Petition calling for city bear to be saved to go to council debate
THE future of Hamilton House and the Bearpit bear are expected to dominate a meeting at Bristol’s City Hall next week.
Thousands of people in Bristol have forced a debate on both topics after separate petitions were handed into Bristol City Council.
Petitions need at least 3,500 signatures in order to trigger a full council debate - which both of these achieved.
It means that at Tuesday’s full council meeting all councillors will be able to have their say on whether the authority should consider making a compulsory purchase order on Hamilton House and if the statue of Ursa the bear should be removed from the Bearpit roundabout.
The first petition up for debate, entitled Save Our Bear, calls on the council to stop the eviction of Ursa from her home in the Bearpit.
The petition reads: “Ursa bear brings smiles to our faces, she represents creativity, alternative thinking and freedom of expression.
“She represents community and what public space should be.”
The petition also describes Ursa as a cider-loving 12ft statue who loved her role as “guardian” of the Bearpit.
A petition to save Ursa was launched in November last year after the council announced that the sculpture would be removed from the Bearpit as part of a multi-million-pound transformation of the notorious roundabout near the city centre.
The project would also see the authority ‘take back control’ of the Bearpit area from the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, the community arts organisation which put the bear there five years ago.
The council’s plans to turn the area into an ‘ethical food hub’ don’t include Ursa and it has ordered PRSC to remove her and all their other containers, sheds and a stage.
But the news that it was being removed sparked a campaign to save her, and a petition on the council’s website led to more than 3,500 people signing their name in just a few weeks.
Last year, deputy mayor Asher Craig said the reason for the takeover was because of increasing problems with anti-social behaviour and crime in the area.
She said: “Following a rise in anti-social behaviour and targeted attacks in the Bearpit we decided that the council would take more control over the space.”
The petition regarding Hamilton House follows months and months of fraught negotiations over the management of the building.
Social enterprise Coexist has managed the rooms above the Canteen since 2008, renting cheap space to artists and community groups.
But following an ongoing saga between Coexist and the building owners Connolly and Callaghan (C&C) - Coexist were finally given official notice of a planned management takeover in November.
Earlier last year C&C announced it was looking for a new organisation to take on the building’s lease.
Management company Forward Space, which runs a number of co-working spaces in the southwest, has now taken over the hub on a temporary basis.
Ursa the bear in The Bearpit