October 2023: News from your Clifton Down councillors Carla Denyer and Tom Hathway

Hello from your Clifton Down councillors! If you live in the area between Pembroke Road in the west, to Hampton Road in the east, and right up the length of Whiteladies Road, then we are your local Green Party councillors. It’s great to see a new community magazine connecting all with the latest news and updates from our area and we wish it all the success.

It’s been a busy summer in Clifton Down, with work on restoring the corner of Alma Road and Whiteladies Road nearly complete after we secured funding in 2021. The project was allocated Community Infrastructure Levy money, which is paid by developers when they get planning permission and goes towards improving the area. Work has seen lamps painted, benches and bins replaced, a chess board and chairs added, and the planter cleared ready for planting. We are pleased to support the Clifton Down Community Association in planting it up – if you’d like to help in early October you can find details on the new noticeboard in the planter facing onto Whiteladies Road.

Work has also begun on making the Cotham Hill pedestrianisation permanent, following huge public support in the local survey about the temporary scheme. Unfortunately the government’s funding deadlines meant that the roadworks had to begin in the summer. Not ideal, but we have been working closely with traders and residents to minimise disruption and plan ahead where possible. Works will be finished by the end of 2023, with new planting and seating, wider footpaths, and enhanced pedestrian priority across junctions just some of the improvements to the street scene. 

Making roads safer and more welcoming for all users (including pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, etc) is an essential part of Bristol tackling climate change. We hope to see more communities benefitting from plans that reduce rat-running and encourage street trading and active travel in the future. The council is now consulting on a plan for the future of Broadmead and the Castle Park area. It’s our chance to add pressure for greening the city, improving public transport links and adding quality, mid-rise housing to the mix to breathe new life into our high streets around Broadmead. Please take a moment to feedback via the online consultation hub: ask.bristol.gov.uk 

To tackle the housing crisis we need new affordable housing in Bristol, but also to improve poor quality existing homes. In Bristol, 1/3 of residents are private renting, and over half of us in Clifton Down. The UK rental market was de-regulated in 1988, giving landlords powers to set rents and evict tenants without fault. As council housing stocks have dwindled, more of us live in the private rented sector than ever before, and rents have sky-rocketed by over 50% in Bristol over the past decade. Tom has supported tenants at Queens Court, the art-deco block on Queens Road, whose London-based owners hit them with rent increases between 20-50% this year despite the building being run down. Council inspections produced a long list of repairs and improvements the owners needed to make, but a lack of rent control powers for councils still leaves most tenants with a significant hike on their largest monthly outgoing.

While the Conservative government drag their heels on long-promised rental reform, thankfully Bristol is taking initiative and looking to expand landlord licensing in the city. In our area landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (aka shared houses, bedsits, or HMOs) of 3 or more people from different families, require a licence to operate. The proposals would expand that to all HMOs across Bristol. They are also considering new “Selective” licensing, effectively covering all other privately rented homes, into three wards: Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham, and Easton. Unfortunately the Labour administration didn’t consult with us on the proposals otherwise we would have lobbied hard for including Clifton Down. Again we’d encourage you to feed back through  ask.bristol.gov.uk