The 5 minute guide to the Bristol City Council Cabinet Business, 21st July 2011. See bottom of the post for Crowdsourcing Opportunities.
5. RAPID TRANSIT MAJOR TRANSPORT SCHEME BIDS: ASHTON VALE TO TEMPLE MEADS AND CITY CENTRE BUS RAPID TRANSIT SCHEME; NORTH FRINGE TO HENGROVE PACKAGE, AND SOUTH BRISTOL LINK
Toward the end of 2010, the UK’s Coalition government came it with a new plan to cut the national debt and make Britain’s society more economically viable, by raising taxes in real terms and continuing to spend recklessly on grandiose infrastructure projects. This was called the Spending Review Settlement. Don’t quite understand how it works, myself, but then I’m just a mathematician, not an economist.
Bristol’s latest request for a chunk of money on the never-never is to fund three Bus Rapid Transit schemes. Less politically sensitive than previous efforts to run a bus down the Railway Path, these capital projects should be completed about half an hour before internet-based homeworking and new-cottage industries render them obsolete.
Using my standard public sector modelling tool, which predicts that a capital project which has cost elements removed during funding negotiations will end up costing the original amount, plus 15% of the differential to put in all the things that were removed to save money in the first place, brace yourself for £200m of local taxes, or £200m of local borrowing in your name; profits from which will probably sort out decorations for the Xmas Party at the City’s banker. [Drinks bill paid separately from the Old Vic's Overdraft]. . Fingers-crossed, the NFHP project that miraculously halved in size during “value engineering” will be an exception that proves the rule.
6. RESIDENTS PARKING SCHEME UPDATE Ward: citywide
Well, I have to admit it’s pretty cushy being able to park on the street outside my house. Screw the rest of you. Having successfully priced Nurses, Paramedics and Cleaners off the road, the Council is keen to keep up momentum:
[13.] The Council is aware that many other communities close to the city centre are experiencing parking problems that are comparable to those that existed in Kingsdown prior to the introduction of the scheme.
[14.] Indeed, since the Kingsdown scheme has been in operation, a number of requests have been received for the consideration of similar arrangements to be put in place in other local communities. An initial assessment has been carried out of potential RPS areas.
Prisoner’s Dilemma anyone?
Live in the Kingsdown Parking Zone? Want to make some friends in the local community? Buy an extra book of Daily Parking Scratchcards and send them to Bristol Royal Infirmary’s Accident and Emergency Ward. The address is “Accident and Emergency Department, Lower Maudlin Street. Bristol. BS1 2LX”
7. STRUCTURAL APPRAISAL OF TRENCHARD STREET MULTI STOREY CAR PARK AND OPTIONS FOR REPAIRS AND FUTURE LIFE CARE PLAN Ward: citywide
A £1m punt to keep the Trenchard Street Parking structure barely operational, but it’s still likely to smell of piss all the time. £250k from reserve, the rest from that helpful man at the bank.
Just sell the damn thing. It’s bonkers that the City Council is in a position to both prevent people from parking on the streets in an area, and make money running a parking facility in the same area. While waiting for a sale, consider that Trenchard is ugly but functional concrete behemoth. Rather than tarting it up and paying for constantly failing barriers and dodgy payment machines, you could pay a few local lads to stand at the front and sell tickets. And then maybe it wouldn’t smell of piss.
Sell it. It’s a money pit.
8. SCHOOL ORGANISATION STRATEGY Ward:citywide
There’s no easy answer to providing every parent with a nearby Primary School place for their child. Apart from smaller schools, less centralised bureaucracy, fewer half-arsed pedagogical interventions, and more emphasis on parental responsibility generally in education.
For next year’s school spaces shortages crisis, rest assured there will have been meetings, biscuits, flow charts, bar charts, wall charts and possibly even a consultation. So buy your kid a nice, stout pair of walking shoes and an A-Z. The British Police are unlikely to arrest you for doing this.
Parental guidance: the “Statutory walking distance” below which you’re expected to sort out your own kid’s transport is two miles for
children aged under eight, and three miles for children aged eight and over.
9. REVIEW OF DENOMINATIONAL TRANSPORT POLICY ARRANGEMENTS IN BRISTOLWard: citywide
Bristol spends £6.6m annually transporting 3,102 children to school as part of its statutory duty under the relevant Act of parliament. But a third of that wasn’t statutory after all; it was discretionary.
Historically, Bristol City Council has used its discretionary powers to provide free home to school travel to any child baptised into the Faith of their nearest appropriate Voluntary Aided Church school
Hold on a second. There are 38 weeks in a state school year; call it 190 days ignoring bank holidays, strikes and the like. That’s £11.20 a day per pupil for transport. Even First Bus aren’t charging that much.
So, that’s a couple of million saved. Job’s a good’un. If this review turns into an actual recommendation…
The likelihood of that happening will depend on pragmatic political calculus. Since “[O]ver 88% of respondents to the consultation did not agree with the proposal to withdraw free denominational travel support “, even now somewhere in four different political party offices, someone is comparing these two maps. The left is the people who sent in complaints; the right is ward councillors.
10. COMMUNITY INVESTMENT STRATEGY 2012-15 Ward: citywide
S.2 Local Government Act 2000 gives the council a general power to do anything which it considers is likely to promote or improve the economic, social or environmental well-being of the area. This includes the allocation of community/voluntary funding where no specific legal power exists
The Community Investment Budget is a Council slush fund for transferring cash to the politically well-connected members of the Voluntary and Charitable Sector, who always work not-for-profit but never not-for-salary-and-benefits.
This round of funding, there’s a cool £1million per annum up for grabs. The shibboleth is Bristol Green Capital. If you’ve failed to toe the party line, then don’t even bother submitting an application.
11. FIRST REVENUE BUDGET MONITOR 2011/12 Ward: citywide
Two months into the Council’s financial year, and the city is £4.8m over budget.
12. FIRST CAPITAL MONITOR 2011/12 Ward: citywide
More money from Whitehall for miscellaneous navel gazing. Another £700k of local money to stop Bridge Valley Road collapsing.
PART C: OTHER KEY DECISIONS TO BE DETERMINED:
13. ASHLEY DOWN ROAD – HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT WORKS Ward: Ashley, Bishopston
£900k of works, paid for by S.106
bribes developer contributions to infrastructure costs.
PART D: NON-KEY DECISION / INFORMATION ITEMS:
14. WASTE SERVICES PROCUREMENT – PREFERRED BIDDER Ward: citywide
New rubbish and recycling contractor: http://www.maygurney.co.uk/
Back when the tenders were floating about, the estimated value of the contract was £20m, of which 10% would be earned from selling dry recyclates. Both the last and the current government continue the political class’ love affair with kerbside recycling, and since it’s now law (EPA s.45A) [with some wiggle room] that at least two recyclates must be separately collected, it will be interesting to see whether the new contractors maintain the economically unviable food waste, paper and cardboard collection, or concentrate on metals, plastics and batteries.
15. YOUR LIFE, YOUR COMMUNITY – HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Ward: citywide
After an intensive round of city-wide consultations, the Council has established that member of the local Voluntary and Charitable Sector prefer rich tea to bourbons. An Equalities Assessment is currently underway.
Crowd Sourcing Opportunities
Life is too short to spend it reading documents. (I mean my life, not yours). Help me out:
- Work out which council wards would change hands at election if all the people who complained about not getting free transport voted against the incumbent.
Third Sector Opportunities
Live in the Kingsdown Parking Zone? Buy an extra book of Daily Parking Scratchcards and send them to Bristol Royal Infirmary’s Accident and Emergency Department. The address is “Accident and Emergency Department, Lower Maudlin Street. Bristol. BS1 2LX”