Last week, I was delighted to contribute to Stronger Together: Labour Works, a report that highlights the work that Labour-run authorities across the country to change lives for the better – including how we are delivering for Bristol. It is a case study of what Labour can achieve in power, even in the age of austerity, and I would highly recommend everyone reads it.
My contribution to the report focussed on our Children’s Charter – a joint effort from myself and Councillor Godwin to enshrine the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into local decision making. Doing so helps our work to ensure that all children, no matter their background, are able to reach their full potential and live happy, healthy lives.
Decisions the Council and major organisations make affect children and young people on a daily basis – so we codified their rights and ensured their interests were placed at the heart of decision making.
The Bristol Children’s Charter is emblematic of One City working, as we’ve worked with Bristol’s major institutions to reach common goals and improve lives across the city. Bristol’s institutions, as well as the Council, are now committed to working to ensure every child can live in a warm home, no child goes hungry, and every child is able to benefit from Bristol’s thriving cultural scene, among a number of other things – showing the difference local authorities can make.
This charter is the foundation of our work to make Bristol the best possible city to grow up in, but we’ve gone much further. In 2016 we promised to deliver work experiences for children and young people – by 2021, we provided 12,000 experiences of work for people who wouldn’t readily have access to them. In his speech to party conference, Keir Starmer pledged to bring back compulsory work experience programmes, after the Government scrapped them in 2012, so I am pleased the importance of work experience are being prioritised by Labour nationally.
The charter also commits us to ensuring children have space to learn and play. With that principle in mind, we protected all our children’s centres despite youth centres closing across the country. Building on this, we are now a step closer to opening a world-class Youth Zone in south Bristol, bucking the national trend of closures and cuts.
Another principle of the charter is working to provide children with the healthiest possible environment. We are cleaning up our air and are on track to be carbon neutral by 2030. We can and will go further, pushing ahead with our plans to invest £1 billion in clean energy and double our tree canopy.
This is just a snippet of our work in delivering for Bristol, and the work Labour leaders across the country – showing the power that local government has to change people’s lives for the better.