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southbristolvoice October 2017 No. 24

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Metrobus delayed – but at least a key road is open again METROBUS – the rapid bus service that is meant to transform public transport across much of South Bristol – won’t start services until the new year. But there’s one bright spot – Hartcliffe Way was set to open on October 1, just after the Voice went to press. The road has been widened to allow Metrobus lanes on both sides, and has been shut since January. The first Metrobus route, from Ashton Vale park and ride to Temple Meads, was due to launch this autumn. But there are delays making and testing the 79 hi-tech iPoints for each bus stop. These are crucial to the service – passengers must get tickets with a card or electronic payment at an iPoint, or by paying cash at a Payzone retailer. The iPoints will have real-time bus information and journey maps, and can be used to


Held up: The skew bridge which takes Metrobus over Winterstoke Road top up travel cards. It’s also not clear if the buses themselves are ready. Testing was due to begin in September, but seems still to be weeks away. The Ashton Vale route, run by First Bus, will begin operation with Euro 6 low-emission diesel vehicles. Metrobus was unable to supply a picture, but these are not the bendy buses first proposed. Some time next spring the

routes from Hengrove through the city centre to Cribbs Causeway and Emersons Green will begin. They should use environmentally-friendlier biogas vehicles. First Bus has said it is ready to start work on the Ashton Vale route, but does not want to do so during December, when Bristol’s roads are traditionally congested. Metrobus is now £30m over Continued on page 5

• Hope of new site for homeless project Page 3 • Mayor’s tube plan – is it feasible? Page 5 • Ashton Court at risk says Civic Soc Page 9 • SPECIAL REPORT: Drug gangs take over residents’ homes Pages 12-13

• Your hedgehog tales Pages 14-15 • Iceland to face quiz on new store  Page 17 • Marathon man on a tour of the EU Page 29 • HISTORY: The coal mines 3,000ft under your feet Pages 38-41

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October 2017


2 Paul Breeden Editor & publisher 07811 766072 Ruth Drury Sales executive 07590 527664 Editorial team: Beccy Golding, Alex Morss & The Wicked Witch. Deliveries: Greg Champion


GEORGE Ferguson, Bedminster resident and ex-mayor, rarely comments on the actions of his successor Marvin Rees, so when he speaks, he draws attention. Let’s pass over his claim, in the Bristol Post, that the deals he did while mayor “left the city in a much stronger financial position than I found it”. Some, looking at the £30 million hole in the budget discovered after he left, would disagree. What is not in doubt is Mr Ferguson’s conviction that Bristol needs an arena as a centrepiece for the regeneration of the area. Is Mr Ferguson right that parts of Bristol Labour are trying to kill the arena? It certainly has its detractors. It’s

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likely that Buckingham Group – Mr Ree’s second choice of contractor – is saying the same as its predecessor, Bouygues UK: that a 12,000 seat arena can’t be built on the council’s budget. Alternatives include a lowertech, or smaller arena. But that might entail a whole new plan, and years of further delays. Into the vacuum earlier this year stepped the University of Bristol with a £300m campus project on and off Arena Island. It’s not too fanciful to imagine that if the arena isn’t built, the university will snap up the site. It would at least be a high-profile tenant. Whatever the outcome, the time for reviews should not be endless. Bristol needs to know whether it’s getting an arena – or if it’s time to move on.

How do I get in touch with ... My MP? Karin Smyth MP By email: By post: Karin Smyth MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA By phone: 0117 953 3575 In person: Surgeries on Friday October 13 and 27. Call 0117 953 3575 for an appointment. My councillor? By post: (all councillors) Brunel House, St George’s Road, Bristol BS1 5UY

Celia Phipps Labour, Bedminster By phone: 07469 413312 By email: Mark Bradshaw Labour, Bedminster. By email: Cllr.mark. By phone: 0117 353 3160 Stephen Clarke Green, Southville By email: Cllr.stephen.clarke@ Charlie Bolton Green, Southville By phone: 07884 736111 By email:

USEFUL NUMBERS Bristol City Council  0117 922 2000 Waste, roads 0117 922 2100 Pest control and dog wardens 0117 922 2500 Housing benefit 0117 922 2300 Social services   0117 922 2900 Police Inquiries 101 Emergency 999

Fire Inquiries   0117 926 2061 Emergency   999 Greater Bedminster Community Partnership Local forum for the public, councillors, police, council officials and other bodies. Next meeting AGM, November 2, 7pm, Acta Centre, Gladstone Street. Email

EDITOR’S NOTE: South Bristol Voice is independent. We cannot take responsibility for content or accuracy of adverts, and it is advertisers’ responsibility to conform to all relevant legislation. We strive to conform to the NUJ Code of Conduct for journalists: • Feedback is welcomed: call editor Paul Breeden on 07811 766072 or email All stories and pictures are copyright of South Bristol Voice and may not be reproduced without permission in this or any other plane of the multiverse. South Bristol Voice Ltd | 18 Lilymead Avenue, Bristol BS4 2BX Co. no. 09522608 | VAT no. 211 0801 76

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October 2017




Ferguson calls on mayor to speak out for the arena FORMER Bristol mayor George Ferguson has urged his successor, Marvin Rees, to press ahead with plans for a Bristol arena. Mr Ferguson believes there are elements in Bristol Labour Party who want to see the project axed. Writing in the Bristol Post on September 26, Mr Ferguson said a Labour member had confronted him and accused him of wasting millions of council money building a bridge to Arena Island. “Much more disturbingly they seemed to be celebrating that the

would cost up to £120m – at least £20m more than is budgeted. He said Mr Rees had told him he was committed to the arena. “I believe him, but I also believe we are seeing death by review,” wrote Mr Ferguson, referring to the two reviews of the project which are under way. One review is asking if the arena is value for money and if it should be scaled down; the other is a negotiation with contractor Buckingham Group on the cost. Mr Ferguson said the reviews

will report in October – though the Voice has been told to expect a result near the end of the year. Cllr Mark Bradshaw, Labour member for Bedminster and a former cabinet member for both Mr Ferguson and Mr Rees, said: “I remain convinced Bristol needs a high quality, well-located arena. “We are losing out economically and in cultural terms to other cities. Leadership on these major projects is much needed and a decision to proceed or not is now overdue.”

Help pouring in for homeless

School denies mass job losses are on the cards

Container home will go on show at Grand Designs THE GRASSROOTS effort to help South Bristol’s homeless people is hoping to find a permanent home in Bedminster where it can provide temporary accommodation to get vulnerable people back on their feet. The campaign, called Help Bristol’s Homeless, is run by North Street restaurateur Jasper Thompson and is going from strength to strength. Jasper’s big idea has been to convert shipping containers into all-mod-cons homes. So far four have been completed, and two more will be finished in early October. The race is on to get a special container-home ready to transport to Birmingham for the

arena would never be built,” wrote Mr Ferguson. The ex-mayor, who lost to Mr Rees in the May 2016 election, said he feared elements in Bristol Labour want to see the arena fail, and will then blame him. No council money was spent on the Arena Island bridge – the £11 million bill was paid by the Homes and Communities Agency. Mr Ferguson said the council has spent a further £15m which will be lost if the arena isn’t built. He predicted, however, that it

Grand Designs Live show, which starts at the NEC on October 11. An appeal on social media for skilled help in finishing the container brought in an amazing response. “I put out a post on social media and we got three electricians and four chippies,” said a delighted Jasper. “The response has been tremendous – it will be finished on time.” Help Bristol’s Homeless has been given a temporary site by developer Paul O’Brien in Malago Road, where Mr O’Brien plans to build 207 flats. Jasper has been looking for a more permanent home. A request to use council land near the Create centre now looks unlikely due to the flood risk. A site in Spring Street near the automotive academy is now being considered. Jasper believes it could accommodate up to 10

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containers with another to serve as a canteen. It is set away from any homes and Jasper believes it would not disturb other residents. The Malago Road site appears to have co-existed peacefully with residents so far. Offers of help and money continue to come in. The Voice reported last month on how South Bristol builder Gary Cleverley and many other professionals have been giving their time for free. Since then, Massive Attack’s 3D has donated money to pay for a container. A quiz at the Victoria Park pub on Windmill Hill on September 26 raised £400. And friends of Southville man Simon Mayhew, who died suddenly of a heart attack in August, have raised more than £2,000 towards a container home in his memory. • Facebook: HelpBristol’sHomeless

HAVE YOU GOT A PROBLEM WASP NEST? ‘I called Adam in a panic for a pest problem and he was out in a few hours. Other companies couldn’t come out until the next day plus they were more expensive.’

BEDMINSTER’S biggest school has said that claims that it could lose 37 teachers under funding cuts are wrong. An alliance of teaching unions says up to 525 teachers could lose their jobs in Bristol after cuts in 2019-20. Bedminster Down School was listed as the biggest loser, with funding down 25 per cent, from £7,704 to £5,740 per pupil. A statement from the school said: “The figure is incorrect as it includes money we get through our private finance initiative. This money is not funding for teachers and is paid directly to the city council for our building. “Like all schools we keep our staffing levels under review and I’d like to reassure local families that we are not predicting any significant teaching job losses.”

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October 2017

n NEWS Vote for solar THE PUBLIC are being asked to vote for Bedminster’s new nursery and community centre to win £12,000 from a Marks & Spencer charity fund for solar panels. The Chessel centre on the corner of Garnet Street is due to open at the end of the year. Southville Community Development Association said the grant would enable it to make the new centre zero-carbon. • improving-the-economic-andenvironmental-sustainability-ofthe-chessel-centre n GREEN activities all over BS3 have been boosted by money raised by Bedminster’s Secret Gardens in June. Open day events in more than 20 residents’ gardens raised £1,175, which has been split between Ashton Vale Together, Southville Centre, Acta, Greville Road Neighbours, North Street Green, South Bristol Toy Library, Ashton Vale Club for Young People, Way out West and Ebenezer Pocket Park.

Man in custody accused of three explosives offences

A BEDMINSTER man is in custody charged with explosives offences after an incident which caused scores of residents to be evacuated from their homes. Up to 80 Bedminster people were asked by police to leave their homes in and around Hastings Close, off Parson Street, on September 8 and were not allowed back for three days. Fire crews were called to put out a blaze at a house in the Close and were later joined by police, an army bomb disposal squad and explosives experts in searching the house. Reeco Fernandez, 28, of Hastings Close, appeared before Bristol magistrates on September 27. He was remanded in custody until October 4, with further bail hearings expected on October 11 and 18, before the case resumes


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ACC Peters addresses the media on October 25. He faces three charges of possessing explosives without a lawful purpose. It’s expected the case will proceed to Bristol Crown Court for a pre-trial hearing on November 3. The family at the centre of the incident were allowed to return to their home on September 21, after an exhaustive police search of the property. Assistant chief constable Caroline Peters wrote a letter to neighbours, asking them to be

considerate to the family. The letter asked residents “to respect the fact they will no doubt be conscious of the disruption caused” by the incident. “I am extremely grateful to you all for your patience and understanding while we, along with the other emergency services, removed the hazardous substances found in the house,” ACC Peters’ letter said. “Our decision to evacuate nearby residences was only ever made in the interests of public safety but nonetheless we fully appreciate it has caused you great inconvenience. “I hope you can all return to normality if you have not already, and I would like to thank you once again for your continued support.” All along, police have declined to give details of the nature of the incident but said they do not believe it is “in any way connected to terrorism”.

Forum vows to become a voice for all of Greater Bedminster BEDMINSTER’S community forum is about to be reborn as a forum and a voice for everyone in the area. The Greater Bedminster Community Partnership (GBCP) lost almost all its council funding in cutbacks but will relaunch on November 2 at its AGM. “We’ve consulted our partners and others, and it’s clear that the unique role GBCP plays must continue – now more than ever, at a time when the future of our libraries, parks and other council-provided services is being debated and decided upon,” said chair Stef Brammar. “We’ve got 10 years experience of working with

neighbourhood groups, local businesses, police, schools, churches and the city council to tackle issues and deliver improvements for all of us.” The group plans to set up task groups looking at: parks, leisure and libraries; the environment, including the streetscene, getting around, waste management, traffic and air quality; membership and inclusivity; communication; and planning applications. The AGM will get the formal business over quickly to allow discussion. It’s at 7pm, at the Acta centre, Gladstone Street. To find out more, email

n MANY people like to spend some of their spare time improving others people’s lives but aren’t sure how to go about it. BS3 Helping Others is a Facebook group which can point the way for would-be volunteers. It meets every Tuesday at

10.15am in the Tobacco Factory bar, often with speakers from charities who are looking for help. A meeting at 11.15am on Tuesday is for those thinking about volunteering at care homes. • Facebook: BS3 Helping Others

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October 2017




Mayor’s tube plan is derided but what’s the alternative? Tunnels are not entirely out of the question, says his ex-transport chief MAYOR of Bristol Marvin Rees has asked for a study of whether an underground system is feasible for Bristol. He acknowledges that any scheme would cost billions, but says the city needs a mass transit system. If the roads are full, that means looking up, or down; and Mr Rees said he doesn’t want to see an elevated rail scheme. The plan has been widely derided as unrealistic. But Bedminster councillor Mark Bradshaw said that while Bristolians should not expect something on the scale of a London underground line, a more modest plan is possible. Crucial to South Bristol’s transport needs is the ambition of Bristol Airport to double in size, to 15 million or 20m passengers a year, he said. If that happens, buses will not be enough. Some form of rail or rapid transit system to the airport will be needed, said Cllr Bradshaw, who was the transport chief on Bristol’s cabinet until Mr Rees pushed him aside in March. Significantly, the council has insisted that the developers of Bedminster Green must leave room for a new bus lane or transit link along Malago Road – a possible route to the airport. Cllr Bradshaw, who has spent years working on transport plans for the city, said a full-scale tube line was “on the wackier end of the scale”. But there are

Mark Bradshaw: Expansion at the airport could demand a new form of transport across South Bristol underground workings at Temple Meads, which are worth examining for their future potential, he said. A tunnel exists from the station to the old sorting office, for example. “Part of me wants to see this old infrastructure brought back into use, and part of that might be underground, said Cllr Bradshaw. The potential of the Callington Road link, an old rail line close to Bath Road in Brislington, is being examined by the new West of England authority (Weca), which will take the lead on transport for the region. But the rest of South Bristol does not have many old lines waiting to be reused. Cllr Bradshaw said he wanted to see the new Weca mayor, Tim Bowles, take the case for a new transit system to Whitehall. He

Metrobus delayed till New Year Continued from Page 1 budget, at £230 million, and both mayor Marvin Rees and his predecessor George Ferguson have said they wish it had been planned differently. The new routes should dramatically cut journey times to and from South Bristol as the

routes run most of the way on dedicated bus ways – such as the new flyover at Winterstoke Road. There is anecdotal evidence that the new South Bristol Link road has cut congestion around Parson Street and Bishopsworth.

warned that Bristol is competing for funds with cities like Bimingham and Manchester, already far ahead in their rapid transit networks, and the region will have to get used to presenting realistic plans that are costed. Getting funds for Metrobus was “a hard fought battle at each stage,” said Cllr Bradshaw. Mr Rees’s new tube study will cost £50,000, and may lead to a request for £3m from Weca to examine rock samples and weigh up options for tunnels. Bristol is riddled with old mine workings (see feature, pages 38-41), and its many rock layers make tunnelling difficult. If the plan looks workable, Mr Rees said he would seek private investment. More than a quarter of the £15bn Crossrail project in London is privately funded. Cllr Bradshaw said there was a precedent for private investment in transport in Bristol: the airport contributed almost £5m to Metrobus, but he expects the public sector to pay most of any future bills. Bristol’s Conservative leader Mark Weston called the tube plan “pie-in-the-sky thinking”, while his Lib Dem counterpart, Cllr Gary Hopkins, said the idea had been “examined and thrown out years ago. It will bluntly never happen.”

TRANSPORT SCHEMES ALSO ON THE CARDS Meanwhile, Weca is looking at new road links, Metrobus routes and park and ride schemes: • Metrobus along Bath Road to Keynsham; • Link road from the A4 to A37; • Opening the Callington Road link, the old rail line near Bath Road; • Metrobus orbital route; • Park and ride on the A37, possibly near Whitchurch; • Park and ride on the A38, possibly near Bedminster. More on Weca’s transport vision for the region – which includes Bath and and South Gloucestershire – will be revealed at a meeting of the authority on October 30.

Somewhere the carers get looked after

Cookery class for the carers CARERS who look after a loved one but could do with some time off now and then are invited to join a South Bristol group. Space4carers is run by carers for carers. They meet to chat, have coffee and to try an activity they have chosen. To date they have enjoyed cookery sessions, arts and crafts, and stress busting techniques. They’ve also had speakers from Avon Wildlife Trust, dieticians and a mindfulness expert. The group meets on October 9 and the second Monday of each month from 10am-12noon at Bristol Community Links centre, off Novers Lane, at Langhill Avenue BS14 1TN. For details call Mandy Panes 07872 543661, or Kelly Meek on 07471 797800.

Get ready to meet BrisCroc CRAFTS creator Vicky Harrison will release the fabled Bristol Crocodile at the SS Great Britain from October 23-29. Bedminster-based Vicky has led 65 volunteers to create the beautifully crocheted beast. Vicky is also planning to turn a giant buoy next to SS Great Britain into a woolly Christmas bauble, or buoyble. Workshops to make woolly hexagons and stars take place on Saturday October 21 from 10am-1pm and on Sunday November 5 from 1.30-4pm. Both are held at the SS Great Britain. Details from Vicky at vic. or: • Facebook: @CraftingTheCity

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email

October 2017



n NEWS NEARLY 100 people asked for help from Bristol money experts on claiming their money entitlements at the latest of MP Karin’s Smyth’s one-stop shop events. The Labour MP brought together staff and

Boys brigade is open to girls THE JUNIOR section of the Boys Brigade, for 8-11 year-olds, is 100 years old this year, and it’s been celebrating with events including sleep-overs, activity weeks and charity events. The Windmill Hill group caters for girls as well as boys. It’s a Christian group, with other centres across Bristol including Hengrove and Hanham. There are also groups for ages 5–8, 11–15 and 15–18 years. To find out more, call Mark Fuller on 07984 983454. • Facebook: @AvonBoysBrigade

Baby business AN EMPTY shop at 26 North Street could become a baby café. A planning application has been made to change the use of the ground floor to a “boutique style space” serving tea, coffee, cakes and snacks, running mother and baby classes and selling baby items. A creche would be offered, run by a trained nanny, and the space could be hired for birthday parties and as a pop-up children’s cinema. The proposal has the support of the nearby Toyville toyshop, which said a baby café was much needed in the area since the demise of Bubbahub, which closed in June.

Advice on claiming what’s due volunteers from organisations including Bristol Citizens Advice, South Bristol Advice Services, Department for Work and

Pensions, Royal British Legion, Bristol City Council and WE Care and Repair at the September 15 event at the Withywood centre.

Ms Smyth said: “It’s clear that people are often unaware of what they are entitled to receive, and that changes to rules and regulations make it hard to keep on top of things. There was lots of really positive feedback.”

NHS merger threatens cash for South Bristol hospital: MP THE NHS body which pays for South Bristol hospital is quietly being merged with two neighbouring bodies which have massive deficits – without the public being consulted. Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has called for a public conversation about the merger of Bristol’s NHS clinical commissioning group, or CCG, with the CCGs in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The NHS says merging the three bodies makes sense because they work closely together, and patients won’t be affected. But Ms Smyth points out that while the Bristol CCG has a balanced budget, its two neighbours have some of the worst deficits in the health service – £29.9 million in South Gloucestershire, according to figures published in July, and £25.3m in North Somerset. “Nobody has asked Bristol taxpayers what they think,” said the Labour MP. Ms Smyth praised the Bristol CCG, which holds the purse strings for the BRI as well as South Bristol hospital, for running a balanced budget.

“They have kept the ship afloat in really difficult circumstances,” she said. She warned that the region will have to find £300m in cuts within five years, and the proposed merger is a distraction from dealing with this. “There is a large task to be done and I would rather have an upfront conversation with the public about that, rather than doing it behind closed doors,” she told the Voice. She said the other two areas have different health priorities from Bristol: North Somerset has a much larger elderly population, for example, and there have been long-running problems at Weston hospital. “If they are spending money shoring up deficits in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, how does Bristol get its say?” she asked. Ms Smyth fears the lack of cash could inhibit plans to expand services at South Bristol’s community hospital, which include cancer screening and a range of outpatient clinics. In an article in the Huffington Post, she wrote of South Bristol hospital: “We have made some

progress, but more needs to be done. Worryingly this merger threatens the funding needed to bring about those changes.” The MP’s plea for public consultation appears to have fallen on deaf ears, however. A meeting of the three CCGs has backed the merger, and only “stakeholders” – meaning GPs and other professionals – were consulted. The move is awaiting approval from NHS England. A spokesperson for Bristol CCG said: “All three CCGs are financially challenged and it is important that we work together, through a strong single commissioner plan, to restore financial balance to the local health system and ensure sustainable, high-quality health services for the long term. “We already operate largely as one organisation and the merger is a logical next step that will allow us to remove the duplication of maintaining three separate administrative systems and free up resources that can be invested in improving services.” Ms Smyth’s article in the Huffington Post: •



ABBITS are considered docile and passive creatures. However, it is not uncommon to see aggressive behaviour that can be surprising, or even alarming, to a new owner. Dominance is probably the most common cause of aggression. Rabbits can fight to establish dominance within a group or to keep newcomers out. Neutering can reduce this but may not eliminate the aggressive behaviour. Rabbits can also fight over resources like favourite snacks, food bowls and water bottles. A

good rule of thumb is to provide extra – so provide for as many pets as you own, plus one more. Rabbits may also be aggressive towards people. Again the rabbit may be trying to establish dominance, but it could also be the result of pain or illness, or even learned behaviour. For example, children can be over-enthusiastic with pets and may inadvertently create a certain behaviour. Another cause of aggression towards people could be improper socialisation, or even a previous trauma that may create an aversive

behaviour. Every rabbit is different and management of aggression can vary widely depending on its cause. It is important to try to read a rabbit’s body language as rabbits may try to communicate some clues. It is also extremely important to rule out medical reasons. When a rabbit is showing an aggressive behaviour for no apparent reason, this should warrant a trip to the vet who will perform a complete evaluation. If you have concerns about your pet rabbit and would like further

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October 2017

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Quick-exit chief exec’s recruitment was ‘shambolic’ THE council has been accused of using a shambolic process to appoint its chief executive – who left the council in early September, saying she needs to care for her elderly parents. The council’s Lib Dems and Conservatives have attacked the way in which Anna Klonowsksi was appointed to the £160,000 a year role in February. Knowle councillor and Lib Dem party leader Gary Hopkins said: “It was obvious that most of the [selection] committee had received no training in the procedures, and the process was shambolic.” Mayor Marvin Rees is now deciding whether to recruit what

would be the city’s fourth chief executive in 16 months. The previous title holder, Nicola Yates, quit in January amid protests at her £200,000 payoff. Ms Klonowski is not thought to have had such generous payout terms. But the council has given only partial answers to the Voice’s questions on Ms Klonowski. The council refused comment on the size of any payoff. It said that Ms Klonowski was still working for the council until the end of September, but did not say if she was attending her office. And it did not explain allegations about the selection panel which appointed her. The

n POLICING in Avon & Somerset is at a tipping point because of cuts, according to police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh. The force has 655 fewer officers than

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Voice has been told that on its first meeting, the panel of councillors did not take a vote, but instead emailed their choice of candidate to an official. Cllr Hopkins said: “No proper records were kept and it was obvious that whatever advice that came in from whatever source, the mayor was determined that Ms Klonowski should get the job.” When Cllr Hopkins and Cllr Richard Eddy, a Tory member, insisted on an open vote, another meeting was arranged. It is unclear what happened at that meeting – and the council has not explained what it decided. The Voice understands that a third meeting of the panel voted

in favour of Ms Klonowski. The council said in a statement: “The process for recruiting senior management was followed and a recommendation was made by the selection committee to full council at its meeting on February 21. Full council voted in favour of accepting this recommendation with 44 votes in favour and none against. Anna Klonowski was duly appointed as chief executive.” The council also declined to say whether Ms Klonowski was paid through the PAYE system or via a private company. Being paid though a company can have tax advantages.

Library’s Friends reject volunteer option to run it USING volunteers to help run libraries could save most of the threatened branches and still save £1 million, claim the city’s Liberal Democrats. Consultation has now closed on plans put forward by Bristol’s ruling Labour group that would lead to the closure of several South Bristol libraries. Labour would save £1.4m by closing Marksbury Road, Wick Road, Bishopsworth and Whitchurch libraries. Knowle library would be closed in two of the three options in the consultation, as would the Stockwood branch. Cllr Gary Hopkins, Knowle councillor and Lib Dem leader, said volunteers would come forward if they thought it could save Knowle library. The Lib Dem plan is to set up an independent trust to run libraries, using professional librarians to supervise the volunteers. “Over the last few weeks hundreds of people have signed our petition to save our library in Wick Road, from these we have many people willing to regularly donate time to help keep their library open,” said Brislington

West Lib Dem Cllr Jos Clark. Deputy mayor Asher Craig, who is overseeing the cuts to the neighbourhoods budget, is to meet representatives of library friends’ groups on October 9. The Friends of Marksbury Road library, however, don’t want it run by volunteers. “We want Marksbury Road library to remain open as a council-run, properly-staffed, properly-resourced library service,” said Sarah Murch, secretary of the Friends. “We are not convinced of the benefits of mutualisation or of replacing library staff with volunteers. “If you look at other areas that have tried to use volunteers to deliver library services, the picture is very patchy, with any success largely confined to better-off rural areas. “What is noticeable is the sheer amount of work required by volunteers, the limited training and guidance, confusion over legal obligations, the large number of volunteers required and the high turnover, not to mention the costs.” In Oxfordshire, the volunteer option saved no money at all, said Ms Murch.

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October 2017



n NEWS COUNCIL CUTS IN FOCUS Mayor takes case for cities to Whitehall

Saving Ashton Court could put parks plan in jeopardy THE council appears no closer to meeting its much-derided target of running the city’s parks on a zero budget. Concerns are likely to increase when a campaign gets under way next month under the banner Save Ashton Court. The aim of the campaign, to be launched by Bristol Civic Society, is uncontroversial – to preserve the historic Grade I listed Ashton Court mansion and its much-loved 860-acre grounds. But the Civic Society is likely to call for the estate to be handed to a charitable trust. That would appear to conflict with the council’s idea to transfer all parks – including Ashton Court – to a different trust. The council needs a big hike in income from Ashton Court to help pay for its other open spaces. It is considering a Go Ape adventure centre in the grounds, the possibility of other paid-for attractions, and wants to hike up parking charges. It may decide to charge the Balloon Fiesta for use of the site, or request that visitors to the Fiesta pay to enter. If the estate is passed to a separate trust, the council would presumably lose all these potential sources of income. Bristol Civic Society is expected to launch its campaign for Ashton Court during October. At a meeting in Southville on September 7, the society’s chair, Simon Birch, said there were

Ashton Court: Council to stop wedding hire, leading to closure fears concerns that the council doesn’t have the resources to look after the mansion, and it could fall in to disrepair. Members fear the house, parts of which date from the 15th century, will be boarded up. The council is to stop hiring out the mansion for weddings and other events at the end of the year because it is losing money. In a statement, the council said it will consult on the parks savings from October. It is “committed to free access to quality parks across the city”. Ashton Court will be offered for hire in the hope that the building can be kept open “while we work alongside the Civic Society and other partners and citizens to develop the long-term plans for the building.” But neither the council nor Cllr Asher Craig, the deputy mayor in charge of parks, would comment on the loss of income if the estate is given to a trust.

Bristol Parks Forum believes the council is £2m short of its £4.5m parks savings target. “Unless the council finds some other source of income or the Government releases more money, we are looking at a catastrophic impact on parks from April 2019,” the forum told its volunteer members. The National Trust is believed to have told the council that transferring all the parks into a charitable trust is feasible – but would take several years and could not be done by 2019. • The council has confirmed that £294,000 will now be spent on parks in Windmill Hill and Knowle after it was frozen during cutbacks late last year. The cash came from the sale of council land for housing at Salcombe Road, Knowle. It will pay for improvements at Salcombe Road and parks including Victoria Park, Northern Slopes and Redcatch Park.

MAYOR Marvin Rees encouraged Bristolians to march in protest on September 9 at the cuts he is making across the council, urging them to turn their anger towards the Government. Billed as Bristol’s biggest ever march, thousands joined the city centre protest and heard rousing speeches from speakers including left-wing journalist Owen Jones. Three days later, Mr Rees was in Whitehall to present a green paper calling for more investment in British cities. Written with the leaders of Britain’s nine other core cities, the paper said releasing new powers, including tax-raising, to cities would boost the economy. But Mr Rees did not get to meet any representatives of the Government – instead he met Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Bristol’s Labour MPs. The journey to London meant the cancellation of a full council meeting due that day. “Many residents planning to protest about their libraries or school crossing patrols were annoyed,” said Bristol Lib Dem leader Gary Hopkins, especially when it emerged Mr Rees didn’t meet any ministers. Consultation has now closed on cuts to libraries, public toilets, school crossing patrols, community care and neighbourhood meetings. The next full council meeting, where residents can file questions, is on November 14. • The Mayor: Page 31

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n NEWS Pitch is safe at City Farm after nursery plan dropped PLANS to place a new nursery building at Windmill Hill City Farm have been cancelled. The idea has caused controversy since the summer when the council announced it wanted the new nursery class to open in the autumn term to take advantage of a government grant. The chosen site was the farm’s five-a-side football pitch. Players were not hapy, and said they would oppose any planning application. The trustees of the farm backed the idea, which would have brought £300,000 a year to the farm – provided the footballers could be found another home. The plan has now been dropped after ideas for an alternative football pitch in Victoria Park apparently came to nothing. Cllr Claire Hiscott, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “Due to difficulties in co-locating the existing football pitch and the proposed new nursery building, and no viable alternative options being identified, unfortunately we are not able to expand the Windmill Hill nursery site. We appreciate this is disappointing for everyone involved. We have worked closely with the nursery’s management while exploring the viability for this project and they are aware of the situation.”

October 2017


‘High density is needed to meet our housing targets’ DEVELOPERS at Bedminster Green can apply for grants to help pay for affordable housing, according to Nicola Beech, council cabinet member for urban design. A £12m grant from the Homes and Communities Agency helped pay for social housing at Wapping Wharf, a six-storey development on the harbourside, seen as an acceptable alternative to tower blocks by Windmill Hill pressure group WHaM. The HCA still has grants available, said Cllr Beech, and the council can also make grants towards social housing. However, it’s unclear whether any grants would stop developers at the Green building higher. Any extra cash could provide more social housing, but might not coax developers to build lower. On the Green’s Plot 5, for example, 30 per cent affordable housing is promised by developer Urbis, but only if it is allowed to build an 18-storey tower. Cllr Beech told the Voice that Bristol’s need for housing is huge, and the council is working hard to get developers to plan high-density homes that are also attractive places to live. “We want a great design and affordable housing. Is it reasonable to want all these things? We think it is, but clearly the development industry doesn’t always think it is.” She has weekly conversations with council housing boss Cllr

ROLLO’S ‘THREAT’ OVER AFFORDABLE HOMES WOULD-BE Bedminster Green developer Rollo Homes has threatened the council that if its plan for 207 flats in 10 storeys at Malago Road isn’t dealt with quickly, it will withdraw its offer of affordable housing. Rollo is offering 20 affordable homes, or 10 per cent – much less than the council’s 30 per cent target. Rollo says even 20 homes is not required according to planning rules – though it hasn’t published the viability study which justifies this view. A statement made in August by Rollo’s planning agent Stokes Morgan said: “If the developer has to suffer the considerable delay of an appeal, this offer would be retracted and zero per cent affordable housing would be offered.” Rollo is also disputing whether any kind of framework exists for

the rest of Bedminster Green, where further plans from other developers could provide 1,000 homes and facilities such as a revamped railway station. However, rival developer Urbis, which came up with the idea of a framework two years ago, says it is co-ordinating studies on transport and on flood risks with the other developers involved. Bristol firm Deeley Freed is drawing up plans for Plot 3 – the NCP car park; a firm called Dandara has completed a pre-application study for Plot 4, around Stafford Street; and Urbis has plans for Plot 5, around the station. Consultation on Plot 5 is expected this autumn. A planning application for Urbis’s energy centre, to supply heat and power to the Green area, may be made at the end of October. The framework idea is not dead, said Urbis managing director Richard Clarke, but the council is now holding the reins.

Paul Smith on the subject, she said. “We don’t want Bedminster Green to become a miniManhattan,” she added. But she warned that providing the number of homes needed will mean tough choices. “We cannot say no to things just because we don’t like them. It would be draconian if you were to stop people proposing tall buildings. The Government is positively encouraging this sort

of [high density] development. “We have a phenomenal housing crisis, we have a need for 30,000 affordable homes in the next 20 years.” She suggested that people who have their own home might want to think about “the thousands of people in this city in poor accommodation, or still living with their parents because they cannot get a foot on the housing ladder”.

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October 2017



n NEWS Plea to save tree

A LIME tree in the grounds of Bedminster Methodist Church in British Road is recommended for a preservation order. Planners were asked if it could be cut back

where it grows over the site of the old Gala bingo club, where new homes are being built. Arboricultural officers objected, saying the tree is one of the largest in the area and can be seen from several directions.

Bookshop owners say they won’t be selling alcohol A BOOKSHOP with a café and nuisance to neighbours or a flat above has been given the ourselves. go-ahead by councillors in spite “We hope to live above the of more than 40 objections. shop and would like our Neighbours protested that the one-year-old son to grow-up in a Old Fire Station at 125 Raleigh vibrant, diverse and creative Road is in a residential area that neighbourhood such as isn’t suited to a commercial use. Southville.” Southville Green councillor The couple already run a Charlie Bolton said: “I think this pub-cum-bookshop called is the wrong place for this Beerwolf in Falmouth, Cornwall. application. I also think there “While we understand the comes a distance from North concerns that may relate to a Street where it isn’t North Street busy restaurant or a drinking any more, and is a place where establishment, this is not what people live – this is about it.” we are proposing,” the couple Like several other objectors, said. he voiced fear that the bookshop “We believe that in order to would ask for a licence to sell open an independent paper alcohol. The shop’s opening bookshop in the current climate, hours are expected to be a secondary element is essential. 8am-8pm Monday to Saturday We also feel that being able to and 10am-5pm on Sundays and serve drinks, particularly tea and Bank Holidays. coffee, helps to create a relaxed Members of the BS3 Planning and thus more inviting group also complained about the atmosphere.” spread of leisure facilities away Planners said using the Old from North Street and into a Fire Station as a bookshop-café • Including Malago, Gaywoodwas House, Southville, residential area. a “transition” from the The couple behid the plan say centre to thePractice residential area. Bedminster Family Practice, Wedmore they don’t intend to get an alcohol Fears of parking congestion, licence, and they don’t want to be cooking smells and overlooking a nuisance to neighbours. were not serious enough to reject In a letter to the planning the plan, the officers said. department, owners Alice The café will not serve cooked Sommerlad and Anders Ousley meals so no extraction said: “We have no interest in equipment is required. Any attempting to create a place that change to serving restaurant through excessive noise or smell, meals or alcohol would need a for example, would be of new permission.

Social housing planned A DEVELOPER is in talks about building affordable homes on the site of the former Kellaway builders merchants in Luckwell Road. Bedminster-based developer Paul O’Brien says he has agreed terms to purchase the Kellaway site after the firm moved its building supplies business to Vale Lane. Mr O’Brien said he had spoken to the city council’s housing chief, Cllr Paul Smith, as well as Bedminster councillors Mark Bradshaw and Celia Phipps, and Bristol South MP Karin Smyth. Talks are under

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All over the city, pitiless drug dealers are A cuckoo in the nest isn’t just something suffered by birds. It’s also one of the nasty side effects of drug dealing RIGHT now, somewhere in South Bristol, someone is being cuckooed. It might sound like a light-hearted term, but it isn’t. It means that someone is a virtual prisoner in their own home. Cuckooing is when criminals – often dealers in Class A drugs – have taken over someone’s home. It’s always someone vulnerable and easily exploited, perhaps because of their age, or a disability, or because of addiction. Often they have no family or close friends who might notice what’s going on. Whatever the situation,

cuckooing always results in misery for residents who find they have no say in what goes on in their house or flat. It will be constantly open to potentially violent drug dealers, and their customers, who may call at any time of day. You may have heard about cuckooing, and assume it’s a rare event, or it only happens in the most deprived areas. Well, it’s not – there have been at least four cases known to police in South Bristol in the last six months. One was in Hartcliffe, while the others were in Wells Road, Knowle; Sandholme Road, Brislington, and Bedminster. PC Ben Jefferies is deeply involved in South Bristol police’s Baseline anti-drugs programme, set up last year by Sgt Dan Ashfield and PC Rich Jeffery to combat increasingly brazen drug dealing which was then taking place openly on the streets of

Major haul: One of many local cannabis factories raided in the last year. This one, in Crossways Road, Knowle, was in an outbuilding South Bristol. PC Jefferies explained that, to drug dealers, selling illegal substances is a business – and cuckooing is just one way to make their business work better. “Drug dealers are trying to make the most money possible. If they can do things that distance themselves from the product,

they will do that. If they can find a property they can use that they are not linked to, it’s a good business model,” he told the Voice. Nothing could illustrate better the pitiless calculations made by those who run the drugs trade. “People are coerced, through fear, intimidation or violence, into doing things they don’t want

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October 2017





depriving people of their own homes CANNABIS AND SPICE: NOT SUCH SOFT DRUGS

Taking action: Poice say their raids on drug houses are often welcomed by neighbours to do”, said PC Jefferies. “Sometimes they are compensated, but most of the time it’s on a false promise – ‘If you let us use your loft for a grow we will give you a grand’ – but if you have a couple of heavies at your door and the grand doesn’t appear, what are you going to do?” PC Jefferies said: “We had a case in Hengrove about nine months ago where a man had his flat taken over. “He was an alcoholic and they forced their way in whether he liked it or not. “They were storing drugs there to a point where he couldn’t live there any more, and he presented himself as homeless. “He had an excellent support worker, and they reported it to us.” The man was unwilling to talk to police, but he trusted his support worker and, using the information he supplied, the council and the police were able to stop the illegal use of the man’s flat, and find him a new home. Sadly, no arrests were made on that occasion. But there have been plenty of others. At the cuckooed home in Brislington, a woman was cutting up Class A drugs as officers went through the door. Four arrests were made. The cuckooed Hartcliffe flat has been boarded up after weapons were found there. And arrests for dealing on the streets are happening every week. All the activity since Operation Baseline began 18 months ago has had a real effect, police believe, bringing in more intelligence from the public, and restricting – though not removing – the supply of drugs. When they see officers breaking

CUCKOOING is often linked to the sale of the hardest, Class A drugs like heroin or crack cocaine. But supposedly less harmful substances like cannabis or spice are also causing real harm on the streets of South Bristol. Cannabis is now commonly grown in the community, in houses or flats taken over by growers who install insulation and high-powered lighting, and bypass the mains to get free electricity. It’s a big-money drug, with a single mature plant capable of producing up to £1,000 worth of cannabis a year. Average sized homes can produce a harvest worth tens or even hundreds of thousands. A house raided in Filton recently had more than 100 electrical sockets installed to light a crop worth £600,000. The recent trend is for smaller

factories where detection is less likely. The new LED lights create less heat, making it more difficult for thermal imaging equipment to identify a grow site. This home-grown cannabis is stronger than foreign supplies. Users frequently describe themselves as addicted to it, said PC Jefferies. It’s usually the first drug people will try: “We are finding a lot of young kids smoking it at 13 or 14, bowing to peer pressure,” said PC Jefferies. The new, stronger cannabis can cause mental health problems. It can affect performance at school, at work and driving. Effects are greater on teenage users, whose brains are still developing. Those who start taking cannabis before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop psychosis and five times more likely to be depressed or anxious. A French study found cannabis users are more than twice as likely

to be the cause of a fatal car crash. Then there is spice – one of the former “legal highs” which, until they were banned in April 2016, were sold in some South Bristol shops. Spice, known by many names such as K2 and black mamba, is a synthetic cannabis, but its effects can be much more unpredictable. The dose in some batches is much higher than in others, and in any case the ingredients are often not what is stated on the label. Users can become agitated or violent, or collapse. Their behaviour can be very hard to handle. All authorities agree that spice is much stronger than cannabis. The NHS says it can cause paranoia, coma, seizures and even death. Health effects of cannabis, by the Royal College of Psychiatry: • problemsdisorders/ cannabismentalhealthkey.aspx Health effects of spice: •

down a door to tackle drug dealers, people gain confidence that things can change, which makes them more likely to report other crimes, said PC Jefferies. “We have people coming up to us when we do these operations saying, ‘Thank you very much.’ “We are not going to make the problem go away. But we want to make South Bristol a better place to live, where drug dealing is not impacting on people’s everyday lives. Talking to drug users, they have noticed it’s more difficult to buy drugs.” Even people involved in drug taking are sometimes happy to see the police intervene. “I have dealt with lots of users and most of them do not want to be addicted,” said PC Jefferies. “They are not stupid. They see how it has ruined their life. It leads to unemployment and massive health problems, but often they cannot work to fund their habit because they are so unreliable. “They will end up committing crime to fund their habit, and they end up in prison.” Shoplifting and small-scale drug dealing are the usual routes to fund a habit. But drug users are not the ones who make real profit out of drugs. “Very, very few people make money out of drugs,” said PC Jefferies. “It just destroys lives.”

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email




October 2017


Your tales of the secret visitors on night Lots of you are looking out for hedghogs after our appeal in the last issue, it seems, writes Alex Morss


HE SECRET antics of night wildlife in local gardens has prompted a flood of funny stories and DIY detective work from Voice readers. Lots of you have been in touch to share your stories of nocturnal visitors, after our hedgehog appeal last issue. Some of you came to share your stories with us at our wildlife corner at the Victoria Park fun day on September 16, where we gave information on the appeal, which asked people to make Hedgehog Highways and report sightings. I’ve been thrilled to hear

about all the efforts so many of you are going to. Readers have been in touch to share stories about what they are doing to help hedgehogs and other wildlife. There is also some impressive nature detective work going on by lots of people. Thank you. Madhu Anhes and Achalavira Rose of Haverstock Road, Knowle, said: “We had a delightful visit from a hedgehog in July. We think the hedgehog walked into our kitchen and fell down a hole in the floorboards. We thought we had rats! But when we took up the floorboard to investigate, out popped a hedgehog. We fed her up a bit for a couple of days and then released her into the garden where she happily snuffled and moved on to the next garden. “There is ample natural space for a hedgehog in our garden without a special house. We now

Family affair: See this hog family in Ashton on YouTube – link right have a permanent gap under our back gate which leads into a gated alleyway, so that hedgehogs can come and go.” John on Frayne Road, Ashton, sent us a beautiful video of a mother hedgehog with her young family of hoglets. John said: “A number of us in our road

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had a spell of regular visits from hedgehogs over 20 years ago. Our children were young at the time and we made a hedgehog house in which a couple of hogs successfully hibernated. “Years passed until my wife spotted an adult hog crossing our lawn, early one evening a few weeks ago. There was even better news a day or two later when we found a nest – a mound of leaves and other dried matter in a flowerbed – and realised that a mother was looking after a litter of five hoglets!” John set up a night vision camera: “Only the mother was active, spending a long time out of the nest feeding on the meal worms and dried cat food we’d put down. She was completely oblivious of the cats which prowled around!” He added: “On a warm Sunday in mid-August, we were lucky enough to watch the young hogs venture from the nest for

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October 2017





patrol through our gardens the first time, and later that day, we realised that the whole family had gone. We have a gap under our back gate, which opens onto an alleyway, and a friend along our road spotted the young hogs on her lawn a few evenings later – and fed them by hand! “We’ve put food out every evening and have a regular visitor. One of the young hogs is almost certainly living in the undergrowth at the bottom of our garden. “We have two young grandchildren and they enjoy putting out the food each evening!” You can see the video here: • Roc and Ruth Walker on Redcatch Road, Knowle, have gone to great lengths to unravel the mystery of their night visitors. A gap under the fence to a back alley is a wildlife gateway for a variety of creatures, but also an irresistible naturalist’s challenge: “We have suspected for some time that a hedgehog has been coming into the garden but had not seen it,” said Roc. Determined to find out, Roc and his wife Ruth put out cat food, sunflower hearts and chopped apple, and made nightly stakeouts, but without luck. Each night they offered food, which vanished, but they assumed cats, slugs or birds were eating it. After a few nights, they finally saw a hedgehog visitor. Then followed elaborate attempts to build a fox-proof and cat-proof hedgehog feeding tunnel, with a night light on top. “The following morning we found the light some 4 metres away and most of the food still there! We reasoned that a fox must have

MAKE A HIGHWAY FOR A HEDGEHOG ALEX has free Hedgehog Highway plaques, donated by Avon Wildlife Trust, to give to anyone in South Bristol who makes their garden accessible for hedgehogs. Alex said: “Even small garden spaces can help if they are made accessible and provide some shelter and food for hogs to visit on their nightly wanderings. Together they form a vital patchwork of habitats.” Get in touch at

Special facilities: The Walker family of Knowle have built their hogs a house and feeding tunnel

removed the light,” said Roc. “I rigged up a security light with PIR detector. There were two visits by hedgehogs, also a fox actually on top of the hog house! Hay has been moved and piled up along one side of the house. We wondered if hogs are thinking of making a nest to over-winter. We’re both pretty excited about the results so far.”  Phil on Sylvia Avenue revealed: “We have been feeding ours for about six years. We have seen one or two come and go in that time but get visits from three to four every night. I have made a tunnel feeding station and wooden hibernation boxes under logs. I have cut a hole in the fence that backs on to a lane to encourage them to mobilise!” Emma Smith on Highbury Road, Bedminster, sent us photos of her hedgehog’s night time strolls and said: “In the last few months we’ve had a hedgehog make a few visits at night. I’ve not seen him but my husband has watched him. We’ve left food out, but I’m not sure if he’s eaten any. Hopefully he’ll keep coming back and one day I might actually see him, and any friends he might bring!” Sarah on Windmill Hill has offered to foster rescue hedgehogs during rehabilitation, via a local charity, after getting in touch with the Voice. Like many people, she has walls which mean hogs can’t get into her garden, but this is another way to help. “I’ll help any way I can for all wildlife,” Sarah said. “We don’t use any pesticides and we have a wild patch of garden so hedgehogs would feel right at home.” Yvonne Cox at Bristol-based

Hedgehog Rescue said the response to the Voice appeal was “amazing”. She said Sarah’s offer was generous: “We often need totally enclosed gardens for overwintering hedgehogs, or as a permanent garden for a disabled hedgehog that can’t be released back into the wild. But they do need to be completely enclosed. Hogs can get under fences, climb horizontally-slatted fences and dry stone walls. Thank you.” •

Schools– still time to win wildlife prize WE’VE had such a great response to our summer of My Wild Bedminster features that we’re extending the deadline for our schools competition to make sure that all the schools that want to enter can do so. We’re offering £100 in prizes to the school that sends us the best artwork that shows children are looking at how they can improve their local environment for wildlife. The prize will be tailored to the school – it could pay for bird boxes, for example, or help in creating a bug hotel, or a pond. Our schools work has been made possible by sponsorship from Hunters estate agents in East Street, Bedminster – formerly Besley Hill. The closing date is October 30. To find out more, email



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October 2017


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October 2017




Iceland to be quizzed over plans for large new store A BEDMINSTER councillor is to ask for a meeting with bosses at store chain Iceland over concerns that a new outlet in Winterstoke Road could bring noise for neighbours, draw trade from other retailers, and increase traffic levels. Planning officers gave the go-ahead – as they are allowed to do under “delegated powers” – for a new Iceland Food Warehouse in the old Staples store next to Ashton Gate stadium. Bedminster’s two councillors – Mark Bradshaw and Celia Phipps – were not informed of the request to vary planning conditions for the site. Supermarkets were previously not allowed at the South Bristol retail park – both to protect stores elsewhere in Bedminster and to prevent the site becoming

a magnet for shoppers driving in from elsewhere. The owner of the park, the BAE Systems pension fund, produced a study claiming that stores elsewhere in Bedminster would not be affected. The permission given is for a convenience store – a definition that appears to be stretched by the Iceland Food Warehouse. The store is twice the size of a typical Iceland and sells bigger ranges, and in bulk. Cllr Bradshaw said he accepted that there were many applications for changes in planning conditions which did not have to be decided by councillors, and said that he was pleased that an empty site was being filled, and jobs created. He added: “I’m rather annoyed that we weren’t asked

for our views, because it’s a significant site. “There are lots of local issues around parking, traffic and the local economy that I would have liked to have been asked about.” He said residents had already been in touch, worried about the noise from Iceland’s refrigeration units, and about disruption from deliveries – which will be allowed from 7am-8pm Monday to Saturday. He said he would be asking Iceland about noise and other issues. Planning permission has already been given for refrigeration units. Two more applications, for illuminated signs and for new doors and a frontage, have yet to be decided. Iceland has said it has no plans to close its supermarket in East Street, Bedminster.

Fixing things for (almost) free

IF YOU’VE got items, from kettles to clothes, that need repair, head along to the BS3 Repair Café, held from 1.304.30pm the last Saturday of every month at the United Reformed Church Hall, Bedminster. Welcome are electronics, small appliances such as kettles and lamps, bikes, and clothes. It’ll be free but a donation will be requested towards running costs. The group is requesting volunteers with repair skills, unwanted DIY books and tools, and jumble for a “re-use” stall. • Facebook: BS3 Repair Cafe

Youth café

THE DEANER café is in a container in Dame Emily Park, off Dean Lane in Bedminster. It’s a place for young people to meet friends and find out about playing sports with qualified coaches. To find out more: • Facebook: TheDeanerCafe

Bringing High Street travel direct to you Introducing Bedminster’s brand new independent travel service:

Charlotte Hingston Travel Counsellors • European Beach Breaks • Caribbean • Cruising • Flights • Accommodation • City Breaks • Round The World Adventures • UK Weekend Breaks • Gap Year Travel • Sporting Trips

Unlike a normal High Street agency, Charlotte Hingston Travel Counsellors likes to make things a little more personal. We believe travel should be about the experience you want. Whether that be a family fun holiday in Spain, cruising the Caribbean sea or experiencing the bustling cities of South East Asia, your trip should be about you. We’re an independently owned and operated business right here in the heart of South Bristol and with 15 years experience in the travel industry we can plan your holiday from start to finish. What’s more we bring the agency to you! We offer face to face visits either at your home or the local coffee shop to plan your next adventure. That way we can take the time to make sure your trip is exactly as you want it down to the last detail. Whatever your plans, we can arrange a stress-free break from start to finish. Fully ATOL protected, with 24 hour assistance. Email charlotte.hingston@ Phone 07982 829 867 0117 405 7570

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email

October 2017



n NEWS Will you help light lanterns? THE WINTER Lantern Parade is on its way – but it needs more help. Bedminster’s annual carnival of colour, involving schools and community groups, takes place on December 9. Last year 1,200 local people walked in the biggest parade so far, joined by four bands and an estimated 1,500 spectators. Now an appeal has gone out for more volunteer stewards. “As a steward, you will be a vital part of a vibrant community festival,” said a spokesperson. “All we are asking for is four hours of your time to aid in the smooth running of the parade, ensuring its safety, as well as explaining to the public about road closures and relaying any necessary information to and from your team leader.” Get details from Alex Allwright at, search Facebook or Twitter, or visit: •

Game on for escapers to find a way out of new home THE FORMER pavilion for Bedminster cricket club, near Teddies nursery on Clanage Road, Bower Ashton, can be knocked down and replaced with a new building for use by urban games players. Planners have allowed a scheme to demolish

several old or derelict buildings currently used by City Mazes. The firm wants a new building for its “escape game experience”, in which a team of players are locked in a game complex and must solve puzzles and clues to work out a door code. Hours

would be unchanged, at 12noon-9pm Monday-Thursday, 12noon-11pm Friday, and 9am-11pm Saturday and Sunday. Two objectors said the plan was out of keeping with the area. But Historic England said it did not detract from Ashton Court.

CCTV appeal over elderly theft POLICE are moving forward in their quest to find the man they believe stole “a significant quantity of money” from a vulnerable elderly woman in Bedminster. The 85-year-old victim is believed to have been befriended by a man who stole her bank card. Officers say the card was used a number of times in the past few months for cash withdrawals and purchases. Police do not want to reveal details of the investigation, but progress has been made since an

Wanted: A security camera image of the man who may have stolen a large sum from an OAP, 85 appeal to identify the man in the photograph above was made at the end of August. Inspector Paul Bolton-Jones said: “The

investigation is progressing and special arrangements have been made to re-interview the vulnerable victim. We’re doing everything we can to ensure someone is brought to justice.” The offender is white, in his late 20s or early 30s, short and skinny with short brown hair. Police are still eager to talk to anyone who can identify the man in the photo, or who has any information about the fraud. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 and give reference 5217177579.







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For more information or to arrange a visit, call 0117 930 3068 or visit To advertise, contact or Ruth on 07590 527664

October 2017




WIN Tickets to Brunel’s SS Great Britain NEED a way to liven up half term? How about a journey of discovery to Brunel’s SS Great Britain? Often referred to as the “pride of Bristol”, this great ship was as revolutionary as a space rocket when she was launched in 1843. Now the masterpiece of the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel is restored in the original dock in Bristol harbour in which she was built. This great ship is now a treasure trove of activities – with special attractions over half term. • Kids can be transformed into contagious crew members with special-effect makeovers, from terrible typhoid to sailor’s scars. Every day, 11am-4pm, October 21-29. • Meet unsavoury characters of the Victorian lower classes as the Ragged Victorians return to the dockside – a policeman, dock worker, fisherman’s wife and even a rat catcher with live rats.

WIN YEAR-LONG ACCESS TO SS GREAT BRITAIN WE HAVE four annual tickets to the SS Great Britain that allow unlimited entry over 12 months. To win a pair of tickets, answer this question: when was the SS Great Britain launched? Rules

Full of adventure: The SS Great Britain has almost endless activities October 28-29. • Spooky ship: Follow a ghoulish guide and watch out for characters lurking in the shadows, hoping to share their terrible tales. Times vary, October 28-29. • Climb the rigging: Become a

true sailor and climb the huge mainmast of Brunel’s ship. Brave souls can ascend the rigging to a viewing platform at over 26m above ground level and even step out over the harbour on the main yard. Until October 31. •

1 Not open to employees of South Bristol Voice, Local Voice Network, or SS Great Britain. 2 The SS Great Britain Trust reserves the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice. The prizes are non-refundable and non-transferable. 3 Entries to paul@southbristolvoice. or 18 Lilymead Avenue, BS4 2BX, by October 17. A winner will be chosen from the correct entries at random. 4 Entrants must supply name, address and phone number, and must live in the South Bristol Voice circulation area – BS3 and BS4.


SCARS & WOEFUL WOUNDS There’s plenty of infectious fun to be had this October half-term. Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 October

Earn your sailors’ scars and terrify your parents with impressive prosthetics and Halloween special-effect makeovers.

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email



October 2017



Berry maze gets close to bearing fruit this autumn Spread out: A mural by Ollie Gillard shows the scale of the maze once it is completed

BS3 Co-Working Offices • Monthly Rental • Single or Multiple Desks • Open Plan or Private Office • High Speed Internet • Breakout Space • Meeting Room • Standing Workstations For more information please email 145-147 East Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 4EJ

THE BERRY Maze at Malago Greenway is taking shape – despite a a last-minute discovery that almost spelled disaster. Tireless efforts by volunteers had cleared a concrete base and removed endless weeds and brambles when the green area off Brixham Road was ploughed – revealing a mass of rubble, car parts and rubbish. It was six days before plans for the maze were due to be unveiled at Bristol Open Doors Day on September 9. Organiser Raluca McKett said: “We were absolutely desperate! But then I remembered that Paul Becker from Good Gym mentioned that they had a running session on Tuesdays. I messaged him right then, and in less than half an hour he confirmed they could help.” The Good Gym runners revel in jogging to community projects and then helping out, and in less than an hour cleared most of the rubble. Despite bad weather on the days before the event, the Berry

Maze volunteers delivered what was promised for Mock-a-Maze Day: a scale model of the maze, along with cakes and games. Mural artist Ollie Gillard made a huge reproduction of the original design for the maze, which was drawn by Harry Ward from Parson Street primary school. Children had lots of fun recognising berries from the photos around the maze. Help arrived also in the shape of a donation of wire cutters from local business Bell Tools, perfect for building the structure of the maze. Work continued throughout September and is likely to carry on throughout half of October too, as the land couldn’t be cleared with machines and has to be dug by hand. The organisers hope that more volunteers will show up at their Saturday sessions as more remains to be done. Planting the maze of soft fruit is scheduled for November 18 but more events may be announced in the meantime. Facebook: @TheBerryMaze2017

Help with home hazards OLDER people who are at risk of falling in their homes can get help making their homes safe from Care and Repair. The organisation works with the GP practices in Bedminster to help out where people are becoming

unsteady on their feet and need adaptations such as grab rails. Some safety-related work can be done free. To find out more email or call 0300 323 0700. •

To advertise, contact or Ruth on 07590 527664

n BRIEFLY Crime spree n CRIME writing and women as heroines are two of the themes explored in South Bristol as part of the Bristol Literary Festival. Author and stand-up comedian Becky Walsh interviews other local writers about fictional heroines at 1pm on October 20 at the Spielman Centre in Arnos Vale cemetery. On October 22, the venue is the SouthBank Club on Dean Lane, Southville where the Writers Unchained group meets at 7pm to read some crime stories by Bristol writers. There are also events in Redcliffe Caves. • n SOUTH Bristol choir Break Out Voices now has a children’s choir meeting each Wednesday at Windmill Hill Community Centre on Vivian Street. It’s run by Kate Fletcher and Sarah Fyson and includes costume, performance and movement. The aim is to put on a glee club-style show at the end of term. Details from or

southbristolvoice n ENGLAND footballer Geoff Hurst, from the 1966 team which won the World Cup, is the Big Sports Speaker at Ashton Gate stadium on Thursday October 19 at 6pm. Sir Geof’s talk will be followed by a Q&A session. Details on 0117 963 0600 or visit • n AN AFTERNOON of music that hovers between classical, jazz and folk is on offer on Sunday October 15 when Bristol’s Spindle Ensemble perform at 3pm at the Elephant House, Dean Lane. The instrumental quartet perform original compositions inspired by artists such as Erik Satie, Moondog and Mulatu Astatke. Tickets are from £8 to include tea and coffee, with cake and prosecco as optional extras. Numbers are limited: book by emailing info@ Listen at •

16th-29th OctOber ever thought about getting together with your neighbours, family or friends to do a community litter pick? Get in touch and let’s see if we can make it bigger and better than the Great bristol Spring clean weekend.

0117 304 9022 #bristolcleanStreets

• • •

200 litter picking kits loaned out 37 community groups took part 46 separate events






An outstanding Sixth Form in the heart of Clifton For more information or to arrange a visit, call 0117 930 3068 or visit

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email


October 2017


October 2017




Due to exciting new contract, we are looking for support workers for permanent and temporary work in and around North Somerset, no experience needed! Competitive pay and can offer part time, full time hours to suit your needs! If you live in Portishead, Portbury, Congresbury, Clevedon, Weston Super Mare, Cleeve or Backwell and are looking to change your current job are looking to start a career in care, call now! Bristol 01179 758615

Support Workers Needed! Looking for a rewarding career?

Due to exciting new contract opportunities, we are looking for Support Workers for permanent and temporary work in Bristol. No experience needed, full training provided. Excellent pay rates Part-time or full-time hours to suit your needs Call us now for more information Call Sam, Iva or Katie on

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October 2017




Energy firm gets thumbs up – on social media, at least BRISTOL ENERGY, the council-owned energy company, has won plaudits from South Bristol customers online, as the firm claims city residents are spending £28 million too much every year on energy bills. The council has ploughed £15.3 million in to the business, a move which has been criticised at a time of cutbacks at City Hall. Bristol Energy is not expected to make a profit until 2021 – two years later than planned – and faces stiff competition as a tiny player in a crowded market. However, if reactions on Facebook are anything to go by, it has fans in South Bristol. A query from a resident on BS4 Connect about whether she should use the firm elicited replies from 11 customers. Most said they had saved money and had good service; only one was worried, about a late reply to an email. One response read: “Really happy with Bristol Energy. Savings on bills, great customer service, smart meter has reduced consumption and feelgood factor of knowing profits are reinvested

Comments on Bristol Energy locally.” Most of the others were equally complimentary. Another said: “I’m on Bristol Energy and have saved a lot by doing so.” The council says it has already saved Bristol customers around £1.5 million on their energy bills. It also promises to reinvest profits into the Bristol community and help combat fuel poverty. Some commentators have said the firm is over-ambitious and can’t succeed. Bristol Energy does not generate any power of its own; it resells energy bought on the wholesale market, and offers lower prices by taking lower profits. Even Ovo Energy, a Bristol-based commercial rival almost 10 times larger, has not

Climb the hill for art trail TWO DAYS of art and performance are on the way with Art on the Hill – the Windmill Hill and Victoria Park arts trail on October 7 and 8. A vibrant mix of visual arts, craftwork, performance and workshops is expected to attract hundreds of visitors. Visual arts and craftwork on display include painting, drawing, photography, printing, sculpture, ceramics, glasswork, jewellery, textiles and more. Many artists exhibit in their own homes while others show their work in the Windmill Hill community centre and other public venues. Performing arts play a major part, with music, poetry, and dance events on Saturday afternoon and evening in the community centre and on Sunday afternoon in Victoria Park – weather permitting.

made a full-year profit. Ovo has 700,000 customers to Bristol Energy’s 80,000. But Ovo did make a half-year surplus in 2016. Bristol Energy says its investment will pay off, and there are plenty of potential customers. Two thirds of all customers have never switched energy supplier, even after the Big Six all hiked prices this year. British Gas raised electricity prices by 12.5 per cent on September 15. Peter Haigh, managing director of Bristol Energy, said:  “Don’t let your energy company penalise you simply for being loyal. We save our best deals for Bristol residents, and can save people £258 a year compared to an average standard variable bill with one of the Big Six.” • Intro: Page 2

Readers pile in for health study VOICE readers have responded enthusiastically to an appeal to help one of the world’s biggest and longest-running health studies – Children of the 90s. The University of Bristol programme has been tracking the health and development of more than 14,000 families for more than 25 years. Almost 4,000 young people have taken part in the latest stage, Focus@24+, volunteering for a series of cutting-edge tests, including blood pressure, liver and lung function checks. Since we featured the appeal in September, a further 146 participants have made an appointment. Children of the 90s studies families with a child born in or near Bristol between April 1991 and December 1992. To find out more, email info@ or visit: •

REMEMBER US? BORN 1991-92? WE’D LOVE TO SEE YOU AGAIN Book a Focus@24+ visit now!

Artist Stu Watkin at the 2016 trail There’s also a programme of arts and music workshops, for adults and children. No advance booking is needed. Food and drinks are on sale in the community centre, Mrs Brown’s café in the park and Windmill Hill’s pubs. A brochure and an app will be available during the weekend. • • Facebook artonthehillbristol • Twitter @Art_On_The_Hill

Phone us: 0117 331 0010 Text us: 07789 753 722 Email us: Get a shopping voucher as a thank you. All travel costs reimbursed.

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email

October 2017




Spanish play A SPANISH playgroup meets every Tuesday morning from 10am-12noon at Bubble Play Café on East Street in Bedminster. Called Aqui Estoy, which means ‘Here I am’ in Spanish, it supports children to learn Spanish through play, rhymes, songs and stories. • spanish-playgroup-aqui-estoy n A FORMER workshop at 23 Southville Place cannot be turned into a two-bedroom home, planners have ruled. They cited a lack of outlook, insufficient storage space and a single bedroom that was too narrow. A plan by another applicant to turn 5 Southville Place from a house into three flats was also refused. n THE TOBACCO Factory’s Sunday market on November 5 has been extended with extra local traders and opportunities for early Christmas shopping. It’s open from 10am-2.30pm. • Facebook: @ tobaccofactorymarket

WIN The VIP treatment at Ashton Gate SPORTS fans will know that in South Bristol we now have a worldclass stadium at Ashton Gate. But not all will have seen the facilities for dining and entertainment the venue can offer, alongside the excitement on the pitch. To help Bristol Sport spread the word about the new facilities, the Voice has a very special prize. On offer is a pair of tickets to watch either a Bristol City or a Bristol Rugby game in the Heineken Lounge, the new hospitality suite in the South Stand. You’ll be given a drink on arrival and there will be a two-course buffet for you to enjoy in the lounge. You’ll have casual seating in the lounge, where there will be entertainment, and during the match you’ll have a padded seat on the balcony overlooking the pitch. The lounge will be open for your use before and after the game, and at half time. A match day programme is included. All this normally costs at least £75 per person. You can also buy VIP Seasonal

Prime location: The Heineken Lounge, where two readers can enjoy a package worth £150 Hospitality Club Seats in the Lansdown restaurant at every home City or Bristol Rugby game. The Gold package (£1,600 for football, £1,100 for rugby) includes a buffet, a padded seat in the Lansdown stand and half-time refreshments; the Diamond package (£2,050 or £1,400) adds a two-course meal and full-time refreshments; and the Platinum package (£3,050 or £1,950) adds a three-course meal with table service and pre-match drinks, plus parking if available. All prices are ex-VAT. To win, just tell us: Where in the stadium is the Heineken Lounge?

RULES 1 This prize is not available for every Bristol City or Bristol Rugby game but the club will endeavour to accommodate your choice. 2 Not open to employees of South Bristol Voice, Local Voice Network, or Bristol Sport. 3 Entries to uk or 18 Lilymead Avenue, BS4 2BX, by October 17. A winner will be chosen from the correct entries at random. 4 Entrants must supply name, address and phone number, and must live in the South Bristol Voice circulation area – BS3 and BS4. 5 The editor’s decision is final.

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October 2017



n FEATURES Over 10 years, the Thunderbolt has become a vital fixture on the Bristol music scene, discovers Beccy Golding



RIGINALLY a toll house built in 1820, the Turnpike on Bath Road in Totterdown was “a classic rundown pub” when Dave and Sophie MacDonald took it on a decade ago. “It was an ideal venue,” Dave told me, “which mirrored the demolition of the area in the 70s, and was ripe for turning around.” Dave is Bristol-born and bred “though some people think I’m a cockney!” He grew up in Frampton and has been in Totterdown for 25 years. For 20 years he managed community projects in Bristol, working in homelessness and community development, but all the while he had a love of live music. He talks fondly of his time in bands – Fear of Darkness from 1984-87, Wishing Storm, 1988-93, and Rockistas, 2000-2006. Dave was a song writer, guitarist and a great front man (I know, I’ve seen him perform!). Back in the day, Dave said, they supported bands including King, The Membranes and New Model Army, and toured the UK’s university and club circuit, with appearances at the Marquee and Mean Fiddler in London and Nottingham’s Rock City amongst others. “We made several albums, appeared on Richard Skinner’s Radio 1 programme, and had Runner Up Single of the Week in Melody Maker.” Dave also ran live nights – Undercover, a pub rock night at the Hen & Chicken in Southville

BIRTHDAY PARTY THE Thunderbolt celebrates its 10th anniversary of bringing the finest live music to Totterdown on November 17, when the great Gary Clail headlines. Gary hit fame in 1991 with the On U Sound System and their hit Human Nature. Tickets weren’t on sale as we went to press but details will be on the website. •

Stars on stage: Viv Albertine, formerly of punk band The Slits, in 2011

Lightning nights at the Thunderbolt: a decade of live acts THE KIND OF THING THAT HAPPENS AT THE THUNDERBOLT ... AMONG the highlights that stick out for owner Dave MacDonald are some that happened when the venue was hired for a party. He recalls the time Michael Eavis, founder of the Glastonbury festival, was persuaded to stand up and sing a song. Then there was the visit by Beth Gibbons of Portishead. “She came to a friend’s fancy dress

party and she did a version of Glory Box on stage, which was amazing,” said Dave. More recent was a gig by Clem Burke, drummer with Blondie, and his band The Tearaways. “It was a brilliant night and he’s an unbelievable guy,’ said Dave. “Later he was at the bar talking to some locals and I don’t think they know who he was.” Several stars were discovered by the Thunderbolt before they were famous – performance poet Kate Tempest among them.

and the Polish Club in Clifton, and Coup D-etat, for indie bands, at the Cumberland in St Luke’s Road (now the Star & Dove). Dave and Sophie bought the pub in 2007. Dave felt he “had done all I could in community development and the voluntary sector. And I wanted to do something in the Totterdown area.” They renamed the Grade 2 listed building The Thunderbolt, after Thunderbolt Steps, the steep shortcut to the top of the hill at the back of Hillcrest primary school. October 2017 will mark 10 years of the Thunderbolt as a live venue. Dave said that Sophie, who also has a background in housing and homelessness, has “kept it afloat with her financial management skills.” The pub can

also be hired as a private party venue, with PA; for kids parties on a Saturday afternoon; and the medium-sized commercial kitchen is available to rent. Since they opened there’s been a deliberate balance of local bands, showcases for new young acts, occasional spoken word nights (Will Self and John Hegley, for example) and classic performers and bands – some of Dave’s favourites include Wilko Johnson (who’s sold out here three times), John Cooper Clarke (who’s sold out five times) and The Pretty Things, and recent acts The Spitfires and The Tats. As far as awkward artists go, the only one he can think of is Michelle Shocked. “She made me go down and get her a chai latte – all the way to Victoria Street

THUNDERBOLT owners Dave and Sophie want to share their joy at the venue’s 10-year anniversary by offering a Voice reader two tickets to their legendary New Year’s Eve party – plus a bottle of prosecco! All you have to do is tell us: which member of the Specials is a regular performer at the Thunderbolt? Answers, with your name, address, and phone number, to or 18 Lilymead Avenue, BS4 2BX, by October 17. – and it had to be hot!” Otherwise, he said, “people are very good, they understand this is a small venue – the musicians who play here are brilliant to work with.” For the future, the eventual arrival of the Bristol Arena just down the road (if it happens!) “offers lots of opportunities. We might have to tweak the model a bit, but it’s always been trial and error, and we’re still here.” The Thunderbolt is now firmly on the circuit for some of Bristol’s hottest bands, and a lot of national acts passing through. Jerry Dammers, founder of the Specials and 2-Tone records, is a regular visitor who returns on October 20. On October 27 there’s a set from 90s favourites Cud, and on November 3 punk-era rockers Eddie and the Hot Rods return. There are also plenty of festive events. Local soul and ska favourites The Regz also celebrate their 10th year with a Christmas gig on December 15, while on December 22 it’s the venue’s regular tribute to the Clash, London Calling. Another celebrated local band, Natty Daps, have their bash on December 16, and The Emperials host their Xmas Ska-romp on December 23.

Venue owners: Dave and Sophie

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email

LETTERS If it doesn’t suit our area, don’t build it at all


S A Bedminster resident, I’ve been following the on-going updates on the Malago Road/Rollo Homes development with a keen interest. In fact, I was one of the attendees at the recent ‘lively’ public meeting. I note from your recent article that Rollo owner, Paul O’Brien has addressed nearby Windmill Hill residents’ concerns and assured them that the buildings will only be visible to them during the winter, when trees are no longer in leaf. But what of the residents of Malago Road? He made no mention of them. This 10-story eyesore will sit directly opposite them, will dominate their view and block sunlight for all but a brief window in high summer. Do their concerns not matter to Mr O’Brien? I also note that, due to the many developments being planned, our air will be polluted by not one, but two power stations, when Bedminster air quality is already exceeding safe levels. The article says that the development has to be high to make it economically viable. May I suggest that, if a development

Write to or to 18 Lilymead Avenue, BS4 2BX

more in keeping with the area, that benefits all local residents, is not economically viable, then there should be no development at all. As your last issue mentioned, when it comes to wildlife, Bedminster is one of the sparsest areas in Bristol. Why not turn the plot into a conservation area instead? Daniel Fryer, Bedminster

The butterflies of Bedminster I VERY much enjoyed Alex Morss’s article in your last edition which outlined butterflies seen in nine public spaces in BS3. A survey in a 10th space, Windmill Hill City Farm, has been under way since April as part of the My Wild Bedminster project. The score is 10 species so far.    As you might expect cabbage whites are quite common on the farm’s allotment area. But that’s actually three separate species. Both the large and the small white are there for the cabbages and nasturtiums, but the green-veined white caterpillar is innocent of this predation. Its caterpillars much prefer cresses and mustards.   It’s very difficult to spot the differences as these butterflies are constantly moving, so you need to creep up on them when

A skipper – similar to one possibly seen at the farm PHOTO: Alex Morss they occasionally rest, or detain them for a few minutes in a net. Orange-tips and brimstones were also quite common early in the year. Holly blue was around until May but seems to have disappeared, although still around in August in my garden.    I found one, possibly two, colonies of ringlets in untended sections of the farm. They’ve gone now, either because they’ve finished laying their eggs or a farmer has tidied up their space. Even so, some eggs may survive in the undergrowth and eventually become adults next summer. The caterpillars are grass feeders.    Red admirals and commas have been seen flying through.

POLICE REPORT Spike in thefts of motorbikes


October 2017



URING the last few weeks we have noticed a small increase in motorcycle thefts in the Bedminster area. Our advice is to make sure you secure your motorbike or moped to an immovable object such as railings or a lamppost. Invest in a theft deterrent such as a chain, padlock or immobiliser. Consider installing a kill switch, hidden from view. Thieves won’t know where the switch is located. Park your bike somewhere well-lit, with high footfall and preferably covered by CCTV. Always use the steering lock when parked, and remove accessories.


alling our local community groups ... Would you like to meet and greet your local beat team or are you in need of some crime prevention advice? Please contact us on GreaterBedminsterNPT@ We’d love to hear from you and would happily pop by for a visit during our routine patrols.


hank you to the residents of Hastings Close for their patience and co-operation with our on-going operation in the area. I know it has been an unsettling and inconvenient few weeks for local people and we appreciate your support and understanding. At the time of going to print,

They nest on nettles, so there’s not really much at the farm for these would-be parents. A possible 10th species is a mystery. I only glimpsed it once in July. It looked like a skipper, probably the small variety but possibly either large (they’re not very) or Essex (they’re moving west). Like Whites, you need to get up close. Skippers tend to live in groups, so I’m surprised not to find others, but I’m still looking. Possibly wishful thinking on my part? An 11th species was spotted on September 12 – a speckled wood butterfly. One of my favourites. The butterfly season goes on until October, so we may hit double figures and I hope to repeat the exercise next year. Wandering around the farm in the sun is a pleasant way of spending an hour or two, plus an ice cream break.    I hope others are looking at local parks, allotments and back gardens across BS3 and not just for butterflies. We’d like to know about spiders, snails, beetles, bees, whatever. At the end of the season, say late October, it would be great if people sent their lists (and any pictures) to both South Bristol Voice and We’ll try to make sense of the lists and come up with an overall report for BS3 before we launch into the 2018 survey.     Ben Barker, Bedminster

With PCSO Charlotte Tait Broadbury Road police station we are still working in the area, and due to the nature and complexity of our operation and the ongoing invesitgation, it may be some time before we are able to share full details with you. We have tried to keep those affected up to date and to provide as much information as possible at public meetings, and thank you for your continued support. I can confirm that we don’t believe the incident was terrorism-related.


e continue to work with partner agencies to address the complex needs and issues presented by and within the homeless community. The Bristol Drugs Project will be working in the area to provide support to those in need. They have joined forces with the local

policing team and we can provide advice about the service. Special thanks to Jasper Thompson and his team at Help Bristol’s Homeless for their continued work in the community.


ergeant Paul Giddings represented the local beat team at the Bedminster Improvement District (Bid) meeting last month. Thanks to the Bid team for their fantastic work, especially for the colourful Upfest. We’re looking forward to December’s Lantern Parade, and judging by previous years we know it will bring the community together, with a wonderful atmosphere and lots of family fun. Until next time, PCSO Charlotte Tait

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October 2017


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October 2017

BRISTOL ENERGY IS P SITIVE ENERGY If everyone in Bristol switched to us we could save the city £28 million on their energy bills. That’s Positive Energy.

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October 2017




A marathon without borders Mike’s marathon effort willl take years to complete ATTEMPTING one marathon is enough for most runners – but not for Bedminster’s Mike Harley, who is almost half way through a heroic quest to run a marathon in every country in the European Union. Mike, 34, was looking for new ways to raise awareness of ME, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue. ME has robbed one of Mike’s best friends of 10 years of active life, and Mike has been raising money to battle the condition for many years. Previously his biggest stunt was visiting every one of the 92 premiership and football league grounds in England within 92 hours. That attracted lots of publicity, and Mike decided his next venture would get him fit by starting running again after a 15-year break. “I thought I would try a marathon – and then I thought I would try and do it in a few different countries,” he said. Before he knew it, he had a five-year plan to run a marathon in all 28 EU nations, hopefully finishing with the Bristol marathon in 2020 – with a big party to follow. Mid-September saw Mike pounding the streets of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, while on October 15 he’s competing in Amsterdam, followed by a marathon in Ljubljana, the

capital of Slovenia, on October 29. By then he’ll be halfway through his epic quest. So far he’s raised about £1,000 at each event, but he’s seen the interest from supporters and the media pick up as he ticks off each country. He’s been interviewed by newspapers, TV and radio, and sometimes he finds he’s spreading the word about ME in a country where it’s hardly

Artwork for side of riverside flats

Mike Harley: The Stockholm marathon is just one of the 28 he’s entering in all 28 EU nations

Charlotte sets up mobile travel agency

known at all. “In Greece there is no organisation for sufferers, or any awareness of the condition,” said Mike. “In Poland there was no support group, so I helped set one up and now it has 100 members.” ME was for years thought to be a psychological complaint but now most scientists in the field believe it’s caused by an auto-immune disorder that prevents the body converting sugar to energy. One drug, rituximab, may work against the condition and is in final trials in Norway. In early tests 67 per cent of ME sufferers showed major or moderate improvement on the drug. If it works, Mike hopes his boyhood friend Ian, also 34, will be one of those to benefit. Both come from Cornwall and did well at university but while most of their friends moved on to good careers, Ian suffered chronic fatigue after catching a virus in his early 20s – and has been unable to work since. “The worst of it is that a lot of the time people are not believed,” said Mike. “And there is currently no treatment, except for exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy which have been shown to make patients much worse.” The money Mike raises will go towards the first UK centre of excellence in ME, in Norfolk. You can find out more here: • mikeseumarathons

A FORMER travel industry manager from Bedminster has started up her own travel agency from home in what she says is a mark of the changing nature of the industry. With more people travelling abroad more often, and making their bookings independently, Charlotte Hingston believes there is more scope for a personal service that is tailored to travellers’ individual needs. Charlotte has managed travel agencies and teams in the UK, India and Australia for 15 years. With her daughter starting school at Luckwell primary this year, she decided to create her own business to suit family life. “Everything these days is mobile and comes to you, from your grocery delivery to your Christmas shopping, so when I was setting up the business I thought ‘Why should people come to me? Why can’t I go to them?’ After all there’s nothing a travel agency needs which can’t be packed in a laptop bag.” Charlotte uses a reservation system from Travel Counsellors which she says can book anything from all-inclusive packages to cruises, and UK breaks to long-haul travel. “Being a full service, independent agency gives me the freedom to book whatever my customer wants without being tied to particular brands, resorts or airlines,” she said. • Email charlottehingston@

Painted (PPC) aluminium panels set off face of rendered wall.

THIS IS what people will see on the side of the new Bankside development at Coronation Road if planners give their approval. The design is by Bristol artist Frea Buckler and will be made of powder-coated panels fitted to the wall facing Cooperage Lane. Frea said her art consists of “probable but impossible forms” that resemble unfolded boxes or origami. The development by Juniper Homes has 78 homes with offices on the ground floor. It can’t be fully occupied until the public art scheme is agreed.

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Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email Painted (PPC) aluminium panels carried around return face of wall.

Project Title

Drawing Title

Drawing No.


Revision Notes

October 2017



Cake is an important part of your wellbeing EVERYTHING that contributes to making you feel better – including cake – is on offer at the first gathering at the Health and Wellbeing Café. Aimed at the over-55s, there’s more to it than afternoon tea: there will be individual sessions in massage, chiropody and other therapies, as well as a live music activity. Organised by the St Monica Trust, it’s taking place from 1-5pm on Thursday October 12 at the SouthBank Club in Dean Lane, Southville. It’s free to attend, with a charge of around £5 for each massage or chiropody treatment. All afternoon Paul and Monika from Twin Wave, a community music and sound therapy group, will be encouraging people to try DIY music and craft sessions. They will be singing songs old and new and demonstrating sound

Massage: One of the activities mindfulness using gongs and singing bowls. Perhaps most important, there will be a social area serving tea and cakes, on the basis that cake is important for wellbeing too. It’s hoped that more Wellbeing Café events will follow. •

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October 2017



MARVIN REES Mayor of Bristol

We are on track for our target for homes, but it won’t be easy


RISTOL is on track to be able to build 2,000 homes a year, 800 affordable, by 2020, which is one of the key pledges of my administration. This month, Bristol has been named in the top 10 UK cities for building new homes in a list published by 24housing magazine. This is a great sign but we are not being complacent. We realise that we still have a lot of hard work to do before we can achieve our goal. Later this month I am looking forward to unveiling new vital council homes. This will be great news for people in the city and a key part of our aim to offer more affordable accommodation in strong Bristol communities. Last month I was pleased to announce, alongside my cabinet member for housing, Paul Smith, our plans to convert


more empty properties into temporary accommodation for those who most need it within the city. While we put our long term plans to deal with this problem in place, it is also important we take steps now to offer help with an issue literally on our doorsteps. This is especially true as the temperature gets colder. By creating more temporary housing we will be able to protect as many as we can from the harsh conditions of living on the

street this winter. On top of that, at our last meeting my cabinet approved plans to provide £5 million to the National Homeless Property Fund. This will make sure that 30 one- and two-bedroom properties are bought to provide affordable rents for local homeless households. Elsewhere I am taking direct steps to tackle another key priority for Bristol – transport. Earlier this year plans were released for several schemes we are looking into, including an underground system. At this point we are just looking to see what might be possible and this is very much an initial study that will allow us to compare underground with other options, such as trams or guided buses. The region needs to develop a rapid transit system of some form – underground being just one option. I’d also like to thank everyone who came out to show their support at the rally on College Green last month. You really helped to carry a strong message to the Government about our city’s desire to find another way of dealing with our national financial problems. This is just the first part of our work alongside other Core Cities to convince the Government that cities need to play a bigger role in deciding what’s best for the economy of this country, and getting fairer funding for Bristol.

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email

October 2017



n COLUMNS ADVICE FROM A PHARMACIST suddenly and sometimes severely. Is the flu jab They include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, all leaving you laid up in bed. If you get safe? Is it for complications, you could become ill and be hospitalised. Up me? We answer seriously to 10,000 deaths yearly in UK are attributed to the flu. some myths I never get flu; if I do I’ll just get


OW IS the time to get your flu jab. The earlier you do so the better protected you are. However, there are many myths surrounding flu and the flu vaccine. Here are some common ones and the truth behind them. Flu is just like having a heavy cold, isn’t it? The flu is much worse than a heavy cold. Symptoms come on

antibiotics from my GP You may only get mild flu but you can still pass it on to other vulnerable people. Flu is caused by viruses – so antibiotics that work against bacteria can’t help. I heard that the flu vaccine gives you flu. No, it doesn’t. The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so

it can’t give you flu. Your arm may feel a bit sore and some people get a slight temperature for a couple of days afterwards. Other reactions are very rare. The vaccine has an excellent safety record. So, who exactly is eligible to receive a flu jab? At Bedminster Pharmacy, we offer the free NHS-funded flu jab,  without appointment, to anyone who is over 18 and at a risk of getting flu. These include: • Aged 65 years and over; • With weakened immune system (eg from cancer treatment); • With certain medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease);

Down on the Farm News from Windmill Hill City Farm, Philip Street, Bedminster

Awesome autumn THE WINDMILL Hill City Farm autumn fair is on Saturday October 7 from 11am-5pm. Attractions include a mobile pottery studio, cooking demos in the outdoor kitchen, guess the weight of the marrow, mudsculpting, apple-pressing, buttermaking, campfire cooking and a market selling locally-produced and homemade goodies. There’ll be some great high energy live music, and food and

drink are covered too - with farm-reared rose veal burgers from Farmer Tim’s BBQ, the new café serving local and farm produce, and the Farmbar open for local beers, cider and wine. £3, kids free. Digital fairy October’s Freelance Mum session is with Jo Hodge, the Digital Marketing Fairy. It’s on October 20, 10am-noon, and costs £9 for members and £12 non-members (children are free). Get a wriggle on Munching Caterpillars is a butterfly conservation project inspiring children to celebrate caterpillars, moths and butterflies by growing plants that caterpillars love to chomp, and flowers that are rich in all-important nectar

• Pregnant women; • People who receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if they fall ill. Unpaid main carers for family, friends or neighbours are eligible for the free NHS jab.  Remember, it takes about two weeks after vaccination to gain optimal protection. So don’t delay, just come in and get your jab today. Speak to us for more advice or contact your local GP surgery. • This article by Ade Williams and Diana Gitonga of Bedminster Pharmacy aims to show how all pharmacies can help people with a variety of health conditions and ease pressure on other parts of the NHS.

Sizzling: Farmer Tim’s barbecue for butterflies. Flutter over to the farm on October 23 and 25 to pot up or sow “butterfly fuel” or “caterpillar munch” for you to take home. Free – just drop in. Sticky situation The new Stick Man activity trail opened in September. Find clues


around the farm site and help Stick Man get home to his family tree. Download a free map from the website, or it’s £2.50 for an activity pack, including craft materials to make your own Stick Man, from reception (while stocks last). Kit and caboodle Caboodle, weekly term-time sessions for working parents, provide childcare next to a workspace. Caboodle supports parents and carers who need flexible childcare – providing pop-up coworking sessions with four hours of childcare for under 5s. At lunchtime enjoy a healthy buffet lunch, informal networking and a wander around the farm. More information: •

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October 2017




Sarah puts on one last party for Pete A BEDMINSTER film worker is calling an end to five years of heroic fundraising for St Peter’s hospice, which began with the shockingly early death of her husband, aged only 33. Sarah Edwards and her friends and family have since raised nearly £50,000 for Bristol’s hospice. Much of the money came from music events – one of the passions Sarah shared with her husband James. The last of nine gigs in James’s memory took place at the Fleece in Thomas Street on October 1, featuring some of the region’s best up-and-coming bands, headlined by Nailseabased metal outfit Kikamora. The Fleece, one of Bristol’s best-known music venues, has been behind Sarah’s efforts from the beginning, waiving all

charges. Its “Parties for Pete” have become a big event on its calendar. “The Fleece have been really supportive, and none of the bands get paid,” said Sarah. “It’s quite an amazing thing they all do.” Sarah described the shock she and her husband experienced five years ago when they were told he had advanced bowel cancer. It was only when he had mysterious stomach pains that wouldn’t go away that he was diagnosed. He lived for only three more months but Sarah said St Peter’s helped them make the most of that time. “He was never well enough for chemotherapy or surgery,” said Sarah. “In people so young, bowel cancer doesn’t show symptoms until really late on. “I never thought I would need to visit a hospice, I thought they

Left, James and Sarah. Above, headline band Kikamora

were for old people. “Initially we went there so James could relax. “I was able to stay with him every night. The nurses and staff were really amazing. They were always making us laugh. “It meant that his death was dignified, and me and his mum were by his bed when he died.” Sarah was determined to give something back to St Peter’s and

the series of gigs was the result. “I’m very proud of them,” she said. “It means that people are getting something for their money, and they also find out about a charity that they might not have given any thought to.” You can donate by texting “SPHG55 £5” (or any amount) to 70070. Or visit the Justgiving page: •


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October 2017



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October 2017

n PLANNING APPLICATIONS 36 Bedminster Parade BS3 4HS Conditions 2 (Construction management), 4 (Noise sensitive premises) and 8 (Further details) of planning permission 16/05015/F: Six flats; first, second and third floor extension and external alterations. Condition 4 Granted; conditions 4 and 8 Refused Regent House and Consort House, East Street, Bedminster BS3 4HH Vary condition 32 (List of approved plans) attached to permission 15/04731/F, making amendments to Consort House and new Building 1, including an additional 9 residential units. Pending consideration 16 Stackpool Road BS3 1NQ T1 Sycamore: crown reduce by 1-1.5m. Granted 10 Birch Road BS3 1PF Loft conversion with rear dormer roof extension and front roof lights. Granted 12 Birch Road BS3 1PF Loft conversion, rear dormer roof extension and roof lights in front roof slope. Granted Land adjacent 30 Islington Road BS3 1QB Non-material amendment: Construction of a block of three garages with living green roof on land previously used as garages; revised foundations to allow room for tree root growth. Granted Former Luckwell Club, Luckwell Road T1 Sycamore: 4m crown reduction, crown raise to 5.5m and crown thin 15 per cent. TPO 947. Granted 2 - 6 Mill Lane BS3 4DG Details in relation to condition 2 (Photovoltaic panels) of permission 17/01479/F: Second floor extension for two bedroom flat. Granted 43 Gores Marsh Road BS3 2PF Single storey side and rear extension. Granted subject to conditions Ferodo House, Willway Street, Bedminster Change of use from office (Use class B1a) to residential (Use class C3) for 13 one bed flats. Pending consideration Thomson travel agency, 74 East Street, Bedminster


BS3 4EY Internally illuminated fascia sign and projecting sign to rebrand as Tui. Granted Southville service station, Coronation Road BS3 1RN Electric vehicle charging station on forecourt. Granted subject to conditions 50 Upper Perry Hill BS3 1NH Single storey rear extension. Granted subject to conditions The Grange, Parklands Road BS3 2JW Creation of basement to previously approved singlestorey side extension. Granted subject to conditions 10 Whitehouse Street BS3 4AY Vary opening hours under condition 8 of permission 12/03794/F: Use of site for the storage of self storage units (Use class B8). Withdrawn 26 Allington Road BS3 1PS Dismantle ground floor single storey bay window, build new concrete footing and re-build single storey bay window. Granted

35 Bedminster, Southville and Ashton

first floor extension. Granted subject to conditions Plough and Windmill, 194 West Street, Bedminster BS3 3NB Details of conditions 6 (Windows), 7 (Houses A B and C) and 8 (Samples) of permission 16/05234/F: Demolition of rear extensions and outbuildings; change of use and extension of Plough and Windmill to one 1-bedroom and six 2-bedroom flats, erection of three 3-bedroom houses; car and cycle parking; refuse and recycling store and ancillary development; and use of ground floor for commercial/ community space in use classes A1, A2, A3, B1(a) or D1. Granted 65A North Street, Bedminster BS3 1ES Retention of use of first floor flat (Use class C3) to ancillary storage space for ground floor bookshop and cafĂŠ (Sui Generis). Withdrawn Land to rear of 209 Luckwell Road BS3 3HD Construction of single storey outbuilding containing garage and gym. Refused

41 Ashton Vale Road BS3 2HW New boundary wall. Granted subject to conditions

222 Ashton Drive BS3 2QA Two-storey attached house on land adjacent to 222 Ashton Drive. Pending consideration

92 Chessel Street BS3 3DJ Removal of asbestos sheet garage roof and replacement with raised pitch roof and gable ends. Granted subject to conditions

1 Stillhouse Lane BS3 4EB Change of use from commercial workshop and construction of new dwelling. Withdrawn

10 Duckmoor Road BS3 2BY Conversion of single dwelling into two dwellings with extension. Granted subject to conditions 73 Greville Road BS3 1LE Single storey garage in rear garden, fronting onto rear access lane. Granted subject to conditions 8 Pembery Road BS3 3JR Demolition of garage, construction of three-storey end of terrace house. Granted subject to conditions 15 Winterstoke Road BS3 2NN Extension of ground floor flat. Withdrawn 11 Winterstoke Road BS3 2NN Conversion of 2-bed dwelling to two 1-bed flats with

1 & 3 Merrywood Road BS3 1DY Roof extension to 1 and 3 Merrywood Road. Withdrawn 95 Ruby Street BS3 3DW Single storey rear extension. Granted subject to conditions Land between 94 and 96 Winterstoke Road Variation of Condition 2 of permission 14/02472/F: New dwelling (amended plans). Granted subject to conditions Telecoms Mast 1, C Bond, Clift House Road BS3 1RX Replacement of three antennas with three upgraded antennas on rooftop. Pending consideration 3 Hebron Court, Hebron Road BS3 3AP New stair above existing to roof space, new conservation rooflight in

southern slope, strengthen second floor ceiling, new toilet in roof space and rebuild partition on first floor landing. Pending consideration University of the West of England, Kennel Lodge Road, Bower Ashton BS3 2JT Felling of four trees to facilitate the building of Building 2. Outline planning permission 15/00291/P (as amended by 17/00405/NMA) approved new buildings for academic, administration and support purposes (6,500sqm Use class D1), including new public transport facility, amendments to car park, revised access and landscaping; and demolition of 4,198 sq m of existing buildings. (Major application). Granted Flat 3, 46 Bedminster Parade BS3 4HS T1 Prunus: Reduce by 2.5m in height and 1.5-2m laterally to reshape. Granted 83 Smyth Road BS3 2DS Single storey, rear extension. Withdrawn 31 Smyth Road BS3 2BU Side and rear extension. Granted subject to conditions 24 Irby Road BS3 2LY Hipto-gable roof extension and insertion of rear roof dormer extension. Granted 22 King William Street BS3 1HH Single storey rear extension to extend beyond the rear by 4.82m, of maximum height 3.68m with eaves 2.98m high. Pending consideration Mount Zion Church, Victor Road BS3 3LW Details of conditions 5 (Samples) and 7 (Refuse/recycling) of permission 15/04047/F: Conversion of church (Use class D1) to eight flats (Use class C3). Pending consideration. Alteration to dormer windows and window position. Granted subject to conditions 16 Parson Street BS3 5PT Change of use from office to ground floor flat. Existing flat above retained. Granted subject to conditions • The status of these applications may have changed since we went to press. Check for updates at

Got a story or any other inquiry? Call Paul on 07811 766072 or email



October 2017



’VE BEEN copied in on some correspondence between some excellently persistent Charlie residents of Alpha Bolton Road and the Green mayor and other Southville councillors. It is about difficulties we have getting into town, particularly between Gaol Ferry bridge and Prince Street bridge. In fact, you can argue, the problem goes back down Dean Lane to the area around Holy Cross school. If you have been there in the morning, you will see a crazy double bend, with people crossing the road at the corners. Cyclists leaving Dean Lane to join the cycle lane going up to the crossing by Gaol Ferry bridge meet conflicts with any motorists turning off Coronation Road. The next problem is the Coronation Road side of Gaol Ferry bridge and all the cyclists and pedestrians piling in from all


directions and trying to get to the appropriate side of the bridge, which is getting increasingly over-crowded. At the other end, cyclists will tend to want to turn right down Cumberland Road, while pedestrians will want to cross over and head down Gaol Ferry steps. Both are of course on the wrong side at this point. Cyclists who choose the steps route then face a poorly delineated cycle path between the new shops on Wapping Wharf, with all its pedestrians. Then cyclists have “trial by slippery rail” and “Who nicked half the cycle lane?” where Cargo 2 seems to have been laid over the cycle lane. Old rail lines are a big problem for cyclists in the wet. Then you come to Prince Street bridge. I’ve already nearly fallen over on it on foot, and as for the split level – well, it’s hard to spot which side is which. The good news, thanks to the Alpha Road residents, is that it has been raised with the council and the mayor. Oh for some action ...


How to contact your councillor: p2

T IS 500 days since we were elected and the 11 Green Party councillors had a meeting where we paused for Stephen reflection on what Clarke we have achieved, Green and our ambitions Southville for the future. We have some notable achievements (around air quality, the relationship between the city and the car, and holding Marvin to account, for example) but there is much more to be done. We set individual objectives for the next 12 months and I decided to share mine with you so you can hold me to account in a year’s time! I want to have improved the parking situation during rugby and football matches (my first priority is to get Long Ashton Park and Ride open for stadium parking). Secondly, I want to do whatever I can to reduce the impact of austerity cuts on the poorest people in our city (especially by resisting Marvin’s

proposed cut in the council tax reduction scheme). Thirdly, I hope to have improved cycling and walking provision by the introduction of more cycling lanes and shared-use space. Keep an eye on my progress. One of the other issues that we discussed was the scary facts about single-use plastics. We produce 20,000 plastic bottles a second and only about 20 per cent are recycled. This has led to an increasing amount of contamination being found in tap water, seafood, honey and beer. Microplastic absorbs toxic chemicals which are released into our guts. Please support the Greens to try to do something locally about this problem. Write to me and I will ensure your messages are passed on, or write to Marvin direct about this issue. Finally, please come and have a chat to me and Charlie Bolton on the last Saturday every month from 10.30am-12noon outside Southville Deli, or drop me an email if there is any councilrelated matter I can help you with.

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October 2017




S PART of her role to support   the deputy mayor, Celia is working with the council’s public health team to look at the provision of mental health services. The city already works with the mental health charity Time to Change and with some of the charity’s champions who have experienced mental health difficulties. They are working predominantly in the voluntary sector in areas such as advocacy and support for those who have had problems in this area and are on the path to recovery. This month we have World Mental Health Day on October 10, and there will be events running throughout the month to highlight needs in this key area. Over the next few months, the council’s public health team will be working towards the launch of a citywide project called Thrive. This is a user-led, people-driven approach which hopes to co-ordinate all the existing provision. Celia is co-chair of the Bristol Anti-Stigma Alliance, a



How to contact your councillor: p2

Are You quiz, which covers topics such as smoking, drinking, eating, moving, sleep and stress. It is informative as well as giving you a good idea about how healthy you are. Mark Bradshaw Labour Bedminster

Celia Phipps Labour Bedminster

cooperative group working across the city to improve both the experience and mental health support for those who need it.


he Bristol Behaviour Change for Healthier Lifestyle Programme will be going out to tender shortly. This will pull together all the health-related services currently supporting those who wish to make changes in their lives, such as giving up smoking. For those of you who would like to have a look at your own health, take a look at Public Health England’s website One You: • Why not have a go at the How


number of Labour councillors have been   working together to look at Holiday Hunger. There are some brilliant groups who have supported children and families to have access to better food, either at low cost or free. There are now breakfast clubs across the city and the plan is to support lunch clubs during the holiday periods, particularly for children who have a free school meal. But it’s not just about the lunch, as activity and community fun days form a fun part of the gatherings. Fit and Fed activities provide the opportunity for sports coaching for a range of sporting activities – they ran a very successful session in Dame Emily park during the summer holidays.


ll councillors act as corporate parents for   children in care, and the current strategy, launched in 2015, is to be refreshed in order to respond to children’s views, meet the requirements of changes in policy and legislation, and think more broadly about the way we work with partners and other organisations.


ark and Celia are available to assist constituents in Bedminster and always happy to hear your suggestions about how we can make our community better. We regularly join coffee mornings and sessions running at Ashton Vale community centre, Gaywood House and Southbow House and have moved our drop in surgery – no appointment needed – to Mezzaluna café in West Street on the first Saturday of every month between 10.30 and 11.30am, or contact us on Facebook: • @MarkandCeliaforBedminster


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October 2017



n HISTORY COAL: THE INDUSTRY SOUTH BRISTOL BURIED Daring, wealth and tragedies: The forgotten story of our coalmining past


OW was Bristol’s wealth founded? What made it, for most of the past two centuries and more, one of the wealthiest, most advanced cities in the nation? Shipping? Trade in wine or sugar? Heavy industry? The profits from slavery? All these played a part, and they’ve all to some extent left their footprint on our buildings and heritage. But the industry that did most to fire modern Bristol’s fortunes has left almost no visible traces: coal mining. Indeed, it’s likely that many who have moved to South Bristol in recent decades have no idea that they are living on top of a huge network of tunnels up to 3,000 feet (915m) underground. There’s little to tell us that our cherished Victorian terraces, now cosy homes to families of three or four, once housed miners and their relations four to a room, in large families always on the brink of poverty. South Bristol was at the centre of this great industry: the

There is scarcely any visible evidence of the industry that shaped Bristol and fired up its industrial prosperity scene of innovation, of daring, of technical advances from the 18th century onwards as the “black gold” began to power the city’s industrial revolution. It was also the scene of untold suffering: of hundreds of deaths and mutilations suffered by miners going about their work with scarcely any precautions to protect them. They mostly didn’t wear helmets, they had no safety lamps and they worked in constant fear of roof falls and gas

THE MINERS BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE A NEW play at Bedminster’s Acta theatre will tell the stories of the South Bristol coalmines. Called Blood on the Coal, it involves 50 actors, musicians and singers, playing out the lives of men who dug the coal, and the women who struggled beside them. The greed of the mine owners and the efforts of the union to improve pay and conditions are a central part of the tale. It draws on first-hand accounts in the Book Miners’ Memories of the South Bristol Coalfield, written in the 1980s by a group of South Street history enthusiasts, and designed by Roy Gallop and Ken

Bristol’s Forgotten Coalfield: the book which inspired this feature. The cover shows South Liberty colliery, with its square chimneys, a railway truck for hauling coal (the mine was next to the Bristol & Exeter railway) and four miners in the forground. At the rear are the winding wheels which lifted “trams” full of coal from the main shaft

New play: Blood on the Coal Griffiths, who are still active in local history today. Blood on the Coal is performed on October 12 and 13 at 7pm, and October 14 at 2pm, at the Gladstone Street theatre. Tickets are only £3, available online or by calling 0117 953 2448. •

explosions. When accidents did occur they often received no compensation – and when their colleagues died, they were docked a day’s pay if they attended the funeral. The South Bristol coal seams were often so narrow only children could squeeze in to work them. Boys of 10 or less were sent down the pits as “door boys” manning the flaps that controlled the ventilation, or “veerers”, hauling wagons underground. These dangerous labours produced 500,000 tons of coal a year by the 1890s – nothing like as much as the bigger coalfields of South Yorkshire or South Wales, but enough to fuel most of Bristol’s industries. Yet this wealth was produced not just at the price of the miners’ lives and wellbeing, but for the most meagre rates possible. Bristol miners were paid a fifth less than their colleagues nationwide, it was calculated in 1914. Much of their sweat was effectively for nothing: the mine owners would only pay for large lumps of coal, and the smaller pieces were effectively a free gift to the proprietors. The owners were constantly justifying the low wages they paid in Bristol by the smaller output

of the mines compared to the bigger coalfields elsewhere, and said they would pay more only if the men would up their output. The truth was there was no more output to be had at a profit; in Bristol, most of the coal seams were thin and began to be worked out in the 1890s. The South Bristol mines were all closed by 1925. It would be another 20 years before it was announced that UK coal mining would be nationalised, meaning improved wages, safety and conditions. By then, mining in Bristol and indeed, across the South West, had all but died out. That’s no reason, though, why it should be forgotten.


oal has been exploited by humans since antiquity, and it was probably being discovered in the Bristol area in Roman times. At first, people picked up coal that was near the surface, then started digging open pits to extract more. The Romans used it for their form of central heating, but after they left Britain in the 5th century AD coal was hardly used for about 800 years. A record of people harvesting coal near Bristol in 1223 marks the beginning of one of the earliest

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October 2017




Bright but dangerous: an acetylene lamp coal industries in Britain. Even so, for centuries wood was a much more important source of fuel. Blacksmiths used charcoal – basically, heat-dried wood – to create the high temperatures needed for making wrought iron. The advantages of coal, which burns hotter and longer, only gradually became obvious, and at first it was mainly used for heating homes. By the 16th and 17th centuries coal was being extracted from shallow workings in Kingswood and in Bedminster and Ashton. It was also dug in Brislington from the end of the 16th C. It’s reckoned that about 10,000 tons of coal a year were being mined around the city in the 16th C, rising to 100,000 tons by the end of the 17th C, as glass, china and sugar industries began to flourish and demand energy. Kingswood was much the more important coalfield at this stage. The area had once been a royal hunting ground – hence the name – but now it was squatted by mining families, a wild and lawless lot who hewed coal from a multitude of small pits and lived in isolated cottages. The Kingswood miners were at least independent; when coal mining really took hold in South Bristol it was as part of a modern industrial concern, owned and rigidly controlled by the landed classes. As Bristol’s nascent industries demanded more coal, the colliers had to look deeper. The further down they dug, the more water they found in Bristol’s clay soil. Here coal was the solution as well as the problem. The first simple steam engines were used for drawing water out of mine shafts, and could be left running

Miner’s pick and shovel, found by Roy Gallop

for hours, meaning that new, deep seams of coal could be dug. Another new field of study was geology. It was becoming understood that the rocks beneath our feet are in long, predictable layers which can be traced from one area to another. Henry Bennett, a mine surveyor from Kingswood, decided that the geology of the Long Ashton estate was very similar to the older coalfield, but the seams were likely to be further underground. He teamed up with the lord of the manor, Sir Jarrit Smyth, and together in 1745 they formed the Bedminster Coal Company. Sir Jarrit started life as plain Jarrit Smith, but he married into the wealthy Smyth family of Ashton Court. He was a Tory MP for Bristol and a successful lawyer, and he had faith in Bennett’s theory about the extent of the Bedminster coalfield. His gamble paid off – the Kingswood coal seams stretched, as predicted, right under the centre of the city and into Bedminster. In fact, the seams were more regular than they were at Kingswood, which made the great effort of pursuing them

A WALK AROUND THE COALFIELD THE REASON so many South Bristol residents know little about their mining heritage is that there’s amazingly little evidence above ground. A guided walk with Southville resident Roy Gallop, organised by Franc (Friends of Avon New Cut) on September 16, revealed much of what remains. Two pubs that


Pit stop: The Jolly Colliers on West Street is one of two original Bedminster miners’ pubs whose name survives; the other is the Miners Arms on Bedminster Down Road

underground worthwhile. The first coal struck south of the city was known as the Bedminster Top Seam, about 3ft 3in thick (1m), and found about 58 yards (60m) below Bedminster. Another 30 yards below that was the Bedminster Great Seam, up to 4ft (1.2m) thick, which produced the much-favoured larger lumps of coal. Coal from the Top Seam was used for house fires. Beneath both these layers, another 30 yards down, was the Bedminster Little Seam, only 1ft 6in (0.46m) thick in places. A further 190 yards down – now we are about 283m underground, or 930ft – is the Ashton Top Seam 2ft 6in (0.76m) thick, and under that the main prize – the Ashton Great seam, as tall as a person at 5ft 8in (1.73m). Further down still was the Ashton Little Seam, but this was only 2ft 4in (0.71m) thick and, when drilled, it tended to gush with water, so was generally left alone. There had been earlier, shallower workings. There is thought to have been a pit near Yanley Lane, Long Ashton from about 1724. The Gore’s Old Pit of 1728, survive, the Jolly Colliers in West Street and the Miners Arms on Bedminster Down Road, were watering holes for miners. A grave in the Hebron chapel cemetery is to John Smith, killed in an accident at the age of just 17 in the Dean Lane pit in 1877. In West Street, the Argus fish and chip shop recalls the Argus pit, sunk in 1874, part of Malago pit. For details of any future walks email

near South Liberty Lane, was named for Sir Jarrit Smyth’s business partner, Sir Edward Gore, of Barrow Court, a few miles south of Ashton. When surveys were made for a possible new stadium for Bristol City on Ashton Vale 10 years ago, an attempt was made to find the shafts of this pit, and the later Gore’s Pit, somewhere west of South Liberty Lane, but they could not be found. However, items from the nearby Starveall Pit, dug in about 1803 and later part of South Liberty colliery, have been turned up by historian Roy Gallop and other gardeners at the Alderman Moore’s allotments at Ashton Vale (see photos above).


ir Jarrit’s South Liberty excavations of 1748 laid the foundations of the whole coalfield. Three huge shafts were dug. Two of them were 10ft (3m) across and 1,400ft (427m) deep; the other was 6ft (2m) across and 750ft (230m) deep. (The site of the colliery and its neighbouring brickworks is now covered with the industrial units between South Liberty Lane and the railway, either side of the rail footbridge.) The small shaft was for the pumping apparatus. Sir Jarrit bought a Newcomen pumping engine – then the very height of technology, as advanced for its day as a space rocket. This vast steam engine worked up steam in a cylinder 5ft (1.5m) across – if you want to imagine its power, consider that a cylinder in a car engine will be an inch or two in diameter. Yet despite its vast power (and an even bigger appetite for Continued overleaf

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October 2017





Continued from page 39 coal) the South Liberty steam engine proved very reliable. Installed in about 1750, it worked continuously for 150 years until 1900. Sadly it was then scrapped – if it had survived it would be priceless. Similar engines are in London’s Science Museum. Before steam, water was lifted from mines in buckets, sometimes pulled up by horses treading a circular path to wind a winch, called a horse gin. Other mines used a waterwheel to pull up the buckets – there are traces of an old weir at Colliter’s Brook, Ashton Vale, which may once have served this purpose. Less well known than the Bedminster coalfield was the pit, or pits, at Brislington. This mine had a Newcomen engine installed even earlier, perhaps in 1737, and the engine house, dated 1740, is the oldest to survive. (The building is visible from Hollywood Road and has a sign outside dating it to 1790 – but it appears it’s 50 years older.) All this came at tremendous cost, and helps to explain (if not excuse) why mine owners were so anxious to scrimp on wages and safety measures. Sir Jarrit was also an investor in South Gloucestershire mines, and the bill for another Newcomen engine in Coalpit Heath came to £1,235. This is worth about £2.3 million when compared to labour costs today – but if calculated according to its “economy cost”, meaning its relative importance to the economy, the value is £24m. And that’s for just one of the 40 Newcomen engines that were at work in Gloucestershire by 1780.


he case for investing in the South Bristol coalfield had been made. Another major colliery was started at Dean Lane from early beginnings in 1745.

HOW FAR? HOW DEEP? The South Bristol coalfield stretches: • From Temple Meads to Long Ashton, east to west; • From Redcliffe to Dundry, north to south. The coal seams slope steeply, so most mine workings or tramways are not near the surface. Some depths worked: • Long Ashton: 240ft (73m) • Dundry: 900ft (274m) • Windmill Hill: 3,000ft (915m)

Pit manager’s house on the corner of West Street and Argus Road. The Malago pit was behind it. The house is made of white lias stone, mined at Dundry, and is a sign the house predates its brick-built neighbours. (Dame Emily play park now covers the shaft, capped in 1906). The heyday of the Bedminster coalfield was in the 19th C, when four major collieries were at work: South Liberty, Dean Lane, and the newer workings at Ashton Vale and Malago Vale. At least 20 other mineshafts came and went, most later absorbed into the larger collieries. Ashton Vale colliery was to the south of Ashton Vale Road. It came close to the South Liberty tunnels but a safe zone was kept clear between them. If the tunnels ran into each other, there was the danger of flooding – and also unpredictable air flow, which could lead to the dangerous build up of gas. Each pit was designed so that air was kept circulating, often aided by a steam-powered fan, as at South Liberty Lane. The other main colliery was Malago Vale, off West Street, with two shafts opened in 1844 to the north of Argus Road. It was close to the Red Cow pub – the name by which the pit was often known, as the men spent much of their wages there. There was one other South Bristol pit – from 1847 to 1857 the Great Western Colliery was worked beside Feeder Road, under where the St Philip’s causeway crosses it now. The impact of the industry, with its accompanying iron works and brickworks, was severe, even in the 18th C. John Billingsley, in his Agricultural Survey of Somerset in 1795, noted: “The countryside was black from Bedminster to Nailsea.” The growth was driven by local demand for coal. Bristol working folk may have been

poor, but at least they were warm. If they lived close to a mine, Billingsley reported that they could collect coal at two pence a bushel (or large sack); worth £16 at modern rates, it would keep a fire going for days. Demand grew steadily from the iron foundries, steam pumps, blacksmiths, brick and tile works, and other factories. These uses grew further in the 19th C: Ashton Gate brewery, for example, was steam powered from 1865. Then there were the new steamships: the SS Great Britain carried more than 1,000 tons of coal at a time. From 140,000 tons of coal in 1790, South Bristol’s output grew to 525,000 tons in 1870, doubled by 1900, and peaked during World War 1 at more than a million tons a year. In all, thousands of men, and doubtless some women, worked the pits underground. In 1896, 827 underground workers were recorded at the four big collieries, with 159 surface workers. It helps explain the growth of Bedminster from a village of 3,300 in 1801 to a town of 70,000 in 1901.


he terrible toll of injuries and fatalities across two centuries of mining around Bedminster can only be hinted at. There are too many tragedies to relate here; many before the 1840s are not even documented. In their magnificent history of the Bedminster coalfield, Mike Taylor and Maggie Shapland list 156 deaths in the pits of Bedminster and Ashton (plus one in Nailsea). The youngest recorded death was a boy of 10; the oldest a miner of 75, proving

that miners did not retire. One, at least, was not even a mine worker: an unknown small girl died in 1829 when she took hold of a rope to show her play- mates how the men were lowered down the pit. Releasing the rope, she lost her balance and fell into the shaft; it’s not known which one. The most common cause of death was a roof fall, accounting for 51 deaths. Nine men were killed falling down shafts; 14 were crushed by runaway trams – the small trucks used for transporting coal underground. Twelve were victims to an explosion caused by a naked light – until the 1890s the Bedminster pits were considered relatively free of explosive gas and miners were allowed to carry candles. Three were killed by “foul air”, and three more when ropes broke. Two were drowned, and six killed when blasting. The fatalities – and many more injuries – happened almost every year. One example will paint the picture.



edminster miners were curiously careless of their own safety, even though so many of them were killed. After an explosion at Malago Vale killed one man in 1890, the use of safety lamps was enforced. These had been invented by Bristol resident Sir Humphrey Davy way back in 1815: the light was sealed so that gases such as methane would not be ignited. But the miners hated them, saying the light they gave was much worse than a naked flame. In the early hours of Monday August 31, 1891, the Malago pit was opened up by a maintenance crew. It had been shut for the weekend while the men went to the annual miners’ gathering at Kingswood. The Friday before, a new airway had been put through in a hurry, and one man heard an overseer say, “Number Eight is nearly full of gas.” This was denied. What was certain was that a miner with a naked light went into the area with a bare flame, though he knew it was not allowed. There was loose coal above, and gas was known to be trapped there. The resulting explosion could be heard all over Bedminster, and even at Bristol Bridge, a mile away. Air doors were blown out, which wrecked the ventilation

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October 2017





A BOY’S FIRST DAY DOWN THE SOUTH LIBERTY PIT JOHN SMITH – known to all as Harry – began work as a “door boy” at South Liberty Lane pit in 1918. “I well remember my first night in the mine. The cage dropped away at breath-taking speed – you just dropped into space. Then came the sensation of rising back up the shaft as it slowed. “Here a few electric lights lit the scene. At the bottom of the shaft were the stables for the pit ponies. “Narrow roads led away in various directions. The walls and roof were supported with pit props, some bent under the stress of the weight above. “There was a danger that with the many passages in the mine, the air would take short cuts to the surface and create an accumulation of gas. To prevent this, doors and sometimes canvas sheets were placed to regulate the supply of air. “I had to stay there eight hours with only the light of the safety lamp. I think it was one of the longest nights I have ever experienced. If I had the misfortune to upset my lamp, I had system and allowed “afterdamp” or carbon monoxide to build up. Four men were killed by the blast and six suffocated from the gas. It could have been worse: only 35 men were at work that night. If the blast had hit a day shift, casualties might have topped 100, and Malago Vale might have earned national notoriety. Yet this mine was reckoned to be one of the safer ones, and much better than Dean Lane. The Wills tobacco family were among

WHY AREN’T WE ALL DOWN A HOLE? MANY people buying a home in South Bristol will have had to get a Coal Authority report to check on the nearest mine workings. Sometimes developers have to do the same. A plan for 17 houses on a disused strip of railway land off South Liberty Lane, behind Swiss Drive, has been objected to by the Coal Authority, which says there may be unmapped mine workings near the surface. (The plan has yet to be determined.) Such objections are rare, however, and even rarer are stories of houses subsiding into old mineshafts. Two reasons help

Last hope: John Smith’s father was part of the South Liberty Lane Rescue Association. They are pictured with their Fleuss rebreather sets and a casualty resuscitator, probably in the early 1900s PHOTO: Malago History Soc to stay in the dark. The door had to be kept closed as long as possible. “The danger was that, if I fell asleep, the truck would smash into the door and bring down the roof, burying me underneath. A young

boy who relieved me at the end of my shift thought he had the answer to this. He attached a cord to his leg and tied the other end to the wire rope that pulled the trucks. The idea was that when the

rope started to pull the trucks it would wake him. “Unfortunately the wire moved so suddenly that he did not have time to release himself, and he was badly injured.”

the directors, and the company donated £250 to the affected families. A public appeal raised a total of £1,100. But the fund was not generous: a widow with two children would receive 10 shillings a week (50p, or £50 at today’s wages). Her husband might have earned 27 shillings (£1.10, or £135 today) as a hewer (one who cut the coal). The inquest – held at the Red Cow on West Street – heard laughter from the miners, not

complaints about their unsafe conditions. They laughed when it was alleged some men might have been drunk after their weekend celebrations. “The pit was sparked not by beer, but by gas,” said their long-serving trade union agent, William Whitefield. They laughed when the mine overseer, asked about the ventilation in the mine, said he “heard no complaints from the men except as to wages.” And the miners laughed again, with derision, when the need for safety lamps was mentioned. In fact, the men had their reasons for resisting the safety lamps; they were not stupid or suicidal. The miners were paid by weight of coal cut, and the restricted light from safety lamps would reduce their output. Mr Whitefield demanded an extra two pence per ton, or a shilling a day, to compensate for the forced use of safety lamps. The Bristol Miners Association held a meeting in the Albert hall in West Street and decided to stand firm for the extra money. But the mine owners refused to pay; 300 miners went on strike, and stayed out for 15 months. The dispute would have cost the owners only £350 to settle

(little more than they had given to the relief fund). But cruel economics was at work, as well as the undoubted desire of the owners not to let strike action succeed. The Bedminster seams – the only ones worked at the Malago – were almost worked out. The mine was no longer profitable, and it closed in 1896. It was the first of the big South Bristol collieries to go. Dean Lane closed in 1906 and Ashton Vale the same year. South Liberty shut in 1925 and its brickworks in about 1930. • There are many more stories which could be told about South Bristol’s mining heritage, and we’ll return to the subject. Sources The Voice is indebted to Mike Taylor and Maggie Shapland for their book, Bristol’s Forgotten Coalfield: Bedminster, which is quoted by permission. The book is available for £15 from the website of South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group: • • Killed in a Coalpit, Volume III: The Bedminster Mines Doreen Lindegaard, £15, SGMRG • Secret Underground Bristol, Sally Watson, Broadcast Books

explain this. First, the Bedminster coal seams slope fairly steeply, so the mine workings are mainly far underground. Secondly, many of the tunnels have been filled in. Often, the miners used the spoil from one tunnel to fill up an old one. In any event it’s noticeable that we haven’t got any slag heaps as are found in other mining areas (there’s still one at Midsomer Norton, at the southern edge of the Bristol and Somerset coalfield). Dean Lane had a slag heap behind the colliery, and smaller heaps once lined East Street. The spoil from Dean Lane was taken to the Gore’s Marsh area to raise the ground for housing.

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October 2017




KARIN SMYTH Labour MP for Bristol

We’re the UK’s worst at sending young people to university – why?


N THE last few weeks some of our young people have been heading off to university for the new term. Good luck to them all as they look to make the most of what lies ahead. But I’m concerned these opportunities aren’t as widespread for local people as they could be. No UK Parliamentary constituency sends fewer young people to university than Bristol South. Many people are surprised at this, because ours is a city with thriving finance, hi-tech and creative sectors. But we have far too many areas of economic disadvantage. In the past 10 years or so the participation rate of young people in higher education has improved significantly – but it’s come from an extremely low base. Huge sums have been spent locally on schemes which are supposed to improve access to higher education from

groups that are traditionally underrepresented. Things still haven’t shifted as they should. Another surprise to some is figures showing nationally that the cohort of students least likely to go to university is white working class boys: something that’s particularly pertinent when we study the

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causes of South Bristol’s low ranking. Within the next couple of months we’ll have the next annual publication of the data and may find we’ve edged up, but the substantive challenge remains. There’s been a lot of activity across our city around widening participation, and millions have been spent. It must all be joined up effectively. It’s significant that many of the existing schemes aiming to address the issue rely heavily on schools’ selection of students for programmes. I’m concerned that parents don’t feel supported and informed enough to help guide their children to make the right decisions if they’re to fulfil their potential. My recent research has indicated there’s no single place for Bristol’s young people to find out about all the different scholarships and bursary opportunities that could be available to our young people, so I’m interested in the idea of a simple guide being produced to offer appropriate advice to young people and their parents. As well as meeting government ministers to raise our specific challenges, I’m planning a summit meeting in the next few months. The aim will be to bring together organisations that are well placed to influence things and improve matters for South Bristol, and the white working class boy agenda in particular. As ever, let me know what you think.

Just a normal, monstrous family unit THEATRE REVIEW The Addams Family, Bristol Hippodrome HE ADDAMS Family are just a normal American family – close-knit, sometimes bickering, but friendly to outsiders. It’s just that they’e a bit … well … monstrous, and one of their members is a disembodied hand called Thing. The family started as a US newspaper cartoon in 1932, became a TV series in 1964, and an animated series in 1973. It was the two feature films in the 1990s starring Anjelica Houston and Raul Julia that won awards and cemented their popularity as one of the funniest families of all time. This musical, which started life on Broadway, revives all their great traditions. It began and ended with the well-loved TV theme tune, and everything in between was just as enjoyable! This show is a love story twixt daughter Wednesday and a “normal” all-American guy – you know that’s not going to go smoothly. Carrie Hope Fletcher as Wednesday had a hugely powerful


Happy couple: Gomez, Morticia voice as she begged her relatives to have just one “normal” night when both families meet for dinner. Cameron Blakely was a brilliant Gomez, with a great voice and humour in equal measure, delighting the audience with his quips. Les Dennis was unfortunately not able to perform as Uncle Fester but his understudy Scott Paige did a fantastic job – you wouldn’t have realised it wasn’t Les. Samantha Womack had a spookily accurate portrayal of the original deadpan Morticia and a pleasant voice to accompany, while Pugsley and Grandma added some extra creepy laughs. The “normal” characters also played their roles well with strong voices, and they added to a balanced and entertaining cast. The whole show was well choreographed, beautifully set, funny and a fun night out for all. Ruth Drury

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October 2017

n WHAT’S ON Sunday October 1 n Phill Jupitus: Juplicity Comedy Box at the Tobacco Factory. Stand-up comedian, poet, improviser and TV stalwart Phill Jupitus drags laughs out of the chaos of his own life and the uncertain world that surrounds it. Ages 16+. £15.50, 8pm. • n Lee Scratch Perry Fiddlers Club, Willway Street, Bedminster. Full band live show from the reggae legend. £22.50, Doors 8pm. • Thursday October 5 n Robin Ince: Pragmatic Insanity Comedy Box at the Tobacco Factory. Ince’s first new show in three years is a clash of cultures, a romp through his favourite artists and strange scientific ideas. The Times said: “A bundle of fascinating, surprising digressions.” £14.50, 7.30pm. • Saturday October 7 n Grave Tales Arnos Vale cemetery. Storytellers from Time and Tide entertain families with stories on the theme of the underworld, connected with monuments in the cemetery, with some atmospheric ghost tales. Ages 6+, £5 each. • n Askew Sisters Saltcellar Folk Club, Totterdown Baptist Church, Wells Road. An awardwinning duo who accompany their songs on fiddle, melodeon and concertina. £5, or £3 for floor singers. Entrance off Cemetery Road. • n Stand Up For The Weekend with Alfie Brown & Co Comedy Box at the Hen & Chicken. “Alfie Brown’s firebrand style of comedy has been forged from years of pushing boundaries and experimentation. A natural

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We dream of Mary Portas CD REVIEW: Glass Angel: In Dreams We Fly LASS Angel have dreams, as do most musicians, and from the staggered faux-dramatic opening of their debut album this South Bristol band show off a range of styles destined to realise them. Mainman is Windmill Hill’s Shaun McCrindle, songwriter, lead guitarist and singer, whose whimsical style and nods to influences, subconscious or otherwise, illuminate this intriguing collection of post (and pre)-punk pop mini dramas. He sounds vaguely like Lloyd Cole on the title track, the opener In Dreams We Fly, and then comes the Bryan Ferry-ish quaver we first discover on the Roxy-lite of On Or


stage presence combined with explosive material.” Plus guests. £11, 7.45pm. • Monday October 9 n Photography Project Club Arnos Vale cemetery, with Ian Coombs. Monthly sessions from 10am-12noon. Discussion of last month’s images, plus a set activity – this month it’s autumn photographs. Cost: £5, donated to the cemetery. • n Milk Poetry Tobacco Factory theatre. A new showcase of poetry and spoken word featuring Manchester poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella, Birmingham Poet Laureate finalist Jasmine Gardosi and more. Ages 14+. £8, 7.30pm. • Wednesday, October 11 n Mr Gotalot’s Pop-Up Shop Zion, Bishopsworth Road. Interactive storytelling adventures for 2 to 5 year olds at Mr Gotalot’s magical shop, which sells anything you could ever think of. With puppets, singing, dancing and games galore. 11am12noon. Adults free, children £2.50-£5 plus booking fee. • n On The Road Not Taken Thunderbolt, Bath Road, Totterdown. Paul Dodgson, Eastenders writer and author of 16 plays for Radio 4, presents a kind of music memoir. It’s about a boy growing up in Kent

Good lines and a pop sensibility: South Bristol’s Glass Angel Off. There’s even a T. Rex thing going on in Burning Calvary. All this mixed up with lightly abrasive guitars and a squalling synth which unwittingly sometimes swamps the sound. The band do have a good ear for a tune, it must be said. There’s a pop sensibility here allied to quirky imaginative ideas that add something to it when they work, in the 1970s, writing songs but not performing them – a missed opportunity that the boy revisits 35 years later. 7.45pm, £7. • Thursday October 12 n Blood on the Coal Acta theatre, Gladstone Street, Bedminster. Also on October 13 and 14. “Union miners, stand together, and do not heed the owners tale.” Blood on the Coal tells the forgotten story of the coal mines of Bedminster, the men who dug the coal, and the women who struggled beside them. Live music, choir, theatre and storytelling involving 50 local people of all ages. £3, 7pm on October 12 and 13, 2pm on October 14. • Friday October 13 n Knowle and Totterdown Local History Society

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but at other times ends up a bit pop by numbers. McCrindle’s lyrics deal with the usual terrain of pop: love, life, dreams, regrets, with levity, and he’s got some good lines. ‘Mary Portas has said, She would give us the bread, So we don’t have to dread, And shop in Tesco’s instead…’ he sings on the jaunty breakfast serial of White ’n’ Red. They save the best for last, and after the mini-epic of Not Happening, the final track Never Felt So Amazed ends up almost reminding me of something The Who just might have come up with years ago: that guitar/drum combination – take a bow John French – and some fine harmonica. A good debut. Certainly no nightmare. Elfyn Griffith • CDs are available from Rise Records. It’s available online at Spotify, iTunes and Amazon, or pay what you like at • Redcatch Community Centre, Redcatch Road, Knowle. AGM followed by a dip into the archives of Knowle and Totterdown with Mike Hooper and Peter Read. 7.30pm, members £1.50, visitors £3. • knowleandtotterdownhistory. n Filipino Music and Food Night Zion, Bishopsworth Road. A night to celebrate the culture of The Philippines with a dance group and live music from alt rock-pop band Unofficial Infiniti. Filipino food to buy, plus bar. 6-10pm. All ages welcome; free but booking essential. • Saturday October 14 n Brass, Wind & Fire Concert Knowle Methodist Church. Proceeds in aid of Brace, the Bristol-based Alzheimer’s research charity, and church funds. 7.30pm. Tickets £5 including light refreshments. Details from Dave Dunford on 0117 977 2045. Monday October 16 n Jace Everett The Tunnels, Temple Meads. Jace Everett became a belated sensation when he wrote the smash hit theme to the cult TV classic Bad Blood. Support from Shannon McNally, who mixes country, blues and Southern soul. 7.30pm, £14. • Tuesday October 17 n Drag Queen Story Time Zion, Bishopsworth Road.

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n WHAT’S ON Children are invited to join Alyssa Van Delle, the Sicilian Sensation, for Drag Queen Story Time during Diversity Month at Zion. 11am-12noon. Booking essential, £1 plus online booking fee per child, adults free. •

These bunnies are bad – but they don’t scare the real ones FILM REVIEW: Night of the Lepus, Bristol Bad Film Club at Windmill Hill City Farm HE OUTDOOR screen was situated in the farmyard, in front of the goat pen and next to the rabbits – the perfect setting for a horror movie featuring giant mutant killer bunnies. Some of the 100-strong audience had dressed for the occasion with rabbit-ear headbands. I even spotted a rabbit-onesy – very sensible – my friend and I shared a cosy blanket over our knees as there was just a whiff of autumn in the air. The farm café was open – we had chilli hot chocolate to warm our cockles (superb with a nip of

T Staged fright: Turn of the Screw Wednesday October 18 n The Turn of the Screw Arnos Vale cemetery. An appropriately creepy setting for Henry James’s classic play with its tinge of Gothic horror. Red Rope Theatre, who produced Dracula here in 2015, transform the cemetery walls into the haunted house of Bly. A new governess realises she must protect her young charges from the dead: two tortured souls who want to possess the children they once knew. But are the children somehow complicit? Do the ghosts exist at all? Dress warmly – the performance is partly outdoors. £11-£15, 7.30pm. • Saturday October 21 n Three Choirs Concert St Paul’s Church, Coronation Road, Southville, welcomes singers from Gurt Lush, People of Note, and Ponita. 7.30pm,  £5. n A Queer Salon Zion, Bishopsworth Road. A fun night of cabaret and performance with a NYC flava. Artists include Barbara Brownskirt, an anorakwearing, unlucky poet; singer Mark Johnson; seasoned drag queen Marcia D’Arc, and effervescent compere Tom Marshman. “Dress 1980s NYC style, there may be prizes.” 7.3010.30pm. Bar, food, over 18s only. £8.92 inc booking fee. • n Stand Up For The Weekend with Paul Myrehaug & Co Comedy Box at the Hen & Chicken. “Canadian Paul Myrehaug tours internationally with frequent appearances on TV, radio and festivals all over the world. A sharp performer with a great stage presence.” Plus guests. £11, 7.45pm. •

Monday October 23 n Half term theatre workshops Tobacco Factory theatre. Working with a designer and theatre makers on Monday and Tuesday, children aged 7-11 explore performing, storytelling and creating. Ends with a family show on Tuesday. 10am-4pm; £25 for one day or £45 for both. • Thursday October 26 n Willie Nile: Storyteller’s Tour The Thunderbolt, Bath Road, Totterdown. US rock ’n’ roller Willie Nile plays songs and shares stories of four decades as a touring artist playing with acts such as Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend. £14, 7.30pm. • Thursday October 19

n Waiting For Godot Tobacco Factory theatre. Samuel Beckett’s iconic play, first performed in 1953, is the Tobacco Factory’s first major independent production.

rum from my hipflask). I teamed mine with a chilli and rosemary sausage roll – made on site with farm-bred pork (delicious), my mate went for the salted popcorn. And so we settled down for the main event. To start, Timon Singh, who runs and programmes Bristol Bad Film Club (BBFC), gave a short introduction (he’s a rubbish movies boffin!), followed by previews – just like a real cinema, but really

bad. And then the movie. There were a lot of scenes of rabbits running, or jumping over the same ditch again and again, shot from below to make them look big, or rampaging through model villages. And lots of glinting rabbit eyes in dark caves, and squealing rabbit noises (didn’t seem to bother the live rabbits in the pens beside us). And rabbits licking tomato ketchup off their chops, with victims drenched in more of the stuff. This movie was widely panned on its release and has become a cult classic for its stilted acting and attempts to make bunnies scary – it certainly made the audience guffaw. Actors include Psycho‘s Janet Leigh and Star Trek’s Dr McCoy, DeForest Kelley. BBFC has been going for four years, screening bad films to raise money for different charities. Proceeds from the £5 entrance fee were split between the city farm and Hollyhedge animal sanctuary. Truly, a very bad night indeed. Beccy Golding

Friday, October 27 n Stand Up For Diversity Zion, Bishopsworth Road. Angie Belcher comperes her regular comedy club, this month as part of Zion’s Diversity programme. Headline act Lynn Ruth Miller, 83, is the oldest performing female stand-up in the UK – she started when she was 71. Support comes from Mark Cram, a gay comedian who’s about as camp as a Die Hard box-set; Zahra Barri, who is a bit like Turkey, in that she’s a mix of Eastern and Western culture, and also she is a bird; and Rebekah Louise, an honest, self deprecating comedian. Bar, over 18s only, 7.30-10.30pm. •

Sunday October 29 n John Hegley: Peace, Love & Potatoes Comedy Box at the Tobacco Factory. “Verses spoken and sung. Hearts broken and repaired.” John Hegley’s first performance was outside a shoe shop in Hull in the late 70s. Now he is an Edinburgh Festival regular, noted for his poetic take on such topics as dog hair, potatoes and the misery of human existence. £15.50, 8pm. • n Sun Ra Arkestra Fiddlers Club, Willway Street, Bedminster. The band of the late Afrofuturist blues jazz musician Sun Ra, directed by Marshall Allen. Doors 7pm. £27.50. •

Estragon: What do we do now? Vladimir: Wait. Estragon: Yes, but while waiting? Vladimir: What about hanging ourselves? Beckett’s classic is one of the most memorable plays of the 20th century, yet almost nothing happens to two hungry, battered drifters waiting by a dead tree. They might have been here yesterday. They might well come back tomorrow. Unless Mr Godot arrives first. Which he might. If they’re lucky. Which they don’t tend to be.

It’s described as an exploration of “the struggle for purpose, the power of friendship and the hunt for a pair of decent boots.” Directed by Mark Rosenblatt, associate director at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 2013-2016, with a team of local and national artists, including clowning director Bim Mason, co-founder and artistic director of Circomedia. Preview tickets from £12, matinées £14 and £12, other shows £18 and £14. Until November 4. •

Bad film lovers at the City Farm

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October 2017





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It’s much more fun when the script gets rewritten during the match


MARTIN POWELL finds joy in the unexpected, from an apologetic toe-poke to a blistering outing from new strikers

OOTBALL is unlike any other entertainment that you might pay to watch and when you take a seat at Ashton Gate you never quite know how exciting things are going to be. In the cinema, theatre or at a rock concert a lot of planning goes into making sure that the two hours or so you are sat there unfold in a dramatic and exciting

MARTIN’S SHORTS • The Cardiff City match has been switched back to 12noon on Saturday November 4 and now won’t be on Sky TV. It was originally going to be at 5.30pm on November 4 on Sky but was switched to November 3 at 7.45pm on Sky. Now it’s changed again. Confused? Well, let’s just be grateful that the home game against Cardiff is when tolls on the Severn Bridge are £6.70. By the time we go there in February for the away game, the tolls will have been reduced to £5.60 – saving enough for a souvenir leek.

fashion. At football it could be 90 minutes of sizzling entertainment, tedious boredom in the rain or just average. City have served up just about every type of game lately. The highlight of the 0-0 draw with Millwall was a voice from the crowd bellowing after a frustrating refereeing decision: “Referee, you are ruining a very dull game.” Watford away in the Caraboa Cup saw some younger players make strong representations for inclusion by going toe-to-toe with a Premier League side and coming out 3-2 victors. Aston Villa under the floodlights showed that draws need not be boring with a cracking 1-1. Then on to Reading, where by half-time the only entertainment of any note had been kit manager and legend Scott Murray kicking footballs into the crowd before the game had got under way. But everything changed in an instant when Aden Flint toe-poked the ball towards goal and it apologetically crept into the net for victory. Even the best playwright

Turnaround: Korey Smith and Famara Diedhiou after Diedhiou justified his £5m price tag with a goal against Derby County PHOTO: Joe Meredith /JMP couldn’t have scripted the moment. Here was the popular free-scoring defender showing he is still willing to give his all after a fruitless few weeks peering through the transfer window. Now, I’m never quite sure why it is a window and not a door. Surely if you are going to buy or sell a player for millions they should have the courtesy of arriving or leaving via a door, rather than have to prove their agility by leaping in or out. Anyway, Harry Redknapp, manager at Birmingham City, failed to come up with enough money to persuade City to part with Flint and he stayed. After six straight defeats Harry was sacked – would Flint have saved his job? We shall never know. Flint weighed in with another goal at Wolves in a thriller that ended 3-3, keeping intact the club’s record of not winning at



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Wolves since 1931 – here’s to the next 86 years! I believe Nick Hornby said that the perfect Saturday afternoon at Arsenal was being 1-0 down at half-time and then winning 2-1. The perfect roller-coaster of emotions. So it was more than perfect entertainment to see City come back from 1-0 down against a strong Derby County side to win 4-1. The game had everything – two penalties; a superb free kick that the referee at first didn’t think went over the line; stout defending, and two strikers new to the club demonstrating their marksmanship. Cauley Woodrow, in for his first start in a City shirt, opening his account and Famara Diedhiou finally showing why he might be worth £5 million with a superb strike in time added on. That’s entertainment!


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October 2017




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