Your say / Western Harbour

‘We need honest answers and the full disclosure about the Cumberland Basin’

By gary hopkins, Tuesday Sep 17, 2019

Who can forget the choices given out on libraries, asking communities to turn against each other and vote for the closure of each other’s libraries. The call for ideas on how to do the impossible with parks, run our precious open spaces without £1 of council contribution, was similar and equally ridiculous.

How about the clean air consultation that asked for views on two inadequate options, both of which would see the hundreds of annual deaths continue for many years to come and half the data was missing.

The mayor has taken a similar stance with Hengrove Park – proposing options that would never meet planning requirements and pushing ahead with a planning application that totally ignores the recently adopted Neighbourhood Plan.

………………………………….

Read more: Legal NO2 levels could still be a decade away for Bristol

………………………………….

The common theme in all of these cases is that better options were available but they were hidden from public scrutiny.

People who complained that options were hidden were told that there was always the option of “writing in”. In many cases, large and small, this approach has resulted in public protest and a very expensive reversal.

We now have the same situation with the Cumberland Basin.  At great cost, the mayor retained consultants to come up with options to look at the crossing and the possibility of mass housing development. They produced ten options and, of course, variations could be added. Only three were put out to the public.

………………………………….

Read more: Three options revealed for Western Harbour development

………………………………….

All three of these have proved very unpopular for a variety of reasons. Two of them would wipe out the very popular Riverside Garden Centre and other businesses. Even if this plan does not proceed, the planning blight to businesses and residents is very damaging.  Residents are left with no choice but to protest and petition to ensure these unacceptable options are not just pushed through.

Many people have got behind the campaign for option four: renovating the existing crossing point and take away some of the unneeded roads. This would free up land for development but has been hidden from the public.

Option four offers a real alternative and choice – something lacking with the current ‘consultation’. Previous work done by the council estimated the infrastructure cost of option four at £19m.

Now, under pressure from the public, the mayor claims these costs have risen to £40m but so far has failed to produce a shred of evidence to back that up.

A fourth option could be more viable, writes Gary Hopkins

We need honest answers and the full disclosure of all documents and options relating to the Cumberland Basin/Western Harbour project to be published so that everyone can be engaged in an informed choice.

Gary Hopkins is the leader of Bristol Lib Dems

Read more: ‘The Cumberland Basin provides opportunities for homes, job creation and leisure’

Related articles