Bristol Beacon reopens after major investment

Last night, Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance, and Performance, reopened the Bristol Beacon after major investment, particularly from Bristol City Council. His speech can be found below.

Last week, I joined Craig; Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children’s Services, Education, and Equalities; and Louise Mitchell, CEO of the Bristol Beacon/Bristol Music Trust, to unveil a plaque ahead of a soft opening.

“I just want to start by saying that I am so proud to be here this evening. As an 11 year old boy I came to see Gary Numan here, my first ever gig and it stoked a love of live music in me that continues to this day. 

“I want to say a massive thank you to the teams of people who made this possible.  Louise for her vision and drive and all the Bristol Music Trust team, all the project and programme managers, planners and other staff at the council who supported this development, the architects, acoustician and the other technical experts responsible for much of what you see. And finally to the amazing work of Wilmott Dixon in delivering on that vision and those technical requirements.

Photo credit: Giulia Spadafora

“Unlike Gary Numan I won’t be singing or whipping out a synth but I do want to blow my own trumpet a little and recognise what a long and difficult journey we have all been on to get here.  

“Not only was the building in bad shape, but we uncovered things like Elizabethan wells and Victorian ranges, we had to overcome Brexit supply issues, a global pandemic and the resulting tough economic headwinds. 

“In the face of opposition, cynicism, and budget pressures, we’ve stayed the course and delivered for Bristol. The Council, the Trust and the project took criticism at times, but I hope you can agree as we stand here now that by remaining determined throughout all of that we made the right decision; an international standard venue, here in the centre of Bristol.  A building in which people will laugh and cry and be carried away by music. 

Photo credit: Paul Blakemore

“And, as a Bristolian, it’s amazing to think that this building has been providing entertainment for Bristolians for a 150 years, and that we have just put it on a path for the next 150.

“By making this investment, and by changing the name, we have made it a physical place for all of Bristol to enjoy, use and be proud of.

“Of course, this is hasn’t just been an investment in this building. This in an investment into the ecosystem of the Bristol music scene, an investment in Bristol’s talent, an investment in Bristol’s diversity, an investment in a city which over the years has seen us produce huge global acts and world class musicians. 

Photo credit: Colin Moody

“Punching well above our own weight. (I should insert a joke about the boxing being held here in the past but…)

“I’m excited to think that the next big thing from Bristol could start their journey in the studios below, perform in the Lantern and end up selling out the main hall.  And whilst no one but the artists can take the credit for that, we can say that we played a part by creating this. 

“An exciting evening, more to come and so it just remains for me to thank you for being here and I hope you enjoy the evening.”

Photo credit: Giulia Spadafora

Marking World AIDS Day 2023

Aled Osborne is pictured.
Today’s guest blog is from Aled Osborne, Community Engagement Manager at Brigstowe

The Government has published its HIV Action Plan, laying out their plan to end new HIV diagnoses by 2030. That’s just over 6 years from now.

I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that this is impossible and that those of us in the HIV sector are dreaming.  However, we do have all the tools that we need to end HIV transmissions. Today, on World AIDS Day, we are standing up for those impacted by HIV, past and present, and calling for a better future.

Let Communities Lead

Communities which are on the front line, need to lead the HIV response. Communities use person-centred approaches to connect people with public health services, build trust, innovate, and hold providers accountable. Community organisations know their communities best and if we are truly going to reach everyone, leaving no-one behind, we must invest.

Communities are being held back. Funding shortages, policy and regulatory hurdles, capacity constraints, and crackdowns on civil society and marginalised communities’ human rights are obstructing the progress of HIV prevention and treatment services.

Organisations and their communities need to be central in all HIV plans and programmes. They need to be adequately and reliably funded to enable the required scale up and all existing and future barriers need to be removed.


  • Nothing about us without us.
  • Not ending HIV is more expensive than ending it.
  • Remove laws that harm; create laws that empower.
  • Communities are and always have been leading World AIDS Day.
Team members of Brigstowe are pictured holding signs and wearing pink

Common Ambition Bristol

Common Ambition Bristol (CAB) is a co-produced project bringing together people of African and Caribbean heritage and professionals working in partnership to:

  • Increase HIV testing
  • Reduce HIV stigma
  • Reduce HIV late diagnosis
  • Increase uptake of sexual health services

Community members are integral to CAB.  They have been involved in the design and delivery from the very beginning and throughout the project. THE most important part of CAB has been sharing power and building trust with community members.

Community outreach includes partnership with over 30 black owned or black frequented businesses, having conversations, providing free condoms, and holding events. We have also opened the only two walk in sexual health clinics for people of African & Caribbean heritage in the South West. They happen on the first Thursday of every month at Montpelier Health Centre and the last Thursday of every month at Charlotte Keel Medical Practice. The clinics are free and confidential and offer full sexual health screening, free condoms or PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis) initiation.  This is one way Bristol is letting communities lead.  Involving communities in the design and delivery of services needs to be adopted and spread across all underserved communities.

Bristol's City Hall is pictured lit up red for World AIDS Day 2023.

Opt-Out Testing in A&E

After years of work going into the 2020 HIV Commission report and 18 months of a very successful pilot, we are now able to say with pride that the Government has confirmed expansion of opt-out testing in Emergency Departments to cover all areas of high prevalence. This will be a year long programme led by the National Institute for Health Research. For Bristol, this means opt-out testing will be carried out at the BRI and Weston General Hospital.

In the first year, 569 people have been diagnosed with HIV and even more with Hepatitis B and C.

This also means that more people will be diagnosed with HIV faster, and will be able to access lifesaving treatment which will also stop the virus being passed on. With HIV diagnoses rising among women, and over half of new diagnoses in the city being diagnosed late we warmly welcome this announcement.

If we are serious about achieving the 2030 target of no new HIV diagnoses it is vital we do not miss any opportunity to test and engage people into HIV care.

Starting or reinitiating these individuals on treatment means they cannot pass HIV onto sexual partners. Undetectable = Untransmittable. People living with HIV on effective medication have ZERO risk of transmission.

We thank Marvin for his continued support in lobbying the Government to roll this out.

Get Involved

If you or someone you know is living with or affected by HIV, or you would like further information please take a look at our website: Brigstowe or call us on 0117 955 5038.

Wear your red ribbon with pride. Come along to our annual World AIDS Day Celebration event on Saturday 2nd December from 6pm at the Watershed:

The World AIDS Day flag is pictured flying outside Bristol's City hall.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2023

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2022
Councillor Ellie King is pictured, smiling, stood on the ramp of Bristol's city hall.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet for Public Health and Communities and Labour councillor for Hillfields ward.

While the festive period brings many opportunities to celebrate, the additional pressures and increased alcohol consumption can make this time of year increasingly difficult for those at risk of gender-based violence. 25 November marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, and the beginning of the UN’s 16 days of action against gender-based violence.  

Worldwide, six women are killed by a man every hour, and in the UK, a domestic abuse call is made to the police every 30 seconds. This is an incredibly alarming statistic to wrap your head around.

 Gender based violence can come in many forms including:

  • domestic abuse
  • sexual violence
  • abuse and rape
  • coercive control (an act or pattern of controlling, threatening or humiliating behaviour).
  • stalking and harassment
  • trafficking
  • forced prostitution
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • intimidation at work, education or in public
  • ‘honour’ crimes.              

Bristol’s City Hall was lit up orange on 25 November, in honour of the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and will be again today, (30 November) to mark Next Link’s candlelit vigil to highlight the number of women and children affected by Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.

I am proud of our commitment to making Bristol a zero-tolerance city for gender-based violence, where survivors are supported, and perpetrators of violence are held to account. This work can be seen in the Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse, which details our recommendations for a violence-free city, and our commitments to supporting women across the city, no matter who they are.

I am also proud of our involvement with the Bristol Women’s Commission, which has dedicated groups to address issues faced by women and girls, such as education, women’s health, and the economy. Organisations like these help women to feel protected and safe in Bristol.

At Bristol City Council, we support employers to develop domestic abuse policies, and spot signs of abuse to protect their staff. We will always promote our zero-tolerance policy for all types of abuse and encourage local businesses and media outlets to challenge abusive behaviours and support survivors.

We have also signed up to achieve the Domestic Abuse and Housing Alliance accreditation, which will help our housing officers identify and respond to domestic abuse earlier, and more efficiently so that all families can be safe and have housing security.

As well as this, our manifesto commitment to increase the priority of Domestic Violence survivors in the HomeChoice system has been delivered. This means that women who have been victims of Domestic Violence will be classed as an urgent housing priority when allocating social housing.

Dedicated Services

In Bristol we provide additional specialist services and support through the Next Link Plus partnership, understanding the need for tailored services working ‘by-and-for’ survivors in a partnership that recognises everyone has their own unique experience of discrimination and oppression.

Next Link Plus has trained specialists that are able to support women in abusive and violent situations. They have specialists supporting those who have experienced ‘honour’ abuse, have dedicated safe houses for survivors from minoritised communities, such as South Asian, Black, those with disabilities and those from the LGBTQ+ community.

They also work in partnership with other organisations across Bristol to provide the best possible care, such as St. Mungo’s to support those sleeping rough or homeless, Sign Health for those who are deaf or have hearing difficulties, and Nilaari for therapy.

A person is pictured holding a candle at a vigil on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Vigil on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2022

The Drive Project

In June this year, the Home Office Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Intervention Fund awarded £1,230,500 to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), the police, and councils throughout the southwest to implement the Drive initiative. The Drive project exists to challenge the behaviour of high-risk domestic abuse perpetrators, reducing the risk of violent behaviours and offering further protection to victims.

The Safer Streets Project

We have also been given funding from the Home Office to fund our Safer Streets project. This has been run in Manor Farm, Portland Square and most recently across South Bristol. The funding has gone towards more street lighting, more CCTV, and increased community activities, which has made our streets safer and more secure for women.

Bristol Nights

Feeling safe at night is important. Bristol Nights is committed to making women feel safe at night, and to reducing the anxiety and fear that socialising at night can induce.

97% of women in Bristol have experienced sexual harassment. The Women’s Safety Charter aims to improve the safety and security of women at night. This campaign has now been running for over a year, and businesses all over Bristol have been trained to protect their staff, and the public from possible violence.

This year, we have made great progress in supporting victims of domestic violence and commit to making further progress in our Bristol Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy and working with more women and children to support them through violence and abuse.

Getting help

If you or someone you know is or has been affected by domestic abuse, you can access support via:

  • Next Link Plus service: 0800 4700 280
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Always call 999 in an emergency

Bristol’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Councillor Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling.
This guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy,
Finance, and Performance, and Labour Councillor for Hillfields.

When I was growing up in Bristol, my family was supported by Council Tax Benefit. It was a real lifeline for us.

Since 2016, our Labour administration has protected our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which replaced the benefit and is one of the last full schemes in the country. This means that up to 100% of a household’s council tax bill can be paid for through the scheme, with 75% of eligible low-income households currently having their bills paid in full.

We have been proud to provide over £325 million of support to families across Bristol since taking office. This achievement has been without the support of other parties locally, and despite more than a decade of national government austerity.

Our Council, like local authorities across the country, including Nottingham, continues to face a challenging financial position after thirteen years of national government austerity. With rising costs and rising demands for services, this has meant – and will continue to mean – difficult choices. And the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement only added further pressure, with councils having to wait until Christmas for the Local Government Finance Settlement.

In February, Full Council approved a £3 million saving from the Council Tax Reduction scheme for the upcoming financial year. The Council has since consulted on a number of potential options to deliver that saving, while asking people who want to keep the scheme in its current form to suggest how to do that while balancing the budget.

Opposition councillors did not suggest alternative savings at Full Council, and have not been forthcoming since then in suggesting alternative budget savings. Ultimately, if councillors choose not to have a balanced budget, commissioners appointed by the Tory government will do it for us – with the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, along with the frontline services we’ve protected, first on the chopping block.

While the consultation results show that the majority of respondent would support changes to the scheme, now is not the time. Today, we will publish a paper to come to cabinet next week, recommending that our Council Tax Reduction Scheme continues in its current form.

This is of course welcome news for families, but it does mean that next year’s budget requires another £3 million of savings. There are no easy decisions left, no efficiencies to make, and no fat to trim.

More difficult decisions lie ahead. They cannot be ducked.

It will be incumbent on all councillors to come together and pick from the least-bad options left to balance Bristol’s budget for an eighth consecutive year, including an alternative £3 million of savings with our Council Tax Reduction Scheme staying in place for 2024/25.

Bristol has everything you need for the festive season

Cllr Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling, in a dark suit against a white background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance, and Performance and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

Bristol’s high streets are diverse and independent centres of retail, entertainment and culture. With Christmas fast approaching, and Small Business Saturday taking place this weekend, now is the perfect time to explore them and find some of the hidden gems on your doorstep. With 47 high streets across our city, there are plenty of places to discover and uncover what’s on offer.

High street businesses have been hard hit over the last few years due to the pandemic and the ongoing national cost of living crisis, so it is encouraging to see the latest figures showing an increase in visitor numbers across many areas of our city over the last year. The continued support of residents is needed to build stronger, resilient independent businesses that are supported by their own communities.

Shop local, support your community

Corn Street is pictured, with Market Stalls present on either side of the road and people walking down the middle.

Shopping local is also a great way to shop more sustainably and ethically without needing to jump in the car or buy from giant corporate organisations.

For inspiration, the Where’s it to? Bristol campaign celebrates some of the brilliant businesses on Bristol’s high streets and the diversity that’s on offer. With over 400 traders featured on the website you can quickly see what’s in your local area.

Bristol Shopping Quarter sits in the heart of our city. Central to Broadmead, The Galleries, The Arcade, Cabot Circus and Quakers Friars you’ll find well-known brands and an abundance of independent retailers, cafes and restaurants to chose from.

Visit Bristol provide information on a wide range of businesses, days out and shopping destinations to suit every need, including restaurants, bars, tea rooms and delis.

The traditional indoor market at St Nick’s Market is now open every day until Christmas Eve. Inside the Covered Market, Glass Arcade and Exchange Hall, the market houses 60 stalls selling a range of gifts, including fashion, accessories, books, records and food.

The Christmas themed outdoor markets are a family friendly place to discover handmade crafts and enjoy delicious street food. Open every day from Monday 11 December until Christmas Eve.

Taking place this weekend, Small Business Saturday is a grassroots non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to support small businesses in their communities by shopping locally. Many independent businesses take an active role in promoting the day by hosting events and offering promotions. Shoppers can click on the Small Business Finder to search for local businesses taking part.

If you’re not sure what gift to give this year, the Love Bristol Gift Card is a great way to help support local businesses. The gift card is aimed at encouraging local spend in Bristol’s city centre and can be used at over 160 retailers, from independents to well-known brands, including shops, hotels, and restaurants.

Ways to be more sustainable

Church Road is pictured, with shops lining the left side of the road. Trees and cars are pictured to the centre right of the image.
Church Road

Sparks Bristol offers a shopping experience and creative workshops with a difference. Step into Sparks and shop local to put your hard-earned money back into your community and support Bristol’s independent businesses, artists and makers.

For those looking to repair items, rather than buy new, Sparks offer a range of services to help you repair damaged clothes, electricals, bikes and more, to give your well-loved items a new lease of life and help save you money. Dr Bike drop-in sessions are also available where a mechanic will be on hand to carry out bike maintenance checks, free of charge, helping you get your bike ready for winter.

Bristol’s Repair Cafés were set up to help reduce the environmental impact of repairable items being thrown away. Running throughout the year, repair cafés have been set up across Bristol, where you can bring items in to be repaired. Staffed by volunteers like Nobby and Jim, the repairs are free, but donations are appreciated to help keep the venues running.

For those looking for good condition reconditioned items, Bristol Waste run three reuse shops from their Avonmouth, Hartcliffe Way and St Philips recycling centres. The shops sell a wide range of reused products, from furniture and electrical products to DIY materials and bric-a-brac.

Christmas and the festive period can be an expensive time for many, and the rising cost of living is affecting everybody in the city in different ways. Our Cost of Living hub looks to support the people most impacted, including those who have not faced financial challenge before. The hub provides advice and guidance on topics including housing, help with fuel bills, benefits and associated financial help, employment and skills, mental health and wellbeing, and provides links to useful websites and community organisations.

Small Business Saturday's logo is pictured, with white text on a blue background reading: Small Business Saturday 2nd December

Carers Rights Day 2023

Susy Giullari is pictured with a bookshelf in the background.
Today’s guest blog is by Susy Giullari, Policy Engagement Lead at the Carers Support Centre

On Carers Rights Day last week, the charity Carers Support Centre hosted an event for local carers and policy makers to celebrate the contribution that unpaid carers make to both the economy and society and to discuss ways to improve support for carers locally.

According to the latest census in 2021, in Bristol there are 33,973 people looking after someone without being paid. Of those 9,318 were providing over 50 hours a week unpaid care.

The impact that unpaid carers have on the economy is significant. It is estimated that the 5.7 million unpaid carers in the UK contribute £162 billion to the economy every year. That is equivalent to the cost of the NHS. Without unpaid carers we would need to fund the NHS twice.

However the support that unpaid carers receive in return for that contribution is negligible. A carer-contributor to the Carers Trust’s latest report described the state of caring in the UK: “Unpaid carers are not unsung heroes. We are forgotten, neglected and burnt out”

The main benefit for carers, Carers Allowance, is still a paltry sum both in comparison with other UK benefits and payments made to unpaid carers in many other countries in Europe. Local carer Mandie highlights that “There’s no sick pay, no annual leave, no bank holidays, no minimum rest breaks between “shifts”. It’s constant, and all for less than £2 an hour”.

Through Carers Support Centre, local carers are demanding more adequate financial support and improved rights, as John says: “We are not asking for the world or millions. We are asking to be recognised and get rights as carers. At the moment we are paid £1.85 an hour to look after our loved ones. We are not after loads; we just want to be paid the same wage (living wage) as most other people in the areas we live in”.

The more you care, the more difficult it becomes to hold down a job to supplement or replace benefits. A certain amount of work and you risk your entitlement to Carers Allowance, and the more you work the less time you’ve got to care.  

If you can work, rights to protect carers in the workplace are inadequate. For instance, while the Carers Leave Act coming into force next year is welcome, it will give carers a right to carer’s leave, this leave will be unpaid.

Being an unpaid carer also often means an increased reliance on both health and social services, both of which are struggling to cope with demand.

A group of pictures of Carers in different events and conversations.

For many the pressures of caring continue to mount. Overall, carers are having to do more with less, resulting in detrimental effects on the health and well-being of carers themselves. This, in turn, can then have a negative effect on their ability to care for others:

“Caring is about love, but it is also hard work. It can be stressful and joyful, depressing and empowering, painful and fun, bonding and binding, creative and boring, upsetting and rewarding”.  

Indeed, ample evidence shows that caring can increase isolation, poverty and make you ill. Carers UK report:

  • 79% of carers feel stressed or anxious
  • 50% of carers said their physical health had deteriorated
  • 50% said they had to put off health treatment because of their caring role.

Carers need and are demanding the right to more and regular breaks from caring to take care of their own well-being:

  • 61% of carers responding to Carers UK’s State of Caring Survey 2023 said they need more support to look after their health and wellbeing
  • 78% were worried about being unable to provide care in the future as a result.

Carers Support Centre’s Carers Rights Day event enables carers to find out more about their current rights and inform national and local government about the needs of local carers. It is just one of the ways that the charity is caring for the carers.

At Carers Support Centre we provide support, information and advice to unpaid carers living in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire. You can find out more about our services for carers at

Carer's Support Centre's 'Carers Rights Day' event is pictured, with a group of people looking towards a speaking and projector.
An image from Carers Support Centre’s ‘Carers Rights Day’ event

We want your views on our draft local plan for Bristol

Bristol is a rapidly growing city, one of the fastest growing areas in England and Wales. Our population has grown by 10 per cent in the last decade and we anticipate it reaching 550,000 by 2050.

Having a local plan is central to any city’s preparation for the future. Our next local plan would guide development and growth in Bristol from 2025 – 2040. 

We need to be intentional about how we design our city. Housing has become increasingly unaffordable, with renting and buying a house out of reach for many. Building more affordable homes remains a priority for our city.

A local plan is a vision for a city’s future and sets out the policies which individual applications are then assessed against. It is a guide for the delivery of a wide range of development in the city and a spotlight to where new homes and future jobs, as well as health and energy infrastructure, would be best located.

Writing and refreshing an entire city’s local plan is a detailed process and the new draft plan has been worked on for several years. We must have a fully revised local plan to guide the development of our future city, and be purposeful, about where best to locate homes, employment and leisure space. The good news is that we are progressing towards a new local plan for the period to 2040.

At the end of October, Full Council approved Bristol’s new draft local plan for publication. Now that the draft plan is published, we are inviting Bristol residents as well as the many stakeholders involved to send us representations on the new draft plan over the next ten weeks.

Any representations must relate to a specific policy or proposal in the draft plan. Your representations will be considered by the council first. Representations will then be reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate, which examines local plans. The inspector may then ask the council if there are any changes which it thinks should be made in response to any representations.

You can read the publication version of the draft local plan here.

When this process (known as Regulation 19 pre-submission) closes in January 2024, the representations will be delivered to the government’s Planning Inspectorate to carefully review the evidence that our approach is based on to make certain it meets with the rules on local plans. Once a local plan is adopted after that by Full Council in 2025, that will officially replace the current plan agreed in 2014.

I would like to thank all who have submitted comments and the cross-party working group for your feedback to date that has formed such an important part in developing a draft plan that is right for Bristol. 

You can submit your representations to the council on the draft plan from 21 November until 26 January 2024 on our website or by send them via email: or by post at: Strategic City Planning Team (CH), Bristol City Council, PO Box 3399, Bristol BS1 9NE

Photos: Remembrance Sunday 2023

It was a privilege to join other local dignitaries and military personnel in showing our respects at Bristol’s annual day of remembrance. The event included a parade from College Green to the Cenotaph, before a two minute silence and the laying of wreaths.

Bristol’s Act of Remembrance was led by Royal Marines Reserve Bristol, HMS Flying Fox. With the parade featuring military units, cadet contingents, veterans and related groups.

Thank you to everyone involved in the organisation of such a special and emotional day.

Photography credit:

The hilt of a sword is pictured, gleaming with droplets of rain. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
A man wearing military uniform is pictured playing a bugler at Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured on the left of the image, holding a wreath for remembrance. To his right Karin Smyth MP, Darren Jones MP, Thangam Debbonaire MP and Mark Shelford PCC are also holding wreaths of remembrance. Military personnel can be seen in the background during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Military personnel are pictured showing their respects during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Members of the public are pictured showing their respects during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
A Policeman is pictured showing his respects during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
A ex-military serviceman is pictured wearing uniform during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Military personnel and city dignitary's are pictured showing their respects in front of the Cenotaph during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Military personnel are picture showing their respects during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Military personnel are pictured marching during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Military cadets are pictured in formation during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
The hats of military personnel are pictured during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Wreaths are pictured at the bottom of Bristol's cenotaph. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.
Military personnel are pictured during Bristol's Act of Remembrance. Photo credit: Colin Rayner.

An update on the Major Incident at Barton House

The skyline of Bristol is pictured.

My thoughts are with everyone at this time and I’m grateful to all residents for your patience. I extend my thanks to the family, friends, volunteers, faith leaders and community groups who have come forward to provide support.

We have written to the tenants of Barton House to update them on what is a fast moving and complicated situation.

I’m sorry to residents that I couldn’t be with you in person last night. Over the weekend, I travelled to Kigali to take part in the Commonwealth local Government Forum’s conference on climate and migration. I will be back in Bristol as soon as I can but in the meantime I know housing officers, cabinet members, my office, senior council staff have all been on hand. I extend my thanks to them also.

We have made the decision to evacuate Barton House because we are putting the safety of our residents first and foremost. We understand the disruption and inconvenience this has caused, but rest assured our top priority is to make sure everyone is looked after and updated as the situation unfolds.

We are working as quickly as we can to carry out the necessary further investigations and surveys on the building to ensure we have a full understanding of the situation.

Please allow me to summarise the situation we are facing:

Yesterday, council leaders made the difficult decision to evacuate residents of Barton House. While there is no evidence of an immediate risk to life, this precautionary decision was taken following receipt of results from surveys undertaken to assess the building’s structure.

These surveys were ordered as part of work to assess potential future options for Barton House given its age and method of construction.

A survey of three out of ninety-eight of the flats has indicated that the building may not have been built to the specification set out in its design. A number of issues have emerged that suggest the building’s construction is sufficiently different to its blueprints that there is a material risk to the structure of the block in the event of a fire, explosion or large impact.

This includes the apparent lack of structural ties between the floors and the load-bearing external walls. There is lower fire resistance of these structural elements and less concrete cover than set out in the original plans for the floors. Even if there was concrete cover as thick as set out in the original plans, this would still be less than would be used in a building built today.

We are working at pace to complete further surveys now, to go deep into the structure and understand when it would be safe for residents to move back into Barton House.

The surveys will take us some time to complete, so residents will need to be away from home while they are carried out. We are working as quickly as we can to find everyone suitable temporary accommodation.


We have managed to make direct contact with most Barton House residents. We are asking people to contact us with their details to let us know if they or other residents are not getting updates from us. We will then be sure to add their details.

Fifty seven hotel rooms were provided to families in need and four people stayed at our rest centre at City Hall. Nine households decided to stay in their property and twenty nine households did not answer their doors, so may not have been home.

We are working throughout the day and evening to make contact with those households we couldn’t speak to yesterday and continue to have an ongoing dialogue with those who chose to stay inside Barton House. All other households chose to stay with friends and family.

Officers have made every effort to acquire and prepare emergency accommodation for residents. More rooms are becoming available by the hour with further expected to be secured by the weekend.

I’m grateful to so many organisations and businesses across the city who offered accommodation or to provide support and rest in their buildings for those displaced by this evacuation.

Likewise, we’ve been inundated with offers of donations and volunteer support. This overwhelmingly positive response from communities across the city demonstrates clearly the kindness and care inherent across our city. However, donations are not required and we are asking any offers of volunteering to visit the Can Do Bristol website with their offers of support. This way we will be able to ensure our efforts are best coordinated.

Information for Residents

If you are a resident in Barton House and need to speak to a Housing Officer or have a question that needs answering about the current situation, please call our free helpline on 0800 694 0184. Outside of office hours, you can call 0117 922 2050. Please provide the call handler with your contact details so an officer can contact you directly. Housing officers will be available at your temporary accommodation or at Barton House.

We know there will be lots of questions and concerns over the coming days and we will do our best to keep everyone informed.

Investing in Bristol’s high streets and city centre

Cllr Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling, in a dark suit against a white background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance, and Performance and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

The city centre and variety of high streets are central parts of Bristol’s character and the reason so many of us choose to live, work or study here.

To help Bristol’s high streets and the city centre to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched the City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme in July 2021 having secured £4.725 million of funding.

The aim of the programme is to help increase the number of people visiting and using these places by filling vacant premises, diversifying what’s on offer, improving their appearance, and supporting the culture and events sector to put on events and activities.

The money has been used to support the recovery of the city centre and forty seven high streets throughout Bristol, with a specific focus on nine priority high streets including: Brislington (Brislington Hill and Bristol Hill), Church Road (St George), East Street (Bedminster), Filton Avenue, Filwood Broadway, Shirehampton High Street, Stapleton Road, Stockwood (Hollway Road and Stockwood Road) and Two Mile Hill.

By encouraging people to visit and use these places, our activity continues to support businesses, helping them to survive and thrive.

Working closely with businesses, residents, community groups, the creative and events sector and other stakeholders, we have focussed on making sure that activity and improvements match the challenges facing each individual high street.

To date, we have:

  • Delivered 45 events with 116 free activity days through the culture and events programme. Analysis of 21 completed events shows over 130,000 people have attended an event to date, generating £2.08 million of additional spend in Bristol’s businesses, and we have supported 380 paid jobs in culture and events, all from an investment to date of £498,000.
  • Supported over 100 new and expanding small businesses, charities and social enterprises through the Vacant Commercial Property Grant, allocating £872,000 in grants to open new shops and premises.
  • Promoted over 400 businesses through the Where’s it to? Bristol campaign, celebrating the breadth and diversity of independent businesses that Bristol is renowned for.
  • Engaged over 1000 businesses, providing tailored support to 457 businesses and made 93 referrals to partner organisations or services.

The next phase of activity currently underway includes street scene and greening improvements across the priority high streets. Under the City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme, the focus is on improving the look and feel of our high streets by adding greenery, planting trees, improving bins and recycling facilities to reduce rubbish, and encouraging people to stay with new seating for shoppers or passers-by.

Following engagement with local residents and businesses and other interested stakeholders, plans have been drawn up for each area.

For those wanting to view and discuss the plans in more detail, we are running a series of face-to-face drop-in events and online sessions. These begin on Wednesday 15 November and run through until 1 December 2023. Details of the events and plans are available on the High Street Improvements page of our website.

Plans for Filwood Broadway are already in full swing with funding being used to support improvement to the existing children’s play area, and a pocket park has been completed on Stockwood Road, to the side of the library, adding greenery and a seating area.

The newly installed pocket park in Stockwood is pictured.

In addition to the feedback gathered from our engagement work, the plans are guided by the amount of funding available and the physical constraints of each area.

To maximise what we are able to achieve, we are working with our partners across the city to make sure our proposals integrate with other programmes of support and regeneration.

Plans for East Street, Stockwood and the city centre are still in development and will be shared at a later date.

If you are unable to join us for the face-to-face or online session to discuss the plans, comments can be sent to by Sunday 10 December 2023.

Once details of the plans have been shared, we will start work to deliver these improvements, with the aim of completion by mid-2024.