Homes under the Brexit hammer

The continued uncertainty caused by the Government’s approach to Brexit continues to impact many different parts of our economy, despite the UK having already left the trading bloc. This uncertainty contributed to the construction sector dipping nationally during 2018 and output remains below pre-pandemic levels. The industry itself has regularly raised concerns about continued uncertainties, not least the lack of clarity about future arrangements for product standardisation, import tariffs, and migrant labour.

Completions are a challenge for cities across the country, including Bristol, with agreed projects not always getting started straight away. Figures being published today will confirm the impact of not one but two delayed exits from the European Union last year. Despite continued uncertainty about the future relationship between the UK and our nearest neighbours, Bristolians and builders know that our administration remains completely committed to tackling the city’s housing crisis.

We have worked collaboratively with tenants and developers to agree the need for new homes – built and managed in the right way. The number of planning permissions has continued to increase, with nearly 1,700 more dwellings granted planning permission by the Council or approved subject to s106 agreement as of 31 March 2020 compared to the year before. And our pipeline of 2,500 new council homes will only add to some 9,000 new homes built in Bristol since 2016.

While the pandemic has also clearly had an impact on construction, if strategy and investment from national Government matches our city’s ambition then there is no doubt that – brick-by-brick, house-by-house, and street-by-street – we can rebuild a better Bristol where nobody is left behind.

World Diabetes Day

Today’s blog comes from Nicola Curtis, Regional Media Officer for Diabetes UK in the South West.

It’s World Diabetes Day and so the perfect opportunity to highlight a condition which affects a staggering 4.8 million people in the UK, including almost a million living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious and complicated condition with many different types. What each type has in common is how it causes those affected to have excess glucose (sugar) in their blood. If not managed well, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications including amputations and sight loss.

We know that people living with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. In fact, around a third of those dying in England from Covid-19 have diabetes.

Research has also shown that there are certain risk factors that make someone more susceptible to a poor outcome from Covid-19. Those risk factors include being from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic group, increased age, a BMI over 30, a history of high HbA1c (average blood sugar levels over the course of a few months) or complications such as heart failure or kidney disease.

Diabetes UK’s south west team are working hard to make an impact in Bristol, and we are particularly looking to reach out to those who may be at increased risk, as well as those less able to access vital resources.

Recently, we recruited and trained four Bristol Community Champions to support us in reaching and engaging with communities. 

At the beginning of November, in partnership with Bristol’s Health Links and Sirona care and health, staff delivered an online information and education session to members of the Somali community. Focussing on the basics of diabetes, diabetes management and managing Covid-19 and flu risk, the session was translated into Somali throughout.

Well-attended, the virtual event followed on from a similar face-to-face event last year which was supported by Lyndsey Gethin of Café de Amis at Easton Community Centre. It’s anticipated that more will be run in the future.

In another partnership with Sirona, the south west team has now secured funding from NHS England to run a BAME focussed Language Matters project across Bristol. The project will build on work completed in the region over the past couple of years, which includes the translation of sick day rules (how to manage your diabetes when ill) into 12 different languages.

We have three local groups for people with diabetes here in Bristol and the surrounding area. Bristol Central is a group for people with type 1 diabetes, while Bristol East and Bristol West welcome those with any type of diabetes.

The groups are run by volunteers and the aim is to offer much-needed support. While not offering medical advice, the networks have strong links with local health professionals who provide expert speakers on a range of topics. Although unable to meet up in person at the moment, the Bristol Diabetes Support Network Group are getting together regularly online.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial for people to have access to information about their health and how to manage their conditions.

If you’d like further information on the work of Diabetes UK in the south west or would like to get in touch with a local Bristol group, please give us a call on 01823 448260 or email us at South.West@diabetes.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you.

Paying fair

It’s Living Wage Week, the annual celebration of the Living Wage movement, and yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the South West celebration event.

The week provides an opportunity to champion the movement for fair pay and it was brilliant to see so many people come together yesterday in support of the Real Living Wage initiative.

A particular highlight was the news that the University of the West of England have recently become a Living Wage accredited employer. I’d like to congratulate them for taking this step.

Bristol City Council became a Living Wage employer back in 2018, and in January of this year we were able to announce that we’d been recognised for our efforts towards making Bristol a Living Wage City. This puts us among the first few places to berecognised in this way, and the largest city so far.

Research from Cardiff University was presented at yesterday’s event, showing that Bristol is outperforming most comparable cities when it comes to the number of people uplifted onto the Real Living Wage. There are now 380 accredited employers in the South West, and 80 employers in the region have become accredited this year alone, in spite of the pandemic.

This is encouraging, and I thank businesses for their efforts so far, but there remains much more to do.

Our action group are aiming to more than double the number of people employed by accredited employersin the next 3 years, lifting more people in the city out of in-work poverty. But we want this work to go beyond city boundaries.

We’re well placed to do this, with Cardiff also being part of the small group currently recognised under the Living Wage places scheme. Our economic area is highly interconnected, with more daily journeys made between Bristol and Cardiff than between Manchester and Leeds.

With work on the Western Gateway progressing, we must capitalise on this collective power and we will be seeking opportunities to work together in driving forward this agenda.

There is a strong moral argument for paying the Real Living Wage to all workers. It is right that work is properly compensated and that wages allow people to live a full life with dignity.

But this is not just about virtue signalling. It makes economic sense, creating healthier and more resilient communities that place less strain on public services. People with greater disposable income spend that money elsewhere in our economy, supporting local businesses. And for employers, better wages are linked to improved recruitment and retention of staff, making it a sound investment.

This year has been very humbling and has led many to reflect on how we value our key workers. It’s great therefore to see key worker pay highlighted as part of this year’s Living Wage Week, and it will be a focus for our Bristol Living Wage Action Group in the coming year too.

On the theme of key worker pay, I’d like to finish by sharing the below video from pupils at St Antony’s Primary School. Not only does it communicate a very important message, it’s also incredibly catchy!

Jubilee Pool

Many of us have been pleased that sport, leisure facilities and pools have gradually reopened following the lockdown. Being able to join a fitness class, play sport or enjoy a swim has huge benefits for physical and mental health and something we want everyone in Bristol to be able to have.

We have now re-opened all of our pools and leisure centres except for Jubilee pool in Knowle. All of our leisure centres and pools are ran by external operators who share the risks and operating costs with us and the operator of Jubilee pool approached us during lockdown to advise that they wanted to terminate their contract, due primarily to forecasting losses on running the re-opened pool, post-Covid.

Having reviewed the assessment of running costs, the low usage of that pool and the costs required to bring it to a long-term sustainable standard, we agreed with that assessment. It is also worth noting that Jubilee Pool was planned for closure when the Liberal Democrat administration in April 2010 signed a financing deal to open the new, larger and modern pool in nearby Hengrove. It was the right decision to open a new pool and many people have migrated from Jubilee to Hengrove for better facilities.

The decision to not reopen Jubilee is a difficult one, and is also supported by the need to sustain all the other pools in the city that are more long-term financially sustainable but also need financial support in the short to medium term as we return with reduced usage post-Covid.

As a result, we have started a consultation on what we should do next.  Council sport and finance officers have recommended its closure in the face of the financial pressures, alongside the wider financial challenges the council currently faces as a result of a funding gap, where government has not refunded all the costs the council incurred during the pandemic so far. No decisions have yet been taken, and I have publicly spoken about how we would welcome community led solutions. I have asked councillors to work with the local community to look at options for a community led solution and I am prepared to transfer the asset for free to the community if we can build a sustainable business plan. The community is best placed to find a solution and grow usage. For example, if the almost 5,000 people who signed the petition are encouraged to use the pool, it would become immediately viable. I have extended the consultation for one month to support this process.

On the wider point of Bristol’s swimming facilities, we are doing pretty well. Bristol does better than most other core cities for pool space offered. We want to retain this level and grow usage across the city with modern, viable pools. 

The tables below show that Bristol’s residents enjoy an upper quartile level of access to swimming facilities. 

Bristol’s absolute level of provision is third behind Leeds and the much larger Birmingham in core city rankings and also third in provision per 1,000 people. 

CityPublic Swimming Space (Sq. Ms)CityPublic Swimming Space Sq. Ms. Per 1,000 pop.CitySwimming Pool
One pool per x people
Leeds8,120Newcastle15.78Nottingham21,836
Birmingham6,687Nottingham15.22Newcastle23,350
Bristol6,468Bristol15.11Bristol28,547
Manchester6,461Manchester12.84Manchester35,929
Average5,768Leeds10.81Average36,504
Sheffield5,466Average 10.58Leeds39,553
Nottingham4,652Sheffield9.89Sheffield42,515
Newcastle4,422Liverpool8.3Liverpool42,400
Liverpool3,870Birmingham6.22Birmingham59,683
Source: Bristol’s Assessment of Needs and Opportunities for indoor and outdoor sport and active recreation facilities, 2017

You can share your views and solutions on the council’s consultation page here.

Open letter to Bristol’s NHS workers

This is a copy of a letter which is being shared with NHS staff across Bristol.

To Bristol’s NHS workers,

I wanted to take this opportunity to write to all working in our NHS and our health partners to thank you for everything you have done to care for Bristolians and to keep our city safe.

Over the past few months, I have been deeply impressed by the dedication of those working in our hospitals, GP surgeries, community health centres, mental health services, ambulance service, accident and emergency units, inpatient services across our city’s diverse health service.

I know that coronavirus has placed new and unprecedented challenges on our health service. The excellent response and care our citizens have received during this time have been the product of dedicated teamwork, creative and responsive planning, and many hours of hard work. I’m aware that for many that has meant adjusting to unfamiliar ways of working, hours wearing uncomfortable PPE, anxiety, and time away from friends, family and loved ones.

As thoughts turn to summer and lockdown restrictions are eased further, I am aware that your work does not stop, and that the fight against this virus and the work of managing the wider knock-on effects to our health services goes on. I am particularly mindful that as Bristol processes the loss and the trauma caused by Covid-19 and the economic downturn it has brought, our health services (and particularly our mental health services) will be preparing for the possibility of an uptick in demand.

It is in this context that I write on the city’s behalf to offer our ongoing thanks and appreciation. I hope that you have already felt the city’s gratitude – not only in the applause, cheering and occasional fireworks on Thursday nights, but in the appreciation of patients in your care and in the recognition of your friends, neighbours and community of the work you do in these extraordinary times.

I hope that you get opportunities to rest and recuperate in the months ahead. Thank you for all you have done, and all you continue to do, to put the health of our city first.

Yours sincerely,

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

An open letter to Bristol’s care workers

This is a copy of a letter which is being sent to care providers across Bristol.

Dear Carers,

We are writing this open letter to the 12,000 care workers in Bristol who have worked throughout the COVID-19 crisis. You have arranged and delivered care for those who need it, supporting some of our most vulnerable residents to live healthier and more independent lives in extraordinary circumstances. We wanted to write an open letter because we want the city to know how thankful and proud we are that you are part of our city.

The comfort and support you provide for families across Bristol is incalculable. From visiting people in their homes, helping residents feel comfortable in residential care, advising families on support available and safeguarding vulnerable people through to commissioning services to help people retain their independence, delivering hot and nutritious meals, scheduling home visits and constructing care plans.

During the past four months you have shown just how important social care is to a compassionate and resilient city. You have carried out these duties – so valued by families across Bristol – in unprecedented circumstances.

You have worked long hours and put the people you care for first, ensuring our citizens had the care they have needed. You have been a source of support and comfort for those isolated from their families and loved ones and have kept them safe from a virus that has taken so many people away from us before their time. And you have done so knowing that you were putting yourself at risk of contracting COVID-19.

You may have heard in recent days some political leaders seeking to pass the buck for the damage this virus has caused, insinuating that care providers’ failure to follow procedures is to blame for the huge loss of life this country has experienced. We assure you that these views are not shared by the leadership of this city.

We are deeply grateful for the commitment, the skills and – above all – the selflessness you have brought to your roles throughout this crisis.

You have our admiration, our thanks and our support as you continue to provide care for Bristol’s citizens through the next phase of our response to coronavirus.

Yours sincerely,

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol                                                       

Cllr Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care

Spatial Development Strategy

The types of homes we build, where we build them and how we connect the people living in them to jobs, retail, entertainment and each other will be one of most significant determinants of what Bristol is like in the future. Our health, our community , our levels of inequality and our climate and ecological impact.

We withdrew from the Joint Spatial Plan in April, following the Planning Inspectors response to the shortcomings of the regional plan. The next step is to work collaboratively with the three unitary authorities that make up the combined authority and our neighbours North Somerset, to produce a Spatial Development Strategy (SDS).

We are currently working with our colleagues on a Memorandum of Understanding and a Statement of Common Ground to run alongside the SDS. All of this will take years to complete before we undergo the examination process again, but the revised process presents us with a great opportunity to deliver our commitment to economic inclusion, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and make the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) explicit aims of the strategy.

The SDGs present a particularly exciting framework through which to define and approach Bristol’s economic recovery. The 17 goals set out the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Importantly, they are not single issues but work with through the interdependence of social issues (education, hunger, gender equality, decent work and economic growth and strong Civil Institutions) and environmental issues (climate change, life in the sea, life on land, and responsible production and consumption).

Explicitly committing to delivering the SDGs will help us develop a shared vision and rationale, and it will be a natural extension of what Bristol is already doing as we have aligned the Bristol One City Plan to the SDGs. Bristol was also the first city in the UK, and one of the first in the world, to undertake a Voluntary Local Review.

This strategy is important today and will only increase as we wrestle with the opportunities and challenge of Bristol growing by nearly 100,000 people over the next 25 years. We must deal not only with the challenge of today’s Bristol, but ensure the city we are building delivers equality, inclusion and has a net positive impact on climate and ecology. So a key part of our environmental challenge is to get the city region all pointing in the right direction and establishing the framework and solutions we need, programming in the output we want.

The SDGs must be embedded now in this process to acknowledge the interdependence of economic and environmental justice and to provide the framework in terms of performance and policy. Planning for homes and communities cannot happen in a bubble and strategic transport infrastructure is key to diversifying transport options and reducing car dependency.

They also enable us to be part of a global conversation with other cities, their networks and global leadership. Cities need to be able to shape what goes on inside their boundaries and to shape the national and global policies that influence city life. And for the sake of the planet, we need global governance to move into its next iteration.

National governments have failed to understand or work out how to deliver on these key aims. But where they are lacking, cities across the US, Africa, Asia, South America and Europe have been stepping up and they have been talking about their own recovery in these terms. Recently Amsterdam made the headlines through their public commitment to Doughnut Economics and the SDGs.

Up until now, we have built Bristol with little knowledge or regard to the planetary emergency that was coming on us. This has resulted in city that makes living a low impact life something that requires consciousness, commitment and often spare disposable income. We need to change that and the strategic city region plan offers an opportunity to build in social justice and sustainability into the systems that shape and determine the intended and unintended consequences of our everyday lives.

The West Of England Combined Authority’s Planning and Housing Board will consider the Strategic Planning funding and governance programme on Monday ahead of being considered by the Joint Committee in June.

Today we know what we didn’t know 30 or even 10 years ago. The time to act is now. There is no going back.

 

NOTE: The SDGs are detailed here.

For the work we have already done orienting Bristol delivery of the SDGs, you can read our Local Voluntary Review here and Bristol One City Dashboard here.

Accelerating our transport plans

KyeToday’s blog is by Cabinet lead for Transport, Energy and a Green New Deal Cllr Kye Dudd.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown are having a dramatic effect on Bristol’s transport network, challenging deeply ingrained travel patterns and behaviours in a way that we’ve never seen before.  It is important we harness these changes to improve the way people move around the city forever.

We welcome the Government’s commitments – and cash – for cycling and walking in response. They have now released information and guidance for operators and passengers, which I would encourage people to take a look at here. The advice is that if people cannot work from home and have to travel for work, they should first consider alternatives to public transport. Those driving their own cars have been asked to avoid busy areas.

In Bristol, today we are sharing our plans, as we have previously announced, to improve the central areas for both people and commuters. Our plans to pedestrianise the Old City and close Bristol Bridge and Baldwin street to through car traffic is a real step forward to cleaner air and improved public realm and we have accelerated those plans while the travel patterns have changed. These changes will be made by the end of the summer as an experimental traffic order, and we will use that as a bridge to consult fully on more permanent changes.

This is a key element in delivering the bus deal, with more buses and the longer term mass transit proposals through the centre, while providing opportunities for significant walking and cycling enhancements.

pedestrianisation zone 2020_c -01

And we are going further, with new cycle lanes in central areas, including Marlborough Street, Park Row, Victoria Street, Lewins Mead and the Clifton Triangle. We know that to make walking and cycling an inclusive and accessible option for as many Bristolians as possible, we have to go beyond the centre and shift focus to other areas of the city.  So we are also announcing measures in many other areas such as pavement widening in Bedminster Parade, Stapleton Road and Henbury to make these as safe to use and provide local shopping options for people, supporting our local high streets.

These changes will take just a matter of weeks to implement.

Many of the schemes announced today are already mapped out through the £400m infrastructure programme in the West of England Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. Because of this, these interventions are evidence-based, building on the work we have already done. We have taken time to explore potential unintended consequences on people shielding, their deliveries, or requirements for disabled access and the safety of junctions. We have to be mindful of the effects on emergency vehicles and displacement of traffic that these interventions have, so we will be watching the impacts (especially on air quality) closely.

To cope with the need for more social distancing, and also proactively approach the challenge our network will face as more people start to move around the city, we are bringing forward additional measures. We are starting from a better point than other Core Cites and we are committed to build on it. Our cycling figures are usually the best of the core cities. For instance four times as many cycling trips per population compared to Manchester, or that we have four times as many miles of segregated cycle-ways as Cardiff.

The road to recovery is difficult to predict, but it is clear that our public transport will be heavily impacted. Operators are experiencing a steep drop in demand, but also a significant change in their capacity as social distancing means buses take reduced number of passengers. We are committed to supporting our bus operators as part of the combined authority, and through the City Office by helping co-ordinate plans for returning to work.

Surveys by Transport Focus have shown that while many people will consider walking and cycling as options to get to work in future, even more will look to use private cars. It found that while 51% of people would be ‘more’ or ‘very likely’ to cycle or walk more often, 60% are also ‘likely’ to take more car journeys. In a city like Bristol, with congestion, clean air issues and a historically neglected transport network, that is a huge challenge.

We’ve always known that people need to have realistic and reliable alternatives to private car travel – we cannot simply force them out. This is why we’ve led on work with our bus deal, and will still work towards the mass transit system Bristol so clearly needs. Our bus network is vital for people, and we need it to succeed in the long term if we are to reach our air quality and carbon neutrality targets.

Finally I want to thank everyone involved in keeping Bristol moving, especially when recent government figures show that it is our taxi, bus and coach drivers who are disproportionately affected by the virus. We are committed to working together with operators and the public to make sure everyone in Bristol feels safe on their way to, from and at work.

Cheers drive.

In the Arena

This week we received a letter from the Secretary Of State for communities, confirming that there was no intention to call in the planning decision on the YTL Bristol Arena.  

 

This means the planning decisions made by the development committees in Bristol and South Gloucestershire are upheld.

 

In simple terms, YTL now have the go ahead to build the Bristol Arena. Their plan, as submitted, is for a 17,000 seater arena in Filton, Bristol. The arena will be the third biggest in the UK and attract major acts and sporting events. The arena will be the most environmentally friendly arena built, with the submitted plan revealing solar power and rainwater used for plumbing. It will be one of the most accessible in the world. On top of these achievements, it will be built in an existing building, massively reducing carbon output, nod to the city’s aerospace heritage, look amazing and deliver a world class package for visitors.  

 

Take a look at the YTL video here and you cannot fail to be excited. This is quite simply, massive news for Bristol.   

 

Several administrations have talked about the need for an arena since the 1980’s but none have delivered. The most high profile of these was the planned Temple Island arena that was flawed and would never have been built. That planned arena was too small to attract the bigger acts, would have been the most expensive arena ever built in the world per square meter and was placed in the worst possible location for congestion, pollution and safety – ever increasing concerns in the 21st century.  

 

The entire cost, and all of the risk, of that development rested on the council – that’s you, the tax payer. That is why, despite the political bluster, that arena would never have been built.  

 

Too often, politicians don’t take council tax payers money seriously and in this case, the costs had spiralled out of control and the risks far higher than any politician had been ready to admit. The Temple Island proposal had been pitched at £75m but by the time I came to office was already heading north of £150m.

 

Because I know many of you struggle to pay your council tax and balance that bill along with rent, the need to put food on the table and pay the electricity bill, I do take your money seriously. That’s why, despite the commentary of some who haven’t contended with the finances and practical realities of the city centre location, I took the decision to put Temple Island to better use and also see the risk and cost of the Bristol arena passed into the private sector, while getting a bigger and better arena in the process. Bristol City Council can focus on building homes and running adult social care, rather than gambling hundreds of millions of your pounds on high risk ventures in the wrong location.

 

I am grateful to YTL’s entrepreneurialism. Arenas are often built by public funds because there are few takers in the private sector due to the amount of risk. With the YTL Bristol Arena, the private company is taking all the risk. This isn’t the case of us handing profit to a private operator as some like to profess, but the city getting a stunning venue at minimal cost and no risk to the public purse.

 

The YTL arena will be built with a train station on its doorstep to support train travel, an advanced transport plan that enhances bus travel and cycling, and in the not too distant future, an underground stop. As part of our agreement and on top of their substantial development costs, YTL will plough over £5 million of private investment into the local area and even with supporting infrastructure, there will be a cost to public funds of no more than £1.7 million, shared between the combined authority, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

 

The arena had a dry run in a temporary venue on the same site last year, with Massive Attack as the first act. While the gig itself received mixed reviews, the venue and the transport arrangements got unanimous plaudits, with the Bristol Post splashing the headline “Massive Success”. As many tickets were sold in South Bristol and further south as were sold in North Bristol and Gloucestershire, proving that the venue can be accessed across the region and that “if you build it, they will come”.

 

 YTL can now start to properly plan to build. Their strapline is “Let’s make memories that last a lifetime” and with the promise of the arena being in the top three venues in the UK, Bristolians will be able to make memories that have been denied to us for decades. For the current generation and our children, this venue promises top class memories on our doorstep, without the need to travel to London, Birmingham or Cardiff.  

 

We really are delivering for Bristol.  

Clean Air Zone Plans – COVID Update

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on everyday life in this country. While we deal with the immediate public health crisis, we know that the most far ranging effect will be felt in our economy.

Despite the incredible, and welcome, state intervention in our economy, the completely necessary social distancing measures adopted by most major countries mean that businesses large and small in Bristol have seen significant impact. We are already in a Covid provoked recession. The next few months we will nervously watch the markets and indexes for signs of a global depression, almost as fearfully as we watch statistics and graphs showing the spread of the disease now.

During this period of extreme uncertainty the people and businesses in Bristol are understandably very concerned about their futures. This is why despite this immediate challenge, we must look at the recovery, and our clean air plans.

We understand the moral, environmental and legal imperative to achieve clean air compliance. We have always been determined to do so while protecting the poorest in our city. We have been prepared to work with government, give national leadership on this issue and shown our determination to deliver clean air for Bristol with our proposals. And we remain committed to delivering clean air for the city which will improve the quality of life for all the people in Bristol. However the circumstances have changed significantly since we submitted out outline plans last year.

On 13th March 2020, following months of conversations with civil servants we were formally given direction from Rebecca Pow MP Secretary of State for the Environment.  This included agreement for initial funding of £12m to facilitate us developing the implementation and contract arrangements for a Clean Air Zone in Bristol.

As part of the direction given, we were also asked to submit further evidence on additional measures – the proposed small area diesel ban, and as an alternative a small area CAZ D, and a full business case by September 2020 so the scheme could be implemented by March 2021, as has always been planned.

Under normal circumstances my team would be able to meet these dates, however these are not normal times.

Recognising that Covid19 has changed many aspects of life, I wrote to Grant Shapps, the Secretary for Transport, on the 27th March asking for the government to seek urgent cross government reassessment of our proposed traffic clean air zone.

During this time of crisis, I urged the government to reconsider timescales for the whole programme during this period of uncertainty. I do not think that now is an appropriate time to directly engage with the business community and people of Bristol on how we develop appropriate mitigations to reduce the impacts CAZ may have for them.

I have suggested, as a pragmatic approach, that we continue with the planning and development work but then stop short of implementing the scheme, and look at the programme implementation times.  This will allow Government to work with us to rethink how our scheme might be delivered to meet the imperative to achieve clean air in a way that will protect businesses from being further financially penalised. Improving air quality is a crucial challenge, for our future as a sustainable, resilient and inclusive city, and so is restarting our economy too.

I am pleased that the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) have already reached out to acknowledge that local government is facing significant challenges because of this crisis and that timelines will need to be flexible. I welcome their commitment to an ongoing dialogue as and when we emerge from this immediate emergency. They have now issued an initial blanket change of direction, so that the other few cities who were ahead of us in the process have been instructed to slow down to look again.

We will continue to work through the detail of the Direction and its potential implications with JAQU, and I am committed to working to achieve legal levels of nitrogen dioxide in our city. I am also determined to support our city’s people, communities and economy recover in an inclusive and sustainable way.

Our economic prosperity and response to the COVID-19 crisis must put all people at the heart of what we do, enabling us to thrive as a city improving the well-being of all of our residents and businesses #wearebristol