Secrecy, the Western Harbour, transport, and billions in development

The Local Plan is currently open to the public for consultation:

At the Central Library the previous week, a young man, looking all suited and polished and very approachable, stood in front of a Local Plan display board. I went over to take a look.

I told him I was interested in seeing the part about the Western Harbour, and he opened the plan up to the relevant section, and showed me the relevant page.

“So where will all the high-rise towers be built,” I asked him.


He assured me there would be no high-rise towers at the Western Harbour, just a reclassification from industrial use to high-density urban. No planning applications exist for high-rise towers. The area had been used for warehouses and industrial purposes, and those were no longer needed so it was time change the usage.

When usage changes from say warehouses/industrial to residential, every few years, people who owned land that couldn’t be developed, suddenly get a windfall as their land multiplies in value.


75% of the land at the Western Harbour is apparently owned by the council. Who owns the other 25%?

Much of what is happening has been shrouded in secrecy so we don’t know much.

Even the term Western Harbour was announced in secrecy last September when the mayor went on some visits:

The [leaked] brochure the mayor took with him overseas on his tour includes the first mention of the Western Harbour, currently known as Cumberland Basin. Bristol City Council claims [it] “is one of the most desirable development locations in the UK”.

The nice young man at the library told me that it would be too expensive to maintain the road system at the Cumberland Basin so it will be redesigned. He didn’t mention that with it gone, there would be potential for over 1000-3000 homes.

So roads & transport are a priority.

One of the first and perhaps only pieces so far to discuss the future of the Cumberland Basin was the following one on Bristol24/7: The Future of the Cumberland Basin.

“With 75 per cent of the land already owned by the city council, […] The residential elements alone hav[e] a gross development value estimated at more than £1 billion.”

The big issue is roads.

“Unless you solve the traffic issues, you don’t have a project,” said Kevin Slocombe, head of the mayor’s office who has also been working closely on the Western Harbour project. “And you would not develop that site with the existing infrastructure.”

“The transport options have to come first,” Slocombe added. “You cannot even imagine the scale of the development unless you get rid of those roads. That opens up the scale.”

Which may explain why the mayor’s head of office & Colin Molton also sit on the Bristol Transport Board. As covered by Kate Wilson in the Bristol Post:

“The two representatives [the council can nominate] are Colin Molton the interim executive director of growth and regeneration and head of the mayor’s office Kevin Slocombe.

“Mr Slocombe has no transport role as part of his brief but when asked why he was on the board as well as the mayor and what he would bring to the role, he refused to answer saying he didn’t see the “relevance” of the question.”

It seems that billions worth of investment and development rely on how transport and infrastructure is decided in Bristol. Despite the council now establishing its own housing company, the development is possibly geared to being done privately:

But the Western Harbour itself looks likely to be financed privately, with that Argos catalogue of a Bristol Investment Brochure giving investment opportunities that, in Rees’ words, “develop firm and long lasting investment partnerships with you that deliver for the people of Bristol”.

Further information about the progress of work on the Western Harbour has been gathered together at the following website:

“The stakeholder group is pressing for early community involvement in this development but so far, only a single meeting with members of the mayor’s office in June 2018 has been held.”

It’s beyond me why there’s so much secrecy. The brochure had to be leaked before the residents of Bristol knew what was for sale, and the councillor of Hotwells & Harbourside has little information.

Mark Wright told the growth and regeneration scrutiny commission:

“Why do we have to keep dragging every bit of information out of the council on this?

“It’s not usually quite so secretive about the reports. People are wondering what was in the brief.

“It wouldn’t normally be the case at the scrutiny committee a year after this started with us asking ‘where’s the brief, why can’t we see the brief?’

“In this case, all we keep hearing is the mayor has an amazing idea and then we have to keep dragging out the information.”

From the minutes:

It was confirmed that there were 10 options being drawn up and all of them would be available for the public to view.

Members asked what types of schemes were being drawn up. They were informed that the company were given a free reign.

A Member commented that they felt it was difficult to access information about this project and that in their opinion officers were being unusually guarded about it. It was agreed that the feasibility project brief would be provided to the Commission Members and would also be up-loaded onto (link: http://Mod.Gov) Mod.Gov for members of the public to see. ACTION: for the Western Harbour project brief to be sent to the Commission Members and uploaded to the meeting webpage.

See the following piece from Local Democracy Reporter Adam Postans about the goings on and complaints at the Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee.

The following document is the project brief to Arup: Project Brief for Cumberland Basin feasibility study.

I have put in a freedom of information request to try to access a copy of the report that has long been promised to scrutiny and councillors but has yet to make an appearance.

The 20 Worst Polluted Places in Bristol

The 20 worst polluted places in Bristol 2017


The 20 worst polluted places in Bristol 2017


NO2 µg/m3
(2017 annual average)
% above legal limit


1 Parson St. A38 East 67 67%
2 Ashley Road St. Pauls 65 63%
3 Colston Avenue (The Centre) 63 58%
4 Anchor Road 62 54%
5 Newfoundland Way 61 53%
6 Bedminster Down Rd (Ashton Motors / Plough PH) 58 46%
7 Galleries 57 41%
8 Parson Street Bedminster Down Road 56 40%
9 York Road 56 40%
10 Top of Brislington Hill 54 35%
11 Three Lamps 53 32%
12 Stokes Croft 52 31%
13 Stapleton Road Heath Street (M32) 52 31%
14 Merchants Road Hotwells 52 30%
15 Bath Road (Arnos Vale) 52 29%
16 Parson St (Bristol Scuba) 51 28%
17 Whitehall Rd / Easton Rd 50 26%
18 Victoria Street 50 25%
19 Horsefair 49 23%
20 Gloucester Road (Bishopston Library) 49 23%

[Source: Hotwells and Clifton Wood Clean Air Group]

The cancelled Bristol arena is costing the city £12m

The cancelled Bristol arena that is not being built is costing the city £12m.

The 2019/20 Budget shows that money has been found from reserves to cover the costs. Ordinarily, the costs would have been funded from the capital stream of the budget; the part that deals with capital costs for things such as buildings and investments. The revenue stream deals with costs like libraries, and cuts, like those to libraries.

In the Resources Scrutiny Commission report we have the following comments. There is no mention of costs incurred due to the arena in this year’s budget:
8. Arena Funding

Members wanted to understand what the revenue impact of not going ahead with the arena at Arena Island was and to know what the interest savings were. Officers confirmed that £2.5
million per year is being saved.

 Members were keen to understand more about the differing land values for the site
depending on the eventual use but were told it would be valued at the time depending on
the scheme. Members were surprised that such calculations had not already been carried
out by officers utilising the various different possibilities for the land use.

 Members requested to receive further information in due course about the alternative
business cases that will be submitted to the LEP Board for the now unused £53 million.

In the Resources Scrutiny Committee Report, (p.14) however, there is the following chart that shows £12m of arena costs have reverted to the Revenue budget because they can no longer be treated as capital.

The Revenue budget is explained by the council as follows: ”

Before the start of each financial year, we need to set a budget for our day-to-day expenditure. This is called the Revenue Budget and is the amount of money we’ll need to provide our services during the year, taking into account grants we receive from the Government. Examples include staff salaries, building maintenance and the costs of running council vehicles.”

It is from this budget that the £12m was paid, the one that impacts staff salaries. The council drew money from reserves to meet this cost.

We know that from 2020 onwards, we are on our own and almost all our funding from central government will have gone – meaning the city’s services will be almost entirely dependent on council tax, business rates and income we can raise from other sources. By this time, responsibility for funding key services will have effectively shifted from central government to local tax payers.

We know, as the budget tells us, that by next year, there will be no central grant left and it will be local tax payers who will be funding key services. This is no time for spending Bristol’s money on projects that are not being built. It is also not the time to be losing £53m of funding that would have gone into the arena from the LEP.

All Budget reports can be found at the following page with all the reports and appendices.

Bristol City Councillor attendance and absence

On the 24th of October, I queried councillor attendance at meetings they were expected to attend. The data is at the following link and I have queried from the beginning of 2015 until October.
Only currently active councillors have any data attached to them.

New book by Darren Allen, 33 Myths of the System

The cover looks as if the ground and nature have opened up and slowly produced a book out of the leaves and petals and stamen and poetry. If Walt Whitman had drawn Leaves of Grass, I imagine it would look like Darren Allen’s cover to the 33 Myths of the System. Maybe without the pause button.

The content is offered as freely as nature offers her creations; to be delighted in or stomped on, you choose.


What Allen says:

A brief guide to the Unworld

As civilisation reaches endgame and begins to disintegrate, as the illusions of left and right coalesce into a single, spectacular omnimyth, as every rootless mind begins to directly experience the stupefying dystopias of Orwell, Huxley, Kafka and Dick, the time has come to understand the whole system, from root to fruit.

Drawing on the entire history of radical thought, while seeking to plumb their common depths, 33 Myths of the System, presents a synthesis of independent criticism, a straightforward exposure of the justifications of the world-system, along with a new way to perceive and understand the unhappy supermind that directs, penetrates and even lives our lives.

33 Myths of the System confronts the fabrications of both capitalism and socialism, both left and right, both theism and atheism. As such it may be, for some, a challenging read. But if you are willing to face not just the world out there, but the anxieties and desires in here which sustain it, 33 Myths of the System — together with its companion 33 Myths of the Ego — will be a liberating read.

33 Myths of the System is now available from the following link:

Advent crochet blanket – 24 days of crochet patterns

Advent Crochet Blanket

[Dec 2, Update: Day one picture, hook size, yarn; Day two pattern and picture; Day three; Day four; Day five; Day six]

With no Advent Calendar of my own to keep me busy, I thought I’d post on 24 days of crocheting. A couple of years ago I wrote up 24 patterns but haven’t put it together well enough to publish as an actual pattern so I thought I’d post here. I’ll update this post daily for the 24 days of Advent.

Day 1 — Crochet candy cane square

Wool or a non-stretchy cotton/linen/bamboo DK. The bigger the yarn, the bigger the blanket.

Hook 4.5mm.

Dc = Double Crochet
Sk = Skip
Sl St = Slip Stitch
Sp/Sps = Space/Spaces
St/Sts = Stitch/Stitches
Chain 20 loosely.
Row 1: Dc in fourth ch from hook and in each ch across. (18 dc)
Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as first dc, now and throughout), turn; dc in next 17 sts. (18 dc)
Row 3: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 5 sts, ch 2, skip next 2 sts, dc in next 10 sts. (16 dc)
Row 4: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 8 sts, ch 2, skip next st, dc in ch-2 sp, dc in last 6 sts. (16 dc)
Row 5: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 6 sts, dc in ch-2 sp, ch 2, sk next st, dc in last 8 sts. (16 dc)
Row 6: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 6 sts, ch 2, skip next st, dc in ch-2 sp, dc in last 8 sts. (16 dc)
Row 7: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 8 sts, dc in ch-2 sp, ch 2, sk next st, dc in last 6 sts. (16 dc)
Row 8: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 4 sts, ch 2, sk 2 sts, dc in next 4 sts, ch 2, sk 1 st, dc in last 5 sts. (14 dc)
Row 9: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 4 sts, dc in ch-2 sp, ch 2, sk next st, dc in next 3 sts, ch 2, sk ch-2 sp, dc in last 5 sts. (14 dc)
Row 10: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 4 sts, dc in ch-2 sp, ch 2, sk next st, dc in next st, ch 2, sk next st, dc in ch-2 sp, dc in last 6 sts. (14 dc)
Row 11: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 6 sts, 2 dc in ch-2 sp, dc in next st, 2 dc in ch-2 sp, dc in last 6 sts. (18 dc)
Row 12: Ch 3, turn; dc in next 17 sts. Finish off. (18 dc)


Day One pattern, candy cane

 Day 2: Classic Granny Square

TR – triple

CH – chain

Chain 5. Join with a slip stitch.
Round 1: Ch 3 – counts as first triple (TR); Make 2 TR into the ring; (Ch 3, 3 triples into ring) times 3; Ch 3 and join to first triple with slip stitch;
Round 2: turn; Ch 3 — into the 3-chain space, make 2 TR into the same space; chain 3; 3 TR into the same 3-chain space;
Ch 1, 3 TR into the next 3-chain space, Ch 3, 3 TR stitches in the same 3-chain space;
Ch 1, 3 TR stitches into the same chain space, ch 3, 3 TR.
Ch 1, 3 TR, ch 3, 3 TR, join to the first “ch 3”;

Round 3: turn; Ch 3 — into the 3-chain space, make 2 TR into the same space; ch 1; 3 TR into the next 3-ch space [a corner]; Ch 3, 3 TR; ch 1; 3 TR into the next 3-chain space [non-corner];
continue by crocheting 3 TR – ch 3 – 3 TR in the corners, 1 TR in the chain spaces that are not corners.
When you are at the first chain space of this round: 3 TR, ch 3, join to the first ch 3.

Continue with the rounds until you have added enough to your granny square to make it the same size as the Day 1 square.


Day two pattern, Granny Square

Day 3: Crochet Square – through the back loop

Chain 20;
Note: Crochet each triple (TR) through the back loop.
Round 1: Ch 3 – counts as first TR; TR into each of the chains. Turn.
Repeat Round 1 twelve times or until it is the same size as the squares from the previous days.
Optional: slip st through each st to finish off.

Day three, triples through the back loop.

Day 4 – solid granny square

Ch – chain
TR – triple
Sl st – slip stitch
Ch 4, then join with a sl st to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 5 (counts as first TR and ch-2)
Work 3 TRs into the ring, ch 2 (1st TR-group)
Work 3 TRs into the ring, ch 2 (2nd TR-group)
Work 3 TRs into the ring, ch 2 (3rd TR-group),
Work 2 TRs into the ring, insert hook into 3rd chain of the initial ch-5 and sl st to close the round.
Turn it around and tug firmly at the yarn to tighten it up.
Round 2: You should have 4 lots of TR-groups. And four ch-2 corner spaces.
Insert your hook into the corner space directly to the left of where you just finished round 1. Yarn over and work a slip stitch.
Ch 5 (counts as 1 TR plus ch-2 space)
Work 2 TRs into the corner space.
Work 1 TR into the top of the first st after the corner space.
Then work 1 TR into each of next 2 sts. Your first side is done.
Into the next corner space, work the following, 2 TR, ch-2, 2 TR.
Work 1 TR into each of the next 3 sts, then (2 TR, ch-2, 2 TR) into the next corner space. That’s your second side and corner group made.
Work 1 TR into each of the next 3 sts, then (2 TR ch-2, 2 TR) into the next corner space.
Work 1 TR into each of the next 3 sts and that completes your fourth side.
Work 1 TR back into the very first corner space (it should sit right next to the ch-5 that you made in the beginning).
Make a slip stitch into the third stitch of the first chain-5.
Round 3:
Insert your hook into the corner space directly to the left of where you just finished round 2.
Yarn over and work a slip stitch.
Chain 5.
Work 2 TR into the corner space.
Work 1 TR into that first stitch, then 1 TR into each of the next 6 stitches.
Into the next corner space, work (2 TR, ch-2, 2 TR).
Work 1 TR into each of the next 7 stitches,then (2 TR, ch-2, 2 TR) into the next corner space.
Work 1 TR into each of the next 7 stitches, then (2 TR, ch-2, 2 TR) into the next corner space.
Work 1 TR into each of the next 7 stitches, then 1 TR back into the first corner space so that it sits right beside the chain-5 you made at the start.
Sl st into the 3rd chain of the beginning chain-5 to close the round.
Your Solid Granny Square is now done.


Day 5: Mitered Square

Chain 30 or 40 for a bigger square.
Round 1: Use the back loops only, DC in each st.
Round 2: Chain 2, DC each stitch using the back loops, and skip the two middle stitches.
Repeat round 2, and keep decreasing in the middle.
Once you get to the last three stitches, draw up a loop in each of the three stitches and pull it through all four loops to finish.

Day 6: c2c square

TR is UK terminology; for US, use DC.
Chain 6.
Row 1 (Right Side): TR in 4th ch from hook and in next 2 ch; turn – 1 block made.
Row 2: Ch 6, TR in 4th ch from hook and in next 2 ch, (slip st, ch 3, 3 TR) all in ch-3 space of previous row; turn – 2 blocks made.
Row 3: Ch 6, TR in 4th ch from hook and in next 2 ch, [(slip st, ch 3, 3 TR) all in next ch-3 space of previous
row] twice; turn – 3 blocks made.
Row 4: Ch 6, TR in 4th ch from hook and in next 2 ch, [(slip st, ch 3, 3 TR) all in next ch-3 space of previous row] 3 times; turn – 4 blocks made.

So far, the rows have been increasing the amount of blocks. It’s now time to reduce them in order to make a square shape.

Row 5: Slip st across first 3 TR, * (slip st, ch 3, 3 TR) all in next ch-3 space of previous row; repeat from * to last ch-3 space; slip st in last space; turn, do NOT make a block in last space.

Repeat Row 5 until you have a square.

Day Seven: Peephole Chevron Stitch

Chain 22 (multiple of 10 sts + 2)
Row 1: Skip 2 chains (count as 1tr), 1tr into each of next 4 chains, *skip 2 chains, 1 tr into each of next 4 chains, chain 2, 1tr into each of next 4 chains; rep from * to last 6 chains, skip 2 chains, 1 tr into each of next 3 chains, 2tr into last ch, turn.
Row 2: Chain 3 (count as 1 tr), 1tr into first st, 1tr into each of next 3sts, *skip 2sts, 1tr into each of next 3 sts, [1tr, 2ch, 1tr] into Chain-2 sp, 1tr into each of next 3 sts; rep from * to last 6 sts, Skip 2 sts, 1tr into each of next 3 sts, 2tr into top of tch, turn.
Rep row 2 for desired length.

Let’s have city sanctuaries instead of city farms

City farms were introduced in the 1980s so that children could see where their food came from, a friend was recently telling me as she munched on her bacon sandwich. As an Australian living in the UK, I like this view of the world as ‘other’ as something I can observe and not have it affect me as my direct experience.

“Since the early days in the 1960s and 70s there are now more than 120 city farms and school farms, nearly 1,000 community gardens and a growing number of community-managed allotments. They help to empower people of all ages and backgrounds to build better communities, often in deprived areas.”

And these farms seem to be doing their job quite well. Kids now probably realise to a great extent that to enjoy their tasty sandwiches they have to kill things, or be happy with killing things. Farms tell us that food needs to be killed. These animals are food. Farms make that point very clearly.

What if, instead of ‘animals=food’ we had animal sanctuaries in our cities? What if we protected living beings and taught children and adults that animals are there to be protected and cherished and helped, just like we should be doing with other humans too?

I completely agree with the Animal Welfare Party and their point 2.5, that City farms and sanctuaries, large animal companions, and working animals

Large animals are sometimes kept at city farms, as companion animals or working animals. City farms
should operate as animal sanctuaries, where animals are not sent to slaughterhouses.
• Allowing rescued animals to live out their lives should be the main focus of city farms, together
with education.

There is a lot more to these farms, however, which is why I think the idea of sanctuaries is not so improbable.

[More tomorrow.]

(1 of 1000 posts)

Renewal coming up for litter police that only fine smokers in central ward

90% of all fines issued by Kingdom are issued in Central ward. The private company that is cost neutral to the council was brought in as part of the mayor’s clean streets initiative. Picking up litter costs the city £6 million a year, according to the council.

What Kingdom say:
They were brought in “as part of Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees’ plans to get tough on tackling litter. We will initially focus on the city centre, and if that is successful the service may be expanded to include other areas of Bristol.”

The Bristol Post wrote:
“The measures will cover a number of littering acts including leaving dog poo, leaflets and chewing gum on pavements and public places. Fines will also be issued to those caught leaving graffiti tags.”

In fact, however, they are spending most of their time in Central ward and have made £704k of their £788k ‘camping out in Broadmead’ as Central Ward cllr Paul Smith tweeted.

90% of all fines in Bristol were in the Central ward;

**8313 were in the Central ward.**

Only 225 were in the next most ‘popular’ ward, Clifton.

Some wards had one fine.

Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward has 20k people compared to Central ward’s 15k and they have 37 fines compared to 8313 for Central.

If Cats Disappeared From The World, Genki Kawamura

There’s a sparse and young, almost delicate sense to Genki Kawamura’s writing that cheered me up no end even though this was a book about death. The lightness to life and what we hold too close is really what this book is about. Kawamura is 39 and is now the author of three books; If Cats Disappeared from the World is his first one and has sold over a million copies.

This is the second Japanese book I’ve read this year about cats, both translated from Japanese by Eric Selland, and they both touch on social isolation and the love we give.

Our narrator has only days to live and is tempted by the devil in giving up more and more, not only from his life but from everyone’s, for one more day each time. Through his daily sacrifices and before we get to his cat Cabbage, we find out about his relationship with his family and what has led to him being alone.

It’s a special and simple tale, which opens up a path to joy more than anything. Even when the descriptions felt rather young I couldn’t help but read on. The facts seem simple:

by making something disappear from the world, I could live for one more day. Let’s see now, that would be thirty items a month, 365 per year.

But in reality, the things we choose sometimes mean more than we think and the consequences of losing even our most seemingly trivial items (although the devil is specific in what he wants, he doesn’t ask for trinkets) are far-reaching.

This is worth a read.

If Cats Disappeared from the World is available now.

Bristol gin [tonic optional]

On international gin and tonic day, we’ll undoubtedly be drinking some Psychopomp tonight, which is an incredibly good Bristol gin made right in the city centre on St Michael’s Hill. It was at the owner Danny Walker’s gin club that I first heard that each city used to have its own gin-making process.

In 1789, Bristol historian William Barrett wrote of ‘many great works ( distilleries ) being erected at amazing expense in different parts of the city’.

Barrett was convinced that spiritous liquors caused ‘slow but sure death’ and added: The quality of gin and brandy made at home indicates and proves what a great consumption of these liquors there is now.

It may have been cheap but Bristol spirits caused – drying up and hardening of the fine vessels and nerves, rendering them impervious, producing paralytic strokes, hemiplegies and apoplexies Barrett added.

London Dry gin, became known for its own distillation process, which included adding the flavours during the distillation process and not afterwards.

Historically, the term “Dry Gin” came about with the advent of the Coffey still in 1832. Once the Coffey still came into action and a more consistent (and critically, more neutral) spirit was available, unsweetened gin started gaining popularity and became known as “Dry Gin”.

Working off a neutral base spirit of agricultural origin, that has already been distilled to over 96% ABV, London Dry Gin must be (re)distilled to at least 70% ABV. It can only be watered down to a minimum strength of 37.5%, it must contain no artificial ingredients, contain only a minute amount of sweetener and cannot have any flavour or colour added after distillation. Of course, as with all gins, the predominant flavour must be that of juniper berries.

Danny at the gin club was much more fascinating that a list of percentages and he got me to thinking about what Bristol gin might have been like. Currently, there are two or three Bristol gin distilleries producing the juniper-based spirit but they don’t know how it used to be done either [from what I have been able to determine]. I searched for a while and while I found records of where the distilleries used to be, Cheese Lane in St Phillips was one, owned by Thomas Castle — the process was not known for its health-affirming properties. By 1821 there were five Bristol distilleries.

The closest I came to discovering what Bristol gin might have tasted like was the following list of ingredients itemised by a brewer in London and sent to a Bristol distiller in 1870.

By then the process would most probably have been similar to dry gin but perhaps there was some variety in the flavours. The ingredients are: juniper, coriander, calamus and angelica. I don’t know the individual proportions but there was three times as much juniper as there was coriander and 1/8th calamus and angelica relative to the coriander.


And that’s Bristol gin done the 1870-way. We may be sipping it the Psychopomp St Michael’s Hill way tonight however.

Chin chin.