A majority of cross-party councillors have taken the unusual step of calling an extraordinary Council meeting to vote on the location of Bristol’s Arena, and demanding that the Mayor ‘abides by’ the decision made. The Arena’s future was due to be decided by the Mayor on Sept 4th. However, amid growing accusations that the Mayor’s decision may be biased (1), councillors have called for a free vote. The letter to the Mayor includes signatures from a majority of councillors, including signatures from all four political parties.
Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke, who has been working with councillors from all political parties to call for the Mayor to respect the Full Council vote said:
“I couldn’t give two hoots about personality politics, for me this has always been about getting the right decision for Bristol – and that decision is to get on and build an Arena at Temple Island. I’ve talked to councillors from all the different parties and while we do not agree on everything, we agree on this. They too have looked long and hard at the evidence, they too have spoken to the residents they represent, and they too have concluded that councillors must have the chance to raise their concerns about abandoning the Temple Island site and have a free vote on the best way forward for Bristol.”
The move follows a week of scrutiny meetings in June, where councillors were tasked with assessing the different options on the table, with 10 out of the 11 councillors on the cross-party committee concluding that Temple Island was the best location for the Arena.
Leader of the Green Councillors, Eleanor Combley said:
“I have been impressed by the diligent work by councillors from across the political spectrum who have interrogated the evidence and asked the detailed questions needed to make the right decision for Bristol’s Arena. Back in 2017 backbench and opposition councillors were reminded of their duty to hold those in power to account by the Bundred report into the Council’s financial problems, commissioned by the Mayor himself. This is exactly what we have been doing.”
“Having looked at the evidence it seems clear to me that this isn’t about whether we want an Arena here or an Arena there. It’s about an Arena on Temple island or no Arena for decades to come. You can’t really compare the shovel-ready, affordable option of an Arena on Temple Island with the back-of-a-fag-packet suggestions for either Filton or the fruit and veg market, neither of which have planning approval, detailed costings or thought through timelines.”
Deputy Leader of the Green Councillors, Jerome Thomas said:
“We are concerned that if the Temple Island site is abandoned it will kick our Arena into the long grass for decades to come. The irony is that we don’t even need to make a choice between an Arena and a mixed-use development. We know that with careful planning and council investment we can have both – a city centre Arena which will pay for itself and make our city centre even more vibrant, and mixed used developments on the other sites available across the city to provide additional jobs and the housing we need.”
1. Questions have been raised about when and how the Mayor has made a decision on the Arena, hospitality received from private companies and whether the correct process has been followed. See
2. Green Councillors have contested the reasons given for the Mayor potentially abandoning the Temple Quarter site https://www.bristol247.com/opinion/your-say/marvin-not-acting-best-interests-city/ and questioned the figures used for the alternative arena sites: https://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/checking-the-numbers-on-alternatives-to-the-bristol-arena