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The battle to reshape the Bearpit took a new turn today as the council removed Bristol’s only non-corporate billboard.

Removed on Friday, the cube billboard has for years displayed political slogans to the thousands of vehicles passing each day, from anti-austerity to environmental messages.

Often used to market Bristol’s ‘edginess’, the Bearpit has long been the subject of toxic debate about how to manage the sunken roundabout, and ongoing debates about gentrification of the Stokes Croft and St Pauls areas.

Some have revered it as a communal space, calling it a home for political artwork and non-commercial activities such as skateboarding and street performances. Critics have dismissed this image as naive, instead describing it as a crime and antisocial behaviour hot spot, which saw a group of businesses vacating the Bearpit in protest earlier this year.

The Bearpit before the billboard was removed.

In what some see as the latest stage in the gentrification of the area, it was recently reported that the Bearpit is to be renamed ‘the Circle’ as part of a multi million pound makeover, with plans to turn it into a ‘Food Innovation Hub’. The plans were submitted by Bearpit Bristol CIC, formed by the traders who vacated earlier this year, with building expected to commence next year.

A three month consultation on the plans will begin in June during which the public can tell the council how they want the Bearpit to be developed.


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  • chris says:

    I am glad this has gone… had NO planning permission and was controlled by individuals who were overtly partisan in their politics. Whilst I may have agreed with some of the messaging when it was relentlessly one-sided and often misinformed it ran the risk of bordering on hysteria and lacking impartiality. The flaunting of planning law epitomised the lawlessness in it’s shadow!

  • Rich Fisher says:

    The Bearpit will only survive if people feel safe there – especially at night. Now imagine if there were a permanent manned police kiosk in the centre then the area would be able to thrive – night markets, music etc without fears of the usual crimes. Much cheaper than building a ring pavement around it…oh wait…

  • Lucianne lassalle says:

    Shame, corporations can pollute our minds and our environments With their unsightly ‘ Corporate Graffiti ‘ in the form of billboards playing phycological games with our minds saying we must buy this or that to be noticed, clever, to get on in the world etc.. when a community billboard stating concerns about our environment, the state of the NHS, pollution, the plight of the homeless etc.. is deemed unacceptable, and dismantled without notice as it is supposedly encouraged antisocial activities.
    Now the council want to encourage the sunken pit to be a ‘good innovation hun’ who would want to eat in a pit with one of the highest air pollution counts in Bristol????

    • paul says:

      TBF billboard advertising is regulated by the ASA, this wasn’t and didn’t have planning, it was simply a billboard for the uninformed to make political statements without having to provide the evidence to back it up. Proper advertising is regulated so you can’t make wild claims just like the vegan adds that have banned.

  • paul says:

    ‘The Circle’ If you’re middle class and fancy getting a Council to fund your hobby, come to Bristol.

    The usual suspects getting in their first I see, you never know some of the benefits of this funding might even ‘trickle down’ to Bristols low paid Council Tax payers, some of Karin’s constituents might even get a minimum wage job serving coffee.

  • Moose says:

    Paul’s a bit of a knob

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