Tomorrow, people from right across our city will join me on College Green in a Rally for Bristol. We’ll meet midday on College Green.
The Rally for Bristol is an opportunity to give expression to our vision, commitment and hope for Bristol. We need to set out the opportunities and challenges to us achieving that vision and hope.
The greatest opportunity exists in the people of Bristol who contribute daily to the welfare of the city. The major challenge comes in the form of the ideology of austerity that drives disinvestment in the lives of these very people.
Austerity has run its course and been found wanting. It has not delivered economic recovery. Rather it has produced pain, hopelessness and fostered political disillusionment. Conservative voters have expressed to me their frustration with the approach.
Nationally imposed austerity also speaks to the fact that the great fissures of modern politics are not only between political parties, but between Westminster and City political leadership.
Government needs to understand that across the country City Governments are reaching breaking point. Not only is austerity reducing our capacity to support society’s most vulnerable, but it’s also undermining our ability to invest in the human capital on which our country depends.
What’s more, austerity is not only threatening the provision of front line delivery. It undermines our back room capacity found in our lawyers, accountants and planners. These aren’t the kind of roles people campaign for, but they are essential to our ability to function as a city government and deliver in challenges such as bringing land forward for housing development.
We need change.
I’d also like you to prepare for the fact that we will be asking for people to commit to more than a rally tomorrow. Challenging government policy takes time. But there are things we can do right now to bring hope to people in Bristol.
– become a reading buddy to improve literacy for our children?
– consider fostering or adopting?
– provide work experience and mentoring to a young person?
– join a pool of volunteers to participate in a city voter registration drive?
– join a pool of city volunteers ready to support upcoming causes?
I would also ask that we pick up all litter before leaving the rally. We can all pick something up. I would be proud if we were to leave the march route and College Green looking better than when we arrived. Not only will that save the city money but it will demonstrate the authenticity of our professed commitment to the city.
See you Saturday.