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Bristol City Council accused of trying to rig consultation over Victoria Park cycle route plans

Officials helped distribute leaflets supporting proposals, claim protesters – but council insists decision will be impartial

Bristol City Council has been accused by people opposed to plans for a cycle route through the city’s Victoria Park of attempting to rig the process, by helping to distribute leaflets supporting the scheme – even though it will be its own planning committee deciding whether the scheme goes ahead.

The route, for which planning permission is being sought by the council's transport department, forms part of the Filwood Quietway running from Filwood to the city centre, and follows Bristol's successful bid for second-wave Cycle City Ambition funding for the period 2015-18.

But some people living around the park and who are opposing the plans through the Victoria Park Action Group (VPAG) claim that the council is seeking to distort the results of a consultation in favour of those who support it, reports the Bristol Post.

They maintain that leaflets outlining the benefits of the plans to people on bikes have been distributed not just locally but in other parts of the city, such as at Bristol Temple Meads station – although that wouldn’t seem particularly unusual for a route aimed at commuters.

The 5,000 leaflets were distributed in the days before the consultation closed by cycling campaign groups and, it is claimed, by a council officer who handed them only to people riding bikes.

 VPAG says that shows the council is biased in favour of the scheme and will not listen to concerns from residents who are worried about issues including the width of paths and cyclists riding too fast through the park, which is also used by parents taken their children to and from a local primary school.

The group’s spokesman Andrew Campbell told the Bristol Post that he believes the council mounted a last-minute effort to gain support due to the success of VPAG’s own campaign against the plans.

"We know that council officers have been working together with Bristol Cycling Campaign to promote the scheme to cyclists across the city in an attempt to boost support,” he said.

"Since thousands of these leaflets have been distributed around the city - some in the local area, some at Temple Meads where they were stuck on bikes or handed to cyclists with encouragement to support the plans - it has resulted in a spike of support on the planning website from all over the city.”

The group has also publicised a map created by independent data analyst Chris Wallace which aims to show the locations of people in favour or opposed to the scheme, presumably based on postcode of residence appearing on the planning application.

Those backing the infrastructure tend to be further away from the park – hardly surprising, one might think, for a scheme aimed at commuting cyclists – while those opposed are largely clustered around it.

Bristol City Council said that the leaflets were produced by its transport department and were handed out by “people both inside and outside cycling groups, including a local councillor."

A council spokesman denied there was a conflict of interest and stressed that in cases where its planning committee was evaluating an application made by another part of the local authority, it was important to ensure there was full transparency.

He said: "Applicants do not need to seek permission to produce or distribute leaflets regarding their proposed development and it is appropriate for applicants to promote their scheme to give the community an opportunity to comment.

"However, extra consideration needs to be taken in cases like this where we have a dual role in applying and deciding on an application, in order to provide absolute clarity on the process.

"That is why the decision on this application will be taken by one of the council's Development Control Committees,” the spokesman added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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10 comments

Avatar
Al__S | 7 years ago
1 like

I'm confused here, are they saying the council is biased in favour of a scheme proposed by the council?

If the officer was from the department that is proposing the scheme I can't see where the conflict of interesat is- it would only be a problem if the officer is from the planning department that is ruling on the suitability and viability of the scheme.

Avatar
eddyhall | 7 years ago
1 like

Here is a well reasoned comment from a cycling local about why this path is not such a good idea. I live in Bristol so the commitment to new infrastructure is great however I get the impression that this is perhaps not the best use of money.

Avatar
me | 7 years ago
0 likes

It's a big enough park for both cycling and walking.  The current paths go (mostly) in a direct route from one side to another so keep them for pedestrians and create a cycling path go a longer way round.  If I'm walking I'll go the direct route, if I'm pedalling I don't care if it's a bit longer.

They got rid of some grass for unused cricket pitches so what's a bit more?  But I didn't find the roads round the edge of the park bad enough that I'd want to pedal in the park.

Avatar
burtthebike | 7 years ago
2 likes

Why is it that a simple cycle path gets people so upset?  New roads, pollution, deaths on the road, barely a response: cycle path = WW3.

I wouldn't mind betting that the people complaining about the council's attempt to drum up support did something very similar themselves.  You just wound't get that many people opposing a planning application unless someone stirred things up big time.

Avatar
brooksby replied to burtthebike | 7 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

Why is it that a simple cycle path gets people so upset?  New roads, pollution, deaths on the road, barely a response: cycle path = WW3.

I wouldn't mind betting that the people complaining about the council's attempt to drum up support did something very similar themselves.  You just wound't get that many people opposing a planning application unless someone stirred things up big time.

Apparently the locals are concerned that *some* of the new path might eat up some of the perfectly manicured grass that they all sit on through the summer months to eat their Famous Five-style picnics.

Apparently having "lycra louts" racing through there would put them off their cucumber sandwiches or something.

Apparently the narrow roads around there are absolutely perfect for cyclists to ride on anyway, because the locals are so perfectly behaved in their cars.

And apparently, the locals are very unhappy that people who don't live right next to the park have an opinion on this - they apparently think that people from away should keep their noses out and not interfere in the stablishment of a safe off-road commuting route.

Apparently.

(Sorry about the load of "apparently"s, but I got all of that from the BPs article and the below-the-line comments thereon).

(Disclaimer: I don't ever cycle through there, am unlikely ever to do so, I don't live near there, and I haven't commented on the planning application).

Avatar
beezus fufoon replied to brooksby | 7 years ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

Why is it that a simple cycle path gets people so upset?  New roads, pollution, deaths on the road, barely a response: cycle path = WW3.

I wouldn't mind betting that the people complaining about the council's attempt to drum up support did something very similar themselves.  You just wound't get that many people opposing a planning application unless someone stirred things up big time.

Apparently the locals are concerned that *some* of the new path might eat up some of the perfectly manicured grass that they all sit on through the summer months to eat their Famous Five-style picnics.

Apparently having "lycra louts" racing through there would put them off their cucumber sandwiches or something.

Apparently the narrow roads around there are absolutely perfect for cyclists to ride on anyway, because the locals are so perfectly behaved in their cars.

And apparently, the locals are very unhappy that people who don't live right next to the park have an opinion on this - they apparently think that people from away should keep their noses out and not interfere in the stablishment of a safe off-road commuting route.

Apparently.

(Sorry about the load of "apparently"s, but I got all of that from the BPs article and the below-the-line comments thereon).

(Disclaimer: I don't ever cycle through there, am unlikely ever to do so, I don't live near there, and I haven't commented on the planning application).

but...

apparently you can already cycle there without problem

apparently the proposed lane intersects an area full of people, families, kids, etc.

apparently the proposed route is not fit for purpose

apparently it only serves to create conflict between the various interest groups who currently have no problem with the existing infrastructure

Avatar
brooksby replied to beezus fufoon | 7 years ago
0 likes
beezus fufoon wrote:
brooksby wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

Why is it that a simple cycle path gets people so upset?  New roads, pollution, deaths on the road, barely a response: cycle path = WW3.

I wouldn't mind betting that the people complaining about the council's attempt to drum up support did something very similar themselves.  You just wound't get that many people opposing a planning application unless someone stirred things up big time.

Apparently the locals are concerned that *some* of the new path might eat up some of the perfectly manicured grass that they all sit on through the summer months to eat their Famous Five-style picnics.

Apparently having "lycra louts" racing through there would put them off their cucumber sandwiches or something.

Apparently the narrow roads around there are absolutely perfect for cyclists to ride on anyway, because the locals are so perfectly behaved in their cars.

And apparently, the locals are very unhappy that people who don't live right next to the park have an opinion on this - they apparently think that people from away should keep their noses out and not interfere in the stablishment of a safe off-road commuting route.

Apparently.

(Sorry about the load of "apparently"s, but I got all of that from the BPs article and the below-the-line comments thereon).

(Disclaimer: I don't ever cycle through there, am unlikely ever to do so, I don't live near there, and I haven't commented on the planning application).

but...

apparently you can already cycle there without problem

apparently the proposed lane intersects an area full of people, families, kids, etc.

apparently the proposed route is not fit for purpose

apparently it only serves to create conflict between the various interest groups who currently have no problem with the existing infrastructure

Hey! That's not fair- you didn't use a disclaimer!  3

Avatar
beezus fufoon replied to brooksby | 7 years ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:
brooksby wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

Why is it that a simple cycle path gets people so upset?  New roads, pollution, deaths on the road, barely a response: cycle path = WW3.

I wouldn't mind betting that the people complaining about the council's attempt to drum up support did something very similar themselves.  You just wound't get that many people opposing a planning application unless someone stirred things up big time.

Apparently the locals are concerned that *some* of the new path might eat up some of the perfectly manicured grass that they all sit on through the summer months to eat their Famous Five-style picnics.

Apparently having "lycra louts" racing through there would put them off their cucumber sandwiches or something.

Apparently the narrow roads around there are absolutely perfect for cyclists to ride on anyway, because the locals are so perfectly behaved in their cars.

And apparently, the locals are very unhappy that people who don't live right next to the park have an opinion on this - they apparently think that people from away should keep their noses out and not interfere in the stablishment of a safe off-road commuting route.

Apparently.

(Sorry about the load of "apparently"s, but I got all of that from the BPs article and the below-the-line comments thereon).

(Disclaimer: I don't ever cycle through there, am unlikely ever to do so, I don't live near there, and I haven't commented on the planning application).

but...

apparently you can already cycle there without problem

apparently the proposed lane intersects an area full of people, families, kids, etc.

apparently the proposed route is not fit for purpose

apparently it only serves to create conflict between the various interest groups who currently have no problem with the existing infrastructure

Hey! That's not fair- you didn't use a disclaimer!  3

rotfl

disclaimer: no animals were harmed in the posting of this hearsay (also, I've never been to Bristol, but apparently it's nice.).

Avatar
Wolfcastle50 | 7 years ago
0 likes

This path would be great when I head home after mountain biking. Current paths through their are way too narrow for anything more than a thin man with ferret on a lead.

Avatar
Canyon48 | 7 years ago
3 likes

Go have a look over at the comments section on Bristol post  And if you want a bigger laugh, look at the comments section on Bristol Posts article about undercover cycle police re-educating drivers in Bristol!

On a serious note, not entirely convinced by the new cycle path, it doesn't make any sense for commuters surely? If it helps school kids cycle to school more safely then it's good. Just wish we could see some half decent cycling infrastructure to get across the city - it's great if all you want to do is go from Temple Meads to Fishponds/Emersons Green, but it's pretty useless aside  7

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