Is the council tax reduction scheme back on the cards?

There has been an increase of 500% in claims of the council tax reduction (CRT) scheme according to Cllr Dudd, speaking at the Cabinet meeting on 28 April 2020.

Two weeks previous to that Bristol247 wrote: “Since mid-March, the applications for reduced payments have gone from an average of around 100 a week to 642 in the past week.”

Might the council be looking to reduce it again, however?

CTR is on the agenda for the Overview of Scrutiny and Management Board meeting on 8 July but there is no information as to why. The report won’t be published until 6 July, however. Papers to scrutiny should be made available a week before the meeting but that is not happening. They are being published on 6 July only because the matter is due to go to Cabinet the following week.

The council tried to reduce the council tax reduction scheme in 2017 for the year 2018/19. After much campaigning by opposition groups and Acorn, the idea was abandoned.

While noting that the consultation itself states: “Councils are required to review their CTR schemes annually and consult on any proposed changes to them.” The council had initially decided to not retain the option as it had been.

“Options were taken to Executive Board for approval and it was decided that the council would not be consulting on the current scheme as an option due to the council’s current financial position.”

At the time, ITV West reported that: “The Mayor of Bristol says changes must be considered but the most vulnerable people will still be protected.

‘We are facing some of the most difficult decisions on how we fund public services in Bristol’s history. All the options presented recommend continuing to support those in severe financial need and take into account the need for a discretionary fund and some protections for those worst off’. [ITV]

We don’t yet know what will come to OSMB on 8 July but the three options suggested initially for the CTR are listed in the following consultation document.

  1. Make a 25% payment mandatory for those on CTR
  2. Make a 7.5% payment mandatory for those receiving CTR
  3. Develop a banded scheme with various options ranging from payment of 25% to 75%.

The deadline for any public questions to OSMB were due 2 July so it is not possible to ask about it. I have lodged a formal complaint about the lack of reports and timely information.

Occupy Bristol: going, going, gone?

The Bristol Council and Cathedral today announced that they are starting proceedings to evict Occupy Bristol from their position in central Bristol.

The ugly mess that they occupy at College Green is offset by the message ‘excuse us for the inconvenience we’re only trying to change the world’. It has been a few months since the tents moved into their new home but the world hasn’t changed and the mess has got even uglier.

As ugly as the money the bankers took from the state? As ugly as their bonuses and the peoples’ lives they’ve destroyed? Countries have fallen apart, unemployment is increasing, train fares, consumer prices, costs are all rising. How much of that can we blame on the banks? A lot of it apparently and the rest to the 1% perhaps.

The Occupy movement is a breath of fresh air in actively making their anger known about the corruption and disparity in society. One of the best things about the Occupy campaign is the call to move our money from the banks to building societies and co-ops that are owned by us.

It’s a brilliant idea and yet I only heard about it when I sought out OccupyBristol website and searched through the posts.

On Twitter and online I had only been noticing some messages from individuals about how great it is to talk to various people such as Buddhist monks, philosophy students, etc. all with very liberal and cultural leanings. This was of little interest to me although part of the Occupy movement is to work towards the kind of world we all want.

Fighting against the inequalities of those who have against those who don’t is something I fully support. An inactive squat in the middle of what was once a peaceful and aesthetically pleasing area in central Bristol isn’t much of a sacrifice if it was being used to change the world. I don’t see much evidence of this change and since the people living there are representing me, as part of the 99%, I think the burden is on them to at least promote their intentions.

However I am also open to the idea that we don’t hear about the intentions about this camp because the local media aren’t very helpful in promoting it. That may be so, I don’t know. I do know that the other big news about illegal occupations at this moment in time are in reference to the Costa franchises which are illegally running without proper planning permission. The Bristol City Council have said that the law works slowly which is why they aren’t shut down yet. Let’s see how quickly eviction takes place on some citizens unarmed with a big corporation’s money and power behind them.

For more information see

West End, Bristol; All part of the planning

There is an intriguing post on Bristol Culture which questions the use of the terms West End and Harbourside for the city of Bristol. From where did these terms originate and why does no one seem to know to which areas they refer? It turns out I live one of the two but even I am not sure in which one.

The only signs I had seen that refer to the West End were on the car park at Jacob Well’s Road and on some signs in the city centre. The Harbourside, as editor Martin Booth points out, seemed more of a construct of Crest Nicholson, rather than a real area. However, I was wrong or more likely, just not very well informed which is half ironic and half apt as Bristol has been taking part in the Legible City Initiative in order to make such things clear.

The Legible City project began in 1996 and has so far seen the creation of over 40 projects including clear signs, maps of Bristol and i-plus talking points around the city. The aim was to connect Bristol in a way that made connections and sites of value abundantly clear to tourists and businesses.

Some success is evident as the existence of the Harbourside and the West End have started to filter through to people but the fact that they are two of the nine neighbourhoods created in 1992 has not been made as clear. They happen, however, to sit snuggly among Broadmead, the Old City, Old Market, Redcliffe, Stokes Croft, St Michael’s and Temple.

The neighbourhoods were defined in council planning policy from the 1998 publication of the City Centre Strategy. In November 2005, the Bristol City Centre Strategy and Area Action Plan 2005 – 2010 was published as part of the Local Development Framework due to requirements set out in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

Apparently the West End [see map] and Harbourside [see map] are real neighbourhoods. The regeneration, of all these varied sections of the Bristol City Centre, has been part of a strategy since the Bristol Initiative in 1988 as a way of revitalising a downturn in investment.

The latest City Centre Strategy, which is now one year out of date, provides profiles of the neighbourhoods and some clarity as to their location and existence. It turns out that the promotion of these areas is a marketing scheme but it is one pursued by the Bristol City Council rather than sole private investors. It’s hard to tell the difference when it comes to the description of the West End:

The West End can be divided into four distinct sub-areas. The shops and restaurants fronting Park Street and Queens Road give life and vitality along the principal route between College Green and the Victoria Rooms. To the west, the neighbourhood contains the attractive mature parkland of Brandon Hill, crowned by the Cabot Tower and surrounded by an established residential community. To the east lie some of the city centre’s major evening leisure attractions, part of which is one focus for the lesbian and gay community. To the south, contrasting with these leisure attractions are important cultural, civic and education institutions. College Green provides a civic focus for the city and a fitting introduction to the West End.

Who would have thought.

Up ↑