Survey results: Use Bristol mayor George Ferguson's millions to get rid of eyesores
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson should use some of his "windfall millions" to pay for ridding the city of eyesore derelict sites such as Westmoreland House in Stokes Croft and the former Grosvenor Hotel in Temple Way.
This emerged as the people's favourite in a survey we launched on ThisisBristol after The Post revealed the mayor will have an estimated £14 million to spend on capital projects during the next six years.
We suggested a number of ideas where the money could possibly be spent and underwriting compulsory purchase orders on eyesore sites was top of the wish list with 19 per cent.
This was closely followed by using some of the money to pay for a long-awaited arena in city to provide a venue for rock concerts and other large-scale events (18 per cent).
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
In joint third place was building a council-run ice-rink and more affordable homes to ease the city's housing shortage (11 per cent).
A total of 620 people took part in the survey which revealed other ideas for spending some of the money.
• Kick-starting the city's tram system, which was used before the Second World War;
• Saving Filton Airfield;
• Funding the Bristol Metro – a project to bring unused local railway lines back into use.
One suggestion was to pay for the reinstatement of 300 council jobs which have already been lost because of civic cuts.
But under the Government rules, the money cannot be used to pay for the council's running costs – only what is regarded as "infrastructure".
Since we ran our survey, the council has revealed a list of what is meant by this and what was agreed before Mr Ferguson took office on where the money can be spent.
• The first three routes of the Bus Rapid Transit system – Long Ashton park and ride to the city centre, the South Bristol Link and the North Fringe to Hengrove;
• Existing Parks and Green Spaces identified in the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy;
• School Schemes set out in the Schools Organisation Strategy;
• Regeneration projects in Lockleaze and Knowle West;
• Flood defence measures.
Mr Ferguson said: "I'm determined that we make the most of the new Community Infrastructure Levy to support future growth in the city. Rules dictate that we use it for infrastructure development, which does give us some flexibility on how we use it, although it cannot be used for new homes.
"I agree wholeheartedly with Post readers – delivering an arena for Bristol is a priority, and CIL can potentially contribute.
"Resolving eyesores like Westmoreland House / Carriageworks is again very crucial and we will use CPO powers if necessary. The rules of CIL mean we cannot use it for this purpose but we'll find other ways.
"The council is currently seeking a developer to work with the community to develop the site – I am hoping for good news soon."
The windfall millions are coming from a new "developers' tax", which has been introduced by the Government and which will gradually replace most current planning deals, known as "Section 106 agreements".
Under the new rules, developers will have to pay a tax for new building projects which is calculated on size of development and other factors. For example, they pay less depending on the number of affordable homes which are included in a scheme.
Council officers have estimated the new tax will generate about £4 million a year by 2018.
It could be ring-fenced to spend on specific items such as a new school, highway improvements or landscaping in a nearby park.
But most of the developers' tax will go into a citywide fund for infrastructure projects and a portion will be siphoned off to the city's 14 neighbourhood partnerships for them to spend how they wish.