There are lots of wonderful things about Windmill Hill: parks and green spaces, lots of small and independent local businesses as well as the local Mosque and the Windmill Hill Community Centre. It is a friendly and lively place with a great community spirit. But it also has its share of problems.
This is a problem in Windmill Hill. If you’re in a wheelchair or pushing a pram or a buggy, or can’t see well, pavement parking is a serious problem. It can force you into the road and into traffic.
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Bristol’s District Heat Network, which will provide cheaper and greener heat to Bedminster Green, could become a showcase for eco-friendly innovation – but Lisa fears the opportunity will be wasted.
The scheme takes excess heat from rivers and waste pipes, and transfers it to wherever it is needed, via a network of clean hot water pipes.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is a great improvement on every property having an individual gas boiler”, says Lisa.
“But if you have your own great ideas for going greener and want to opt out of the system, it’s going to be expensive. In the region of £40k. And if the system in your block goes wrong – everyone’s heating goes wrong.”
“Unfortunately, the system was devised and approved before we had so many Greens on the council. All we greens can do now is be vigilant”
Lisa is calling on Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees to designate part of the giant Bedminster Green development as green space.
She has started a petition to make Plot 5, which borders Hereford Street, Clarke Street and Whitehouse Lane, into a “green lung” for this part of the city, with trees, open spaces and other amenities.
Under plans submitted by developers Dandara, Plot 5 would have three high-rise towers (7-10 storeys) containing 339 flats, including so-called “affordable housing”, plus commercial space and a limited amount of landscaping. Under Lisa’s proposal, the whole site would remain green and become a much-needed outdoor public space.
Sign the petition here: Create an Urban Lung for the Bedminster Green Development | 38 Degrees
Lisa is also critical of Dandara’s energy plan for the proposed buildings. They plan to install soon-to-be-redundant gas boilers in the flats, because they say the council’s eco-friendly district heat pump will not be ready in time. But Lisa says officers have assured her that it will be – so fitting the gas boilers is a waste of money. Also, there is no consideration for reducing carbon in their plan.
Local resident Helen Adshead said:
“The building does not include any on site renewables and does not seem to insist on energy coming from a renewable source, so the scheme makes no attempt to meet the Bristol policy of providing 20% renewables on site.”
Councillors are discussing a new, more democratic Council committee system to replace the Mayoralty – and Greens are determined there’ll be no return to the undemocratic ways of the past.
A panel of Councillors has been formed to discuss how the Council committee system will work, after the post of Mayor disappears in 2024. The panel will decide how many committees Bristol will have, what will be the remit of each, and which Councillors will be appointed to which one.
The Green party is being represented on the panel by four Councillors, Lorraine Frances, Mohamed Makawi, Guy Poultney and Jenny Bartle.
They want to avoid the situation where, if one party has an absolute majority, debates in committees are pointless – the voting is decided beforehand in the majority party, and no amount of discussion can alter the fact that the majority will win on weight of numbers.
Greens, on the other hand, believe in honestly debating every issue to try and reach a consensus, This is more possible under a system like that adopted in Sheffield, where there is a committee for each major policy area. Councillors are elected to these committees in proportion to their numbers on the council.
“Thankfully the four Green members on the panel have a diverse range of experience and skills, and will steer the committee system towards more inclusion and proper debate.” said Lisa
The Green Party is proposing a Land Value Tax to replace Council Tax, Business Rates and other taxes. It’s an idea that would prove popular with consumers and tenants – not so much with the landowners who benefit so hugely from the present system.
Much of the value of land is created by the community through economic activity, investment in infrastructure and services and the granting of planning permissions. A lot of this becomes cash which goes back to the landowners in rent or higher sale prices.
Taxing land value is the natural way for the community to recoup its investments and spend it on local public services and further investment. Land Value Tax (LVT) is based on the value of land and not the buildings etc put on it. It would be paid by the owner or landlord and not the tenant. Landlords would have to pay for it out of rent received.
LVT is fairly easy to levy and very difficult to evade. It could easily replace council tax and business rates. It may prove so good that other clumsy taxes (Stamp Duty, etc.) could be reduced or abolished.
The tax works to reduce the price of land which is good for those who don’t have much but not so good for those that have spare. Economists like it because it discourages land speculation, releasing land to those who can use it efficiently.
Wild areas can be zero rated. Farming can be very low rated. Brownfield sites or empty properties would still have to pay, encouraging quick development.
Anyone who is unable to pay could have the property “charged” with the tax and it would be collected on subsequent sale. Land granted new planning permission would have to pay the new value.
Denmark, Estonia and New South Wales have already adopted LVT. It is high time we did too. Big landowners don’t like it, for obvious reasons – that is why we don’t have it already!
Why not join with the Greens in calling for the abolition of council tax and business rates? A Land Value Tax offers a much better way of taxing property and funding local services. For more about LVT and many other great Green Party policies, see here.
Ed and Lisa passionately believe in the need for a fairer rent system.
Lisa has become a member of a city council body looking at ways of giving private tenants a fairer deal. As a long-standing supporter of tenants’ rights, she has been appointed to the Living Rent Commission, where she plans to fight wholeheartedly for the Green Party’s policy of introducing a rent cap in the city.
“I am very proud to be on this working group and will work diligently towards Bristol becoming a place where people can afford decent homes in a safe and comfortable environment”, she said.
The Living Rent Commission’s members will be drawn from a range of professional and personal backgrounds, including those who have lived in private rented accommodation and have experience of advocacy for tenants. The Commission will explore how to make private rented accommodation more affordable.
It will also look into what rent controls would be deliverable and have the maximum impact. Would they affect the quality of housing? Or the level of maintenance?
They will also look at other powers that would improve the experience of renting in Bristol, such as a database of landlords.
The appalling state of the private rented sector nationally has been highlighted in the newly published government white paper “A Fairer Private Rented Sector”.
“1.6 million people are living in dangerously low-quality homes, in a state of disrepair, with cold, damp and mould, and without functioning bathrooms and kitchens. Yet private landlords who rent out non-decent properties will receive an estimated £3 billion from the state in housing related welfare.
“No one should pay to live in a non-decent home.” This is what the Green Party has been calling for over a number of years.
In Windmill Hill, which is one of the areas right on the edge of the CAZ, we need to look out for displacement. Some roads such as St Johns Lane are anticipated to suffer from a modest but significant increase in traffic and we are concerned that this will be caused by the dirtier vehicles avoiding the charge.
The Zone starts Monday 28th November and If you want to find out more then go to the council website to find out what grants are available for replacing you car.
The council is also offering free Sustainable Travel Offers open to any individual, business and community group to help people move around the city. Support includes but is not limited to free taster bus tickets, free bike and e-bike loans, free cycle-proficiency training, free taster Voi passes and free taster car club credits. For more information visit:
Bristol City Council will be starting work in Jan 2022 on a number of projects which will cause some disruption in the area. Cllr Ed Plowden has been liaising with the Planning Officers to ensure this disruption will be minimised.
The work includes the installation of District Heat Network (DHN) pipework and improvements to transport connections along Malago Road/Dalby Avenue (A38) as part of the Bedminster Green regeneration project. The work will install a new heat system with highly insulated pipework within the roads to export heat from sustainable generation sources to homes and businesses in the area. Other works will be undertaken as part of the Council’s commitment to improve sustainable travel options across the city by making it easier for people to walk, cycle or take public transport.
The Bedminster Green project includes restoring the River Malago, bringing it above ground and improving the greenspace at the heart of the area. This will help to boost biodiversity and reduce flood risk, as well as creating a new high-quality space for people to enjoy. There will also be improvements to public spaces, including wider footpaths and planting of trees to support wildlife. More detail on plans for the river restoration will be shared in 2022. Developers on the five plots of land within the regeneration area will also be progressing plans in the coming months.
For residents in Windmill Hill specifically, access will be maintained via St John’s Lane at all times. Whilst works take place on Malago Rd and Dalby Avenue (from 10th January until approximately until mid-2024), access will be possible under the railway bridge from Hereford St or Whitehouse Lane as usual. During the works to Whitehouse Lane (from mid-2024 for approx. 12 months), some restrictions may be necessary for limited periods under the railway bridge, and from Whitehouse Lane and Hereford St – Ed will ensure that the local community is notified about these periods nearer the time.
Ed has also requested that traffic on the Hill is monitored at the start, middle and towards the end of the project so we have more information about its effects. He has also asked for signage to make it clear that there is no access to Bedminster Parade at the junction of Paultow and St Johns Lane.
A message from Ed and Lisa – “Thank you for electing us to serve as your City Councillors for Windmill Hill. We are humbled and honoured to be trusted with this responsibility.
“We are working hard on the things that matter to you, especially transport problems, poor air quality and the scale of local developments. Most importantly of all, we promise to keep listening and working with the local community to make a positive difference.
“We need to ensure we have safe and liveable streets we can walk and breathe in – St Johns Lane has some of the worst pollution in Bristol. This is likely to get worse as the Clean Air Zone is implemented, which does not include St Johns Lane, so more of the dirtiest vehicles will use it.
“Our doorknocking throughout the ward shows that a majority of people support improved park/green space facilities, livable neighbourhoods (including better parking arrangements), and cleaner air..
“People tell us that rogue parking and rat-running are already problems. The nearby “low-car” developments might make this worse, with additional parking spilling onto local streets.
“We also need to resist high rise building and digital advertising screens from defacing our local environment.
As your Green councillors, we want to make sure housing developers think about the people who live here now as well as in the future. The Council and developers agreed on a framework, but are not sticking to it. We will work hard to control developers and make sure they pay a fair share to contribute to keeping Windmill Hill a great place to live.”