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Roll up for the next Ashton Vale stitch up

June 25, 2012

Our magnanimous Lib-dem council as in generous in forgiving an insult or injury have now given themselves the plum job of selecting who they want to re-inspect the Ashton Vale TVG.

That is to assess the dodgy “new evidence” and subject it the the same rigorous scrutiny as the original Ross Crail enquiry. This has come about because of the complete fudge-up by the council admitting they ballsed up days before the JR was about to munch a chunk from their credibility. Don’t tell me it was just an independent cross party PROWG committee fudge up either. The thing’s been stage managed ever since Cook and co became bedfellows to the wealthy landowners.
So why wasn’t this done properly last year and thus an expensive JR avoided? And why did they delay the decision making process so that Lansdowns mob could trump up new evidence thus negating a fair hearing for the TVG applicants? They called the public’s bluff and got found out only because brave citizens put their neck on the line including the original applicant that was withdrawn in the most bizarre episode. Without Long Ashton’s parish council’s support as well this legal malfunction would have been covered up.

You would expect our elected officials to be ehem, free of petty resentfulness or bitterness so we can look forward to the resumption of the cross examination of evidence by the original inspector Ross Crail and the council gracefully accepting the decision, like the first time round?
Like hell.
Here’s another stitch up in progress. The shameful way in which the monster sainsburies hypermarket was forced through is an abject example on how to manipulate a planning decision. Just change the committee at the last minute and ensure that it’s impossible for them to read and digest the many thousand of pages of documents. Similar to the PROWG who were instructed that they didn’t need to read the bulky documents of the TVG enquiry. So expect more of the same when it comes to revisiting the TVG enquiry, not forgetting that the council last time round said they would accept the decision before renaging.

Who’s behind all this manipulation and dodgy dealing?

Simon Cook for a start- his local radio interview last week proclaiming that TVG law is ‘ridiculous’ and that it’s holding up Sainsburies who want to create hundreds of new jobs proves what residents have known all along. This dimwit, a week before a decision on the city getting the European Green Capital award, is declaring that green space protection law is ridiculous, a massive urbanisation of the remnants of Bristol green belt is nothing but good, and a high st destroying environment degrading car dependent hypermarket has to go ahead due to job-winning lies.
Couldn’t make it up.
Thanks to Cook and his blundering colleagues the only award likely now is the European Industrial Sewing Machine prize.

  1. June 25, 2012 7:37 am

    Cook also claims the stitch-up will be wrapped up by August.
    Why August?
    Plenty of time to claim the football vote before the Mayoral elections on Nov 15th of course!

  2. bobs permalink
    June 25, 2012 9:09 am

    Simon Cook does seem as determined to screw up the next stage of this TVG fiasco as he was the last.

    The parties have not yet been informed what is happening next but Simon Cook announces it will all be over by end of August. Does he already know who the inspector is going to be ? Does he know their availability and the availability of the witnesses – with all hearings apparently to take place over the summer holidays ? Or is he determined to enforce a timetable regardless of procedural fairness ?

    He did of course announce in March that it was all over, so perhaps we should just ignore him.

  3. harryT permalink
    June 25, 2012 9:28 am

    So if the next stage is to be concluded by end August, the next Judicial Review has to be in by end November. Should we have a sweapstake on the grounds for the next Judicial Review ?

    1. biased inspector appointed from within BCC with no legal training or background (already happened with Will Godfrey)

    2. next hearing arranged but no one from BCC tells any of the TVG witnesses and representatives about the date having made sure all the landowners representatives are available (this actually happened in March 2010. TVGers got the hearing adjourned until May 2010)

    3. Simon Cook announcing result before hearing takes place (already happened March 2012)

    4. BCC councillor announced he is determined to reject TVG and is then appointed as head of PROWG committee with power to make decision (already happened with Peter Abraham).

    5. TVG applicant gets threatened and bribed by different people and then driven off with 3 unknown men in suits and is never seen again whilst letter appears written by his/her new legal guardian announcing that the TVG is withdrawn but Peter Holt from BCC blacks out all the sections of the letter which reveal that applicant didn’t write the letter (beyond belief that this actually happened)

    If fact, it is difficult to imagine what new wheeze BCC will create to try and cheat this time. Especially as the landowner’s supporters tell us that this time there will be less fairness !!!

  4. Bobh permalink
    June 25, 2012 9:45 am

    Has anyone outside of those involved actually seen the agreement.
    I can`t imagine that the applicants would have accepted a arangement that put them in a worst position than they would have been in if the JR had proceeded.
    The whole agreement process appears to have been just a face saver for the council,if the JR had progressed the Council would have had all of its crap published everywhere.
    We appear to be in the same old position of heresay and stories again.
    Before a constructive comment can be made we need to see what we are commenting on.

  5. harryT permalink
    June 25, 2012 10:02 am

    Bobh – My understanding is that the parties are still in correspondence about what happens next.

    And that the settlement of the JR did not include any agreement at all as to what happens next, simply agreement that what BCC/PROWG/Will Godfrey had done with the new evidence to date was unlawful.

    Which makes Simon Cook’s comment – as leader of the Council – even more bizarre and misplaced. Unless, there is already a secret deal in place on what to do next regardless of the correspondence (which would not surpise me at all).

  6. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    June 25, 2012 12:55 pm

    I understand the new evidence will go before a new inspector, but there is confidence that the result will be the same. Also, if your costs have been paid or partly paid by the council, you still have much the same available to use in the future. I don’t buy the bit about the council “stitching up” the result, however much they would like to. Any new inspector will know about the history and controversy attached to this case, so this may well work in favour of the protesters. I’d love to know what Lansdown thinks about this whole affair. To me it’s about starting off with home advantage, taking your opponents for granted, your manager using the wrong tactics, the referee playing to the rules, Sepp Blatter intervening which makes matters worse, and then you have to endure a penalty shoot out. Am I unfair?

  7. thebristolblogger permalink
    June 25, 2012 9:40 pm

    If Bristol City Council were involved in a penalty shoot out they’d first replace the referee with someone plucked out of their own stand and then have Andrea Pirlo kidnapped and whisked off in a fast car.

  8. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    June 26, 2012 10:56 am

    Even the ones they pick out of their own stand get it wrong. Has there ever been a JR over a penalty shoot out?

  9. Michael permalink
    June 26, 2012 7:01 pm

    From a statement made at yesterday’s PROWG meeting, it appears that the Council is waiting for the legal confirmation that the original decision has been quashed by the High Courts. They will then ‘invite the Parties to make submissions and make a decision’ – Abraham made clear that by “The Council will make a decision” it will be the PROWG committee that would make the decision as to what would happen next.

    The next PROWG meeting is on 17th September 2012.

    Cook talking out his arse yet again.

  10. bobs permalink
    June 27, 2012 9:47 am

    Michael – Cook talking out his arse yet again. But only upon the basis that Peter Abaham is telling the truth !!!

    Abraham might turn around later and say that by September 17 PROWG meeting, he actually meant by mid July in a room with just him and Cook in it.

  11. Michael permalink
    June 27, 2012 9:03 pm

    From my understanding (second-hand news), the statement was written by the legal dept.

    Mr McNamara will be doing one of two things now he’s ‘retiring’ – rewriting the law as previously in the hope of going out and leaving BCC in a legal dustbin, or has developed a ‘FU’ attitude to his previously slavish overlords and is playing it clean and easy.

    Start voting..

  12. ChrisU permalink
    June 27, 2012 9:13 pm

    I hope its the latter as I’m currently waiting for him to respond to an FOI of mine on the Sainsbury’s planning committee decision. He promised me a response by the 24th April, but since then its been nothing but silence.

    Not much chance of it I reckon, as he will still need to keep clean until the very end.

  13. Michael permalink
    June 27, 2012 10:02 pm

    Chris, I’m trying to locate the files you wanted from my own stock.

    Under the current circumstances, I’m sure further detailed FoIs will be submitted, in advance of.. ..something BCC Executive/’leadership’ won’t like.

  14. Anthony Bales permalink
    June 28, 2012 1:18 pm

    “The great myth of urban Britain” –

    Fascinating read.

    Some people need to get a reality check.

  15. Bobs permalink
    June 28, 2012 1:50 pm

    Michael – I really don’t think that McNamara has any control over this process anymore. I expect a more junior and more compliant lawyer is now assisting the process.

    The legal and PR depts at BCC have already shown that what they write they will do is not what they do. After the event they then repeatedly reinterpret what it was they said they would do to fit in with what they have just done.

    I would not take Abraham’s statement as meaning anything at all. The process will continue to be corrupted by those determined to rob the locals of their statutory rights.

    And Anthony B – that limited bit of developed land is the bit we all live in. We are entitled to try and keep it as pleasant and useful for recreation and enjoyment as we can. There is a shortage of recreational space in cities and the fact that thousands of acres are farmed elsewhere is no use to any city dweller wanting to walk, run, play of breathe fresh air. You should instead focus on the thousands of acres of fenced and gated empty industrial space in this city which is lost to all uses.

  16. Anthony Bales permalink
    June 28, 2012 3:52 pm

    “There is a shortage of recreational space in cities”


    “In urban England […] the researchers found that just over half the land (54%) in our towns and cities is greenspace – parks [recreational space], allotments, sports pitches [recreational space] and so on.”

  17. Anthony Bales permalink
    June 28, 2012 3:57 pm

    “domestic gardens account for another 18% of urban land use”

    “rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs an additional 6.6%”


  18. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    June 28, 2012 8:31 pm

    Bristol, and especially South Bristol, is very green although there are plans to develope some of these areas. However, thats not the point. This is about whether the Council acted legally, and their actions show that they never, and they know they never. Whatever your view on this affair, nobody should accept that!

  19. Jack Hughes permalink
    June 28, 2012 10:39 pm


    Are you suggesting that all the folks across Bristol that have been campaigning to preserve the green space in their neighbourhoods are wrong to do so because there is plenty to go around?

    Or is it just the ones in Ashton Vale?

    However, let’s assume you really do think that its fair game to build on green space as there is plenty of it, in which case Stoke Bishop ward has considerable more green space per resident than anywhere else in the city, and on the whole considerably larger gardens, so perhaps we should build on some of their green space?

    Perhaps you could suggest it to Peter Abraham as the ward councillor and on behalf of his former ward constituent Steve Lansdown that a new football stadium will only take up about 20 acres of the 200 plus acres of green space owned by the Merchant Venturers at Clifton Down.

    After all, Clifton Down used to be a lead mine and a quarry so it’s not as if it is a green field site and it certainly isn’t in the Green Belt. It’s just protected by some silly old legislation about Commons and Town or Village Greens.

    I am sure John Pontin, the Merchant Venturer who sold the land at Ashton Vale to Lansdown will be happy to conduct the negotiations and with Simon Cook being a councillor for Clifton East just next door I am sure that he and Peter can help get support from the local residents.

    Oh, what’s that you say? That wasn’t what you meant by there being plenty of green space that could be developed…..? It’s the wrong sort of green space because its not the one where you want a stadium to be built?

  20. bobs permalink
    June 29, 2012 9:15 am

    Anthony B is presumably happy that such extensive efforts are being taken to reduce the proportion of green space in Ashton Vale with not just a stadium, hotel, conference centre, retail outlets and large carpark, but also two major roads designed to serve a new suburb of 12,000 houses.

    That’ll get those proportions down Anthony.

  21. JohnD permalink
    July 1, 2012 9:18 pm

    I think that the decisions of the council needs to be the subject of an independent review. The council has spent up to £200,000 on decisions which it now accepts we’re unlawful. If you want the truth to be known then please contact external auditors Grant Thornton

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