressed the importance of the flexibility of assets at the site and the effect the decision will have on the business of private courts nearby.
Marvin Rees assured them that he will talk to the right person about it.
One of the discussion groups was devoted to parking and RPZ schemes. The Mayor proposed a meeting with the transport team and Cllr Martin Fodor.
Speaking to traders and business people, the Mayor suggested a discussion at the Council House to think about the principle of our high streets and be intentional about what we want our high streets to become.
The accountability and fining of landlords of HMOs and the slow progress of Ashley Down railway were other topics.
Progress on the arena was raised by the Mayor himself, who held a show of hands in the room in favour of the Temple Quay site. He stressed that he wants to choose the solution that is affordable and will provide the most jobs.
The Mayor praised the BCR area as one where people get engaged with actively helping in the city and most people felt the issues they’d come to raise were heard. The verdict from Sam Thomson of the Ardagh Community Trust was:
“I’m feeling more optimistic than when we arrived but...we’ve been here before.”