On May 5 voters will choose 24 councillors to represent them on Bristol City Council. Over the next month we will look at all of the wards that are being contested, and all the candidates that are chasing your votes. Today is Bedminster.
BEDMINSTER is one of two wards where the election could be dominated by the ongoing row about Bristol City Football Club‘s new stadium.
Although the existing Ashton Gate site does not fall within the ward – it’s in neighbouring Southville – the proposed site of the new £92-million stadium at Ashton Vale does.
The battle lines have clearly been drawn – there are those who want the Ashton Vale fields to be used for the stadium and there are those who want it protected from any kind of development.
If you were just to look at the numbers, it’s clear what most people want.
More than 30,000 have signed an online petition in favour of the stadium, compared to around 1,200 who want the ground registered as a town green.
What’s not so clear is how many of the signatures on both sides come from the ward that Ashton Vale is actually in.
A brief look at both petitions shows plenty of people who live nowhere near the site – including Clifton and South Gloucestershire.
Any frustration on this issue could potentially favour the Greens more than any other party, as they are the only group to openly support the town green application and they have one seat in Southville already.
The effect the new Sainsbury‘s supermarket approved for the club’s current site at Ashton Gate could have on local trade is another ongoing issue for Bedminster and neighbouring Southville.
Although East Street and the busiest part of North Street aren’t actually in the ward, many of the people who use those shops are.
There are still concerns from traders that the new supermarket will damage local business although the council and the store say they will make efforts to avoid this happening.
Labour has held the seat for more than 15 years, though in 2007 it looked like their grip was slipping.
The Conservatives closed the gap but still came in second place by several hundred votes.
The ward is bordered by the lower end of North Street to the north, Ashton Vale and the fields next to it to the west, South Liberty Lane to the south and stops just short of the Malago Greenway in the east.
According to the statistics, residents are not particularly impressed with the quality of the green spaces in their area.
The council has promised to improve parks in the ward as part of the £87 million improvement plan, and unlike other parts of the city Bedminster has none that will be sold off.
Candidates for Bedminster ward
Name: Colin Smith
Experience: Councillor for Whitchurch Park 2002-06 and for Bedminster since 2007
Occupation: Has taken a sabbatical for a year to be Lord Mayor.
What difference will you make: I want to make Bedminster a better place to live by improving the few green spaces we have and help the local economy grow to create jobs for local people.
Name: Doug Newton
Age: Not given
Experience: Third time standing
Occupation: Chartered engineer
What difference will you make: I stand to guarantee Bedminster has a voice in the council – where any member see it as a place to drop unpopular building development and the planning department does not properly scrutinise developers.
Name: Ian Cooper
Lives: Not given
Experience: Not given
Occupation: Bus driver
What difference will you make: Bedminster needs a councillor who is visible in the community and will work hard to help heal the rifts over the stadium application.
Name: Robin Clapp
Experience: Third time standing in the ward
What difference will you make: A socialist and committed community activist, I will oppose all cuts to jobs and services as I did successfully in leading the 2008 campaign to keep Marksbury Road library open.
Other candidates – no details provided
GreenParty – Cath Slade
English Democrats – Jon Baker
Previous Results – 2007
Doug Newton – Conservative – 1,037 (30.7%)
Cath Slade – Green Party – 685 (20.3%)
Matthew Greenwood – Liberal Democrat – 353 (10.4%)
Ashton Vale Community Centre, Risdale Road
Luckwell Primary School, Luckwell Road
Compass Point South Street School
South Bristol Methodist Church Hall, British Road
For a detailed map, see http://www.bristol.gov.uk/WardFinder/pdfs/bedminstermap-high.pdf