We send out a regular email newsletter to any residents of Ashley ward who are interested in what is happening in their area and in what Gus Hoyt, their Green councillor, has been doing. If you would like to subscribe to this newsletter, please email ashley-news.
Dear Ashley Resident,
Hi and welcome to another of my local newsletters! Apologies for the slight break, I’ve been incredibly busy over the past few months with a wide range of campaigns and issues.
Since I last wrote, we now face the reality of voting for a mayor in November. Bristol Green Party opposed the introduction of an elected mayor because it centralises the little power the council has and removes a vital layer of democracy from decision making. However, as Bristol has now decided to have a mayor we want to make sure you can vote for a Green mayor. Daniella Radice, an active campaigner and long time Green, is our candidate. If elected she will champion local democracy and give back decision making powers to local communities.
As ever life in Ashley ward has been anything but dull and there is far too much to report on in one letter! I will highlight some of the exciting topics but feel free to contact me anytime to go into more detail or to bring new issues to light.
Below are just some of the issues I have been dealing with.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the summer (at last!).
There are lots of exciting schemes underway, many identified by the Neighbourhood Partnership. Now with the help of grants from Sustainable Transport we should see some real work begin in the near future.
St Werburghs has had the most exciting and radical schemes proposed as a result of a lot of hard work by a well-established group of residents and the excellent St Werburghs Centre. These include the closing of Sevier Street to through traffic, improving Mina Road and the surrounding streets and the provision of more cycle racks and bike-repair workshops – and much, much more…
Ashley Hill will, hopefully, get a crossing fit for purpose at the railway bridge. The current crossing is unsafe, particularly given that it is a popular route to school for many parents and children. Once again I was delighted to support an extremely motivated and organised group of local residents, who have been working towards this outcome for a long time, and I’d like to thank them for their dedication.
A consensus has finally been reached on plans for the lower half of Stokes Croft and with all parties agreed (it has been a long and difficult process). I hope work will start relatively soon, increasing pedestrian flow and making it more of a destination – not a place to rush through.
Consultation on the St Pauls Resident Parking Scheme is ongoing. Again, this is no easy task. There are very passionate views on both sides and a lot of local meetings and discussions have been held. Because the community is fairly evenly split on this issue, we have decided to add an extra three months of consultation and public engagement before making the final decision. If you have an opinion either for or against then please do come along to the events that will be held.
More details will be made public when they are available...
The closure of Hurlingham Road and surrounding streets is now reaping all the benefits we had hoped for and the nicest email from a local resident informed me that they are now woken by birdsong and not by traffic. A great success!
We do not have as much green and open space as many other wards but what we do have is deeply cherished. It's a shame that the combination of a very wet summer and poorly managed sub-contractors has meant that many of our parks have been sadly neglected.
I am assured this will be rectified now the pleasant weather is here but some remain in a sorry state - the grass was almost knee high in Dalrymple Park when I checked earlier in the week. This isn’t acceptable and I will continue to follow this up.
On a more upbeat note, Albany Green has been allocated its own nominated council officer who will compile all the consultation we have done over the last year. We should see the funds set aside to improve it for all users (but especially for families). This is a great result and improvements will include traffic measures to ensure that the surrounding roads are safer and that there is a clear line of sight into the park from the three open sides.
The complaints have tailed off a bit since May Gurney first took over the collection of rubbish and recycling in our city, but they do not have a clear record by a long shot.
I have managed to get many areas designated as 'Hot Spots' - which means they get a daily (weekday) visit by a road crew. The most notorious of these areas were around lower Montpelier and into upper St Paul's. However, the practice of pavement parking hinders collection, as even with their grabbers, they often cannot get to the roadside rubbish.
I have been working with St Paul's Unlimited and concerned local residents to designate these hotspots and you can help too – either by contacting me or, if you spot excessive rubbish, missed collections or fly-tipping please call the Council's household waste and street maintenance hotline on 0117 922 2100. This is a number I wish everyone had in his or her phone – even on speed dial. It takes only minutes and the problem will then be officially recorded and acted on.
On a positive note, all of the ward should now have received their new recycling bins and I for one am overjoyed at how little we actually 'have' to throw away these days. The collection times have changed by a few hours as the workload has increased, as the recycling requires more sorting. We can do our bit and separate the plastics from the cans and the tetra-paks before putting it out, making their work that little bit easier.
One interesting piece of information that I was told a while ago is that in some areas people are actually stealing the tin cans or bottles from our recycling bins. Though this might sound amusing at first, these acts should be reported. The cost for recycling some awkward materials comes out of the profit they make from others, such as tin cans. If we want to keep up our doorstep recycling we do need to ensure it is done correctly and legally.
This year's school places have been assigned and some parents are appealing the school that their child has been offered. This is not as bad as last year – partly due to the work we have done on CYPS (Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Committee on which I sit). We made the application process a major priority and greatly improved its structure.
Despite this, many parents have missed out on sending their child to their first choice school. This means that some parents have to drop their children off at two or more different schools. This is unacceptable but the answer has come in time and time again 'rules are rules'. The reason most often given is that the parent missed the application deadline. I will make sure we re-visit this on CYPS so there is more ‘wiggle room’, especially for parents who might not be so comfortably off and face many troubles in their lives already.
Work is ongoing to try and provide more spaces for our city’s children – and to keep these spaces delivering a high quality and worthwhile education. We are hoping for some good news before the new academic year begins and we shall keep you informed of the improvements.
Bristol is still leading the way in academies and free-schools and whatever your personal beliefs (I am strongly opposed to them and frequently speak on the subject), they are here to stay. Bristol has one of the highest rates of academies of any UK city. Our next great challenge is to continue to build partnerships between schools and help them access all facilities and schemes that are available to them. We must do this and encourage non state-schools to work alongside state-schools and not to compete against them.
I have been contacted by a lot of residents who are experiencing trouble with their landlords or the rental agency. There have been some success stories but this is clearly a growing problem for tenants.
Salaries and benefits been frozen or reduced whilst inflation and rent have increased. This has caused a great deal of upset for a lot of people and I fear that it will only get worse as time goes on.
I have been called to mediate between distant landlords who have either been asking too much of their tenants or haven’t been keeping their end of the bargain to keep up the maintenance of the properties. Sometimes an email or phone call has been all that was necessary, sometimes I have had to hold mediated meetings where solutions have been found once face to face discussions have taken place.
This hasn't always been the outcome though and at times I have had to help tenants through the complicated steps of a legal dispute.
Gus Hoyt, Ex-Councillor for Ashley
Rob Telford, Ex-Councillor for Ashley
Contact the Ashley team
How to get in touch with us in Ashley