As I write this today it’s Denise James birthday, Dee sadly died in 2019 after a battle with cancer. A similar amazing lady like Julie of Community Resolve who also died of cancer and championed the community events & youth issues, both ladies helped St George area as well.
For most in Fishponds, Denise will not be someone they have heard of, she was an employee of Bristol Council and a volunteer for Britain in Bloom. Between 2011 and 2016 Dee dedicated her time to areas of East Bristol, especially Greater Fishponds where she oversaw parks being updated, new parks, new play equipment, green spaces being made good again and working with volunteer groups to make a real difference.
During 2013 Greater Fishponds won Gold Pennant Award by South West in Bloom and The Spotted Cow Pub on Lodge Causeway won the most floral pub in the South West, this covered an area stretching all the way to Truro in Cornwall and for Fishponds to have reached this and then actually won is the biggest surprise ever from where Fishponds was just years earlier. If ever there is a time for closure of the Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership (parish council) then it’s with this final post. RIP Denise James and thank you from us all. The pictures and film below is thanks to Dee’s time in Greater Fishponds. Katie Haydon and Abdul Razak Dahir who led the partnership are always thanked as well and we wish them well.
In 2004 Speedwell Swimming Pool was closed with a promise to open a new swimming pool as part of the new Bristol Brunel Academy school building, however when the school opened in 2007 by PM Gordon Brown, the pool wasn’t built and the Liberal Democrats made it as part of a six to fix election promise for Bristol to build a new swimming pool at Bristol Brunel Academy if they win in 2009 which they won by a landslide. In 2012 after being reminded of this promise the Bristol Liberal Democrats budgeted nearly £6 Million to build a new exciting pool next to the new sports facilities complex at the new school. Three months later and after £525,000 spent on the plans (plans below), the pool was ready to be be built. In November 2012 the Elected Mayor for Bristol was chosen to run the city and George Ferguson cut the pool so that a new Arena could be built at Temple Meads and all as part of austerity cuts and so the city was still being able to have a city central arena which was supported by full council at City Hall (council house). With this decision to cut a new Speedwell Pool, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats said they wanted the pool and shouted from the rooftops. Labour in particular wanted the new Speedwell Pool above anything else and Cllr Ron Stone led the campaign for an new pool for the rest of his life (rip Cllr Ron Stone).
For the next three and half years Labour brought up the need for a new swimming pool for Speedwell at each and every meeting at City Hall, they cried more crocodile tears than there is water found in the Harbourside for a new Speedwell Pool. No meeting ever passed without a new pool mentioned, every campaign had the flyers mentioning the need for a new pool and every meeting had the new Speedwell Pool as the top priority for North East Bristol. From 2009 to 2015 in particular every priority for Hillfields neighbourhood meetings saw the people vote for a new Speedwell Pool above anything else, they chose this above policing priorities and above grants for other priorities. Sometimes Neighbourhood Officers were surprised that the pool was the chosen priority but they all accepted it.
In late Spring 2016 Labour were elected to run Bristol, the people who voted Labour finally would see their new Swimming Pool built at Bristol Brunel Academy and the old Fire Station would have the new Primary School which the site was bought to become but had been temporarily used for guardian housing and the promised Arena would still go ahead at Temple Meads as the election promise by Marvin Rees throughout his campaign. However now just weeks before 2021 there’s no new Arena at Temple Meads (see a link below by Joanna Booth), no new Swimming Pool at Speedwell and no new Primary School on the old Fire Station site. It’s not political to write this here, it’s factual. Instead of a new swimming pool, today Jubilee Swimming Pool based across the city faces closure under Labour. How is any of this democratic when Marvin was elected with Labour promises?
Picture above shows the new swimming pool which has never been built and this picture is all that remains from £525,000 of investment on the plans.
One man, two plans, and approval guaranteed by freelance journalist Joanna Booth
The new Arena at Temple Meads which was an election promise by Marvin Rees was cancelled. Freedom of Information tells an alarming story.
It took a decade but we got there in the end, our new path from Half Penny Bridge in the Frome Valley to College Road in Fishponds to help primary and secondary schools and 1000s of all other users in now completed. In the end lots of people are thanked by keeping up the pressure to make sure this happens with the money we found. This brings our work nicely to an end. It’s been good to serve you all since 2008 where initially it all started as website resource for Hillfields and grew to become the Greater Fishponds area website. During those 12 years we have started community orgs such as The Begbrook Retirement Club to help older people across Greater Fishponds and The Hillfields Community Trust which hosted a number of large community events such as Diamond Jubilee in HIllfields Park and saved both Hillfields Library and Hillfields Youth Centre from closure and possible demolition. This website will stay here now and sometimes be updated ad hoc. We wish you all well. Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b0ek34OAUA
In Mid October we’re now fully in to autumn and as I write this it’s a beautiful sunny day with brass coloured trees, birds singing and the last warmth felt as summer fights desperately to cling on to 2020 but damp, crisp air is days away and with that comes the winds of winter felt for five months as the clocks change to shorter days. In Greater Fishponds it’s time to visit your Frome Valley and connect with nature and well-being.
Explore faith buildings in the wider community. Most have youth memberships attached to them like here at St Johns Church on Lodge Causeway in the heart of Fishponds. 66th St John’s Scouts and Guides group celebrated centenary in recent years along with many other groups in the Greater Fishponds area. Groups where leaders give up their time to be volunteers and often throughout their entire adult lives. At St John’s Brian Bolley was a volunteer for over half a century and others for many decades.
Explore all the options available by discovering activities in community buildings.
The link below links to as many community buildings as possible, use those links to see what community opportunities are available to you in Greater Fishponds
We are nearly 13 years old. The website all started with a small website for Hillfields back in Spring 2008, the website was created which today would be very much out of date in terms of the technology used but the content would be similar. 10,000 flyers were used to promote the new website in 2008 and 6000 were posted through letterboxes and stored in various outlets and within days people were sharing their interest.
Having served Hillfields for over 20 years by initially helping to save all the council houses from being given to private ownership which will have left tenants vulnerable to capitalism we ran a Tenants Association which saved them all and today in 2020 council owned housing is seen as the best option so it’s lucky we did all that work from 1988. I later served for 15 years as a youth leader in Hillfields and the community of North East Bristol in the youth district team but by 2008 wanted to do something a bit different.
In 2009 the website also covered Frome Vale (mainly Oldbury Court) as the neighbour to Hillfields Estate so the natural route especially as the community and youth centre was also at risk of being lost forever there which thrived in the 1980s and 90s. In 2010 the website grew to include Eastville after the creation of the Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership by Spring 2010. This new alternative parish council for Greater Fishponds worked well; suddenly there was a real local decision making function for the area and money to invest in 100s of projects, money to renew the parks and reach people and groups who had never been reached before, this new set up by the Liberal Democrats was amazing. Never in the history of Hillfields and Frome Vale had anything like this ever existed before. The website was a fantastic way to reach as many orgs as possible for them to get involved ranging from retirement clubs to rugby clubs and everyone in between and to finally get things done for the area and attract new retailers to go in to empty shops such as Coffee One, Sainsburys, Iceland and Dominos Pizza and more opened in Fishponds after including the website in emails to them to show the potential and customer base of the area.
In Spring 2011 three of us set up the Hillfields Community Trust with the aim to save and develop Hillfields Library, Hillfields Youth Hub, Community Centre land for new housing and mixed use venue and deliver community activities in venues including the new Cossham Hospital Community Room. We delivered huge fun days for Hillfields between 2011 and 2015 including a Diamond Jubilee Event with amazing help from members of the community and Julie (rip) of Community Resolve, £700 funding by Neighbourhood Partnerships, huge support by Abdul Razak Dahir and Denis Wise of Neighbourhoods and Lindsay Wall of Housing.
Abdul Razak also asked HCT to please apply for and manage Hillfields Community First Funding of £38,000 over four years which we did to help every corner of the ward and we attended meetings where £30,000 in grants (£10,000 per ward every year was available) to help allocated money to all groups applying for funds. Empowerment to the three wards made it possible for so much to be achieved between 2010 and 2016 after the first elected Mayor George Ferguson kept and made Neighbourhood Partnerships even better.
In 2015 with Cllr Lesley Alexander I helped found retirement clubs after realising there was a desperate situation of loneliness in the Begbrook area of Stapleton and Frenchay and community rooms built in the late 1970s to serve the local elderly community were available on some days but over time this had been forgotten but not by lifetime community activists such as Maureen and Brian Coles who knew that the rooms were for everyone in the wider community and were extremely popular while warden controlled. In 2017 Lesley Alexander was made Lord Mayor of Bristol and wished to roll out this model all across Bristol by working with communities across the city after the Begbrook Club was unbelievably successful and by now run by the members themselves. Neighbourhood Partnerships again helped with some initial funding of £1000 to get the group established for coach trips and some equipment and later PCC Sue Mountstevens community grants paid for new kitchen equipment including dishwasher and cooker for the community room for all of the room users in the community to use.
The new Town & Village Green in Frenchay offers a new park just meters from the Greater Fishponds boundary for all to enjoy with tennis court membership, picnic tables, beautiful open spaces and lots of seating around the parkland and another new play area with small children’s bmx course at Scholars Chase at the top of Stoke Lane.
Explore our other parks at https://fishpondsbristol.wordpress.com/parks-and-open-spaces
It’s now the 28th June and the longest days of light in the year and after lots of rain our green spaces and wildlife is rich and plentiful. 2020 offers a lot of of opportunities thanks to Greater Fishponds boundary shared with South Gloucestershire. A new park is now open at the top of Stoke Lane in Scholars Chase and another new park with new tennis courts in the old grounds of Frenchay Hospital which is our new Town & Village Green, so protected land for ever more to add to the landscapes of the Frome Valley.
As the snow melts and daffodils rise across the Frome Valley and along the Railway Path we can start to sense that spring is around the corner and the woodland floors start to slowly come alive with nature once again and buds appear which will soon explode in to a sea of green all around us as the River Frome returns to a calm setting, leaving the rage of winter behind.
Enjoy the parkland of Greater Fishponds by visiting: https://fishpondsbristol.wordpress.com/parks-and-open-spaces
Volunteers make Greater Fishponds and Bristol the city that it is, these selfless people do not look for credit, they do not chase money, they do not allow politics and greed to get in the way of what they do. Scout Leaders through to parks groups and faith groups just plough on delivering for the heart and soul of the community and boy do they deliver.
There aren’t enough words in the dictionary or any amount of money that can be used to replace the volunteering in Bristol where one in four people are volunteers to make a difference to all people young and old.