People in hi-vis vests use a ladder to climb on top of a bus stop to install a flower bed.

Campaigners sidelined by council bee garden plans

Bristol City Council have proudly announced the installation of new bee-friendly bus stops across the city, less than six months after a similar installation by volunteers was torn down.

In July, a group of local environmentalists calling themselves Bee the Change built, filled and installed a bee garden on the roof of a bus stop on Cheltenham Road, much to the delight of residents.

Denzil, whose house overlooks the bus stop, said at the time: ‘I’m really thrilled to see flowers on top of the bus stop outside my house. It’s such a brilliant idea and should be wonderful for the bees. And make people feel lovely on their way to and from work.’

Less than 48 hours after being installed, the volunteers’ garden had been removed by Clear Channel UK, an outdoor advertising company who manage the city’s bus stops and advertising sites.

A spokesperson for the Bee the Change described the removal as ‘thoughtless’ and said the group were ‘heartbroken.’

Asked the reason for the removal, Clear Channel responded: ‘The bus shelter on Cheltenham Road was not designed to take additional weight on its roof and posed a risk to anyone waiting for a bus. After discussions with Bristol City Council, we jointly decided the best course of action was to remove the plants.’

On December 19, Bristol City Council announced their partnership with Clear Channel to install a bus stop bee garden, or “Living Roof”, on Redcliffe Way.

A garden built on top of a bus stop, seen from raised ground behind the bus stop.
The new “Living Roof” bus stop on Redcliffe Way. Image: Bristol City Council.

In the announcement, made via the council website, Councillor Don Alexander, cabinet member for transport, perhaps unaware of the Cheltenham Road bee garden installation in July, said: ‘I am really excited to welcome Bristol’s first Living Roof bus shelter.’

This is not the first time Bristol City Council has sidelined community volunteers in favour of partnering with outside contractors.

Last year, it was revealed that the council paid £58,000 to private contractors for landscaping work in the Bearpit. The underpass was previously maintained by incredible Edible, at no cost to the council, but the charity was told by the council to stop all its work in March 2021.

Feature image: Simon Hollliday.

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