Bristol@Night

It’s just over a year since we formed the Bristol@Night advisory panel. On Monday night I was delighted to be joined by Amy Lamé, the Night Czar for London, along with many of those working in the night time economy, to celebrate all that’s been achieved so far. Complete with Jamaican food, Bristol-based musician Harvey Causon and a sound system provided by Motion nightclub, it was a proper Bristol get-together.

Bristol has a reputation for being a bit loud. From Eats Everything to Massive Attack, Portishead to Roni Size, we have a long history of making noise. But this aspect of our city can too often seem removed from the everyday workings of City Hall.

Councillor Nicola Beech, my cabinet lead for Spatial Planning and City Design, came to me two years ago when it became clear that those working in the night time economy didn’t have a voice in the council. In creating the Bristol@Night panel, we wanted to bring partners together to work through the challenges and support a safe, vibrant and inclusive night time economy.

With so much change going on in our growing city, and as we tackle competing priorities from housing to transport,  we mustn’t forget the importance of our culture. And I don’t just mean ‘high culture’, which is of course vitally important in its own right. I mean grassroots culture and all those smaller, independent venues that make Bristol such an attractive place to live, but are all too often left vulnerable in the face of change.

The city is complex and there are going to be changes that need to happen. Cleaning up our dirty air must happen, but there will be consequences in implementing the measures we need to take. That’s why we need a range of voices at the table to help mitigate the impact of these measures and protect business and nightlife. Only by coming together can we support businesses to thrive and adapt to the changes going on around them.

There’s a real opportunity for those working in this sector to step up and shape the future of our city. Bristol’s night time economy, and particularly its underground music scene, attracts a diverse audience. The night time economy is worth 6% of UK GDP or £66billion annually and provides jobs for 1.3million people in the UK, so the opportunity is huge.

So how can we support more young people from a range of communities to view this industry as a potential career?

We want to explore how this sector can support a pipeline of diverse and inclusive leaders for the future. One way we’re hoping to do this is through sharing some of our Apprenticeship Levy Funds with employers who would otherwise be unable to support such an opportunity due to costs or lack of funding.

We are particularly interested in hearing about apprenticeship opportunities that will diversify the workforce and help fill skills gaps. To find out more about how your business can tap into these funds, contact bristol.apprentices@bristol.gov.uk.

But it’s not all about bars, pubs and clubs. Amy Lamé spoke about being a Czar for all Londoners at night, whether you want to get a good night’s sleep, you work at night time or you want to be out dancing until the early hours. That’s why the panel will work closely with our emergency services, our transport colleagues and developers to ensure that Bristol is a safe and inclusive place to be at all hours of the day or night. 

The foundations have been laid for a new relationship with the night time economy. I’m excited to see what the Bristol@Night panel achieve in their second year as we strive to ensure Bristol continues to be an open and vibrant place for visitors, residents and workers alike.

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