CHIS Newsletter, February 2013

Letter from the Chairman

The talk given at November’s Annual General Meeting was greatly appreciated. Tim St John of Bristol Water described the massive project currently underway to restore or replace water pipes great and small, requiring amongst other tasks, 2,200 connections to individual properties to be renewed, in this part of Bristol alone. This was a reassuring addition to the Company’s detailed and courteous handling of relations with its customers.

Elected to the Committee as Trustees were Christopher Jefferies for three years and Maggie Shapland for a further three. Roger Snary in the Treasurer’s Report presented a satisfying set of audited accounts; he was especially pleased with the good husbandry whereby Committee members had purchased on the Society’s behalf a considerable number of postage stamps before the projected increase in price.

At the Remembrance Day Service on the eleventh of the eleventh itself (a very rare event) Richard Bland again laid our wreath. Attendance at this striking ceremony has risen over the years from half a dozen to nearly two hundred including participating school children. The service was advertised in our November Newsletter, which prompts me to apologize to some of our members who did not receive their copy owing to technical problems. This should not happen again.

The major event for Bristol in 2012 was surely the election of a Mayor. CHIS sent congratulations to George Ferguson, more than formally in view of the imaginative work he and like-minded associates put in to restore the dilapidated Hotwells and Clifton in the 60s from widespread decay and unfashionableness. Inevitably there will be controversy over some of the Mayor’s policies as they evolve. One such will not receive congratulations from CHIS: the suggested closure of Bristol’s public conveniences is deplorable for residents and for tourists (whose numbers the City wants to increase and put Bristol on the international map). Very likely, if asked, most people would ask for the establishment of more public conveniences.

Reports that English Heritage would suspend provision of the commemorative Blue Plaques, generally in London, prompted us to offer advice on how to do it in a letter to the national press:

Sir,

It is a relief to hear that the National Trust may step in to run the Blue Plaques scheme in place of English Heritage.

Our practice may be of interest. The Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society has for nearly fifty years throughout Bristol 8 erected Green Plaques to commemorate notable residents like WG Grace, Sir Humphrey Davy, Walter Savage Landor, Hester Thrale and many others covering all periods.

Quite often the owner of the designated building not only welcomes the plaque but also contributes to the cost and accompanying ceremony and reception.

yours sincerely, etc.

A tip: if you are ever near the Wellington Arch by Piccadilly do visit the top floor where there is a museum of the Blue Plaques (and extensive views over the Royal Parks and Gardens).

Planning developments are as numerous as ever. At the Pre-application exhibition of QEH’s alternative schemes for additional laboratories etc we were impressed by the ingenious use of a constricted site, the organizers’ consideration of neighbours and the visual impact generally. An Appeal by the Whiteladies Cinema developers was held at the Mansion House and attended by Linda Edwards; the outcome is not known. CHIS supports the aims of the group which urges the need for a public performance space. The Localism Act is gradually coming into effect: Christopher Jefferies will attend a three-day conference about it at the Watershed in early July.

There are plentiful notices on lamp posts to advertise the Traffic Department’s intention to alter some parking restrictions in Bristol 8. In Clifton East moves are afoot to consult residents about a Residents’ Parking scheme, as has been established in adjacent Cotham, Redland and Kingsdown. The Mayor is reported to think that an overall scheme for the City might be preferred to piecemeal extensions. CHIS is to exchange views with other amenities groups and business people.

The ever-running sore, Refuse, is still running in a suburb, which in places is made squalid by left-out bins, boxes and black bags. The neglect, amounting to refusal, of some officers to enforce regulations will soon prompt official complaint to the Mayor and Council. However, other officers have seen to the removal of A-boards that obstruct pavements, though reportedly in Princess Victoria Street not uncontroversially. Happily the recently re-paved sections of the pavement have been stabilized.

It is good to see Mortimer House in the process of restoration and development. Another significant fact is that a Regency terraced house is to revert from flats to family dwelling, continuing a welcome trend. Residents may well be pleased that an application for the extension of licensing hours by an establishment in Hotwells Road has been rejected. We hope that the corner shop at the Bridge end of Princess Victoria Street will remain as a valuable local amenity.

The Royal Coat of Arms in Victoria Square is safely and finely restored. Residents have sent a gracious card thanking us for our support of the project. That is very gratifying, especially as these days it is not such a common act. We have stopped sending congratulations to one local institution since it cannot be bothered even to acknowledge receipt of our letter.

Brian Worthington