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Chocolate Path 'melts' into river after council fails to act

Green councillors have accused Bristol council’s administration of “enormous incompetence” for failing to carry out important works to repair Bristol’s ‘chocolate path’ long after funding was approved in September 2018, leading to its recent collapse and the closure of Cumberland road.

Southville Councillors Charlie Bolton and Steve Clarke quizzed the Mayor about works to repair the cycle path and called for action in January 2018. Following this a cabinet paper in September 2018 committed some funding to carry out work on the path. The paper and accompanying publicity made a case for quick action to avoid further costs and warned of the impact of winter weather:

  • A council press release accompanying the cabinet report in 2018 warned of the risks of failing to act soon, stating “This work is essential for looking after these important structural elements of our highway network, keeping them working and stopping parts completely slipping away in to the river. If we do not act now these costs are likely to rise substantially. We expect that work will start next year”
  • The Council’s then transport lead Mhairi Threllfall said at the time: “We need to take action now so that we can protect these important historical landmarks around our city’s famous waterways.”
  • The Cabinet paper itself noted that: “an unpredicted sudden ‘weather event’ such as a tidal surge or high winds/low pressures or sustained prolonged heavy rainfall would most likely put the wall in an immediate risk of full or partial failure which would result in the partial or full closure of Cumberland Road. The risk of such extreme weather events naturally increases during the Winter months.” 

However with no work done to repair the path after two winters, the chocolate path eventually collapsed, compromising Cumberland road. The Council have not yet confirmed the cost involved in fixing the path and shoring up the road. Councillor Threllfall has since tweeted ‘I told you so’, and that ‘Qs have to be asked as to what happened between Oct 18 & Oct 19’ when the Mayor took over transport after she left the Cabinet.

Green Councillor for Southville Charlie Bolton said: “It is ironic that on the same day as the Bristol Post reports that the Labour administration says it deserves ‘a pat on the back’, part of the Chocolate Path quite literally crumbles into the river after years of neglect.”

“Stopping parts of Bristol just slipping into the river is absolutely a basic responsibility of the council. The administration failed to follow its own advice, and it has to be said this is an act of enormous incompetence.”

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