Letter from America

I’ve just returned from a packed five-day trip to the United States.

In that time I spoke at the US-Islamic World Forum, the New York Global Mayors Summit, met with the UK’s Consul General, including the Department for International Trade, the British American Business Council and spoke to the 2017 cohort of Yale World Fellows.

On a practical level, this trip was about securing Bristol’s economic interests. My aspiration for our city and everyone in it has run through the heart of my campaign and time in office. Strong relations with the Consul General, DIT and BABC will mean strong allies in promoting Bristol as a place to visit, trade, invest and locate. This will help us secure the pipeline of quality jobs that are essential to inclusive economic development and life opportunity. We shared our housing plans, that we have commissioned a pre-feasibility study for an underground/metro and our commitment to building an arena. We were offered support in identifying investors and contractors for viable projects as they come on line.

Along with the Deputy Mayor of London and the Mayor of New York’s team, I was also involved in planning what could turn out to be a major development in the architecture of global politics. The mayors gathering was scheduled to run at the same time as world leaders gathered with Donald Trump at the UN. We focussed on the failure or inability of nation states to cope with the world the way it is. On issues ranging from refugees to climate change to inequality, inclusive economic development, political legitimacy to population health, national governments have failed to deliver. It was an argument endorsed by representatives from the UN, Open Society Foundation, Amnesty International, Brookings Institute and the World Bank who were also in attendance. We believe that the voice of cities has too long been missed and must be elevated so that mayors do not just have the power to shape what happens within their cities, but also shape the national and international context within which they live.

It is worth noting that Bristol was actively sought out to attend and speak at these events. I was asked to present in every session. For a long time people have said Bristol was a major city punching below its weight. We have some way to go and many internal challenges to overcome, but the fact that world leaders are seeking us out and government courting us as a city of investment would suggest we are going in the right direction.

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