Local Labour Councillors for St George’s three wards have voted to invest nearly £530,000 in community improvement projects, after working with their constituents and local community groups to identify priorities. At their Community Infrastructure Fund (CIL) meeting in City Hall last week, Labour Councillors Nicola Beech, Fabian Breckels, Asher Craig, and Steve Pearce voted to invest fees collected from developers to make St George an even better, and safer, place to live for their local residents.

Commenting following the meeting, where she backed the £200,000 award for Meadowvale Community Centre, Councillor Nicola Beech said:

 “It is an absolute privilege to represent Speedwell and support the community association with their transformational plans. For too long it has been felt that Speedwell has been ignored and all too often missed out on community funds. Today, that has changed and this new hub will be a fantastic resource for us all.”

Councillor Asher Craig, who ensured the £150,000 of future funding agreed for St George Park lake, said:

 “St George Park is the heart of our community and green lungs of our neighbourhood, and has evolved greatly over its history. A market garden for the city in the 1860s, with the park created when the lake and bandstand were added in the 1890s, these latest exciting plans to restore the lake and boost biodiversity will make St George Park an even better place for future generations to enjoy.”

After steering through up to £55,000 for improved parking measures, Councillor Fabian Breckels said:

 “The area is already used informally for parking but can attract litter. With up to £55,000 secured I’m sure that by working with the community and officers we can come up with a scheme that provides a safe and attractive parking area for a lot less than the funds allocated.”

Councillor Steve Pearce, explaining his support for the £50,000 investment in road safety, said:

 “As the incident which happened on Hillside Road on Saturday demonstrates, this funding is much-needed to improve road safety in our patch. These vital traffic calming measures will make St George’s streets safer for everyone – school children, patients, and residents.”

Councillor Craig, who delivered £48,000 of investment for St George Community Centre, added:

 “St George Community Association has done great work running our community centre for more than twenty years. I’m delighted that access to the building will be improved for disabled people and those with young children, and better integrated with neighbouring St George Park, together with works to increase energy efficiency  given the climate emergency which we are working all the time to tackle.”

 Regarding the additional £26,000 of funds secured for further road safety measures, Councillor Breckels added:

 “These are the latest road safety and traffic calming measures which I have helped secure in my decade as a councillor for St George. I am delighted that these funds have been signed off and look forward to working with officers to ensure safer journeys for everyone travelling along Conham Road and enjoying the riverside.”

Notes to Editor

The wards of St George West, St George Troopers Hill, and St George Central stretch from Redfield to the edges of Kingswood/Hanham, and from Dundridge/Conham Vale to Speedwell. The area has been represented by all Labour councillors since 2013, when Councillor Steve Pearce won the fourth St George seat from the Tories.

This continued Labour investment follows other recent projects supported by the awesome foursome of St George councillors, including around £145,000 of works to enhance the kiosk in St George Park and provide new public toilet facilities near the children’s play area in the heart of Councillor Asher Craig’s ward, together with new CCTV to tackle anti-social behaviour. It also comes alongside £25,000 of path improvements in Troopers Hill field/nature reserve – taking local Labour Councillors’ CIL/Section 106 approved investment in St George over the last two years to almost £700,000, with the total brought to more than three-quarters of a million pounds when unlocked external funding is added in.

These CIL decisions mirror St George’s Labour councillors’ backing for Mayor Marvin Rees’ budgets to deliver for Bristol. Said budgets saw all libraries in Bristol protected, and St George library’s opening hours extended to include Sundays, despite national austerity which has seen 100 branches close per year since 2010. The Mayor’s Budget, voted through only thanks to Labour councillors, also safeguarded the future of the Speedwell children’s centre, despite national cuts which have seen 1,000 Sure Start centres close under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition and subsequent Tory governments.

£200,000 has been awarded to the Meadowvale Community Association to transform their community centre and increase capacity to 120 people (twelve bookings were lost in 2019 due to the current limited space). Meadowvale are working with partners to create additional activities for teenagers and retired people, as well as joining efforts to eradicate holiday hunger among children. The new funding will see a new community hub for all ages built in Speedwell, including a café, sports hall, function room, and community garden. The works will represent a significant extension of the site, after trustees have worked hard over the years to gradually renovate the site, with the support of long-standing local Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy and the late Labour Councillor Ron Stone, who sadly passed away in 2015 after representing St George for three decades. The build is expected to take six months, with a hoped-for opening date in the autumn of 2020.

£150,000 of future CIL funding has also been agreed for restoration and improvements work for the lake in St George Park. The plans see an amphitheatre, boardwalk across the lake with viewing/pond dipping platform, island for birds, creation of shallow marshlands/wetlands, circular path, and new seating. These works will increase public enjoyment and the biodiversity of aquatic plants, birds, amphibians, and insects at and around the lake, according to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. The funding also enables the Friends of St George Park group to seek an additional circa £60,000 for the project, including to repairs the lake edges and air pump system, together with support from the Bristol Parks budget. Planning consent will be required for the works to the Victorian ornamental lake, which dates back to 1884, with an application expected in the spring of 2020. The phases of the project are expected to be completed in 2021/22. History of St George Park: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/documents/20182/32927/History+of+St+Georges+Park_0_0.pdf/333bc0d7-5078-4d4c-8555-dd36c4cd89a2

Up to £55,000 has been awarded to create a car park on Crews Hole Road in an area currently attracting fly-tipping and used informally for parking, enabling better access to natural open space including nearby Troopers Hill and the River Avon Trail. This application, backed by Friends of Troopers Hill, will see future public engagement ahead of project delivery in 2022/23.

£50,000 has been secured to develop traffic calming solutions on Hillside Road, currently a rat run. These works will slow traffic, protecting school children at Air Balloon Primary School, local residents, and patients using Air Balloon Doctors Surgery. Transport officers will work with councillors, and consult the community on the exact details of the scheme, which is expected to be built in 2020/21. A few days after these funds were approved, Avon & Somerset Police launched an investigation after a car was deliberately driven at a man on Hillside Road three times: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/news/2019/10/witnesses-sought-after-car-driven-deliberately-at-man-in-bristol/?fbclid=IwAR0F2-FJLtp2eAJdWKLBauvVqph70v-jo4utDj-TGJtm3P361zWqn-IA4LY

£48,000 will be invested in energy saving and access improvements at St George Community Centre. The registered charity which has ran the centre since 1996, St George Community Association, will ensure improved disabled access and entry systems for users with reduced mobility and those with buggies and small children. New external lighting, LED lighting inside the building, and an insulated ceiling will strengthen both security and visibility, making people safer at night. The energy efficient works will see annual usage reduced by 15%. There will also be improved access from the park, including a new gate, fencing, and a more accessible pathway, together with a new welcome arch to be designed by a local artist and residents. All works are planned to be completed by September 2020.

£26,000 has been secured to provide additional road safety warning signing and road markings in both directions at Conham Road, in order to alter drivers and raise the awareness of cyclists/pedestrians travelling/crossing in a place where residents have been complaining about the blind spot. Works will also be funded to clear and suppress vegetation at this corner, where the riverside path starts. Transport officers will work with councillors, and consult the community on the exact details of the scheme, which is expected to be built in 2020/21.

Further details about the CIL-funded projects can be found here (Meadowvale Community Centre p 413, St George Park p455, Hillside Road p 402, Crews Hole Road p 378, St George Community Centre p 435, and Conham Road p 391): https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=465&MId=5956&Ver=4

CIL committees covering different parts of the City of Bristol meet formally once a year to make decisions on the awarding of CIL and S106: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/people-communities/local-decision-making

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