As we move closer to the festive season, Bristol’s high streets, markets and shopping centres become decorated and lit up thanks to partners such as Destination Bristol and their Christmas switch on. It marks the start of Christmas shopping and a period of hard work for traders looking to do as much business as possible to offset leaner periods.
We are tuned in to the challenge facing our high streets due to the growing retail crisis. We have identified this as a priority and have launched work looking at Bristol’s High Streets and retail sector and created the City Centre Revitalisation Group.
We have welcomed the recent announcement of WECA funding of £10m to help our high streets and revive town centres. We have selected Bedminster as our trial, focusing in and around East Street. The criteria used for selecting the High Street was based on a number of factors including; vacancy rate, strategic importance, availability of opportunity for intervention/change and potential for positive impact on Bristol’s most deprived communities.
We expect there to be a number of other High Streets supported after Bedminster and we will further develop criteria. (The proposals will be agreed at the West of England Combined Authority committee meeting on 30th November).
At Christmas it is clear larger companies play a huge role in our economy, substantial revenues flow into Bristol through the big commercial organisations and they help drive our economic success. But I also want to pay tribute to the many small and independent traders operating in our city. Small businesses in the form of stall holders, shops, street food producers and concession holders are a vital part of our economy and street scene; they also form part of what’s uniquely ‘Bristol’ – our culture and style.
The appeal of small scale trading is clear at St Nicholas Market. Our award-winning Corn Exchange market, with its famous traders’ “nails” standing on Corn Street, is buzzing with activity most days but at Christmas comes into its own. 60 stalls are in the covered section and from Wednesday 12 December special themed markets will operate outside – ‘Vegan and Wellbeing’, ‘Farmers and Producers’ and ‘Christmas Street Food’. St Nick’s is celebrating 275 years of trading this year and will be open every day from Sunday 18 November to Christmas Eve.
It’s that culture/commerce balance that is the focus of Fair Saturday, an initiative I’m proud to support – it seeks to promote cultural activity and empathy as a balance to global commerce.
Fair Saturday is a perfect fit for Bristol as an outward facing, global city proud of both its cultural offer and the engagement of its citizens. It is a city that strives for fairness in the context of the challenges and opportunities facing us. So this weekend, Bristol leads the way again by hosting the first official Fair Saturday in England. Originating in Bilbao, Spain, Fair Saturday is part of a global movement that aims to be a creative response to Black Friday. Alongside 100 cities worldwide, Bristol artists, performers, communities and social causes are coming together to create and reflect on what it means to be a fair society, while supporting social causes in the process.
More than 40 activities have registered and are taking place across the city. From the UK’s only (and Bristol-based) fully integrated orchestra, Paraorchestra & Friends performing at Motion night club on Friday 23 November, to 91 Ways celebrating and raising awareness of Bristol’s rich cultural diversity with ACH Housing and Tribe of Doris arts collective, these events demonstrate Bristol culture, and its social conscience, in action. Fair Saturday is a great example of our wide-ranging, inclusive cultural offer and I am pleased that there is something for everybody in the city to participate in if they want to.
The markets are also supporting Fair Saturday on 24 November with a special artist’s performance within the St Nicholas market complex. I urge everyone to drop by and support your local independent traders this season.
How to find out more:
Fair Saturday Bristol events are taking place throughout Saturday 24th November in venues and locations across the city, including museums, markets, cultural venues, cafes and night clubs. There’s something for everyone, whatever your age or interest. Follow #FairSaturday on social media.
All events are listed and located on the Fair Saturday app which can be downloaded to smart phones here.
Printed trail maps will also be available from Friday at Colston Hall Foyer, Spike Island, Central Library, Vestibules at City Hall, and Hamilton House.
Fair Saturday programme for Bristol:https://app.fairsaturday.org/listaeventos2018/Bristol
Visit Bristol’s Christmas markets and attractions in detail.