Second time around

It is a deep honour to have been re-elected. My thanks go out to everyone who campaigned and voted for me, encouraged, endorsed and supported me in the many ways people have.

We will spend the coming weeks planning ahead, reconnecting with city partners and our regional, national and international allies, reviewing Bristol City Council’s corporate strategy, meeting council staff, refining our city priorities and getting on with delivery. It will be a busy time.

The themes we will be working to over the next three years are shaped by the following:

Bristol is a city of contrasts and contradictions. We have great wealth and opportunity living alongside poverty and hopelessness. The challenge of inequality will become more significant following Covid because its the most vulnerable who have been hit first and hardest, and its they who will be least well placed to participate in the recovery. Providing quality jobs, affordable homes to underpin and inclusive economic recovery must be at the heart of all we do. This is not only an issue of social justice. Unequal societies waste talent, cost more in terms of public services and are more unstable. Building a city in which everyone has hope is in our collective enlightened self interest.

We need to meet the economic challenge in the face of the climate and ecological emergencies. Decarbonising and building nature in the energy, transport, housing and other city systems we depend on must be at the heart of what we do. The pace and scale of change we need cannot be delivered one lifestyle decision or project at a time. This will take a wholesale city redesign. Our climate and ecological strategies set the framework and working through the City Office and One City Plan we will be able to approach this challenge as a whole city.

There is great opportunity in this. Investors are looking for opportunity to put money into decarbonisation and places that are more resilient to future global shocks, be they social, economic or environmental. We in Bristol already have a strong global reputation in particular for the work we have done to put the UN’s Global Sustainable Developmeant Goals at the heart of our One City Plan. The opportunity is to win investment, generate jobs and build an economy that is diverse, more resilient and minimising the contribution it makes to the likelihood of future shocks.

We have to bear in mind also that we are not just taking these challenges on for the 466,000 people who call Bristol their home today. Bristol is forecast to grow by around 100,000 people by the middle of this century. For that greater population we must ensure Bristol provides inclusion (tackling inequality) and reduces impact (carbon and impact on nature) today. Our plans must take into account the increasing numbers of people who will grow up here, and travel to Bristol for work, education and leisure.

I was sent an incredible quote from Raymond Williams during the campaign by Professor Tom Sperlinger:

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.”

This is a huge challenge. But it also presents a huge opportunity. I hope we can all hold that observation tight.

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