Author Archives: marvinjrees

Love Parks Week

Cllr Ellie King smiles in front of City Hall,  text below reads 'This weeks blog is by Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities'
This weeks blog is by Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities

Love Parks Week is a chance to again celebrate Bristol’s fantastically diverse range of parks and green spaces. All of which are so important to our health and wellbeing, and which in recent times have drawn in even more visitors than ever before.

Parks are a glorious mix of the public and the private: public when we walk the dog, catch up with friends, and encourage our children to play and explore; and private when used for picnics, exercise, relaxation, or even quiet contemplation. Our parks provide us with all this and so much more, and during COVID-19 restrictions local parks were a crucially important lifeline for many too.

We’re very lucky to be home to an array of beautiful green spaces. We have formal parks, nature reserves and recreation grounds across Bristol, including large estate parklands such as Ashton Court and Stoke Park. Stoke Park is also undergoing some important work to make it accessible to all. Improvements to an existing historic path aim to be completed this summer.

A photo of Ashton Court with a field in the foreground of the photo, infront of a line of trees in the back of the photo
Ashton Court

We have wooded areas such as those at Badock’s Wood and Manor Woods Valley, district parks such as Eastville Park and Redcatch Park and vital local community green spaces such as Riverside Park or Withywood Park. Big or small, local to you, or further afield, these parks provide a welcome respite of big open-air space and greenery in an urban landscape. 


Let’s not forget how important playparks are to families also! From inner city playparks such as St Paul’s Park to larger play areas like Blaise Estate, these areas provide somewhere for children and young people to explore, make connections and engage in physical activity. Many a friendship has started in a playpark – adults and children alike.

There are therapeutic benefits to being outdoors in our parks with much research showing how being in or amongst green spaces can increase our physical health, mental wellbeing and quality of life. Trials of ‘green prescriptions’ are underway around the UK with GPs encouraging patients to take exercise in nature, with Roots to Wellbeing therapy in nature sessions available for free in Bristol.  Due to open this August at Blaise Nursery is a new Community and Therapeutic Glasshouse, where community groups will be able to book for horticulturally based therapeutic events.

A photo of Oldbury Court Estate, with a waterfall at the front of the image and Trees in the background. Text below reads Oldbury Court Estate
Oldbury Court Estate

Love Parks Week is the perfect opportunity to say a huge thank you to the many volunteers, park groups and workers who care for, maintain and protect our parks, making sure that citizens, visitors, and wildlife can all enjoy these spaces for generations to come.

Projects to enhance our green spaces such as the £400,000  St George lake improvement project make sure that parks are looked-after and preserved for people, but also that we create a safe and diverse habitat where wildlife can flourish and biodiversity is promoted. The work we’ve done at St George lake should within months start to benefit birds, bees, amphibians, and pond micro-beasts too. In the longer-term hopefully, dragonflies, damselflies, newts, and bats, will come to enjoy the new mini-wetland habitat also. Parks and green spaces form a very important part of our commitment to protecting and reversing the decline of wildlife in the UK.

An image of St Georges Park Lake, The lake is in the foreground of the image with Trees in the background surrounding the lake. Text beneath reads St George Park Lake being re-filled.
St George Park Lake being re-filled

This Love Parks week, join me in celebrating our shared love of our parks and green spaces by getting out and about and perhaps by exploring a park you have never been to before!  To find out more about the parks and green spaces in Bristol visit our Parks webpages.

Keen to do more to make space for nature in Bristol? Get inspired and find tips and support at Actions – Bristol Climate Hub 

If You Can See It, You Can Be It

Today’s guest blog is from HerGameToo Co-founder Lucy Ford

The 2022 Women’s European Championship, held in England, has been a tournament like no other.

Attendance records have been broken multiple times; 68,000 people attended the Lionesses’ opening game against Austria at Old Trafford and the Lionesses’ semi-final TV audience peaked at 9.3 million viewers.

The tournament has seen some incredible support and has been truly embraced. The record for the most fans attending a Women’s Euros was broken during the group stage, passing the previous record of 240,055.

#HerGameToo

HerGameToo’s Leah Davis, Lucy Ford, Amy Clement and Caz May at the UEFA Euro 2020 Fanzone.

#HerGameToo, a campaign to tackle sexism in football, was founded in May 2022 by 12 female football fans. The campaign originated in Bristol; Caz May and me (Lucy Ford) are life-long Bristol Rovers fans, and Leah Davis and Eve Ralph, are life-long Bristol City fans.

The growth of the campaign has been beyond anything we could have imagined.

We now have partnerships with clubs across the whole football pyramid to ensure football grounds are safe environments for women and girls and we also want to promote and support grassroots girls’ football.

Seeing #HerGameToo flags at games has been a real “pinch-me” moment and Tess, the little girl who sang “Sweet Caroline” after the Lionesses’ semi-final epitomises the next generation that #HerGameToo want to inspire and support.

What The Legacy of the 2022 Women’s Euros Will Be?

The impact of the European Championships will hopefully be a long-lasting, and exciting one for generations to come; it would be truly amazing to see the Lionesses win.

However, Ian Wright, a real ally of women’s football put it best after the Lionesses’ semi-final victory against Sweden, “Whatever happens in the final now, if girls are not allowed to play football just like the boys can in their PE after this tournament, then what are we doing?”.

Amid the excitement of the result, it really put it into perspective the different experiences boys and girls have in schools to play football.

Figures from the I newspaper showed that only 44% of secondary schools in England offer girls equal access to football in PE lessons.

How are girls supposed to potential emulate their heroes if they do not have the opportunity to play it; to be the next Lucy Bronze or the next Beth Mead?

Hopefully, when we reflect on this tournament in the future, I hope that the increase in opportunities and access to women’s football will be a part of the legacy.

Is Football Really Coming Home?

Tuesday evening saw the Lionesses reach their first major final since 2009, ending a run of three successive semi-final defeats. The 4-0 win against Sweden at Bramall Lane saw Beth Mead score her sixth goal of the tournament, with the pick of the four goals scored by Alessia Russo.

The Lionesses will be facing a familiar foe Germany in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium, after their 2-1 victory over France. The Lionesses will be looking at avenging the 6-2 Defeat against Germany in the 2009 European Championship Final, on Sunday.

It has been 56 years since England last won a major tournament when England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time to win the Men’s World Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1966.

Could lightning strike twice? Could the Lionesses go one better than last year and win the European Championships?

Sunday’s final is hoping to attract one of the biggest attendances in women’s football. With millions of viewers tuning in across the UK, Europe and beyond, it is going to be an extremely special occasion for the players, staff, and fans alike.

No matter the result on Sunday, Women’s Football is here, and it’s here to stay and the Lionesses have made the whole country proud.

Good Luck to the Lionesses! It’s #HerGameToo.

Supporting a more inclusive social care workforce 

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Equalities
Today’s joint blog from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System

Bristol is a diverse city, our residents are from a range of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. The city’s 2,000 social care staff have a strong understanding of this diversity and provide tailored support to those who need it the most. 

Our social care staff themselves are an example of Bristol’s diversity, so we know it is important that we ensure the inequalities experienced by our Black, Asian and minoritised social care staff are addressed. We want everyone to be able to continue doing their job while progressing in their careers and be supported, respected and empowered.     

The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences deepened inequalities between Bristol’s families and communities. We took action to reverse these effects, signing up to the voluntary pilot Workforce Race Equality Standard Programme (WRES). The year-long programme has allowed us to self-evaluate and consider what further actions we can take to tackle race inequality and drive an important culture shift within our social care workforce.    

Over the last year, we have collected and submitted data to the Department of Health and Social Care, looking for disparities between our white and Black, Asian and minoritised colleagues. We heard directly from staff, learned about their experiences in the workforce and today, we have published our WRES action plan in response to our findings.   

The council has been making significant steps towards achieving race equality, but we know there is so much more to be done. Our action plan shows where we are already doing well, as well as outlining the areas we need to improve on. Our staff highlighted some areas we need to focus our efforts on, such as, representation at a senior level, recruitment and career progression.

We will create opportunities for staff training and development so that our workforce is trained to the highest standard possible. We will review our progress annually, allowing us to strive towards a fair and inclusive social care workplace, that our staff and residents deserve.  

Thank you to all our social care colleagues who’ve shared their experiences through the WRES. You have been central in forming our action plan to help us achieve equity.     

You can read our WRES action plan on the Council’s website.

Find out more about Bristol’s WRES story through this blog from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Bristol’s response to the cost of living crisis

A national cost of living crisis has struck Bristol, and once again it is our poorest communities that are facing the biggest impact.

Driven by rising prices, with high inflation at 9.4% in the year to June, the inequalities of our country are worsening. Wages are stagnating and welfare support is far behind inflation while our energy bills, petrol prices, national insurance contributions, food costs are getting steeper.

Child poverty rates are stark, our own assessment shows almost a quarter of children in some Bristol wards are living in poverty. As the world’s fifth largest economy, Britain cannot continue to accept this as reality. National government urgently needs to do more to support our most deprived communities in particular. But in Bristol we are already making plans for the immediate future.

Our challenge is tackling a complex issue exacerbated by the pandemic and compounded by rising costs of living and relative wage decreases year on year. Although the cost of living crisis is acute, many people in Bristol have already been living in a crisis for years.

The Fuel Bank Foundation predicts the energy price cap will rise to £2,800 in October 2022. This would mean that an average prepayment customer will need to top up their meter by £391 per month. We will see more people pushed into fuel poverty: similar to the increasing numbers of people using food banks, accessing Local Crisis Prevention Fund (LCPF), struggling to pay rent, and using public services to avoid using energy at home.

So we are proactively organising a city-wide network of warm places “Welcoming Spaces” for people in Bristol to keep warm over the winter. We will use community spaces, council owned buildings, and will draw on community infrastructure strengthened during the pandemic such as volunteer groups and facilities. These will offer vital warm spaces for those residents that are forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food in their cupboards.

We have other programmes aimed at the immediate crisis of holiday hunger and provide opportunities for people to enter work. We continue to support low-income families with our £40 million Council Tax Reduction Scheme, Local Crisis Prevention Fund, and do what we can to ensure those who are entitled get access to the welfare support they need. The Community Resilience Fund sees a one-off capital funded £4 million pot shared with groups based in and working with the most deprived areas of our city.

These measures cannot be seen as long-term solutions. We strive to develop inclusive economic growth, working with community groups, businesses, universities and schools, and Government—to build a city of hope for all those who live in Bristol, including young and old, native Bristolian and newcomer, family or single living.

Making Bristol a Living Wage city is a key platform for this aim. Supported by unions we have worked with employers to ensure their staff earn a wage that meets costs and pressures they face in their everyday lives, resulting in over 40,000 workers in the city in Living Wage accredited jobs.

We know there is still more to be done. The government must provide more opportunities and solve some of the systemic problems such as inflation and low paid work so that families can escape poverty.

In its report Centre for Cities calls on government to increase benefits to bring them in line with inflation, reintroduce the £20 uplift for Universal Credit for the 5.9 million people currently on benefits, and provide those living in homes below EPC band C with a one-off payment to help face soaring energy bills.

To deal with rising fuel costs, the National Energy Action research highlights the need to switch pre-payment meters users to smart meters. The government must launch an independent review into Ofgem’s lack of regulation in the energy market and for an energy consumer duty as called for by Citizen’s Advice.

The government must invest more in our communities. They need to reverse their 12 years of national austerity, that has left our infrastructure weak and communities vulnerable. People need support now, the current situation demands immediate steps to alleviate the effects of the cost of living crisis and high inflation.


Becoming a ‘Zero Exclusion City’

Bristol's Youth Mayors, Jeremiah Dom-Ogbonna (left) and Anika Mistry (centre), standing in the Mayor's Office with Mayor Marvin Rees. Behind them, books and awards are visible on shelves.
Today’s guest blog is by Anika Mistry and Jeremiah Dom-Ogbonna, Bristol’s Youth Mayors

Over the past few years, with the disruption of the pandemic, we as a nation have been reminded of the significance of education and know that it is crucial to children and young people. This is not only for our personal and academic development but also for our happiness and wellbeing.

However, for some students, school feels like a prison, where often the decision for an exclusion from school isn’t justifiable and concerns have been raised about the link between exclusions and race, where institutional racism could be a factor. We feel that we all should take action and campaign for Bristol to become a ‘Zero Exclusion City’, where our schools understand and respect young people and make them feel appreciated and valued, both in and out of school. 

What does it mean to be a ‘Zero Exclusion City’?

It means to be a city that doesn’t give up on young people. A city that sees the best in our young people, even in the moments where they don’t see it themselves. A city where all young people are given a chance to be who they want to be. A city where young people aren’t written off before their stars shine brighter than they ever could imagine. We want young people to be appreciated and feel that they have support when they need it rather than becoming isolated.

We’ve seen too many stories where young people have been put into Isolation – short and long term – where this isn’t warranted. This isn’t ok. A situation that should have been easily resolved, by just speaking and letting the students know their wrongdoing, has escalated leading to irreconcilable damage, not just to their education, but to their future as a whole.

What is the prize of being a ‘Zero Exclusion City’?

It means that we set the pace for others to follow, we are the example for other cities all over the UK. It means that we see young people who are less likely to go down the wrong path, to be able to access all that life has for them. This consequently leads to more young people who can have more of a stable environment for them to develop in regard to their education, away from all the vices that are a constant afterthought in many communities across the UK.

Already, the One City Plan, written by the city, aims that, by 2030, Bristol is in the top quarter of Local Authorities in England for school inclusion and attendance, and where restorative approaches are put in place as a first response to conflict management in schools. By 2034, Bristol aims for schools in our city to have fully implemented a zero-exclusion policy. As co-chair of the One City Children & Young People Board, Jeremiah is working to help develop and deliver this work.

What does this mean for young people?

This means that young people are offered support when it is seen they’re going off track, instead of negative and overactive discipline. It means that young people are in the classroom, learning, which is the most integral thing. Teachers who are better placed to understand their students better. And most of all, we have young people who truly are global citizens, doing their part to make the world a better place.

Sometimes young people are criticised; sometimes we are humiliated; and sometimes it may feel like school just isn’t able to accommodate us despite trying our best, even though teachers may not realise it. Bristol is a place of community, inclusion, and respect, where everyone is valued. As Bristol’s Youth Mayors, we want to work towards a city where school exclusions both permanent and short-term shouldn’t occur. We would love it if you could help us with this, to share our proposal and encourage others to reduce and get rid of exclusion – to make Bristol into a ‘Zero Exclusion City’. A city that doesn’t give up on young people; that sees the best in everyone and a city that ensures young people have the opportunity to let their stars shine. 

To get in contact with the Youth Mayors, contact ywparticipation@bristol.gov.uk and follow us @BristolYMayors, @AnikaYouthMayor and @OgbonnaDom.

New job for council’s chief executive

Today I want to take a moment to reflect on the news that Mike Jackson, Bristol City Council’s Chief Executive, will soon be leaving us to take up a fantastic CEO opportunity in a shared role between the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the London Borough of Wandsworth councils. Subject to formal confirmation by the Full Councils of those authorities this week, he will be leaving Bristol this October.

Like many people in the council and across our city partners, I am really pleased for Mike whilst also being sorry to see him move on. His new role spanning two major London councils is a tremendous opportunity, one that was too good to say no to, and fulfils an ambition Mike and his family have always had to revisit life in London. 

I’ve worked with Mike for many years making the council a better development organisation: one that prioritises the personal and professional growth of its people, and it is fitting that even at the very top our people can benefit from the Bristol experience and move on to even bigger roles. As we consider our next steps for leadership, you can be sure that we’ll look for every opportunity to grow and develop our current and next generation of leaders. 

For the last four years Mike has been an incredible leader for Bristol, initially as Executive Director for Resources and Head of Paid Service, and then as Chief Executive. In that time, he has led a committed, resilient and high performing team through the most difficult of circumstances, not least the organisational response to Covid-19. He has brought grip, pace, professionalism, and personal warmth to one of the toughest jobs in our city and should be proud to leave Bristol in a stronger, more stable place than he found it. 

He will be a hard act to follow but I know that his departure will inevitably create some fresh opportunities for other talented people to step up and into new career challenges. I’m working with Mike to consider all of the options that are open to us now, and we’ll share more before too long.

For now I wanted to make space to acknowledge all that Mike’s done for Bristol and to wish him well in another top job.

Celebrating Bristol apprenticeships on World Youth Skills Day

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day: a day when people across the world people highlight the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. 

To mark World Youth Skills Day, I want to reflect on the progress and impact of apprenticeships in Bristol and celebrate those who both provide opportunities and those making the most of their new roles.

There are still high levels of young people who are out of education, work or training programmes across the UK, including in Bristol. Without the possibility of accessing these opportunities. Getting our young people into good jobs is one of the biggest challenges we face as a city and one we have to do more to address.

That’s why we are working hard to ensure there has been an ongoing upward trend in youth employment opportunities through local coordination and support for paid work experience and trainee programmes. This is building towards our one city goal, having 100% of young people under the age of 18 being able to access meaningful work experience that has helped them prepare for future employment and/or learning by 2048.

Bristol apprenticeship’s have made a strong comeback post-pandemic. Over the past two years we’ve seen over 200 new apprenticeships begin at the council with 272 apprentices currently active across all services. We’re spending over a million pounds a year to fun these roles and are seeing the rewards of that investment each time an apprentice qualifies and takes on a permanent position in the workforce. We’re keen to share this success too by providing over £400,000 of funding a year to support local SMEs, partner agencies, and the voluntary sector to make use of apprenticeships too and expand the opportunities available to those living in Bristol.

Charlie stands (right) fixing an electrical unit on the wall.

We should celebrate the impact our apprenticeship schemes have made to young people lives and we want to highlight examples of this incredible work.

Like many students in Year 11, Charlie May Haim didn’t know what she wanted to do with her career. She had applied to several different courses, including a Beauty course at her local college because that’s what her friends were doing. It’s only after having a conversation with On Site, she started thinking about the possibility of a job in construction.

In 2016 Charlie became an On Site Bristol Electrical Apprentice with Bristol City Council’s Responsive Repairs Team. Charlie is now a fully qualified Electrician and loves her job. Bristol Apprenticeships opened up a career path she never knew was open to her whilst in school.

Bristol City Council’s Responsive Repairs Team has been working in partnership with On Site Bristol for 13 years to support their annual Apprentice recruitment Programme. 

The Responsive Repairs Team employs over 420 staff including multi-trade teams, trade apprentices, surveyors, and both managerial and back-office support. Each year the Responsive Repairs Team employ between six to ten apprentices across all trades. All apprentices are assigned a mentor to support and guide them in the practical aspects of their role.

Zara Naylor, Head of Service, Responsive Repairs Team says, “Our apprenticeship programme is of great importance to our team and to the residents we serve. A key requirement for us is to increase diversity within the apprenticeship workforce and we do this by taking positive action and recruiting from underrepresented groups.  Apprentices bring with them an enthusiasm, a zest for learning, a fresh perspective and IT skills which greatly benefits other construction colleagues. Apprentices that have been trained by us are loyal and committed, and 95% of our Apprentices secure permanent roles with our team as they become available.”

Seven people from the Council's Responsive Repairs Team stand in a car park

Apprenticeships enable the Council and local employers to provide good quality routes into work with the promise of developing people’s skills and knowledge. In turn, apprentices offer employers the talent and creativity every workplace needs to ensure it reaps the benefits of a modern, diverse workforce.

They also provide opportunities to support communities often let down by “traditional” routes into work such as care leavers, equalities groups, and those living in areas of high deprivation. These communities are often less likely to have the opportunity to enter further education and get access to the funds needed to sustain lifelong learning. For these groups, apprenticeships are accessible means of putting individuals and households on a route towards greater prosperity.

Apprenticeships allow us to break down gender barriers and improve social mobility, providing job access for those that would never usually get the chance and opening young minds to peruse a career they never thought was possible for them.

I want to encourage Bristol’s young people to investigate local apprenticeship schemes, expand your horizons, learn new skills, you are never fully aware of what you are capable of! Find out more here.

Help us improve the way we let our homes

Today’s blog is by Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Homes and Housing Delivery and Labour Councillor for Horfield.

We all know that our city is facing a housing crisis. There are rising numbers of people becoming homeless and the increasingly unaffordable cost of housing in Bristol is creating more demand for social housing and increasing pressure on HomeChoice Bristol – the system we use to let social housing in our city. And latest Census data shows that the city’s population has grown over 10% in the last decade, as pressure grows on limited city land and budgets.

There are currently nearly 18,000 households on the housing waiting list in Bristol, and more than 1,100 households in temporary accommodation. As we continue to work to get Bristol building 1,000 new affordable homes a year by 2024, we also need to review how social housing is let in our city.

Our aim is to ensure that people are housed in homes that meet their needs, giving priority to those in greatest need, and making the application process easier for everyone to follow.

The review gives us the opportunity to look at who is housed, and why, and to develop options for how to let social housing in the future. The aim is to find the best way to create and support mixed and balanced communities, without disadvantaging those people in the greatest need.

One of our greatest challenges is balancing the very high need for homes in Bristol, against a very limited pool of available properties. As we continue to add to the 9,000 new homes of all types built in Bristol since 2016, we need to make the best use of all properties in our city and have to manage the expectations of people on the register. We will keep working to turn round any empty council homes even quicker – with council properties requiring extensive major works already re-let within two and a half months, compared to two years for privately owned properties.

We want to make the housing letting process fair, easy to use and transparent for all who use it, and give people choice wherever possible in meeting their housing need.

We need to hear from people across our city, including people living in social housing or currently on the waiting list. 

It is vitally important that we get the views of people who are on the waiting list, or have recently been housed, to make sure they agree with what is being proposed following our extensive research phase.

We have already done a great deal of work to get to this point. The review process originally began in 2019 with a survey and four community events, however it was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since we restarted the review, we have held a number of engagement events, working with tenants and those with experience of using the register, the advice and voluntary sector, and other industry experts. Their input has been vital to help shape the set of proposals we are now taking out for public consultation. We have also done extensive research into how the challenges are being addressed elsewhere across the country. 

Ideas being consulted on include:

  • Moving to a ‘managed choice’ system where the council can be more proactive in helping someone find a home.
  • Extending the use of local letting policies.
  • Changes to priority groups, including giving top priority to care leavers and under-occupiers.

The review is part of Bristol’s Big Housing Conversation, which aims to give people across our city, particularly council tenants, a greater say in how the housing system is run.

The survey will be open until Friday 7 October. To find out more and to give your views please visit www.ask.bristol.gov.uk/housing-allocations

Feedback from the consultation will be used to refine proposals which will be taken to Cabinet towards the end of the year.

Happy birthday, NHS!

Today is our NHS’s 74th Birthday. This huge milestone should be celebrated, despite the trials and tests the NHS has faced over the last few years, it continues to serve generations of Bristolians. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone, present and past, who have helped make the NHS the success that it is.

The NHS was set up to provide a one-sized-fit-all approach to providing health care for sick people. However, despite its success, this approach cannot meet the increasingly complex needs and expectations of today’s population. The challenges and population needs that the NHS of 1948 aimed to address have changed beyond recognition today.

However, the NHS is adapting to face the challenges of population health needs of today. On 1st July, Integrated Care Systems (ICS’s) were established in England. Integrated Care Systems reverse a lot of the contentious reforms that former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley brought in. Integrated Care Systems will help the NHS move away from competition and toward collaboration. They are designed to ensure health and care services work more closely together, creating space for local authorities to become equal partners with the NHS in the design and delivery of health services. It also recognises that citizens and the voluntary sector are key partners and looks to breaking down barriers between physical health, mental health and social care services.

NHS frontline services won’t immediately, but over time, health and care services will become more personalised and joined up around people’s needs.

As a system, in Bristol and BNSSG we’ve developed a shared vision that drives population health, health promotion and keeping people well and independent for as long as possible. We have done this in recognition of the fact that the inequalities that impact on the health and wellbeing of some groups of people must also be addressed. Chair of the One City Health and Wellbeing Board, and Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System, Cllr Helen Holland has been at the forefront supporting Bristol to seize the opportunities that ICS’s present and ensuring that Bristol’s health and wellbeing priorities are front and centre of the shared vision of the emerging Integrated Care System.

While these are encouraging reforms, the scale of the challenge that faces health, social care and societal wellbeing is massive. The challenges presented by COVID-19 persist; there is a huge backlog of elective surgeries, demand for mental health services continues to soar and we are still yet to see the medium and long-term effects of long COVID. Indeed, as we face a cost-of-living crisis demand for services will inevitably increase while the cost of delivering those services will continue to soar – stretching services further and thinner. Already 98 per cent of local authorities believe that the Government’s Adult Social Care charging reforms are likely hugely underfunded, which will risk the implementation of the reforms, as well as exacerbating existing pressures on the Adult Social Care system. If we want to continue to celebrate the success and birthdays of the NHS, Government must urgently address the challenges that Adult Social Care faces.

There is a big opportunity to get this right in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire’s ICS where we can look at improving people’s outcomes, experience of health, care and wellbeing services, and tackling inequalities in our area. Our ICS is marking its establishment by launching a nine-week public engagement exercise to hear what matters most to you. We want to know what keeps you happy, healthy, and well – and what gets in the way. This will help the ICS set its priorities and strategy for the coming years. We are asking people to share their views through this survey and a series of events across the summer.

Community-informed vision for Western Harbour

A photo from the Western Harbour shows a bridge in the foreground, with a red-brick bonded warehouse behind, and part of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the background. Hanging branches and leaves obscure the top of the sky. The Design West logo is seen in the bottom right corner.
Credit: Matt Whiteley

To the west of our city centre, the landscape is framed by two very steep hills either side of the river Avon. Just before the river sweeps into its dramatic gorge heading towards the Bristol Channel, there is a natural amphitheatre of fairly flat land surrounded by the steep cliffs of Ashton and Clifton.

For much of Bristol’s history the area at the base of these cliffs has acted as a natural gateway. And this area has seen near-constant change as the needs of the city and its people have transformed. In fact Bristolians have been reshaping and adapting the space ever since the harbour was first built, utilising its basin-like nature over 200 years ago.

But what next for this ever-evolving gateway to the city?

Next week’s Cabinet meeting will consider a new enhanced vision for Western Harbour that emerged from public consultation earlier this year. Drawing on the area’s heritage and identity, the new vision sets out commitments that can transform the area’s roads and concrete into a thriving neighbourhood once again.

The vision is inspired by and largely supported by local communities and is the result of an extensive programme of public engagement carried out in the second half of 2021 and also during a six-week consultation that was open to the public in spring earlier this year.

The vision looks to balance local and city aspirations and addresses some of the biggest challenges Bristol has ever faced, such as the housing crisis, climate change and biodiversity loss. 

Bristol is a growing city, and we are ambitious for its future. The new vision for Western Harbour can help to guide and shape masterplanning later in the year, which will set out in detail where the new homes, jobs and infrastructure that the city needs could go.

During the consultation, the key commitments that celebrate heritage and safeguard treasured assets received the most support from local people. And many people sought more detailed proposals in terms of road layout and housing numbers but these aspects will be considered in detail through the masterplanning process still to come.

However, this new shared vision, can make sure that the masterplan recognises the importance of historic, cultural and community uses, like the Bonded Warehouses, Riverside Garden Centre and pump track, and accommodate them within the regeneration area.

The vision can be used to guide the brief to appoint a masterplanning team later this year. The masterplanners can then use the vision and further discussions with the community to craft more detailed proposals for the area, as well as develop a strategy that will consider how the plan could be delivered and funded.