Marvin Rees, the elected Mayor of Bristol, standing on College Green, Bristol.

Mayor’s Annual Address

*Check against delivery; above, from 1:25:05*

I am one year into my second term following my re-election last May.

The promise I made was to continue to deliver change for our city and that is what I will continue to do. 

We need to keep delivering in the next two years but also put in place the foundations of key achievements that will be delivered in the immediate years and decades following.

We all need to understand what Bristol is – the challenges and opportunities we’re facing.

Bristol is a major UK city, with a global role. It’s not a village.

We have a £15 billion economy; are a world leader in media and tech, with two world-class universities; people with 180 countries of origin, 91 languages, 45 religions.

I’m now chairing the Core Cities and the Local Government Association (LGA) City Regions Board, and represent the LGA on the Commonwealth Local Government Forum.

We are also founding members of the Western Gateway, UK Cities Climate Investment Commission, and Mayors’ Migration Council; and members of EUROCITIES and the Mayors’ Taskforce for Climate and Migration at C40.

The challenge we face:

Bristol covers an area of 42 square miles.

We have a population of c.460,000; predicted to grow to 550,000 by 2050.

We are grappling with interconnected social challenges

More than 16,000 people are on our waiting list for housing, with almost 1,000 families in temporary accommodation.

15,400 children under 16 (18%) live in relative low-income families.

In 2015, the Runnymede Trust ranked Bristol as the 7th worst area of England for racial inequality.

Educational inequality sees almost every teenager in Clifton progress to university – whereas only 1 in 12 from Hartcliffe will do so.

Almost 10% of all households are estimated to experience fuel poverty already, and 4% of households experience moderate to severe food insecurity.

There is a gap in healthy life expectancy of over 16 years between people living in the 10% most deprived and 10% least deprived areas in Bristol.

Here’s the thing.

These social challenges are getting more acute, both because of the consequences of covid and the national cost of living crisis.

We’re meeting these challenges in the context of a climate and ecological emergency, where the actions we take will determine the price the planet pays.

That is why we’ve focused on delivery. Our city needs us to carry an ambition that is characterised by inclusion, sustainability, and resilience.

To that end, we’re going to continue to focus on our priorities we were elected to deliver:

Arena – on target for delivery in 2024 at no cost to the public, putting Bristol on the map for major acts such as Queen. At the time of making the decision about Temple Island, people were saying I was “under pressure” – but “the show must go on”, and it did. Last night proved that we’ve broken free.

We’re continuing to take forward the mass transit system, doing our best to work with our partners in the Combined Authority to get people back on the buses to build the case to transform the way we move around  our city. We’ve secured millions of pounds of funding from the City Regions Sustainable Transport Settlement to build a network fit for the future, and we’ve been selected as a Zero Transport Emissions City to develop more projects to eliminate emissions from transport.

City Leap – we’re delivering over £400 million of clean energy investment, delivering the pace and scale of change Bristol needs to be a carbon neutral, climate resilient, and wildlife-rich city by 2030.

Temple Quarter – kickstarting the biggest regeneration project outside of London in a generation, delivering 10,000 new homes, creating 22,000 new jobs, and bringing in £1.6 billion of annual income to the city’s economy.

Western Harbour – delivering sustainable affordable homes the city needs in an active travel area, made possible through a modernised transport network and modern flood defence system.

A City Centre fit for the future – bringing forward homes, supporting jobs, and bringing families back to living in the heart of our city. Just finished taking comments from the city to understand what people would like to see, but it will be more mixed, with destinations and retail alongside residential.

Restoring the city’s fundamental infrastructure – not least the bridges that hold the north and south together, along with the flood defences to protect our city and free space for development and homes.

A new recycling and reuse centre in South Bristol as part of a better relationship to waste and recycling. Promised decades ago, delivered by us.

Project 1,000 – ramping up to our manifesto commitment of 1,000 new affordable homes being build per year. We’re delivering affordable and social homes in Hengrove Park, Castle Park Energy Centre, Bedminster Green, Romney House and Dovercourt Road in Lockleaze, Elderberry Walk in Southmead.

Driving forward our work as a Living Wage-accredited city as part of an inclusive economy – real action to help people meet the rising cost of living. 3,400 people working in Bristol had pay rises up to the Real Living Wage between January 2020 and April 2022. There are now over 40,000 workers in Bristol guaranteed at least the real Living Wage.

Night time economy – continue to support Bristol’s cultural and entertainment sectors, while continuing our work to make sure our nighttime economy is safe for everybody – particularly women and girls.

Alongside this we’ve set up a living rent commission – working to develop recommendations for government to give us the powers and controls to improve the Private Rental Sector in Bristol.

Modernising social care through Better Lives at Home, helping people live independently in their own home for longer, playing a leading role in the development of the Integrated Care System.

New schools at Silverthorne Lane and The Park – making sure everyone gets off to the best start in life

Leisure centre investment – harnessing investment from operators to update facilities and focus on improving the offer.

We’ve also transformed the way our city is led. A senior army officer friend of mine says “make a plan, any plan, just make a bloody plan.” When we came in, Bristol had no plan. Our city came together to write a plan – setting out what we wanted Bristol to be in 2050, and what we need to collectively deliver between now and 2050 to become that city.

The One City Approach is underpinned by a simple understanding that what people get from Bristol is not the result of any single person’s or single organisation’s decisions.

Bristol is a collective act. It is shaped by the council, health service, criminal justice system, voluntary sector, schools, faith groups, trade unions, business, and any serious attempt to lead Bristol must convene all of those decision makers and create a space for them to work together towards shared aims.

Over the next two years we’re going to continue to invest in the relationships we’ve built with those city partners to make sure Bristol’s leadership is as inclusive and joined up as it needs to be.