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WIN WIN. ..Ashton Gate stadium rebuild is good for all

January 26, 2014

Getting a grip on this story, that could be hard for someone not having lived through it. Here’s something to fill in the gaps, a bit of the social and neighbourly commentary.
The Ashton Gate hypermarket and Ashton Vale new stadium campaign has been a relentless one for local residents, only just easing off in the last year or so.
A characteristic of this campaign has been that of misinformation. The list is pretty long. The full story though overdue in the printed media is still being ditched in favour of headlines like Dogwalkers 1 Ambition 0. That’s almost as good as one of my headlines. The EP of course has no duty of impartial dissemination of any article like I do so who cares? Pitting local residents against football fans in a dogfight makes good copy.

Of course quite a lot of people do care, particularly the local residents who have been affected by the two issues of giant supermarket and massive new stadium complex.
And there’s a lot of people who also care about their football club. Local resident or not.
Local Residents care about the local councils, the dealing and decision making that goes on behind the public eye.
They care about the traffic and parking, loss of local high street shopping, air quality, parks and green spaces, schools, housing, trees, pavements, public transport, bin collections. All the things that go to make a place they choose to live in or were born and brought up in a pleasant and thriving community. Not everyone engages in all these, but most residents have an interest and investment in the present and future of their local community. Do we all not want a thriving area where we can walk the streets safely, our kids get a good education, where families the young and the old are valued, with shops and pubs, parks and trees? And don’t we all want to live without fear of bullying, discrimination and vindictive campaigns of hatred?

The alliance of supermarket chain with football club has damaged the links with the club’s historic community, and inadvertently or otherwise pitted fans against residents in a planning application row.
There is opportunity now to repair the damage.
The win win scenario is this…….

The club has engaged fully in the application to rebuild the existing stadium.
Win. Fans will get an exciting newly rebuilt and modernised stadium to rebuild their league status for the future.
The stadium will be at the heart of its historic home bucking the trend for soulless out of town venues. With all their usual favourite local pubs and takeaways around the ground, fans from near and afar will continue to enjoy the local Bedminster hospitality, the good cider and pies. Is that not an essential part of the match day experience? Other teams in other towns and cities will be jealous they have not retained these links with their spiritual home, whose character and history has not been compromised by the temptation of instant glory and promised riches.
Then there’s money…the rebuilt stadium will be much less of a financial burden at half the cost of the AV plans. More financial security for the club.

Win for residents ..is the ending of a long drawn out nightmare for some. For the many it’s the ending of a threat that the massive hypermarket would blight the historic shopping streets, and damage the region by traffic increase.
Win. Local shops, pubs cafés and takeaways get to enjoy the valued custom of the football and rugby supporters who help to sustain the traditional high streets. And the residents benefit from thriving shopping streets. Traffic and parking on matchdays is still a price to pay but we’ve always lived with that and organise lives around matchday pandemonium.
Win. Green belt stays green belt, kind of, at least part of it. There’s no win here for the safety of the country’s green belt in general with Tory pressure and wealthy landowners pushing the profit barrier. But there is a significant win for green recreational space and South Bristol greenbelt. The law has been tested extensively by top legal brains and it’s a win for the local residents team and the ancient rights of the common people to enjoy the freedom of recreation on land with Town and Village green status confirmed. This is a very significant win for ordinary local people against the odds.

The time has finally come to end the story.
And there’s one person who is at the centre of the story who has one last job of closure. Stephen Lansdown has come in for a fair bit of stick from me. As I’ve taken on a role of countering the misinformation from the Lansdown camp with sometimes lighthearted and satirical comment and hilarious images, this has been my counter to a sinister underlying current of verbal and property abuse that goes beyond the banter. Lansdown as a super rich public figure..a bit of stick goes with the territory. But the ordinary fan or resident or family or home is where I draw the line. Mr Lansdown as captain of the ship, the abuse has to stop now. You’ve let it run too long already and you need to speak out now in public and ask for it to cease. Yes there’s an argument for free speech, but a sustained campaign of vilification of ordinary people is not acceptable in these times. We are at a win win situation of compromise. Don’t encourage the doom mongers and haters to continue the abuse by your silence on the subject. They look to you for guidance as valued owner, investor and leader. You need to speak out now so that all can move on..the silence on the subject leaves some people in limbo. Speak out and lay the law down, it is unacceptable.
It is now time to move on.
The future is good.
Win Win

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