Sometimes a pony gets depressed*

On Monday I met Kipper, and a great pleasure it was too. Here we are.

Kipper is 18 years old, and has been living in a field off College Lane in Fishponds for the past 13 years. It’s more than a field actually, it’s a beautiful meadow, with buttercups and other wild flowers, surrounded by ancient hedgerow and a stone wall which is subject to a preservation order. Kipper is part of the community. The kids all love him, and come into his field to feed him. The meadow is also something of a wildlife sanctuary, with slow-worms and a badger set. A couple of the residents I met say they go in every night to feed the badgers.

All in all, you’d think this was not the sort of place that you ought to be concreting over, and putting houses on. But that seems to be the plan of Bristol City Council and UWE. The field is owned by the Council, and Kipper’s owners only have a three month renewable licence to use it, giving them very few legal rights as I understand it. The Council wants to sell to UWE with vacant possession, and have told Kipper’s owners he’s got till the end of June to find a new home. This is part, I assume, of UWE’s plans to vacate its Fishponds site and put a housing development on it and its playing fields.

But why the rush to evict Kipper? I think – I certainly hope – that any planning application to concrete over this meadow would be met with fierce resistance, and would take many months, if not years to process. (Look at the Chocolate Factory application in Easton, for a precedent).

I’ll be talking to Avon Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth and anyone else I think can help fight such an application. We don’t have enough green space in east Bristol as it is, and I would like to see Avon Wildlife Trust take over the management of this meadow, as it has done with Stockwood Open Space.

Kipper’s owners have in writing a commitment from the Council, which I’ve seen, that the field would be offered for sale on the open market if the Council ever wanted to sell it. This clearly hasn’t happened, and it looks as if the negotiations with UWE are well underway. I’ll be asking the Council about this, and also whether the field is being sold to UWE with outline planning permission. I will also be asking UWE why it requires vacant possession, and how far advanced plans are to onsell the site to developers.

Here’s Kipper’s Facebook group – please sign up! And here’s the BEP’s story.

* You have no idea how thrilled I am at finally finding the golden opportunity to use this song title… (Despite the sad circumstances which make it appropriate).

Unfortunately the House of Commons library computer doesn’t seem to want to let me download anything from Youtube (I’ve been sat here listening to the Silver Jews on headphones!) so the video will have to wait.

Now sorted…

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  • Miguel González Szamomki  On May 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Kerry,

    Thank you for taking the time to look into Kipper’s case. The González family really appreciates the time and effort you’re putting into this.

    Thanks again,


  • Jenny  On May 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    As the local area’s new MP it would be great if you could lead the way to saving Kipper’s home – my son has stroked Kipper’s nose and fed him carrots since he was a tiny tot, he is 7 now and he makes me take him to the shop especially to get Kipper a carrot, the biggest and most delicious one in the shop, before we have to walk past Kipper to get to the park even though it’s not the most direct route. Your suggestion for Avon Valley Wildlife to take on the land is a good one. I would hate to see this corner of green or Kipper disappear.


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