Rapid bus debate descends into farce
BRISTOL City council will push ahead with plans for a £48 million bendy bus route – despite warnings from the Government that the money may not be there to fund it.
There were farcical scenes at the Council House last night when members adjourned for their second tea break in two hours in the middle of a debate on the scheme.
The authority is looking for the Government to pay £40 million towards the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads scheme – but with the Department for Transport facing cuts of £683 million this year, that looks increasingly uncertain.
At last night's council meeting, members agreed to risk £170,000 moving to the next stage of the scheme, arguing that to do nothing would only guarantee the council will get nothing.
Bridal hand tied bouquet (Roses)
2 Bridesmaids (Roses)
Groom & Best Man button holes (Roses)
Discounted rates apply to larger Bridal party requests.
Not to be used with any other offer.
Contact: 0117 2448228
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
A number of members of the public raised concerns about the route before the debate, including the Bristol Civic Society and the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance.
Executive member for transport Councillor Gary Hopkins (Lib Dem, Knowle) said: "A few months ago and this looked like a quick ten seconds and no questions, but there now clearly are questions.
"We should know in late autumn where we stand in terms of funding. We might get no funding at all. But if we fail to follow through or dither, we will get nothing."
Conservative Peter Abraham (Stoke Bishop) tried to put a last-minute motion to defer a decision on the scheme.
Mr Abraham said: "What I'm very concerned about is that we are being advised by the Government we should go no further and make no commitments.
"If you go with this today, you are at high risk."
Head of legal services Stephen McNamara said the deferment was not possible under council rules, which led to Lord Mayor Colin Smith calling an adjournment for tea so the Tories could consider an alternative motion.
Liberal Democrats protested, prompting Mr Smith to insist "we're going to tea". One Lib Dem replied "Well, we won't".
After the 20-minute break, councillors approved the motion after the Tories agreed to just have their concerns noted.
They had adjourned for tea less than two hours previously after a ceremony to honour former councillors that preceded the main meeting overran by 20 minutes.
This led to an angry response from dozens of members of the public who had waited patiently to have their say on a range of issues during public speaking time.
When the 40 minutes allowed for public statements and questions ran out, councillors were heckled by people who had not had a chance to speak and who claimed members were more concerned with "slapping their own backs" during the service to confer the title of alderman to the former councillors, than hearing what they had to say.
One said: "We're the public, we're the ones you should be consulting" and another said "go and have another cup of tea".
Councillors then voted to extend public speaking time twice.