We must apologise for not always updating the website as speedily as we should - here's the latest news:
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and schools closed, Cotham School made a shocking announcement. It has LOCKED Stoke Lodge 24/7 until September, in breach of its lease, and has ignored appeals from our MP, from Councillors, and from many members of the public, to change its position. What possible reason does it have for this action? Well, it has offered 4 reasons:
1. Cotham says locking the gates is required by the government. No, it isn't. All over the UK, sports pitches are out of use for team games, but the land isn't closed to the public - in fact government guidance is that exercising once a day within social distancing rules is vital for health and well-being. The guidance now is that you shouldn't drive to exercise somewhere else - so for many local people the locking of the Lodge is a disaster.
2. Cotham says locking the gates is required by its insurer. But the insurer was happy when there was no fence at all. And the school originally promised the gates would only ever be locked when the school was on site, and the insurer must have been happy with that. Add to that the fact that the school has spent significant amounts installing three CCTV cameras to put the empty field under surveillance - how secure does grass need to be?
3. Cotham says locking the gates is required by its landlord. No, it isn't. BCC has made no such requirement and parks and open spaces all around Bristol are open for public use. Bristol needs more open space, not less, so that people can exercise safely!
4. Cotham says it can't justify sending people to lock and unlock every day - and we absolutely agree! So LEAVE THE GATES UNLOCKED! It's cheaper, it's quicker, it's easier, it avoids breaching the lease, it benefits the community without burdening the school at all and fundamentally it's the morally right thing to do at a time of national crisis when we should all be pulling together!
For more info, please watch and share this video.
Over just a few weeks in summer 2018, Bristol City Council planning officers performed a dramatic u-turn which allowed Cotham School to put up a 1.5km long, 2m high metal fence around the historic estate of a listed building with no planning application and no landlord oversight.
In doing so, officers turned curtilage land into non-curtilage land and declared that the security fence is 'not a structure'. What was going on behind the scenes? Our three videos let you decide for yourself, on the basis of evidence obtained under Freedom of Information rules.
Part 1: https://youtu.be/-66DIVdZEys (10 mins)
Part 2: https://youtu.be/5DUVV6Vdz7Q (8 mins)
Part 3: https://youtu.be/5sX_uV38Q5E (8 mins)
Please take the time to watch and ask yourself:
· Is it appropriate for a school to write to a council saying they should '...not give the community a chink to pop at'?
· Should a council reverse a 20-year view on curtilage based on entirely inadequate and biased material provided by an interested party?
· Has Bristol City Council retro fitted legal advice to a decision they had already made?
· Do Bristol developers just need political clout and closed doors at City Hall to get what they want?
· Can democracy win the day? What actions could BCC take to rectify this?
The actions of BCC officers are now being investigated by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, following our complaint of maladministration. The process will take several months - we will keep you posted!
When Cotham School arrived at Stoke Lodge, without warning, to build a 2m high, mile long high security fence our amazing community came together at Stoke Lodge to protect many beautiful protected trees. So many people gave up hours on thier time standing in the freezing cold, sleet, snow and rain for over 8 weeks - making a huge difference. One of the fabulous 'tree watch team' is also a great musican - listen to this ! What goes up...WILL COME DOWN.