Please note, as with all blog posts, this is the opinion of Councillor Tom Brook and does not necessarily represent the view of the wider Bishopston & Ashley Down Labour Party.
On Tuesday, the Mayor will make a decision about what to do with the land currently allocated for Bristol’s Arena. The day before, there will be a Full Council debate on the subject.
I believe that Bristol’s arena should be built at Temple Meads, and that an arena at the Temple Island site is a better option than a mixed-use development.
Clearly there are those who disagree, otherwise we wouldn’t be having the Full Council debate on Monday.
As an engineer, throughout this long-running episode I have been trying to approach the options with an open mind and have used the facts presented to draw my final conclusion. I know that others, such as Marvin and colleagues in the Labour Group, have done the same. Whilst we may have drawn different conclusions, our common ground is that we have all been acting with Bristol’s best interests at heart.
As elected representatives of the people, I had expected opposition councillors to do likewise. But it is becoming clear to me that, whilst this is true for some of them, many are just seeing the arena as a cynical opportunity to score political points.
Arenas are not environmentally friendly buildings. They’re huge empty spaces that need constant heating and require lots of energy to run, not to mention all of the embedded carbon in their construction. And even if Bristol’s arena is sited next to Temple Meads Station, it will still be heavily car-dependent, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of car journeys a year. Why have we not heard more from the Green Party on this? On how the best environmental option is not Temple Meads, but to not have an arena at all? Because they’re trying to score their “easy” political points!
And as for the Conservatives, we have a situation where the party of austerity and Thatcher is promoting spending £173m of public money, whilst an alternative offer from the private sector is on the table. What would the TaxPayers’ Alliance think? The Conservative Group don’t care, because they’re too busy being politically opportunist!
Then finally, it comes as no surprise to me that the petty voices within Bristol’s politics, such as those of the Lib Dems and the former mayor, are taking the opportunity to knock Labour.
Shame on them all.
I urge all councillors, and others engaged in politics in Bristol, to reflect and reassess – do you truly believe, after taking all of the facts into account, in the option you’re advocating? If so, then great. If not, if you’re not following your real political convictions, then what are you in politics for?
As Marvin has said before, put petty politics aside and work with us for the good of Bristol.