Residents fight plans to demolish 1,000 homes in Knowle West, Bristol
THE ongoing uncertainty over plans to demolish 1,000 homes in Knowle West could play a major part in this election.
Although residents have welcomed the idea of regenerating this long neglected part of the city, they have made it clear to Bristol City Council that large scale demolition should not go ahead.
People living in Inns Court – on the edge of the Filwood ward – have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the demolition part of the £1 billion regeneration plan.
Residents even put forward their own plan for the area, which massively scales back the demolition and relies on infilling and refurbishment of existing homes.
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Despite this – and repeated pleas for a decision – the council has yet to take demolition off the table.
So any potential gains the Liberal Democrats might take for progressing the scheme could be dampened by the lack of a final decision ahead of the local elections.
Regardless, like many parts of south Bristol, this looks like a safe Labour seat.
Labour has held it in three of the last four elections and, although the Liberal Democrats used to do well here, they came a distant third in 2007.
The Tories were second and the Greens fourth but none of them put much of a dent in an overwhelming red majority.
The ward is bounded by Wingfield Road in Lower Knowle to the north to the Hartcliffe roundabout to the south.
It stretches from Throgmorton Road in the east to Pigeonhouse Stream in the east.
There is a reason why the regeneration of Knowle West is such a hot topic – Filwood is a ward with a lot of problems, particularly when it comes to young people.
Rates of cancer, heart disease and death by age 75 are "significantly" above the city average.
Four parts of the ward are among the most deprived in the country – Throgmorton Road, Ilminster Avenue West, Filwood Broadway and Inns Court.
Although there has been little population growth in the ward in the last 10 years, Filwood has the second highest number of children in Bristol.
The most recent figures – 2008 – show more than 3,000 in the ward, around a quarter of the population.
Unfortunately, many of them would appear to have real issues.
Youth offending is higher than average in Filwood, and it has one of the lowest educational achievement rates in the city.
There are also high levels of emergency hospital admissions for children and young people, teenage pregnancies, children in social care and substance abuse.
Just one in four people surveyed said they thought parents take responsibility for their children.
It has twice the rate of benefits claimants than neighbouring Knowle and Windmill Hill, and more lone parents are claimants.
There's a higher-than-average crime rate too. Whoever is elected to the seat on May 5 certainly faces a lot of challenges.
Results in 2007, Filwood
Jeff Lovell (Lab): 1,311 (elected)
Antony Morrison: (Con) 284
David Rothwell: (Lib Dem) 205
Graham Davey: (Green) 150
Connaught Primary School, Melvin Square; St Barnabas Church, Daventry Road; Greenfield Primary School, Nover Lane;
Filwood Library, Filwood Broadway.
More detailed maps online: www. bristol.gov.uk/WardFinder/pdfs/filwoodmap-high.pdf