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Thursday 1 September 2011

TPA – A Bristolian Invention

The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) enjoys such widespread grassroots support that when its stalwart Tim Newark moved away from Islington, the local TPA “organisation” (prop. T Newark) was forced to shut up shop. But, happily for the unsuspecting inhabitants of Bath, he relocated there and – lo and behold – a South West TPA branch was born.

And Newark has been active all around the area, though from his latest missive, it is clear that balanced reportage and transparent disclosure of the facts are not his forte. For here we enter into the vexed Bristolian subjects of parking, public transport and Park and Ride. Newark has seen that South Gloucestershire Council has opened a Park and Ride car park, and this has displeased him.

What Newark dislikes the most is that the new facility has not been full from Day One, and here he quotes two Councillors, both of whom have wisely spoken off the record after seeing him coming. He then spuriously attributes a motive of spending more money on and around the facility to both Councillors, ensuring they will think twice before giving him the time of day again.

And Newark can’t help the outpouring of dishonesty: he tells that “there is no bus service running from the car park”, but it is adjacent to Bristol Parkway station, so there are both bus and rail services provided. He also tells that “the amount of people using park-and-ride is on a downward trajectory, while overall patronage of city centre bus services is down as well”.

The drop in Park and Ride is for one year – that isn’t a “trajectory” – and the figure is still way ahead of target. Moreover, the lower figure for bus use – again, only over one twelve month period – is for the whole of the South West, not for “city centre ... services”. And he manages not to tell his readers that rail passenger figures for the area in that same period, and the one before, show a massive increase.

After all, as the new facility serves Parkway station, one might hope that the figures for rail travel might get a mention. But Newark is not for wasting time giving a full picture when the TPA agenda of demonising Government is at work, as is evident from his analysis of a recent Council meeting.

He recalls “when one Councillor expressed his own doubts ... he was slapped down by a Council Officer”. The South Gloucestershire Councillor concerned, representing Cotswold Edge? Sue Hope is his, er, her name.

Big Johnny Cash fan, then, Mr N?

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