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Local paper blamed for snail's pace of Bristol Cycling City

Evening Post has stirred up 'reputational problems', council officer claims...

Bristol's Cycling City status has an image problem – and it's all the fault of the local paper.

That's the view of a Bristol City Council officer's report to the city's audit committee, in which they admit targets to double the number of people on bikes might not be met by the £23million project's 2011 deadline.

Although the council has been criticised by the public, cyclists and funders Cycle England for not delivering quickly enough, it appears to think the root of the problem lies elsewhere.

Under "key issues and problems", the report states: "Stakeholder engagement has not been a smooth process and this has contributed to the continued reputational problems for the project, with the Bristol Evening Post in particular being hostile."

A council spokeswoman was quick to deny the allegation against the Post was officially sanctioned. Kate Hartas said: "The comment was the individual personal view of an officer which should have been removed from a professional report.

"We apologise for this error.

"One of our identified risks is that cycling may not be doubled by the exact finish date. This is an identifed risk, not an identified fact.

"But in any case, the project is pulling out all the stops, and even if the exact target is missed slightly, it is not far beyond that date that the target will be achieved and more."

But according to the audit committee report, the "reputational problem" is down to the Evening Post.

The scheme started in October 2008 and is due to be completed by next March.

This gives the council just over a year to deliver on the rest of the project's promises, but even council officers admit this may not happen.

Under "risk management", the report states that key risks include: "Not achieving targets to double cycling in Bristol due to extremely short timescale of the project."

So far the council has spent £2.2m of the £8.2m of Cycling England cash that goes to Bristol, with another £3.5m to be spent by the end of the financial year.

If the council does not spend the rest of that money by next March, it will have to be returned.

The money the council put up for the scheme includes £8.2m worth of cycling related projects that are already under way.

Councillor Jon Rogers, member for transport and sustainability, said: "The Evening Post is a huge and vital part of this debate. It is ridiculous to get defensive about criticism. Identifying public concerns and responding to them is our core business."

According to the Post, the authority has refused to identify the author of the report.




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trig74 | 14 years ago

I drove through Bristol this morning after visiting family for the weekend. I didn't see one cyclist as I drove from the Long Ashton bypass through town to the M32. I love Bristol as I'm from there but is it's status as a 'cycling city' really valid? I now live near Cambridge which is like Amsterdam, lets hope Bristol folk take to their bikes.

therevokid | 14 years ago

finally then it's official .... they haven't done
anything with the money they were given .... still never
expected them to anyway. Definately not feeling a whole
lotta love for the city I live in  2

Chuffy | 14 years ago

Oh and if you work in local govt, you *do not* pick a fight with the local rag, however frustrating it is to see the rubbish they print. The local rag is the medium through which public debates are carried out (which is in part why politics is so screwed in this country) so there's no point trying to argue with them. The local rag is *never* wrong, *never* apologises for misleading people and *never* accepts that it is an active player in any given scenario.

Chuffy | 14 years ago

I can't comment on Bristol CC or the local rag, but I do know from personal experience that local rags are deeply unreliable as sources of information, especially when it comes to local govt. If there has been distorted misrepresentation of the issues, as Jon describes, then that doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

Jon Burrage | 14 years ago

Agreed, pretty much everything that is happening within the bristol city council area is poor and embarrassing but the evening post is factually incorrect on pretty much everything it writes regarding this topic.

cactuscat | 14 years ago

bless, Bristol council. that's the most pathetic thing i've ever heard. There hasn't been much 'Stakeholder engagement' because you haven't done much, and the things you have done have been risible. if you'd made a decent fist of it, then the Post wouldn't have had a story.

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