‘The application was lawful’: Councillor defends vote to demolish Lakota

Carla Denyer has been harshly criticised for her vote

A Bristol councillor has defended the vote to demolish Lakota, saying there was little individual members could do to change things.

Green Party councillor Carla Denyer, who has faced criticism after voting in favour of converting the club to flats, told The Bristol Tab that it is “our job is to see if the application is lawful”.

Bristol’s gentrification debate has boiled over since the vote to demolish Lakota, with residents saying the vote represents a move to “kill one of Bristol’s most significant cultural landmarks”.

Despite the controversy, Lakota’s owners told The Bristol Tab that they are “delighted” with the decision.

The vote taken on Wednesday provoked an outpouring of grief from students and avid music fans alike, with many sharing memories of nights in the iconic venue on social media.

Some of the criticism received via Twitter

Denyer said it was a “difficult job” to make a decision on the future of the iconic venue, and said that “it’s hard to think of such a loved music venue disappearing”.

She described Bristol’s music scene as “unique”, and said “that unique music scene is a big part of what brought me to Bristol in 2009.”

However, she defended her decision, saying “we’re not allowed to make decisions based on our personal opinions”, and so she “voted that the Burgess family’s application is permitted”.

Local Labour candidate, Kieran Glasssmith, mocked Denyer directly, tweeting a cropped photo of one of the party’s posters, in reference to Denyer running to unseat Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire in the last General Election.

Denyer said: “The application was in line with Council policy, and in fact the building had already been earmarked for housing in a Council decision made in early 2015, before I became a councillor.”

During the committee meeting, Denyer said that she was “frustrated that the application only just meets sustainability requirements.”

In the statement, she insists that councillors “applied conditions to make sure that it is as good as it can be”, such as the requirement for affordable housing, wheelchair accessibility, and sustainability.

“And if housing has to be developed on the site, I would much rather it’s done by a local family with deep roots in the area than a faceless international company.”

The vote in favour was cross-party, with two Green, two Labour, one Lib Dem, and one Conservative councillors voting in favour. The abstention and votes against were three Labour councillors.

In a statement to The Bristol Tab, a spokesperson for the owners, the Burgess family, said: “We are delighted with today’s decision. We’ve worked incredibly hard on this over the last two and a half years and would like to thank all our consultants, Officers, Ward Councillors, the local community and especially Lakota’s fans for their input into this.

“This has been a difficult process as no one loves Lakota more than we do. We would like to reassure Lakota’s fans that we remain committed to the city’s nightlife.”