At the end of last week the occupants of the Bearpit were suddenly evicted, and the whole space fenced off. We at the Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft were as surprised as anyone. Maybe more so, as Bristol City Council had signed documents with us, including guarantees that we’d be consulted throughout the process.
Although Marvin spoke in defense of the sudden clearance on BBC Bristol, neither he, or anyone else at the council have taken responsibility for giving the order. Despite our best investigative efforts we’ve drawn a blank, with the Mayor’s office, the council executive & the police all denying any involvement or foreknowledge. As with many aspects of local politics since the implementation of our mayoral system, there seems to be a massive democratic deficit, with no transparency or accountability for decisions made.
Given the legal assurances we had received, and how much care we had put into ensuring that the structures we built could be easily taken apart (so all the materials could be saved and re-used elsewhere) we were shocked and saddened to see the contractors using a digger to smash them down.
Among other clauses, the agreement states the “BCC will take all reasonable care in the dismantling and removal of items with a view to their re-use elsewhere. BCC will liaise with PRSC in this regard.”
The contents of the structures (many £100s worth, which we’d also been assured would be delivered back to us) were heaped in the middle of the Bearpit, and were obviously damaged beyond repair.
Whilst there are broader issues around the council’s treatment of those involved in the Bearpit project, these actions, for which no-one in the council seems to be willing to take responsibility, not only break the agreement we’d made, but constitute a massive waste of resources.
We stated many times that the infrastructure in the Bearpit (which we’d offered to BCC) would best have been used in situ, and removal was a waste itself. The wanton destruction playing out in the Bearpit is a gross waste of both the resources of the PRSC, a community business which invested massively in improving the space, and even more public money, which BCC can clearly ill afford.
We continue to investigate these actions, who ordered them, and what has been done with removed materials, and any information in this regard will be gratefully received.