Author Archives: marvinjrees

Remembering Roy Hackett MBE 1928 – 2022

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig smiles in front of trees and bushes.
Deputy Mayor Asher Craig

Many plaudits have been written about Roy Hackett since his passing, so there is no need for me to repeat what we already know about this humble, resilient and at times very funny human being. When Roy spoke, people listened and we saw this in action as he played a pivotal role in the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott which paved the way for the first Race Relations Act of 1965.

I first met Roy Hackett, when I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Bristol Council for Racial Equality, in the late 1980’s. I was representing St Paul’s Community Association, now better known as the Malcolm X Community Centre.

Roy was always elegantly dressed, – suit, tie, and that recognisable trilby hat. Roy was sat next to Owen Henry and also in the meeting was Prince Brown, Barbara Dettering, Olive Osbourne, Shivranjan Singh (the Chair of BCRE), Bhupi Bowri, Carmen Beckford and Fred Walcot. They were amongst many other leading black and Asian race equality activists and civil rights campaigners, who paved the way and passed on the mantle for people like me to step up and be counted. I was by far the youngest on the Board, but it was the best school I went to as my journey as a young black activist and agitator kicked in.

Roy Hackett stands on the left side of the photo with Asher Craig on the left they are holding a flag reading Celebrating the Windrush Generation. In the background you can see the moat and steps of Bristol City Hall.
Roy Hackett with deputy mayor Asher Craig on Windrush Day 2020

Today we marked the 60th Anniversary of Jamaica Independence at City Hall. For as long as I can remember, Roy always attended this annual event that has become a staple in the Civic Diary. He was a proud Jamaican and today his place in hoisting the flag alongside the Lord Mayor, was taken by his grandson and great-grandson. A fitting tribute was paid to Roy by the Lord Mayor of Bristol and in time this city will pay its own tribute to this Son of Jamaica, and proud citizen of Bristol. This year’s diamond jubilee celebration was observed under the theme ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’, Roy was an example of this countries true greatness.

Roy was already a living legend so his legacy, is already documented but there is so much more to this great man than what we hear about him in the media or in books. Roy was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and colleague who continued to fight against racism and inequality until his passing.  Many of us will continue his work and many young people will be inspired by Roy’s story and will pick up the mantle as we continue to strive towards the elimination of racial discrimination in both this City and around the world.

Throughout my own journey in this city, I have had the privilege to have known and stood on the shoulder of many great giants – black activists, campaigners, and pioneers – Mr Roy Hackett M.B.E, is one those giants. Thank you for your service to this city Roy – your legacy will live on.

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig

Behind the Headline

Alex Raikes MBE, Strategic Director at Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI)
Today’s guest blog is by Alex Raikes MBE, Strategic Director at Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI)

Local media and newspapers are an important feature of a place’s identity – displaying the best and worst of an area, celebrating and challenging its people and institutions. At SARI we know the deep impact media coverage, good and bad, has on our communities. The local media share important information on politics and popular culture, as well as the responsibility to frame and explain in a way which helps readers interact with their city.

We also see how today’s media have to battle for people’s attention and clicks online. This can create the pressure for attention-grabbing headlines that are not thought through in terms of consequences for communities. A short, snappy headline can have disproportionately high levels of impact on a lot of people. The wrong kind of headline can stoke divisions in our communities. It is for this reason that there is a need for genuine understanding, sensitivity and representative and informative journalism. Because of all that we have navigated in our national conversation on race and inequality, Bristol’s role is particularly important.

I was, therefore, saddened when a number of local people contacted me about the front-page headline published by the Bristol Post on Tuesday August 2nd stating that they found it inflammatory and divisive with racial overtones. People were worried that it could impact on community relations and even lead to some backlash hate crime. 

It reads: ‘Harbour Festival ‘Too White.’  The article is in response to a Bristol City Council Cabinet paper which is reviewing our Harbour Festival following community consultation. When you read this report, it is clear that the key messages are about the need to make sure that the event is more inclusive and as safe as possible for the diverse communities it should be serving. It raises concerns that have been shared by consultees that the festival is too focused on drinking culture and that they are put off by this and find it an uncomfortable environment – this was especially the case for Black and Minority ethnic respondents and families wanting to bring their children or those who do not drink alcohol. The report suggests the festival needs to examine its main purpose and what it aims to celebrate and suggests that it should also better reflect Bristol’s harbour history from a multi-cultural perspective – including its links to the Slave Trade. Other ideas include introducing an alcohol-free zone and ensuring the activities and entertainment are attractive and reflect our communities more and better meet the needs of disabled and neuro-diverse people.  The report reflects consultations the Council have carried out and really such suggestions can only be seen as laudable for an equalities’ charity like SARI.

While the article on page three explained this context quite reasonably, it is let down by a front-page headline that serves only to sensationalise the race element of the cabinet paper – which actually is not written simplistically either but is discussed in a wider context.  The headline gives the false impression that the entire report and consultation is just about colour and race which is simply not the case. It also results in scapegoating black and minority ethnic people for ‘ruining’ a traditional festival. 

A copy of the Bristol post Article on Tuesday August 2, 2022. The front cover shows a photo of a hot air balloon with a text reading Good Morning Bristol! is big text at the bottom. Underneath this reads in big white letters 'Harbour Festival 'Too White' Council report calls for changes to make event more inclusive page 3.
The Bristol Posts article from Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

It is therefore no surprise that as a result of our local paper’s unhelpful headline other national papers have picked up on it in even more negative ways – the Daily Mail: https://bit.ly/3BFm7oZ; The Telegraph: https://bit.ly/3oVckDt and ITV https://bit.ly/3P01IxJ for example.

All have reflected the Post headline (but then not proceeded with such positive articles). They have focused almost entirely on the race issue preyed on the fears that a traditional festival is at risk of being ruined because of the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic communities. 

The Post headline has had a domino effect in the national media where some reports have the added and deeply unpleasant connotation that this ‘attack’ on Bristol’s Harbour Festival is all caused by our Mayor (who just happens to be Black) – with the Daily Mail reporting that “A councillor slammed the report, telling the Telegraph: ‘This latest attack on the hugely successful Bristol Harbour Festival sadly comes as no surprise and is a further indication of how the current Labour mayoral regime loathes everything which is ”Shipshape-and-Bristol-fashion”.  We know only too well where such implications lead – our Mayor has been supported by SARI many times due to racist attacks which all too often have arisen after scapegoating media coverage.

Increased polarisation in our community is an unseen consequence of negative, myth-inducing and ill-informed headlines. I would entreat our local media not to compromise our City’s safety and cohesion just because they are so desperately wanting clicks and attention from the National Media.  This is the cheapest form of journalism in our view.

We are writing this blog to share a message for The Bristol Post and any other local media that it is crucial they work with us as a city to help build and maintain community relations, to tackle racism and division rather than the opposite.  Our local newspapers must take responsibility for their actions – e.g. be mindful of how the written word has the potential to contribute to peace and togetherness or to goad and incite hatred.  Otherwise agencies like SARI are left picking up the very broken pieces – which actually are local human beings facing awful backlash hostility.

I will conclude with just a few of the comments that illustrate the concern and unhappiness from a few of our local Black and Asian community leaders for whom the potential negative impact of such a headline will be only too real:

Museji Takolia CBE, Independent Chair Commission on Bristol’s Racial Equality (CoRE):

“There seems to be a disease infecting parts of our local media. They seem to operate under a different code of ethics and without any sense of shared social responsibility.

I am talking of course about the headline grabbing story reported in The Bristol Post “Harbour Festival Too White” (2nd August 2022). It saddens me that as I try and remember in sorrow, the life of a campaigning civil rights activist Roy Hackett MBE who died this week, I am having to dig deep and maintain the civility and decorum that his generation had to muster against far more direct and hostile racists. Yet here we are almost 60 years on and The Post has joined the gutter press by reducing a complex set of issues from a detailed 24 page official consultation document that were reported in good faith and with total transparency to yet another attention grabbing headline. Is it racist? No of course it isn’t. Is it part of a rotten culture that distorts reason and evidence for yet another negative headline that will have racist sympathisers jump on it in Bristol? Absolutely! Alex Raikes from SARI has the facts and evidence for those who care to see the full effects that gaslighting has on anything to do with diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“Let me say this clearly and without equivocation. It is hard, very hard, being a Black man or Black woman in public life. Marvin Rees and Asher Craig hold a very high profile with all the responsibilities that follow being in the public eye. They have accepted their oaths of office and should be held to account. But on standards and principles shared with others, it is palpably absurd to insinuate that every decision led by them at City Hall is because they are Black or anti-racist. The inference is offensive as well as factually inaccurate. It may be hard but sometimes it is worth capturing the complexity and nuance behind a story. This is lazy journalism.”

Fuad Mohammed, CEO of Ashley Community Housing:

“The report invites the harbour festival to be more representative of Bristol… but this sensationalist front page article is causing more division with no solutions presented in the real challenges in the report.”

Sandra Meadows MBE:

“Actually, really angry and disgusted with The Bristol Post for this sensationalist, divisive, misleading headline. Given the article, it’s clear that this was intentional. Intended to offend, upset and divide. This serves to confirm that little if anything has changed at the deepest levels of The Post, despite their so-called ‘Year of Change’ following justified criticism for their ‘Faces of Evil’ front page. We should and do expect our main local paper to reflect the progressive city and to contribute through high quality journalism to cohesion across all our communities.

The fact that they published this on the week Roy Hackett MBE passed away speaks to the work still to be done with Bristol institutions such as The Post. Mr Hackett’s legacy is great and enduring. His unstinting dedication to racial justice and community cohesion should be rightly applauded. I shudder to think what The Bristol Posts legacy to Bristol will be! If they are to continue holding the monopoly on Bristol news we should all be worried…and ashamed.”

Marti Burgess, Chair of Black South West Network

“I was shocked to see this headline. It just seems that the editors chose to use divisive language by having the phrase “too white” in the headline. With a different headline the people of Bristol would have read, with an open mind, an article about a report on how to make the harbour festival better and more inclusive for all communities. Instead we got a headline which just feeds the narrative that ‘woke’ people and black and minoritised communities have a problem with traditional British culture when in fact no-one does but in a city as diverse as Bristol something like the harbour festival needs to change so that all communities see it is as something for them. I was saddened and disappointed by the headline and thought it did a disservice to our city and its people.”

Summer Activities with Branches Out Forest School

Kate from Branches Out Forest School, smiles in the front of the photo. Behind her is a house surrounded by trees and flowers.
Today’s blog is by Kate from Branches Out Forest School

This summer we are partnering with Bristol City Council and the Heart of BS13 to offer Forest School holiday club sessions for local children. The current cost of living crisis has made it even more important to support our local community by offering free sessions to local families over the summer holiday. We are also aiming to address food poverty by providing everybody with a warm, healthy meal cooked on a campfire. Sessions take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday throughout August at our wonderful roundhouse site in BS13.

Forest School provides young people with the opportunity to build confidence and self-esteem, stretch comfort zones, and enjoy and appreciate the outdoors. Originating in Denmark, the Forest School ethos is all about giving people the opportunity to be free in the woodland environment.

Young people also get the chance to practise physical outdoor skills in a safe environment such as tree climbing, whittling, building dens and fires. There is an abundance of opportunities for social interaction through various group activities which help to develop teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Our sessions also include elements of personal reflection for our young people to review their learning and set new goals.

The past two years have been challenging for so many young people in our community. Children have felt isolated from each other, and we are experiencing a mental health crisis amongst our young people. The data from the NSPCC shows an 85 per cent increase in children’s mental health referrals. We would like to change that. Research shows that spending time outdoors leads to lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety and so we want to give young people the chance to play outdoors, in a safe and fun environment. We love spending time outside and discovering the world around us, which is reflected in all our sessions. 

A survey we completed at our Forest School showed that children felt happier after interacting with others and felt more confident after overcoming challenges. Some of the challenges include using tools, lighting fires, climbing trees, and learning about plants and animals. At Forest School, we believe in empowering children to make their own decisions. This helps to give them a better understanding of boundaries, risk, and consequences, and have confidence in their own abilities.

Tackling climate change through sustainable, ecological education is something we are very passionate about. Working with nature is at the core of everything we do, and we want to share our love for all things green with our local community.

For more information about Branches Out Forest School and other holiday clubs and activities in Bristol, visit the Your Holiday Hub website.

Free places are funded by the Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme and are open to children and young people who are eligible and in receipt of free school meals. Find out more on the Your Holiday Hub website.

Mead Street development brief endorsed by Cabinet

It’s an exciting time for the Temple Quarter regeneration project. In June, the project received nearly £95 million to kickstart the first phase of delivery in the areas around Temple Meads station. As I wrote at the time, the proposed transformation of the area represents a new phase for Brunel’s historic station and its surrounds and is the culmination of years of hard work from the council and our partners Homes England, Network Rail and the West of England Combined Authority.

Since then, we’ve continued to engage with the community, businesses and stakeholders. We’ve also hosted visits from Bristol’s MPs, as well as civil servants from the Department for Levelling Up and the Treasury, reflecting the importance of the project in delivering new homes and jobs for the city region in the eyes of government.

From 20 May to 4 July, we ran a consultation on a development brief for Mead Street that set out guiding principles for change in the area. Mead Street is one of the six distinct areas that make up the Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh regeneration area, located just south of the Bath Bridges roundabout between St Luke’s Road and the Bath Road. This week, I’m pleased to say that my Cabinet colleagues endorsed the document, and it will now help to guide the process of considering planning applications in the area.

We produced the Mead Street development brief ahead of a wider development framework for the whole of Temple Quarter because most of the land at Mead Street is owned by private landowners who have brought forward proposals for new development. By creating an overarching document that sets out principles for change, our aim is to ensure that change in Mead St happens coherently, creating a vibrant new community with good, joined-up infrastructure and public spaces, rather than as a series of disconnected development sites.

Concept Masterplan of the Mead Street development. On the right of centre of the image is a map of the Temple Quarter regeneration area with keys and shading to display the 6 distinct areas that make up Temple Quarter and St Philips Marsh. On the left of the image text read, The opportunities and concepts were brought together with special requirements to create a concept masterplan which summarises the key strategies including, routes, development plots, heights, land uses and public real. Underneath is a key explaining the plans for the area, number one indicative location of central public open green space, two indicative location of children's play space, three proposed Southern Gateway, four Safeguarding public transport routes, five proposed pedestrian and cycle route connecting to Whitehouse street Regeneration area, 6 new pedestrian connection, seven Ecological corridor along railway, 8 fowlers of Bristol (to be retained) included in case of future redevelopment), nine potential community space (Indicative location only).
Concept masterplan of Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh regeneration area

Overall, the principles in the brief were welcomed by respondents to the consultation, with over 50% of people either strongly agreeing or agreeing to the four principles set out. Drilling down into the data, some of the highest levels of support were for the creation of new community space (84%), safe and inclusive streets (86%), integrating green space (89%) and creating a new public open space at the heart of the neighbourhood (87%).  It’s great to see positive reaction to these proposals, which reflect our commitment to safeguarding space for sustainable travel and public spaces as we plan for the homes we need to tackle Bristol’s housing crisis.

We also know how important employment space is at Mead Street, and the area is currently home to a mix of successful businesses. The survey results show us that Bristolians agree – 70% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed that existing tenants should be retained and re-provided for where possible and compatible with the regeneration of the area. 80% strongly agreed/agreed with the aim to mix homes and jobs to create a genuinely mixed neighbourhood. Finding this balance is important, and we’re committed to working with partners to ensure employment space of the kind already in the area is protected, as our work with the C40 Cities initiative nearby at Whitehouse Street demonstrates.

We did receive comments about the potential height and density of any new buildings in the area. The height of any new buildings will be determined through the planning process by whichever independent, cross-party development committee the decision falls to. However, geographically, Bristol isn’t getting any bigger, but its population is growing at speed. We have to deliver new homes, but we also need to protect greenspaces around the city and meet our commitments to the climate and ecological emergencies. That means building new homes in the right places more densely than we have done before.

Mead Street is an ideal location for new homes, potentially as many as 1500. It is previously developed land, close to the city region’s major train station and within walking or cycling distance of the city centre and local amenities. To create that number of homes, alongside the improvements to infrastructure and public spaces the consultation respondents want, means that, yes, new buildings at Mead Street are likely to be taller and denser than what is currently there.

Bristol Temple Quatre tweet about Cabinet’s endorsement

I have reflected previously on the competing demands we face as a city if we are to deliver the new homes we need. As I said then, cities are complicated and demand constructive debate. We will continue to engage with local people as plans for Mead Street, and the wider Temple Quarter area, progress as we work to deliver the new homes, jobs and public spaces that our city deserves.

You can read more about the Temple Quarter project and find the Mead Street development brief at BristolTempleQuarter.com.

Bristol-based charity, Motivation, on the global stage

Motivation’s Amanda Wilkinson

Tonight is the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Motivation is a Bedminster-based charity and social enterprise which could play an important role in this global event.

Around 4,500 athletes from 72 countries are expected to participate. Between today and the 8th August, there will be 283 gold medals won across 22 sports, inclusive of our special interest—parasport. There will be 39 para-events competing in athletics, cycling, weightlifting, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, lawn bowls and 3×3 wheelchair basketball events.

Motivation will be eagerly watching to see if any of the para-athletes are using our Multisport or Flying Start racing wheelchairs—designed right here, in the heart of Bristol.

But it’s not a level playing field…

We believe disabled sports can promote inclusion and tackle the stigma around disability head on. Sport can improve people’s confidence and the way they are perceived by others. Since the 2012 London Paralympics, the success of disability sport has helped bring funding and much needed investment developing access for disabled people to participate in sport.

Motivation help develop grass roots sports by providing the everyday wheelchairs that para-athletes from the world’s low- and middle-income countries will be using to reach the games.

But we know that para-athletes need more support to be able to compete to their full potential. And athletes where we work often cannot afford to. We would love to see a level playing field for all the countries of the Commonwealth.

We know that participation of disabled people in sport positively effects everyone, we would like to see the countries who struggle to fund their athletes be able to field full strength teams in the future.

We have been working in Uganda to promote grass roots sports and greater inclusion via our All Stars Project, providing sports wheelchairs and inclusion training for primary school teachers and coaches.  

All Stars Project in Uganda, Providing young disabled people with sports wheel chairs

The outcomes are clear. Disabled boys and girls are coming to and staying in school, which matters in countries like Uganda where 90% of disabled children are not able to attend school. Attendance was up by 15% in the first year with over 350 disabled children taking their place in primary school.

But the benefits extend beyond this, through the project’s ‘buddy’ system, disabled children and non-disabled children are forging friendships that extend beyond school, as they play and explore together in their communities.

Sport has such an important role to play to bring us hope, fun and belonging – from the successes of the Lionesses at the Euro’s this week that make us proud and excited for an unprecedented win in in the final, to the launch of the Games today.

We are excited by seeing countries coming together in peace as a global community. This is something to celebrate especially after the last couple of years. While we’re always excited to see our chairs in action at elite level, we know that those para-athletes deserve better.

About Motivation

For more than 30 years, Motivation have worked to secure the rights of disabled children and adults by designing and providing wheelchairs, training, and services in countries like India, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda.

But these are tough financial times for us all. Covid-19 and the loss of a significant grant from the UK Government during international aid cuts mean Motivation are facing serious financial challenges.

To tackle this, we launched the Keep Us Moving Urgent Appeal. We are delighted to have reached more than three-quarters to our fundraising target of £300,000, having raised £267,330 so far.

We’re so lucky to be backed by people and organisations across Bristol, and beyond, who want to make the world a fair and inclusive place for everyone, everywhere. Thank you!

Every donation, tweet, share, or like helps to secure the future of disabled children and adults around the world. If you’d like to make a donation, or know more about any of our work, please do get in touch with us.

Launching a Living Rent Commission

Todays blog by Cllr Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes and Labour Councillor for Horfield

In Bristol we face a housing crisis.

We have almost 18,000 households (and growing) on our waiting list for social housing, along with over 1,100 households in temporary accommodation. The cost of renting in this city is one key cause alongside the lack of security that renters have in the private rented sector.

Over the past decade the cost of renting in the city grew by 52%, whilst wages only increased by 24% over the same period and current levels of inflation are far outstripping any growth in income. The spiralling costs mean housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, pushing many further away from their place of work, family, and support networks, impacting across sectors and low and middle income households

Cllr Tom Renhard, end revenge evictions

This is why we have launched a Living Rent Commission.

We are bringing the best, partnership focused organisations together to explore the issues facing renters.

The principle aims of the commission are to:

  • Improve affordability of the private rented sector
  • Understand the impact of regulation on rent prices including on housing quality and maintenance
  • Identifying the most effective rent controls
  • Consider what other powers are required
  • Consider how to empower tenants’ rights

The powers needed to ensure the rental market is accessible and works for all do not exist. The commission will make recommendations on possible rent stabilisation powers. The powers come from government and so we will work with Westminster on policy development to reform the private rented sector, enabling Bristol to become a Living Rent City.

While we will focus on delivering change for the tens of thousands of renters in Bristol, we are also making links with other urban areas and could see this work pave the way for rent reform that benefits millions across the country. This is our time to make the case for a Living Rent, and it has never been more important given the current cost of living crisis with no immediate end in sight.

We have a track record of supporting action to improve conditions for renters. Whether that be lobbying for the end to no fault evictions, that are a huge driver of homelessness in our city, or campaigning to bring in the eviction ban during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been pushing for renter reform for some time.

With cross party support, I wrote to the Secretary of State setting out the city’s support for the Renters Reform Coalition proposals for change. We will lobby to ensure these issues remain on the agenda. I will continue to fight for better protection for renters and ensure they are not driven out of Bristol.

So how can people contribute to the work of the Living Rent Commission?

We will be ensuring a wide range of people have the opportunity to be heard, including the lived experience of what it is like on the ground. I am grateful to the organisations who are prepared to work together on the Advisory Board and other organisations who will have plenty of opportunity to shape the work.

Get involved, so Bristol can have a clear voice on this – we need a Living Rent that is manageable for people and works for Bristol.   

Want to know more? Get in touch by emailing: city.office@bristol.gov.uk

Membership of Living Rent Commission Advisory Board as at 26/07/22:

  • Fair Renting Campaign
  • Generation Rent
  • ARLA
  • ALL Wessex
  • Shelter
  • Bristol Older People’s Forum
  • Ashley Community Housing
  • Black South West Network
  • UWE Student’s Union
  • UOB Student’s Union
  • We Can Make
  • Trowers and Hamlins
  • Brighter Places

94 water rescues so far in 2022, don’t be the next

Today’s blog is by Steve Quinton, Risk Reduction
Area Manager at Avon Fire & Rescue Service

Today, on Drowning Prevention Day, the National Water Safety Forum launches its first campaign, encouraging everyone to #RespectTheWater. Fire services, councils, and other organisations are coming together to help keep local people and visitors to our area safe.

During the warm summer weather, particularly the recent heatwave, it may be tempting to take a dip in local waters to cool off.

You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the water will cool you down, but what you may not know is that the water in Bristol Harbour, as well as local lakes, ponds or weirs, remains cold enough to cause cold water shock – even on the hottest day of the year.

It can cause you to gasp for breath, inhale water, and cause panic. If you find yourself in trouble in the water, remember: extend your arms and legs to float until the effect of cold water shock passes – you can float to live.

While the water may look appealing, there are many hidden dangers beneath the water’s surface, including rocks, rubbish and even shopping trolleys. The water’s changing currents and tides can pull you in or make it hard to get to safety, even for the strongest swimmers. It’s not as tempting as it looks when you consider the dangers below.

Sadly, 50% of calls that we get involving the water affect people who did not intend to enter the water. So, even if you are relaxing by the water’s edge and don’t plan on going for a dip, make sure to take care and always supervise children near the water.

If you see someone in difficulty in the water, you may think the best thing to do is to jump in and try to save them. But by doing this, you put yourself at a high risk of drowning. If you see someone that needs help in any inland waters, call 999 and ask for the fire service. If you’re on the coast, ask for the coast guard.

Across the country, most drownings involve alcohol and sadly alcohol related drownings affect young men the most. If you fall into the water, or jump in, after drinking, your chances of being able to get out of the water are reduced, as alcohol impairs the bodies movement.

If you’re out drinking, take the safe route home and avoid the water, don’t drink and drown.  

We don’t want to ruin your fun this summer, all we ask is that you go prepared, understand the risks, and know what to do in an emergency.

Remember, if you find yourself in the water: float to live.

Sustainable transport on Muller Road

Today’s blog by Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport and Labour Councillor for Avonmouth & Lawrence Weston

Construction work will get underway this summer on highway improvements to Muller Road, including installing a 24-hour bus lane to help make bus journeys quicker and more reliable.

With serious investment in Lockleaze that will see around 1,000 new homes and a new secondary school built, we need to make sure our local transport network can keep up with this level of growth.

Muller Road runs alongside Lockleaze and is well used by people travelling from north Bristol to the M32 and our city centre. It’s a busy road that often gets congested, so back in 2019 we carried out community engagement on how to improve bus journeys and make walking and cycling safer along this route.

Based on this, we have designed a scheme and will start work in August on improvements to Muller Road, including the introduction of a bus lane between Downend Road and Ralph Road. This will feature a bus gate to improve priority for buses at the Ralph Road junction. We’ll use a section of land that runs along the entrance to Lidl, which is part of the original planning agreement, to make space for this. 

Our plans also include resurfacing Muller Road, between Downend Road and Ralph Road, installing signals at Muller Road’s junction with Ralph Road, and creating modal filters on Springfield Avenue, Draycott Road and Brent Road to stop traffic other than bicycles using them as cut throughs.

These improvements are part of our Lockleaze Sustainable Transport Infrastructure project, which is being funded from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, provided by Homes England.

The project focusses on mitigating the impact that development and growth will have on the local area. It is a considerable investment in our transport infrastructure and one in a series of major transport corridors that we are working to improve.

A photo looking north along Muller Road, with vehicles on the left and a  bus on the right.

This is a big project that we anticipate completing in the spring of 2023. As you might expect, it will cause some disruption for anyone travelling through the area.

To make sure our contractors can work as efficiently as possible, Ralph Road will need to close temporarily towards the end of August. The diversion will take you via Ashley Down Road, Gloucester Road, Filton Avenue, and Muller Road.

Some residential roads may close at their junctions with Muller Road while the works take place to avoid traffic using them as rat-runs. There will also be temporary traffic lights in place on Muller Road throughout the works. 

We will do all we can to keep disruption to a minimum and make sure the scheme is completed as quickly as possible. 

The new bus lane and gate, together with improved walking and cycling infrastructure, will result in better connections for Lockleaze residents and anyone travelling through the area.

By improving the reliability of bus journeys and making walking and cycling safer and more attractive, we are going some way to rebalancing Bristol’s streets, giving people good alternatives to car-use, especially for shorter journeys.

We need everyone to embrace sustainable transport if we are to reduce our carbon footprint and make the air we breathe cleaner, while realising our ambition to create an inclusive and connected city.

Bristolians really care about the environment, and the recent heatwave is a warning sign to us all that we need to work together if we are to reach our city’s aspiration to be net zero by 2030. Work like this is essential to delivering on that commitment.

Imperial Sports Ground’s Super Sense Room

Today’s blog is by Lee West,
Trustee at Imperial Sports Ground

As for many organisations it’s been a challenging time, for the sports centre especially so. The fire in 2018 brought everything to a sudden halt.  But through these times we are beginning to see fruit of the redevelopment and our most recent being our SuperSense sensory room.

On 24 June we officially opened our state-of-the-art sensory room and it’s a true example of how more powerful it is for charities and people to come together, with a common goal, for the right reasons to develop a unique but much needed facility in Bristol.

The sensory room is the largest in Bristol and is based in the heart of the community, within transport links to ensure impact is maximised.

As a charity we have the ethos that “Any child with SEND has the right and ability to develop into adulthood, capable of taking an integral part in a wider society. The Imperial Sports Ground as a Bristol based registered charity has the responsibility to give them every opportunity to succeed.”

We strive to look at wider opportunities to impact people’s lives and provide a safe place to grow; we understand there are many deprived families in Bristol that would benefit from this facility and we’re keen to ensure this is a facility for all; unfortunately, it’s been difficult to find these families but we’re confident in the next few months this will be achieved.

I’m personally working on another project, developing a SEND outdoor play park for Adults and Children, this is another example of how thousands of people can benefit from a life changing facility. We’re on a mission again to raise funds.  As a society we all want to be inclusive but whilst this is the common end goal, we also must acknowledge our unconscious bias. Making these steps, through generations we will be going in the right direction.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Venturer’s Academy, SEN SOS, Incredible Kids, Autistic associations, Quartet and individual donors for their support.

Harbour Fest back this weekend!

As preparations continue around the docks and excitement builds ahead of this weekend’s Harbour Festival, I’m sharing my foreword from this year’s festival booklet.

Welcome to this very special Bristol Harbour Festival – the first since the start of the pandemic.

Since 1971, communities from across Bristol have celebrated the special setting of the harbour and docks. Five decades on, our city’s diverse and creative talent comes together for one of the biggest outdoor family events of the year.

Here in Bristol, we take huge pride in our local artists and growing number of community groups, all at the beating-heart of this world class creative event. Free to enjoy for all, the festival brings together some of the best of our city’s exceptional culture, as we share in our sense of community and place.

From its unique maritime history, to its role today as a working harbour and wonderful place for Bristolians and visitors alike to enjoy, our docks remain integral to the very fabric of our vibrant city. Over 50 years since the first Harbour Festival, I am very much looking forward to our city coming together to celebrate once again- and enjoying some great local food and drink!

I wish you all a fantastic, safe, and enjoyable 2022 Bristol Harbour Festival.