Making Inroads

Today, 15th January 2020 is the sixth National Pothole day, where campaigners raise the need for funding and resources to make sure Britain’s roads are up to scratch.

It’s appropriate for us in Bristol today as we had to warn residents that a section of Bishport Avenue in Hartcliffe was closed to resurface a section damaged by the recent poor weather.

Potholes and poor road surfaces are a frustration for motorists and cause serious damage to cars. They can also be especially dangerous for cyclists and motorbikes. We also know that the repair works themselves can be frustrating – causing delays on our network and inconvenience while our teams and contractors repair road surfaces.

It’s a huge challenge for councils across the country and Bristol is no different. In fact, here we repair over 5,000 potholes every year. Our highway network is the largest and most visible publicly owned asset in the city – it covers over 1,100km of carriageway, as well as our popular cycle routes and pedestrian footways. It is used daily by the travelling public for commuting, business, social and leisure activities.

Although it might be taken for granted until it goes wrong, our network is fundamental to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of local communities and to the prosperity of the city as a whole. This is why we will robustly monitor the conditions and always look to ensure the safety of our staff, contractors and the general public through the active promotion of a positive health and safety culture.

The ongoing upkeep of our highways never stops and we are continuing with preventative work such as surface dressing and repairing defects before they cause potholes. It is key that we get ahead and take action early. Anyone who spots a pothole can report it online here or by calling 0117 922 2100.

This month also means the start of a new way to manage road works and reduce the amount of time our network is disrupted. A new system of streetworks permits will reduce traffic congestion and enhance air quality by introducing conditions on the times during which work can take place, helping to improve people flow and reduce congestion. It will also allow us to take action against companies who take too long to complete their works. This is part of our active roadworks approach to make sure roadworks are as efficient as possible.

Last year I saw some Bristol based innovation with plastic waste tarmac roads at the new housing development Ashton Rise. Willmott Dixon were incorporating tarmac roads into Ashton Rise’s development by replacing carbon intensive bitumen found in Tarmac with non-recyclable waste plastic.

Waste plastic was collected from Ashton Rise’s construction site through the waste management company ETM and processed it into a plastic polymer to replace the need for bitumen in the asphalt mix of tarmac roads, creating a ‘circular economy’ for plastic waste. By repurposing non-recyclable plastic that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration, Ashton Rise has prevented 1.3 tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere or the equivalent of 146, 262 plastic bags being produced.

Although we’ll continue to prioritise early intervention and innovation for our network, we are hopeful that the Government’s promised National Infrastructure Strategy will include a pothole filling programme to help support stretched council budgets to maintain this important infrastructure.

Temple Island – The Future

Today’s guest blog comes from Pete Gladwell, Head of Public Sector Partnerships at Legal and General.

Today is a big day for Legal & General’s work in Bristol.  I’m very excited to have reached this key point in drawing up proposals for the redevelopment of the landmark Temple Island site.  A lot has happened since we started speaking to the Council nearly five years ago about working more closely for the good of the city, and Temple Quarter in particular.  The University Innovation Campus and commitment by all parties including the Council, Network Rail, and Homes England to work together to reconfigured and refurbished Temple Meads Station has given huge impetus to the development of the rest of Temple Quarter. We have appointed a full design team, including world-renowned architects, and have agreed a draft working protocol with the Council.

If you’d like to find out more about our vision for this historic site, here’s a preview of the development principles we’ll be adopting if the Council’s Cabinet agree to dispose of the site to us. We’re looking forward to presenting these to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee this evening and engaging proactively and positively with the local community over the coming months to shape the scheme.

Legal & General is a long term investor, who will have a long term stake in seeing Temple Quarter become a thriving place that both we and the city can be proud to call our own.  We’re determined this place will be an exemplar of sustainable development, putting the climate and ecological emergency we are facing at its heart, whilst providing the affordable housing that the city desperately needs.  It will be an iconic and vibrant place to live, work and do business; incorporating conferencing, a hotel, and quality public space. Legal & General has 116,000 customers in Bristol – many of whom have entrusted their savings and pensions to us.  This is about enabling them to have a positive impact, by investing back into their city.

We are looking forward to receiving the views of the Scrutiny Committee later on today.  Equally importantly, if this is to be a really inclusive place, we’ll need the help of people and community groups locally to welcome the new residents to the area.  They will be from a whole range of demographics and backgrounds, thanks to the mix of affordability points that Temple Island will offer.  We’re looking forward to speaking to people locally to understand how we can shape something that serves their priorities and to help us bring forward a truly exciting scheme for the city.

09.01.2020-Proposal for Temple Island_LG-FINAL

The E-Bike Challenge

I recently had the pleasure of riding an electric bike, loaned to me by Volt Bikes UK, for the ‘Mayor’s e-bike challenge’. The challenge was for me and a member of my team to use e-bikes to travel to as many of my appointments around Bristol as possible.

In any given day, I might have to travel to destinations as far apart as Whitchurch and Avonmouth, so it’s easier said than done to ditch the car to get to my engagements on time. A member of my team always accompanies me to my appointments, to take actions and follow up with the people I meet, so this adds another caveat – we have to get to our destination in time, looking tidy and in one piece.

Apart from a couple of trips on my mum’s, I haven’t ridden an electric bike before. I must say, it was great.

My first long trip was from City Hall to Brislington trading estate to visit Hamilton Litestat. It was a breeze. Enough effort to feel good about moving but not so much required that you end up covered in sweat. It’s a great feeling when you peddle and the power kicks in, pushing you along at a gentle 15mph.

cycling 3You have to get on top of the battery charging. It’s a liberating feeling when its fully charged, but there was a day I had plugged it in without realising the socket had not been switched on. I put the battery back into the bike later that day, full of confidence and optimism for my ride home. The power died a couple of minutes in. That was a heavy ride, all up hill. But that was down to me. The e-bike was great.

Let me take a little space here to share that one of the best features of the bike wasn’t actually the tech. It was the fixed mudguards. I’d never had mud guards before – leaving me trying to avoid puddles on those wet days or falling prey to the brown mud line up the back and the splashed socks and trousers. I have tried those fix yourself rear mud guards but never managed to get on top of how you stop them eventually spinning out of place, sticking out to the side of the bike. In the end, I always just take them off.

cycling 2I did come across a situation that disappointed me. I was on the railway path around school home time and a father was standing on the side with his two children waiting to cross. He had an arm stretched across their chests. People just rode past. I stopped to let them cross, and someone behind me gave me a mouthful about stopping on the railway path. I advised the chap to ride a little slower and anticipate he might have to stop, especially in a shared space, especially when there are primary aged school children or other vulnerable children in that shared space.

I had some interesting feedback on social media. Some suspected that like the 1969 moon landing, my e-bike challenge had been faked. They cited evidence such as my wearing work shoes – apparently it’s too difficult to ride with work shoes. Someone pointed out it wouldn’t be possible to fit my black jacket over a suit jacket. One person attempted to lead people to conclude that my engaging in the e-bike challenge was evidence I don’t ride a bike any other time. I don’t often directly engage with online conspiracies but this one has the potential to get out of control so I want to put on the record – I did ride the e-bike and it wasn’t the only time I have cycled.

Other feedback criticised me for the clothing I was wearing, or not wearing. There were occasions I’d worn a black jacket (the same black jacket that could not fit over a suit jacket) and on a couple of occasions I hadn’t had a helmet on – to be honest this also makes my wife a little irritated although she just told me rather than taking to social media.

cycling 1This question of kit is an issue. We want more people on bikes. One of the challenges is to get to a point where people can feel welcomed to ride bikes without having to become fully fledged cyclists. It means that for most people, a bike will be a means of transport. I had a chat with someone from Sustrans about this the other day. It’s a quick statement, but it is important. And probably a discussion for another occasion.

I know that e-bikes are not for everyone. They’re significantly heavier than regular bikes, can be bulky to store inside small terraced houses or flats and charging can be tricky depending on the way the battery is stored. This has been a real challenge for my mum who is now in her 70s. They’re also expensive, meaning they can be out of reach for those on lower incomes.

Fortunately, in Bristol we have an e-bike loan scheme so you can give one a try without the commitment. Better By Bike loaned 180 bikes in the Bristol area last year, including e-bikes. They do require a £250 deposit, but there is no charge for being loaned the e-bike itself.

We will be exploring more avenues of making e-bikes more accessible because with all of our city’s hills, they will be a key part of our future transport solution.

Ofsted SEND Report: Our response

Today we published the findings of the Ofsted and Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) local area inspection of Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND) services across Bristol.

We made the decision to publish before Ofsted and the CQC because we feel it’s important that the inspectors’ findings are known and discussed before the Christmas break. Families and practitioners have been through enough and should have the chance to see their concerns confirmed by Ofsted and know what we intend to do to respond.

The findings are there for everyone to see and they confirm what we already know about the state of SEND services in Bristol. Over nine years of government and local failings building up have shaped a system that, for too long, has let down children, young people and families. I apologise for the part we have played and for responding too slowly to the concerns of those affected.

These challenges are well known and I won’t take up this blog going over them again – Ofsted’s report does that in detail. What I will do is make a commitment that the green shoots of recovery inspectors found to be taking root will be supported to deliver real change for children and families. It is encouraging that our city’s children centres, and the support we offer to young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities into employment through the ‘Bristol Works for Everyone’ initiative, were identified as particular strengths by inspectors. We will continue to support these vital services which make such a difference to children, young people and their families across Bristol.

This has already begun with additional investment in SEND services, with a particular focus on Education Health and Care Plans. Twenty four new staff have being recruited to work in SEND, with 23 specifically working on these plans to help tackle both the backlog of overdue assessments that need to be completed, as well as the new plans coming in. This additional resource will help us better cope with demand but the effects won’t be felt immediately by families, parents and carers.

We share this responsibility for improvement with our partners in the health and education sectors. It’s only through working together, and in co-production with parents and carers, will we fix the system locally and continue to challenge government to fix the system nationally.

Children are at the heart of this administration.    We were the first city in the UK to launch a Children’s Charter and make bold commitments to develop a city where children can fulfil their potential. Across the board we are delivering for children and young people – the number of apprenticeships on offer is up, we’ve saved children’s centres, there’s more school places, fewer children are going hungry during school holidays – these are all contributing to a brighter future for most.

Whilst we hold our hands up and agree that the delivery of SEND services has been far from acceptable let’s acknowledge the positive work Cllr Godwin and Cllr Keen have undertaken along with their Cabinet colleagues, council officers, partners and communities.

We have a dedicated and committed SEND team and I am confident we have the right people in place to move forward with our plans for improvement. We will not rest until children young people, parents, carers and practitioners all have a service and the tools they need to flourish.

Building a Reputation for Innovation

This week we have received highly positive feedback on Bristol City Council’s joint bid with British Research Establishment (BRE), a centre of building science, and a consortium of partners to the UK Research and Innovation agency.

Following a successful submission, the project builds on the work of the Bristol Housing Festival to showcase and facilitate delivery of Modern Methods of Construction. The proposal has been selected for the 2nd stage of the Innovate UK call, closing in on the consortium’s £2m bid. zed-pods-1

Modern Methods of construction, the term for off-site or factory built homes, are part of the Festival’s innovative approach to finding solutions to the UK’s housing crisis. The Festival is about making the city a living exhibition of the latest and most inventive approaches to housing and the launch has set the scene for our unorthodox approach. The Bristol Housing Festival sets out our aspirations to showcase the city’s determination to lead and deliver on one of our key priorities.

Innovate UK is a government agency which looks to support research and help innovation to flourish. They work with partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas and have invested in projects worth over £4.3 billion over the last ten years. Their competition looked for 10 world-leading practical demonstrator projects which must establish improvements in productivity, quality and performance of the UK construction sector.

The bid scored very high marks and feedback, so we are now even more optimistic that this bid will be successful and secure additional funding for the council. It will help with increased staff resource and additional expertise, so that a fully funded programme could commence in April next year.

jezJez Sweetland, the director of the Festival said ‘We are delighted that the bid has received such a positive response – the ambition of the bid and its collaboration across 15 partners is great testament to the ambition, scale and opportunity that is being shaped in Bristol.’

The next stage is an interview and presentation in London at the start of January, which will be attend by BRE, Bristol City Council and Bristol Housing Festival.

We then expect to hear about the result later next month. We know that the Housing Festival, Bristol City Council working in collaboration with the right partners have so much more to do if we are to overturn decades of failure to build homes, but this shows the progress being made and the scale of ambition. Getting external praise is encouraging and shows our commitment to ensuring Bristol is a place with a reputation for innovation and getting stuff done.

I’d like to thank everyone involved in the project to date and wish them good luck for the next stage.

Mobile People in a Warming World

IMG_0090a

In the run up to the General Election, people might be thinking short term. So it was hugely refreshing to welcome over 120 people to City Hall on International Human Rights Day to discuss two of the issues that will define our lives over the coming decades – climate change and migration.

The event, titled ‘The Climate and Our Community’, was organised in partnership by the Mayor’s Office, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Bristol Refugee Rights and Bristol City of Sanctuary. Its aim was to open up the conversation on climate change to all of Bristol’s diverse communities, and to explore the links between our changing climate and the growing number of people who are forcibly displaced around the world.

To kick off the event I wanted to emphasise the context within which this conversation was happening. We have a long history of work on these issues in Bristol and plenty more planned in the years ahead. Through our international engagement Bristol has played a significant role in the development of the UN Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees. Now through my place on the Leadership Board of the Mayors Migration Council we have the opportunity to keep making the links between city discussions about migration and the work of C40 and others on helping cities tackle climate change. And as we seek to have a global impact, we need to make the most of our globally-connected population. Bristol’s many diverse communities are a key strength of our city, and this event was an important contribution to ensuring that discussions of social justice are fully inclusive of the communities affected. I wanted to highlight to all those present that the discussions today will help to set the agenda for me, for Bristol, and for others around the world as we seek to address these issues over the long term.

The conference continued with some presentations that brought home the scale of the challenges that we are all facing. Dr Jo House from the University of Bristol shared some of the latest science on the impacts of climate change, and its connection to displacement. From sea level change to heatwaves, from food insecurity to natural disasters, the impact of climate change will be widespread and irreversible. And one of the biggest impacts will be a dramatic rise in the number of people forced to leave their homes and communities due to climate-related disasters and the destruction of their livelihoods.IMG_0092a

The International Displacement Monitoring Centre has declared that in the first six months of 2019 a record 7 million people were displaced by extreme weather events. The human impact of such a shocking statistic was brought home through a presentation from Dominik Byrne from the charity Bristol Link with Beira. They help facilitate the friendship agreement between Bristol and Beira in Mozambique. Mozambique has been designated as the 3rd most vulnerable country to climate change in Africa, with 60% of its population living in locations prone to natural hazards. So it was sadly no surprise when Beira and its 500,000 population were devastated by Cyclone Idai in March 2019. Over 90% of the city collapsed, causing $800 million in damage and destroying 104 of the city’s 150 schools. Bristol Link with Beira has played a key role in facilitating the rebuilding work since this terrible tragedy, and this city-to-city link is a great example of the way that global solidarity can be made real in the face of the devastating consequences of climate change.

April Humble, a researcher on climate change migration and border security, helped put the discussion into historical perspective with an overview of human mobility over time. This helped highlight the reality that people throughout time have always moved, that people in from the UK have been especially mobile around the world, and that the realities of globalisation and climate change will see more people than ever on the move in the future. Whilst national leaders debate how to fight against this reality, it will be up to cities and communities to advance a conversation about how we can adapt to the future with compassion and justice.

As well as informative presentations, the conference also created  opportunities for participation, through discussions in pairs and at tables but also through an interactive storytelling session looking at the myths surrounding Bristol’s geography – the story of our land.

Perhaps the highlight of the conference was the contribution of those who are experts through experience when it comes to climate change and migration. Ahmed Aden and Xhemile Kaza both shared their personal experiences of coming to the UK as asylum seekers and the role that climate change had played in their journey. They highlighted both positive and negative elements of their experiences in Bristol, challenging us to live up to our status as a City of Sanctuary. In doing so they exemplified the huge asset that our refugee and asylum seeking population represent to Bristol. Their contribution also sparked a broader conversation about how we think about refugees and asylum seekers, and whether national and international rules need to change to encompass those displaced by climate change.

The conference ended with a discussion on Bristol’s climate change strategy, emphasising the practical work that is happening and that needs to happen to adapt to our changing climate. Many of the actions require partnership working through our One City Approach, highlighting the responsibility of everyone in the city to step up to the challenges before us.

These challenges can be daunting, but the diversity and quality of contribution throughout this event give me great hope that Bristol can play a world-leading role in addressing the great issues of our time.

Cistern Change: World Toilet Day

Today’s guest blog comes from Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig.

Today is World Toilet Day, a United Nations initiative. It highlights that Sustainable Development Goal 6 – sanitation for all – is still essential when globally 4.2 billion people live without safely-managed sanitation.

Here in the UK we are able to take this for granted, but over the past decade we have seen a reduction in the number of council run toilet facilities. This BBC News article attempts to show the national picture of council run toilets.

In Bristol, as a result of decreasing funding in December 2017, we took the difficult decision to end funding for 14 public toilets across the city. Although we were able to continue with 9 toilets in our parks and we transferred the toilets on the downs to the downs committee and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust, we know that people we concerned about the impact it would have. Many older people and disabled people are particularly need access to toilets.

That’s why we asked the city and local business to join our community toilet scheme to replace, improve and expand our offer.

I am pleased that it has been a huge success. Today there are over 100 community toilets that are part of the scheme, 85% of which are accessible, and all toilets are open to members of the public without discrimination. It is considered one of the most successful schemes in the country by the British Toilet Association.

Not only have we got more toilets available for use, but many are open for longer than the public toilets were (including one open 24hrs a day), but because the premises are in use they are much better cared for than some of the locations which they replaced.

We are working to make sure the whole city has coverage, and there is a community toilet in 26 of the 34 wards of Bristol. We are focusing on finding additions to the scheme near to transport hubs and bus routes. The public toilet map shows opening times, types of facilities and location of toilets in Bristol and you can find toilets with adult changing facilities on the Changing Places website.

We also co-produced a paper brochure with Bristol Ageing Better because we know that some people don’t have access to the internet. For those that do, there is a smartphone app for finding the nearest toilet to you.

We are so grateful for the support of people that have joined the scheme and helped make Bristol a better place for people to enjoy. It has been a whole city response to what is a national problem. It shows how business, with the support of the council, can help during a time of reducing council footprint in the city.

To sign up for the Community Toilet Scheme or to find out more about what is involved, visit www.bristol.gov.uk/communitytoilets .

Bristol Young Heroes Awards 2020

Lauch photo with 2019 winners

Since 2013, the Bristol Young Heroes Awards has celebrated young people in Bristol who have overcome adversity to achieve amazing things.

Every year the awards have become bigger and better, celebrating ever more young people who have gone above and beyond to do something positive for their community.

To mark the start of another year of awards, last Wednesday I joined organisers Community of Purpose alongside previous Young Heroes, sponsors and key supporters – including local actor Joe Sims – at City Hall.

Last year’s Environmental Hero was 15-year-old Catherine Rowe from Bedminster. Catherine told me about the support she received after getting her award and how since that night she has joined Bristol’s Youth Council and gained work experience at GKN Aerospace – an incredible achievement.

Catherine is just one of many of the inspirational young people who are working hard to contribute positively to their city. I am sure this year the awards will continue to showcase how important their success is for our city.

Wednesday’s event also saw the launch of nominations for 2020’s awards. For the next five weeks, the people of Bristol can nominate outstanding young people in their community for an award in one of eight categories. If you know a young person who has positively impacted their community and the people around them, don’t hesitate to put them forward for the recognition they deserve.

Marvin, Joe & Amy

How to nominate a young hero

If you know a young person aged between 11 and 19 who you think deserves to be recognised, you can nominate them for one or more of the eight categories by filling out the nomination form here. The categories are:

  • Action Hero: a young person who has made a contribution to the community by volunteering
  • Arts & Culture Hero: a young person who has exceeded expectations and accomplished something brilliant in the arts
  • Caring Hero: someone who looks after a relative and has sacrificed a lot by putting another’s needs above their own
  • Enterprise Hero: a young person who has identified a need and found an enterprising approach to filling it
  • Learning Hero: a young person who has exceeded academic expectations and achieved success in education
  • Sporting Hero: a young person who exceeded expectations to triumph in sport
  • Super Hero: someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to display an act of courage, or someone who has overcome adversity through illness or disability
  • Team Hero: a new addition to the awards, which recognises the amazing work done by an organisation or group which supports Bristol’s young people

There’s also the coveted ‘Overall Hero’ award chosen from the eight category winners and the ‘High Sheriff’s Award’, given to someone that has shown dedication to serving young people.

The five-week nomination window is now open, and closes on Friday 13th December. After that, a panel of judges will choose the winners. The awards ceremony takes place at We The Curious on Friday 1st May.

All nominees are invited to the gala evening with two guests of their choice. To make the event feel even more special for these outstanding young people, local charity organisers Community of Purpose have arranged for them to each have a £100 spending budget for a glamorous outfit for the evening. Hair and make-up will be done for free by local businesses and the budget can also be put towards suit hire.

I feel lucky to be able to join not only our outstanding young people for these awards, but also the local sponsors and programmes that support nominees after the awards to help them reach their full potential.

For all the latest updates, follow Community of Purpose on Twitter,  Instagram and Facebook.

Our Journey to Clean Air

We have a simple choice ahead of us for a legally required clean air zone. 

The hybrid plan tabled to Cabinet for a commercial vehicle charge and small area diesel ban.

OR

A large area charging zone, for all vehicles.

Let me explain…

I will start at the beginning:

Bristol is one of many cities that have been tasked with producing a clean air zone.  The drive for this is obvious, that NO2 particulates in the air cause health concerns and illnesses and must be improved.   NO2 is predominantly produced by motor vehicles and diesel vehicles are the biggest producer.

We have a moral, ecological and legal duty to clean up the air we breathe.

The legal duty is now captured under UK and European law.  Bristol, like other cities has to become compliant on air quality levels in the shortest possible time – a very important phrase because that is the legal test we have to meet.

So, we asked transport and clean air experts to work together to calculate how Bristol would reach compliance to meet these tests.  Unsurprisingly, the city central area has the worst air quality and so to bring down NO2 to legal levels, it is in that area where we need the clean air zone.

The experts calculated, and those calculations have been agreed by government, that the route to reach compliance in the quickest possible way is the proposal, tabled to cabinet as an outline case.

This is a CAZ C zone where commercial vehicles, buses and taxis that are not compliant to legal emissions (DIESEL Euro 6 or PETROL Euro 4, depending on the vehicle), would be charged to enter.  The theory here is to encourage a change of behaviour and indeed we have been working with First Bus and our taxi drivers to have legally complaint vehicle emissions. This zone would have no impact on private car drivers and commercial drivers who have paid the charge will be free to enter the diesel ban area.

Added to this zone, is a small area diesel ban in the most central area. This will be in place 7:00am-3:00pm each day.  This will ONLY apply to privately owned diesel cars. Together these are the hybrid option that, when combined, meets the legal requirement.

The only other option that would reach compliance in a similar timetable is a larger area charging zone for all vehicles, called a CAZ D.

Charging private drivers to come into the city gets us to compliance later and so doesn’t meet the legal tests and also, significantly, is proven  to disproportionately impact on the lowest income families.

The hybrid plan, tabled to cabinet and recommended by the experts, is the quickest route to compliance and charges NO private vehicles.

For people who do not support the current proposal, including the small area diesel ban, you are left with having to implement a larger area charging zone that reaches compliance later.

Many questions are being asked about the details but we are still working through the processes that will answer them.  Many people are asking about exemptions and of course, we are acutely aware of the need to mitigate hospital visits, disabled travellers, protect the local economy and jobs but this is all contained in the next part of the work.  If cabinet agrees this outline business case and government has agreed the principle of the zone and implemented the secondary legislation required, we will do the work required to look at potential exemptions, including the impact on people who live in the zone and the examples listed above.

We will also be hoping to introduce a scrappage scheme to allow people financial support to change cars to a compliant model.

As part of our work, we will be improving public transport through our bus deal, improved cycling and walking infrastructure and of course, progress our work towards the mass transit, underground system.

By March 2020, we hope to be able to publicise the final plan, having consulted on mitigations, exemptions and requirements.

The zone, once agreed, will go live in April 2021.

1.5000 CAZ 2019-Oct31_far-01.jpg

1.5000 CAZ 2019-Oct31_close-01.jpg

1.5000 Clean Air Zones 2019-Oct.jpg

State of the City Address 2019

INTRO

THIS IS BRISTOL

Recently, I spent the afternoon at one of the holiday hunger schemes. Feeding Bristol gave out over 60,000 meals this summer, serving many of the tens of thousands of children we know are likely to go without food

The staff told us about a mother. The week before, she had quietly approached one of the volunteers asking if there was any left-over food. She stressed she was not going to eat the food herself. It was for her children. She had no food in the house and £2.50 to get through the weekend.

MY STORY

40 years ago my mum and I were facing the same challenges

I’ll set the scene. When my mum fell pregnant with me she was an unmarried working class white woman with a brown baby on the way. Health workers pressured her to have me aborted. When I was born she was told told, if she was a good woman she would give me up for adoption

Incidentally, when I was born my mum could hear “I was born under a wandering star” playing in the background from Lee Marvin’s film, ‘Paint your Wagon’. And in the film, he was a drunk with a red face. My face was really red… hence the name Marvin.

But the themes set in those first months continued through my childhood. We eventually moved to a refuge in Devon before moving back to Bristol on the Long Cross estate and then Easton. Throughout those years my mum went without food so I could eat. We struggled. And much of my childhood was clouded with a faint unhappiness.

I was blessed in that I had a loving family – my Nan, Grandad. My Aunty Glenys. My cousins Denys and Anthony. And we had a supportive church community. But it was tough.

This is Bristol.

It’s not the whole of Bristol. We are the city of culture, creativity, sustainability, rebellion, advanced manufacturing, world class universities and aerospace, the city that justifiably prides itself in doing things different and makes a net contribution to the treasury.

In fact we are a city of contrast, contradiction and inequality, where wealth lives alongside poverty and hope lives alongside hopelessness.

I deliberately put things in that order because too often the Bristol of the ‘left behind’ comes after the story of success.

VISION

As Mayor it is my job to advance our city’s successes but it is the fullness of my role as a city leader to ensure we understand that our true greatness will be found in our collective commitment to making Bristol a city in which everyone can find hope in that success, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth.

I have long been committed to the idea of hope in part because it is so much more mature than optimism. Hope doesn’t refuse to see suffering and failure. It engages with them so that they become an opportunity to develop perseverance which produces character and character hope.

Our city can also be a force for good in the world.

We are an international city, a global people of 92 languages and 180 countries. What happens in the world: be it an earthquake in Kashmir, a typhoon in Beira, the displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar, families drowning in the Mediterranean or Black Lives Matter movement – our people have emotional, cultural and blood connections

Our influence must extend to leadership on the critical issues of our time: climate emergency, migration crisis and the rise of reactionary right wing politics.

CHANGE

So, tinkering around the edges is not enough. Snatching small victories – a junction here, and a traffic light there is not enough. For too many years, we haven’t had the kind of change Bristol has needed.

The city has tinkered around with transport for decades and the result is a transport system that is failing the city.

We’ve tinkered around on housing for years – the result is our housing crisis with over 500 families in temporary accommodation, 12,000 on the waiting list and tens of thousands more wondering if they’ll ever have their own home.

Add to these challenges today

  • the Brexit threat to our economy and jobs and
  • the fact that national government at its best, has gone absent and at its worst is making people poorer through policies such as universal credit
  • that Bristol will grow by nearly one hundred thousand people over the coming 25 years and
  • unprecedented levels of inequality and a loss of faith in public institutions
  • the climate emergency making the kind of homes we deliver and where we build them of critical importance.

The scale of these challenges, present both the opportunity and demand for change. At the C40 summit last week vice president Al Gore said we need changes in policy and changes in the people who make policy.

  • It will mean change in the way the city looks as we build new homes and regenerate the old city.
  • It means greater diversity of the people who take up positions of leadership and an explicit commitment to ensure the economy works for people and planet rather than treating them as mere factors of production.

The Bristol of old just did not deliver. We can no longer afford to carry the old order – we need the next iteration of Bristol.

Doing nothing doesn’t mean things will stay the same. If we don’t proactively design the next iteration of Bristol, we will find ourselves increasingly on the back foot, responding to challenges that are out of our control, with a city that is ill-equipped for the task.

But when I look around the city today, I see the start of the change. We have cranes on the horizon and the collaboration of the City Office and One City Plan. We have the declaration of the climate energy, City Leap and a city commitment to inclusive economic development.

DELIVERY

Evidence of the change we are bringing is that my cabinet and I have actually delivered the commitments we made to you. In 2016:

  1. We said we would build 2,000 new homes – 800 affordable – a year by 2020.

Many said this target was unachievable and we knew it was a stretch. But, we are on course to hit and exceed it.

Developments underway ACROSS the city right now include:

  • The Ambulance Station
  • Wapping Wharf
  • The Paintworks
  • Hartcliffe Campus
  • The Launchpad housing scheme
  • The Zedpods housing scheme, being built above a St George car park

We have houses being built in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods

  • In Hengrove at Hengrove Park
  • In Lockleaze, at Romney House, Shaldon Road and Bonnington Walk
  • In Southmead at Dunmail
  • In Henbury, we are building Council houses in Richardson Close, as we are in Alderman Moore, in Ashton Vale.

At the recent Built Environment Networking conference, Kelly Hillman Head of Land Acquisitions at Homes England said:

“Bristol is leading the way in the UK with planning, the environment and effecting positive change”

She said this was “down to the city leadership”.

The cultural change we’ve brought to our leadership and our strong grip of council finances has enabled us to turn Bristol City Council a housing delivery organisation – focused on delivering sustainable and affordable homes.

We’ve committed 82% of our five year capital programme, £857 million to infrastructure investment, including new homes and redevelopment schemes such as Temple Quarter and Temple Meads Station.

We committed £85 million to accelerate home building, and £61 million for Goram Homes, our new housing company.

And this year our housing revenue account has £15.7million freed up, to invest in building council homes

2. We said we would deliver work experience and apprenticeships .

When I came into power, 56% of young people were not getting meaningful work experience. We have changed that. Through The WORKS programme and the commitment of city employers, three and a half thousand meaningful experiences of work delivered in the last year alone.

This year is ‘Youth Options Year’, with a series of events, activities and workshops supporting young people to engage with employers and trainers and take up opportunities with confidence.

This is hope in action: raising aspiration, opening doors of opportunity and supporting young people onto the right track

3. We promised we would stop expansion of RPZs and review existing schemes.

And we did.

Working with local councillors in each area, RPZs were reviewed and revised and we are now engaging with residents in some new areas and will work with communities where there is overwhelming support.

4. We pledged to protect children’s centres.
And despite the devastating austerity programme, we kept them all open.

The national picture is of a £3.1billion funding gap contributing to the closure of more than 1,000 children’s centres and a further 722, no longer offering the full range of services.

But in Bristol, children’s centres will remain at the heart of our offer to families.

5. We told the city we would increase school places, with a fair admission process

We have committed £25m to a new school in Lockleaze;

A new secondary school in Silverthorne Lane is in progress, that will serve children from the centre and east of the city and there will be a new school in the South, in Knowle West.

It’s unheard of to be delivering three schools at once but we are doing it. We are delivering on our promise to parents and we will continue to build and expand yet more schools as our population grows.

6. We made a promise to put Bristol on course to be run entirely on clean energy by 2050, and introduce a safe, clean streets campaign

And we have accelerated this promise, taking steps for Bristol to be run on clean energy and to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. We launched the City Leap project, a £1 billion investment package that will transform Bristol’s relationship with energy.

And we are extending Clean Streets, including fines for offenders, smart bins and have launched the big tidy which will deploy crews to deep clean city hot spots.

7. We committed to lead a European Capital of Culture bid and promised to make culture – and sport – accessible to all.

Brexit got in the way of this one but we still delivered on our commitment to make culture and sport accessible to all.

  • We secured UNESCO City of Film status through a collaboration of the Bristol Film Office, the University of the West of England, University of Bristol, Screenology, Destination Bristol, and Bottle Yard Studios.
  • We underwrote £48.8million for the redevelopment of Colston Hall and £1.5million to enable the modernisation of Bristol Old Vic and St Georges.
  • and we overcame around 30 other towns and cities to be chosen by channel 4 as their new home – they are opening their offices this month.

And on sport:

  • We protected pitches for participation in grassroots sport and are working with Sports England and local sports clubs to increase sports hall provision.
  • And our Sport gatherings have brought together the sector like never before in the city to find opportunities to improve participation, enhance elite talent pathways and bring world class events to the city.

SUMMARY

That’s called keeping your promises. I am delighted to be able to demonstrate delivery for the city.

AND ALSO DELIVERED

But of course, we didn’t stop there and have delivered so much more

So, I will give you a brief rundown of some of our achievements. I want to start by expressing my gratitude to my hard working and dedicated cabinet, my office, the council leadership and workforce and city partners. And, to my Labour colleagues who have delivered the budget year on year in the face of political opposition – to make all this possible. Bristol is a collective endeavour.

  • The Parks Prospectus and the new funding for Tree planting as part of our city plan commitment to double the tree canopy by 2045.
  • The Stepping Up Programme has delivered training for 104 participants from BME backgrounds and women and disabled people. 70% of the first cohort went on to get promotions and so far 46% of the second cohort.
  • We also have a cohort of 35 Somali Women. 25% have now got new jobs. This is economic inclusion being delivered.
  • The Bristol Equality Charter successfully launched with 70 signatories to the Bristol Equality Network and the LGBT+ Voice & Influence Partnership
  • And the Reading City project with an army of reading volunteers and ambassadors, particularly in harder to reach communities. And of course, we kept all of our libraries open.
  • We have led on Period Poverty and have been invited to be part of the government taskforce.
  • We continue to develop the ‘Strengthening Families’ as part of the ACES programme with a focus on early intervention and prevention.
  • Learning from Glasgow, we have taken a public health approach to street violence and knife, to prevent the worst of what we have seen elsewhere.
  • Children with special educational needs have been neglected by government and served badly by the city. Going forward, we must stand with families and put it right for their children – and we will.
  • We have delivered extra care housing, starting in Stockwood and Stoke Gifford.
  • Our HomeFirst service is supporting people to return home quicker after a hospital stay, reducing readmission and we are paying care workers the living wage and travel time. Using technology to support independent living for disabled and older people.
  • Care leavers up to the age of 25 are now exempt from council tax and we are the only core city to have retained a 100% council tax reduction scheme
  • We are creating the first project to provide housing for young homeless, care leavers and students in partnership with United Communities, 1625independent people and Bristol University.
  • We have prioritised housing for women escaping domestic violence and abuse.
  • We opened a 24 hour homeless shelter in St Anne’s which has just opened for its second year.
  • We will pilot the closure of school streets during drop off and pick up times
  • and we safeguarded the future of ‘Skemers boxing Gym’ in Knowle West

YTL will continue to receive our support as they deliver a state of the art, 17,000 seater Bristol Arena, ready to come to planning in the next few months. And in doing so, we have saved so much carbon footprint from the original plans. Instead of driving, trucking and delivering steel and pouring tonnes and tonnes of concrete, it’s being built with the best carbon neutral solution: retro-fitting an existing historic building.

We have brought together key players as part of our commitment to Bristol’s nightlife, with clear proposals to safeguard the venues

We established a city centre revitalisation group if the face of major challenges to city centres and retail across the country.

And crucially we are building a brand new household waste and re-use centre at Avonmouth for opening around the turn of the year and are on track to deliver the new Recycling and re-use Centre in Hartcliffe Way.

I could go on…

A VISION FOR THE CITY

But, without any great fanfare, the single biggest change is the change in governance.

We have worked with the city to develop a city plan that sets out Bristol’s future to 2050, transcending the electoral cycle. We have set up the City Office to oversee the plan. This is a move from local government – and a focus on the workings of the council – to city governance – working together with all the city’s decision makers.

We have shared city leadership with six thematic boards, made up of partners from across the city. Each is taking responsibility for shaping and updating their piece of the one city plan.

There is inclusive, cross -organisational work going on in a way it never has.

And we have the City Funds which will be investing in agreed city priorities with ethical investment and giving.

The significance of these changes should not be underestimated. These successes have been recognised around the world, from the EU’s iCapital awards, to the FT and Reuters.

DISCOURSE

All these achievements cannot be taken for granted. Delivery has not previously been the norm and sustaining the city office and the one city plan needs the new form of political leadership. Let me share a few reflections…

  • It means being delivery focussed. You would be surprised how often we come into conflict with processes that prioritise the structures rather than outcomes for people.
  • We must go beyond the transactional relationship between candidate and voters where a candidate promises a couple of projects to purchase a vote. Our offer is: a working relationship built on a shared set of priorities and values and delivering against them.
  • “Complexity is not a vice”. This is a complicated city in a complicated world. Campaigns are already gearing up that are about are about 10 word soundbites on leaflets. But cities cannot be run with approaches built on 10 word analyses. You need the next ten words and then the next. Bristol needs leadership that grapples with reality and acknowledges that good things can sometimes have negative consequences for some people. As Donald Trump is demonstrating, meaningful leadership and debate cannot be conducted through 280 character Twitter posts.
  • On this last point, we urgently need an improvement in the quality of our civic discourse. The misinformation and attempts to reduce nuanced issues to binary options really underserves us. The truth is there are positives, negatives, risks and uncertainties to most options. Despite what you might hear and read, the scale of collaboration in the city in the name of getting things done is of far greater relevance than ANY conflict that centres around the council chamber.

The city is in the business of getting stuff done while the chamber wants to stay focussed on division and our media are stuck with the clickbait of pointless point-scoring and 30-second soundbites of opposition. WC Fields said, “I never voted for anyone, I just opposed” but we are turning that joke into a city pattern.

So, let me tell you what’s coming in the next few months.

I used to play rugby. If you’re up against a better team, you want rain, a muddy pitch, you want to make it a scrap. And you want them to stop playing rugby and get into that scrap. That is the leveller.

Some people will want to throw the mud in this election, to get us in a back alley and confuse the issues.

We will stay focussed on the fact that we have delivered and built a new city leadership, restored the council’s financial credibility and will continue to focus on the issues that matter to people.

As Michelle Obama said, “when they go low, we will go high”. We will do positive politics!

JOINT SOLUTIONS

Bristol is a collective endeavour. Good leadership is about not being afraid to have premier league people around you. It’s about finding great people who want to make things happen and give them the space and the backing to do it.

And so many people have been part of our city leadership.

People like:

  • The late Lorraine Bush, at Hawkspring. She got things done. She touched lives. She liked to say “life is measured not by how much you love but by how much you are loved”. This spoke to Lorraine. She just got it done.
  • Like Paul Hassan does, with local communities.
  • And Jez Sweetland, leading the innovation of the Bristol Housing Festival
  • Marti Burgess, who brings expertise and entrepreneurialism to so many things
  • Dick Penny, who has done so much for our city’s cultural offer

People like:

  • Sado Jirde, of Black South West Network
  • Mohammad Elsharif, who made Bristol his family home after fleeing Sudan
  • Kass Majothi and his son Rashid, who fled Amin’s Uganda founded SweetMart, at the heart of the regeneration of St Marks Rd
  • Silas Crawley, supporting men leaving prison
  • Jean Smith from Nilaari, doing so much on drugs and mental health
  • And my old youth leader Dennis Stinchcombe, who played a huge role in mine and so many other lives

And I want to thank our international ambassadors, Chris Sanigar, Caroline Hassan and Ivor Anderson – DJ Bunjy – who have championed our city on the world stage.

And tonight, we welcome our new international ambassadors:

Dr Mena Fombo, Founder of the Black Girl Convention – and Silas Adekunle – Co-founder of REACH Robotics.

LOOKING FORWARD

With a council fit for purpose, City partners fully engaged and a plan to deliver, these could be exciting times. Delivery for people on homes, transport, jobs and the environment.

HOMES

Our homes targets will be met. And we will meet the challenge of building them in a way and in places that minimise our carbon footprint.

The plans for the Western Harbour is central to our ambition.

How and where we build homes will be one of the biggest determinants of our climate impact over the coming years.

A recent report on climate change by Robert Muggah, for the World Economic Forum, tells cities they need to build centrally, more densely and higher to reduce demands on energy through more efficient buildings and reducing the need for cars.

Western Harbour represents:

  • around 2,000 homes within a seven minute bike ride and 25-minute walk of the city centre
  • the opportunity to introduce flood defence at the same time and in sympathy with the development
  • life being brought into the city centre to support the retail offer and that of North Street
  • the opportunity to turn the waterfront into a city destination accessible to all.

And we will deliver on other major infrastructure and housing projects, from the Temple Quarter to St Phillips Marsh and climate resilient housing at Frome Gateway alongside the university campus and Temple Island.

And, we will redevelop the St James area of the city.

TRANSPORT

Also, within our grasp is a truly transformative transport solution.

We start with a Bus Deal that will double services on key routes as well as regular commuter services down main arterial routes. This is public investment in prioritisation and infrastructure that will trigger private investment in services as the first step towards making public transport the mode of choice.

This will bring greater reliability and connectivity with a loop service – a circle line that will connect the city central areas of Broadmead and Cabot Circus, to the Centre, Redcliffe, Temple Meads, and Old Market every few minutes.

Through traffic will bypass the city central areas completely. This will enable pedestrianisation of the old city and the city centre.

This will deliver cleaner air, safe space for walking and cycling while supporting our local economy, jobs and connectivity.

And then we will deliver Mass Transit. A promise to the city that is both deliverable and essential if we are to offer a real alternative to the car.

Developed within the next decade, this will bring four lines of mainly underground, low carbon, rapid and reliable mass transport.

The first line will connect Temple Meads to the airport, looping through the south of Bristol, connecting people to jobs and opportunity.

The next line will connect the northern fringe, from Cribbs Causeway to the centre and the south and east central areas of the city.

And then we will connect the rest to the east, going as far as Lyde Green and Hicks Gate.

And by also enhancing and growing our urban rail network, these plans will transform public transport.

We will work closely with our local authority neighbours and with the combined authority – but we must not and will not face away from the ambition and the transformative impact of these plans.

JOBS

And to deliver jobs for everyone, we need investment and we must grow a diverse economy.

We are working with seven cities and surrounding regions to build an economic powerhouse for the West. This is supported by government departments, local economic partnerships, business and city leaders – and linked with the emerging national 2070 plan. This will bring the western region of England and Wales to the table, for government and international investment in the way the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine has for their areas.

And, with the support of unions and business, we will make Bristol a Living Wage city, where well paid decent jobs are the benchmark, not the aspiration.

And by protecting employment land in key areas, we will promote business and diversify our economy. While our high tech sectors grow and prosper, so we have a fundamental need to protect and grow jobs in all sectors including food, care and retail.

ENVIRONMENT

Bristol has been a leading voice in the UK’s response to the Climate Emergency:

  • The first council to declare a Climate Emergency,
  • the first to embed leadership of the New Green Deal with a named cabinet lead
  • the first UK city to undertake a voluntary local review against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and
  • the driver of a motion to the Local Government Association which saw 435 councils declare a Climate Emergency and commit to the SDGs.

But declarations and motions are only the first step. The climate emergency requires action. We have the action plan, which has been published today on the council’s website.

From setting a ground-breaking ambition for a carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2030 to driving forward a £1bn programme of investment in cleaner, greener energy, to progressing the actions requested of councils by Friends of the Earth, we are telling the truth about the Climate Emergency and acting now to tackle it, in concert with the linked challenge of social justice.

We will finalise our Local Plan to ensure our planning policies match our ambition. New planning policy will drive zero carbon buildings, affordable housing, community self-build and appropriate student developments.

We will find a way to make Bristol a plastic free city and we are Going for Gold on food sustainability and have plans with the Avon Wildlife Trust and food growing groups to establish local food growth in every ward in the city, tackling food poverty while protecting wildlife habitats.

CITY OF HOPE

City Hall is about to install a blue plaque declaring Bristol a City of Hope.

It was presented to Bristol at the July City Gathering in recognition of what we have all been trying to do and encouraging – and challenging – us to continue.

We have the opportunity to make Bristol a better place for all citizens, of all ages, throughout their life.

From childcare and children’s centres, to more and better schools, a diverse, inclusive and sustainable economy with jobs for all, a transport system that is fit for purpose, connecting people and jobs and cleaning our air – to keeping people in their own homes with better support.

To deliver that city we need change.

I started tonight by telling a story of a Bristol mum that was struggling to feed her children. I shared that 40 years ago, my mum was facing the same struggle.

We don’t want to be telling that story in another 40 years.

We have the opportunity now, to make Bristol a better place to live and work for all of our citizens.

Let’s continue the change – let’s do it together.

Thank you.