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

Free school meals during the Easter break

cllr-anna-keen-5 Today’s blog comes from Cllr Anna Keen, Cabinet member for Education and Skills.

For many children, yesterday was the first day of the two-week Easter break. We know that when the school holidays come around, the issue of holiday hunger becomes particularly serious for many of our city’s families.  Parents of children are left struggling to afford the food they need to buy.

Around 1.3 million children in England qualify for free school meals and in Bristol over 14,000 of our children qualify.  For many, lunch at school is their only hot meal of the day. In some cases, it is their only meal.

The work already being done by Feeding Bristol and its partner organisations during holiday periods demonstrates just how vital the supply of food is to ensure children have access to nutritious and balanced meals – even during the holidays.

In recent weeks we’ve seen the rapid closure of schools and social distancing measures being put in place to manage the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The UK Government also set up a national scheme that provides weekly shopping vouchers to allow families to continue to access meals while they stay at home – which was quickly rolled out across Bristol last week.

In these unprecedented times, our schools continue to operate throughout the holidays, providing childcare for those who require it, including our key workers who are keeping vital services going. Coupled with this, many families are facing huge economic uncertainty and are unable to easily access basic food supplies.

Despite this huge need, the Government made a last minute decision to not fund any of the meal vouchers over the Easter break.

The Mayor, along with the leaders of Leeds and Birmingham councils, wrote to the Secretary of State for Education last week, urging him to rapidly reverse this decision and give our schools and families the help they needed.

Over the weekend came welcome news that the Government had reversed its decision, and confirmed that the voucher scheme would continue to be supported over the Easter holidays. This provides schools across Bristol with the vital financial support required and I’m glad the calls of city leaders were heard.

However, this has been the latest in a series of late decision-making, leaving schools and families with new issues to deal with at an already unsettled time. Yet again, school leaders have responded with speed, compassion and professionalism to support their pupils and families.

At this time of crisis, I would urge the Government to do all they can to support the most vulnerable in our society, and keep the impact on our young people at the forefront of decision-making.

Social distancing blog: Day “lost track”

Although we are now out of the 14-day isolation period, like most people my family and I are now social distancing for the foreseeable.

To be real about it, it is challenging staying in the home. We have started to fall into a rhythm on home schooling. Last night I was talking with a friend who is a teacher. I asked them how on earth teachers can cope with a class of 30 kids, working at different levels and prone to distraction and chat? I only had to manage a mixed ability class of three, over whom I have ultimate parental authority. And together with my wife we have a parent child ratio of 2:3.

April 2, 2020 is the fortieth anniversary of the St. Paul’s uprising. I began the day by watching Lawrence Hoo’s “Uprising 2020”. I recommend it. It’s part of our story.

This crisis is testing everything about our way of life. And it’s exposing the ideology that has severely undervalued the importance of government and the public sector in general, and local government and society in particular. It is the public sector we are now depending on for the basics.

It feels a bit as though national government is now trying to reap where it has not sown after ten years of austerity. We have had decade of disinvestment in the very health, education and governance services we are now depending on to lead and serve us through this crisis. The family of policies called Austerity was dressed up as economic competence. But coronavirus exposes them as a dogmatic determination not to understand the importance of the public sector as fundamental to the resilience of our social order. Disinvesting is actually like gambling or going without insurance. It’s fine, until you hit the crisis.

Some people made much of the Prime Minister conceding this week that there is such a thing as society. What we also need is a similar Damascene moment recognising the importance of our public sector – local government and public health alongside the NHS, youth services, our police – and putting real money into them. When all else falls away, we find many of these workers are our nation’s backbone.

This investment of cash needs to be accompanied by a commitment to devolution of power and leadership. National government is important. It must provide a framework. But micro-managing the country from Whitehall is an old model of leadership in a modern world. Understanding the diversity of our local populations, and developing solutions that are culturally intelligent cannot be done satisfactorily from the centre. National government must understand – and invest accordingly – in the critical role of local government as leaders and shapers of place, not merely delivery arms of national government.

It’s imperfect but the image I use to describe the relationship is that between someone drowning (national government) and their would-be rescuer (the national network of local governments). The first thing national government must do is recognise there is a rescuer and then cooperate with the rescuer. Stop panicking. Stop trying to control a situation they cannot control. That doesn’t mean submit. It means listen and cooperate. The danger is if they don’t, and they start thrashing about, they foil the rescue and risk taking the rescuer down with them.

This crisis is not welcome. But among the things we take from it must be a reappraisal, and new plan, for the place of the public sector in the post-Covid-19 world.

Self-isolation: Day 11

We’ve unleashed ourselves on DIY. I’ve worked with the kids to stitch together the torn safety netting that surrounds the trampoline. We built a table out of scrap wood and leftover screws. I put my drill in my boy’s hands and watched him grow in confidence. I was on good form until I drilled into a wall and there was a pop and a flash of light. The lights went out. Sinking feeling, although I suspect I should be thankful I survived.

I’ve been trying to give my kids an insight into my childhood. We watched The Count of Monte Christo. The 1974 film is on YouTube. I’d built it up as a great story – as it is. Although not quite as good I as I remembered it to be when I watched it with my Nan sometime in the 1980s. The boys tolerated my enthusiasm and lasted the whole film.

It was great to hear the accounts and see the pictures of the food being delivered to the most isolated and vulnerable of those being shielded. And the #WeAreBristol spirit is really being experienced. Thousands of people signed up on the Can Do Bristol website ready to go when called on. Some of them were there packing the food parcels that were then distributed by other volunteers including taxi drivers.

Also, my thoughts recently have been for those in the global south, countries who don’t have the scale and reach of European and North American healthcare services. A couple of nights ago I had a WhatsApp call from Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the Mayor of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Yvonne was in Bristol in 2018 for the Global Parliament of Mayors and we are among the ten Mayors on the Mayors Migration Council.

I asked her how they were coping. As things stand there are just over 4,000 confirmed cases on the African continent, with South Africa being worst-affected. Sierra Leone is one the few countries on the continent to as yet have no recorded cases. Mayor Yvonne has already taken strong action restricting movement and restricting trading times among other things. As here in Bristol, people are social distancing and self-isolating. She is offering real leadership.

But my thoughts have revolved around the numbers of people whose health resilience has been undermined by poverty. Those living in conditions where physical distancing is nigh-on impossible, such as shanty towns and refugee camps, and those who have absolutely no alternative other than to work because there is no safety net. For many, the coronavirus crisis is another major crisis on top of the other major crisis.

My hope –  and I believe it is an opportunity –  is in our ability to understand that we have not reached the other side of this crisis when we in Bristol/the UK alone gets there. It is not until the whole world gets there.

Firstly, this is the morally strong position to take. Secondly, it’s an understanding that reflects enlightened self-interest. This incredibly infectious virus has reached across the world in no time. Unless we come up with a global solution, we will remain vulnerable to it and/or potential mutations. Thirdly, Bristol is a global city with around 180 countries of origin with immediate family and friends stretching across the planet. We are a people of English, Welsh, Sierra Leonean, Somali, Ugandan, Sudanese, Pakistani, Indian, Iranian, American and Polish heritage. What matters there is real, and matters to people here.