Cistern Change: World Toilet Day

Today’s guest blog comes from Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig.

Today is World Toilet Day, a United Nations initiative. It highlights that Sustainable Development Goal 6 – sanitation for all – is still essential when globally 4.2 billion people live without safely-managed sanitation.

Here in the UK we are able to take this for granted, but over the past decade we have seen a reduction in the number of council run toilet facilities. This BBC News article attempts to show the national picture of council run toilets.

In Bristol, as a result of decreasing funding in December 2017, we took the difficult decision to end funding for 14 public toilets across the city. Although we were able to continue with 9 toilets in our parks and we transferred the toilets on the downs to the downs committee and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust, we know that people we concerned about the impact it would have. Many older people and disabled people are particularly need access to toilets.

That’s why we asked the city and local business to join our community toilet scheme to replace, improve and expand our offer.

I am pleased that it has been a huge success. Today there are over 100 community toilets that are part of the scheme, 85% of which are accessible, and all toilets are open to members of the public without discrimination. It is considered one of the most successful schemes in the country by the British Toilet Association.

Not only have we got more toilets available for use, but many are open for longer than the public toilets were (including one open 24hrs a day), but because the premises are in use they are much better cared for than some of the locations which they replaced.

We are working to make sure the whole city has coverage, and there is a community toilet in 26 of the 34 wards of Bristol. We are focusing on finding additions to the scheme near to transport hubs and bus routes. The public toilet map shows opening times, types of facilities and location of toilets in Bristol and you can find toilets with adult changing facilities on the Changing Places website.

We also co-produced a paper brochure with Bristol Ageing Better because we know that some people don’t have access to the internet. For those that do, there is a smartphone app for finding the nearest toilet to you.

We are so grateful for the support of people that have joined the scheme and helped make Bristol a better place for people to enjoy. It has been a whole city response to what is a national problem. It shows how business, with the support of the council, can help during a time of reducing council footprint in the city.

To sign up for the Community Toilet Scheme or to find out more about what is involved, visit .

Bristol Young Heroes Awards 2020

Lauch photo with 2019 winners

Since 2013, the Bristol Young Heroes Awards has celebrated young people in Bristol who have overcome adversity to achieve amazing things.

Every year the awards have become bigger and better, celebrating ever more young people who have gone above and beyond to do something positive for their community.

To mark the start of another year of awards, last Wednesday I joined organisers Community of Purpose alongside previous Young Heroes, sponsors and key supporters – including local actor Joe Sims – at City Hall.

Last year’s Environmental Hero was 15-year-old Catherine Rowe from Bedminster. Catherine told me about the support she received after getting her award and how since that night she has joined Bristol’s Youth Council and gained work experience at GKN Aerospace – an incredible achievement.

Catherine is just one of many of the inspirational young people who are working hard to contribute positively to their city. I am sure this year the awards will continue to showcase how important their success is for our city.

Wednesday’s event also saw the launch of nominations for 2020’s awards. For the next five weeks, the people of Bristol can nominate outstanding young people in their community for an award in one of eight categories. If you know a young person who has positively impacted their community and the people around them, don’t hesitate to put them forward for the recognition they deserve.

Marvin, Joe & Amy

How to nominate a young hero

If you know a young person aged between 11 and 19 who you think deserves to be recognised, you can nominate them for one or more of the eight categories by filling out the nomination form here. The categories are:

  • Action Hero: a young person who has made a contribution to the community by volunteering
  • Arts & Culture Hero: a young person who has exceeded expectations and accomplished something brilliant in the arts
  • Caring Hero: someone who looks after a relative and has sacrificed a lot by putting another’s needs above their own
  • Enterprise Hero: a young person who has identified a need and found an enterprising approach to filling it
  • Learning Hero: a young person who has exceeded academic expectations and achieved success in education
  • Sporting Hero: a young person who exceeded expectations to triumph in sport
  • Super Hero: someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to display an act of courage, or someone who has overcome adversity through illness or disability
  • Team Hero: a new addition to the awards, which recognises the amazing work done by an organisation or group which supports Bristol’s young people

There’s also the coveted ‘Overall Hero’ award chosen from the eight category winners and the ‘High Sheriff’s Award’, given to someone that has shown dedication to serving young people.

The five-week nomination window is now open, and closes on Friday 13th December. After that, a panel of judges will choose the winners. The awards ceremony takes place at We The Curious on Friday 1st May.

All nominees are invited to the gala evening with two guests of their choice. To make the event feel even more special for these outstanding young people, local charity organisers Community of Purpose have arranged for them to each have a £100 spending budget for a glamorous outfit for the evening. Hair and make-up will be done for free by local businesses and the budget can also be put towards suit hire.

I feel lucky to be able to join not only our outstanding young people for these awards, but also the local sponsors and programmes that support nominees after the awards to help them reach their full potential.

For all the latest updates, follow Community of Purpose on Twitter,  Instagram and Facebook.

Our Journey to Clean Air

We have a simple choice ahead of us for a legally required clean air zone. 

The hybrid plan tabled to Cabinet for a commercial vehicle charge and small area diesel ban.


A large area charging zone, for all vehicles.

Let me explain…

I will start at the beginning:

Bristol is one of many cities that have been tasked with producing a clean air zone.  The drive for this is obvious, that NO2 particulates in the air cause health concerns and illnesses and must be improved.   NO2 is predominantly produced by motor vehicles and diesel vehicles are the biggest producer.

We have a moral, ecological and legal duty to clean up the air we breathe.

The legal duty is now captured under UK and European law.  Bristol, like other cities has to become compliant on air quality levels in the shortest possible time – a very important phrase because that is the legal test we have to meet.

So, we asked transport and clean air experts to work together to calculate how Bristol would reach compliance to meet these tests.  Unsurprisingly, the city central area has the worst air quality and so to bring down NO2 to legal levels, it is in that area where we need the clean air zone.

The experts calculated, and those calculations have been agreed by government, that the route to reach compliance in the quickest possible way is the proposal, tabled to cabinet as an outline case.

This is a CAZ C zone where commercial vehicles, buses and taxis that are not compliant to legal emissions (DIESEL Euro 6 or PETROL Euro 4, depending on the vehicle), would be charged to enter.  The theory here is to encourage a change of behaviour and indeed we have been working with First Bus and our taxi drivers to have legally complaint vehicle emissions. This zone would have no impact on private car drivers and commercial drivers who have paid the charge will be free to enter the diesel ban area.

Added to this zone, is a small area diesel ban in the most central area. This will be in place 7:00am-3:00pm each day.  This will ONLY apply to privately owned diesel cars. Together these are the hybrid option that, when combined, meets the legal requirement.

The only other option that would reach compliance in a similar timetable is a larger area charging zone for all vehicles, called a CAZ D.

Charging private drivers to come into the city gets us to compliance later and so doesn’t meet the legal tests and also, significantly, is proven  to disproportionately impact on the lowest income families.

The hybrid plan, tabled to cabinet and recommended by the experts, is the quickest route to compliance and charges NO private vehicles.

For people who do not support the current proposal, including the small area diesel ban, you are left with having to implement a larger area charging zone that reaches compliance later.

Many questions are being asked about the details but we are still working through the processes that will answer them.  Many people are asking about exemptions and of course, we are acutely aware of the need to mitigate hospital visits, disabled travellers, protect the local economy and jobs but this is all contained in the next part of the work.  If cabinet agrees this outline business case and government has agreed the principle of the zone and implemented the secondary legislation required, we will do the work required to look at potential exemptions, including the impact on people who live in the zone and the examples listed above.

We will also be hoping to introduce a scrappage scheme to allow people financial support to change cars to a compliant model.

As part of our work, we will be improving public transport through our bus deal, improved cycling and walking infrastructure and of course, progress our work towards the mass transit, underground system.

By March 2020, we hope to be able to publicise the final plan, having consulted on mitigations, exemptions and requirements.

The zone, once agreed, will go live in April 2021.

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1.5000 Clean Air Zones 2019-Oct.jpg

State of the City Address 2019



Recently, I spent the afternoon at one of the holiday hunger schemes. Feeding Bristol gave out over 60,000 meals this summer, serving many of the tens of thousands of children we know are likely to go without food

The staff told us about a mother. The week before, she had quietly approached one of the volunteers asking if there was any left-over food. She stressed she was not going to eat the food herself. It was for her children. She had no food in the house and £2.50 to get through the weekend.


40 years ago my mum and I were facing the same challenges

I’ll set the scene. When my mum fell pregnant with me she was an unmarried working class white woman with a brown baby on the way. Health workers pressured her to have me aborted. When I was born she was told told, if she was a good woman she would give me up for adoption

Incidentally, when I was born my mum could hear “I was born under a wandering star” playing in the background from Lee Marvin’s film, ‘Paint your Wagon’. And in the film, he was a drunk with a red face. My face was really red… hence the name Marvin.

But the themes set in those first months continued through my childhood. We eventually moved to a refuge in Devon before moving back to Bristol on the Long Cross estate and then Easton. Throughout those years my mum went without food so I could eat. We struggled. And much of my childhood was clouded with a faint unhappiness.

I was blessed in that I had a loving family – my Nan, Grandad. My Aunty Glenys. My cousins Denys and Anthony. And we had a supportive church community. But it was tough.

This is Bristol.

It’s not the whole of Bristol. We are the city of culture, creativity, sustainability, rebellion, advanced manufacturing, world class universities and aerospace, the city that justifiably prides itself in doing things different and makes a net contribution to the treasury.

In fact we are a city of contrast, contradiction and inequality, where wealth lives alongside poverty and hope lives alongside hopelessness.

I deliberately put things in that order because too often the Bristol of the ‘left behind’ comes after the story of success.


As Mayor it is my job to advance our city’s successes but it is the fullness of my role as a city leader to ensure we understand that our true greatness will be found in our collective commitment to making Bristol a city in which everyone can find hope in that success, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth.

I have long been committed to the idea of hope in part because it is so much more mature than optimism. Hope doesn’t refuse to see suffering and failure. It engages with them so that they become an opportunity to develop perseverance which produces character and character hope.

Our city can also be a force for good in the world.

We are an international city, a global people of 92 languages and 180 countries. What happens in the world: be it an earthquake in Kashmir, a typhoon in Beira, the displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar, families drowning in the Mediterranean or Black Lives Matter movement – our people have emotional, cultural and blood connections

Our influence must extend to leadership on the critical issues of our time: climate emergency, migration crisis and the rise of reactionary right wing politics.


So, tinkering around the edges is not enough. Snatching small victories – a junction here, and a traffic light there is not enough. For too many years, we haven’t had the kind of change Bristol has needed.

The city has tinkered around with transport for decades and the result is a transport system that is failing the city.

We’ve tinkered around on housing for years – the result is our housing crisis with over 500 families in temporary accommodation, 12,000 on the waiting list and tens of thousands more wondering if they’ll ever have their own home.

Add to these challenges today

  • the Brexit threat to our economy and jobs and
  • the fact that national government at its best, has gone absent and at its worst is making people poorer through policies such as universal credit
  • that Bristol will grow by nearly one hundred thousand people over the coming 25 years and
  • unprecedented levels of inequality and a loss of faith in public institutions
  • the climate emergency making the kind of homes we deliver and where we build them of critical importance.

The scale of these challenges, present both the opportunity and demand for change. At the C40 summit last week vice president Al Gore said we need changes in policy and changes in the people who make policy.

  • It will mean change in the way the city looks as we build new homes and regenerate the old city.
  • It means greater diversity of the people who take up positions of leadership and an explicit commitment to ensure the economy works for people and planet rather than treating them as mere factors of production.

The Bristol of old just did not deliver. We can no longer afford to carry the old order – we need the next iteration of Bristol.

Doing nothing doesn’t mean things will stay the same. If we don’t proactively design the next iteration of Bristol, we will find ourselves increasingly on the back foot, responding to challenges that are out of our control, with a city that is ill-equipped for the task.

But when I look around the city today, I see the start of the change. We have cranes on the horizon and the collaboration of the City Office and One City Plan. We have the declaration of the climate energy, City Leap and a city commitment to inclusive economic development.


Evidence of the change we are bringing is that my cabinet and I have actually delivered the commitments we made to you. In 2016:

  1. We said we would build 2,000 new homes – 800 affordable – a year by 2020.

Many said this target was unachievable and we knew it was a stretch. But, we are on course to hit and exceed it.

Developments underway ACROSS the city right now include:

  • The Ambulance Station
  • Wapping Wharf
  • The Paintworks
  • Hartcliffe Campus
  • The Launchpad housing scheme
  • The Zedpods housing scheme, being built above a St George car park

We have houses being built in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods

  • In Hengrove at Hengrove Park
  • In Lockleaze, at Romney House, Shaldon Road and Bonnington Walk
  • In Southmead at Dunmail
  • In Henbury, we are building Council houses in Richardson Close, as we are in Alderman Moore, in Ashton Vale.

At the recent Built Environment Networking conference, Kelly Hillman Head of Land Acquisitions at Homes England said:

“Bristol is leading the way in the UK with planning, the environment and effecting positive change”

She said this was “down to the city leadership”.

The cultural change we’ve brought to our leadership and our strong grip of council finances has enabled us to turn Bristol City Council a housing delivery organisation – focused on delivering sustainable and affordable homes.

We’ve committed 82% of our five year capital programme, £857 million to infrastructure investment, including new homes and redevelopment schemes such as Temple Quarter and Temple Meads Station.

We committed £85 million to accelerate home building, and £61 million for Goram Homes, our new housing company.

And this year our housing revenue account has £15.7million freed up, to invest in building council homes

2. We said we would deliver work experience and apprenticeships .

When I came into power, 56% of young people were not getting meaningful work experience. We have changed that. Through The WORKS programme and the commitment of city employers, three and a half thousand meaningful experiences of work delivered in the last year alone.

This year is ‘Youth Options Year’, with a series of events, activities and workshops supporting young people to engage with employers and trainers and take up opportunities with confidence.

This is hope in action: raising aspiration, opening doors of opportunity and supporting young people onto the right track

3. We promised we would stop expansion of RPZs and review existing schemes.

And we did.

Working with local councillors in each area, RPZs were reviewed and revised and we are now engaging with residents in some new areas and will work with communities where there is overwhelming support.

4. We pledged to protect children’s centres.
And despite the devastating austerity programme, we kept them all open.

The national picture is of a £3.1billion funding gap contributing to the closure of more than 1,000 children’s centres and a further 722, no longer offering the full range of services.

But in Bristol, children’s centres will remain at the heart of our offer to families.

5. We told the city we would increase school places, with a fair admission process

We have committed £25m to a new school in Lockleaze;

A new secondary school in Silverthorne Lane is in progress, that will serve children from the centre and east of the city and there will be a new school in the South, in Knowle West.

It’s unheard of to be delivering three schools at once but we are doing it. We are delivering on our promise to parents and we will continue to build and expand yet more schools as our population grows.

6. We made a promise to put Bristol on course to be run entirely on clean energy by 2050, and introduce a safe, clean streets campaign

And we have accelerated this promise, taking steps for Bristol to be run on clean energy and to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. We launched the City Leap project, a £1 billion investment package that will transform Bristol’s relationship with energy.

And we are extending Clean Streets, including fines for offenders, smart bins and have launched the big tidy which will deploy crews to deep clean city hot spots.

7. We committed to lead a European Capital of Culture bid and promised to make culture – and sport – accessible to all.

Brexit got in the way of this one but we still delivered on our commitment to make culture and sport accessible to all.

  • We secured UNESCO City of Film status through a collaboration of the Bristol Film Office, the University of the West of England, University of Bristol, Screenology, Destination Bristol, and Bottle Yard Studios.
  • We underwrote £48.8million for the redevelopment of Colston Hall and £1.5million to enable the modernisation of Bristol Old Vic and St Georges.
  • and we overcame around 30 other towns and cities to be chosen by channel 4 as their new home – they are opening their offices this month.

And on sport:

  • We protected pitches for participation in grassroots sport and are working with Sports England and local sports clubs to increase sports hall provision.
  • And our Sport gatherings have brought together the sector like never before in the city to find opportunities to improve participation, enhance elite talent pathways and bring world class events to the city.


That’s called keeping your promises. I am delighted to be able to demonstrate delivery for the city.


But of course, we didn’t stop there and have delivered so much more

So, I will give you a brief rundown of some of our achievements. I want to start by expressing my gratitude to my hard working and dedicated cabinet, my office, the council leadership and workforce and city partners. And, to my Labour colleagues who have delivered the budget year on year in the face of political opposition – to make all this possible. Bristol is a collective endeavour.

  • The Parks Prospectus and the new funding for Tree planting as part of our city plan commitment to double the tree canopy by 2045.
  • The Stepping Up Programme has delivered training for 104 participants from BME backgrounds and women and disabled people. 70% of the first cohort went on to get promotions and so far 46% of the second cohort.
  • We also have a cohort of 35 Somali Women. 25% have now got new jobs. This is economic inclusion being delivered.
  • The Bristol Equality Charter successfully launched with 70 signatories to the Bristol Equality Network and the LGBT+ Voice & Influence Partnership
  • And the Reading City project with an army of reading volunteers and ambassadors, particularly in harder to reach communities. And of course, we kept all of our libraries open.
  • We have led on Period Poverty and have been invited to be part of the government taskforce.
  • We continue to develop the ‘Strengthening Families’ as part of the ACES programme with a focus on early intervention and prevention.
  • Learning from Glasgow, we have taken a public health approach to street violence and knife, to prevent the worst of what we have seen elsewhere.
  • Children with special educational needs have been neglected by government and served badly by the city. Going forward, we must stand with families and put it right for their children – and we will.
  • We have delivered extra care housing, starting in Stockwood and Stoke Gifford.
  • Our HomeFirst service is supporting people to return home quicker after a hospital stay, reducing readmission and we are paying care workers the living wage and travel time. Using technology to support independent living for disabled and older people.
  • Care leavers up to the age of 25 are now exempt from council tax and we are the only core city to have retained a 100% council tax reduction scheme
  • We are creating the first project to provide housing for young homeless, care leavers and students in partnership with United Communities, 1625independent people and Bristol University.
  • We have prioritised housing for women escaping domestic violence and abuse.
  • We opened a 24 hour homeless shelter in St Anne’s which has just opened for its second year.
  • We will pilot the closure of school streets during drop off and pick up times
  • and we safeguarded the future of ‘Skemers boxing Gym’ in Knowle West

YTL will continue to receive our support as they deliver a state of the art, 17,000 seater Bristol Arena, ready to come to planning in the next few months. And in doing so, we have saved so much carbon footprint from the original plans. Instead of driving, trucking and delivering steel and pouring tonnes and tonnes of concrete, it’s being built with the best carbon neutral solution: retro-fitting an existing historic building.

We have brought together key players as part of our commitment to Bristol’s nightlife, with clear proposals to safeguard the venues

We established a city centre revitalisation group if the face of major challenges to city centres and retail across the country.

And crucially we are building a brand new household waste and re-use centre at Avonmouth for opening around the turn of the year and are on track to deliver the new Recycling and re-use Centre in Hartcliffe Way.

I could go on…


But, without any great fanfare, the single biggest change is the change in governance.

We have worked with the city to develop a city plan that sets out Bristol’s future to 2050, transcending the electoral cycle. We have set up the City Office to oversee the plan. This is a move from local government – and a focus on the workings of the council – to city governance – working together with all the city’s decision makers.

We have shared city leadership with six thematic boards, made up of partners from across the city. Each is taking responsibility for shaping and updating their piece of the one city plan.

There is inclusive, cross -organisational work going on in a way it never has.

And we have the City Funds which will be investing in agreed city priorities with ethical investment and giving.

The significance of these changes should not be underestimated. These successes have been recognised around the world, from the EU’s iCapital awards, to the FT and Reuters.


All these achievements cannot be taken for granted. Delivery has not previously been the norm and sustaining the city office and the one city plan needs the new form of political leadership. Let me share a few reflections…

  • It means being delivery focussed. You would be surprised how often we come into conflict with processes that prioritise the structures rather than outcomes for people.
  • We must go beyond the transactional relationship between candidate and voters where a candidate promises a couple of projects to purchase a vote. Our offer is: a working relationship built on a shared set of priorities and values and delivering against them.
  • “Complexity is not a vice”. This is a complicated city in a complicated world. Campaigns are already gearing up that are about are about 10 word soundbites on leaflets. But cities cannot be run with approaches built on 10 word analyses. You need the next ten words and then the next. Bristol needs leadership that grapples with reality and acknowledges that good things can sometimes have negative consequences for some people. As Donald Trump is demonstrating, meaningful leadership and debate cannot be conducted through 280 character Twitter posts.
  • On this last point, we urgently need an improvement in the quality of our civic discourse. The misinformation and attempts to reduce nuanced issues to binary options really underserves us. The truth is there are positives, negatives, risks and uncertainties to most options. Despite what you might hear and read, the scale of collaboration in the city in the name of getting things done is of far greater relevance than ANY conflict that centres around the council chamber.

The city is in the business of getting stuff done while the chamber wants to stay focussed on division and our media are stuck with the clickbait of pointless point-scoring and 30-second soundbites of opposition. WC Fields said, “I never voted for anyone, I just opposed” but we are turning that joke into a city pattern.

So, let me tell you what’s coming in the next few months.

I used to play rugby. If you’re up against a better team, you want rain, a muddy pitch, you want to make it a scrap. And you want them to stop playing rugby and get into that scrap. That is the leveller.

Some people will want to throw the mud in this election, to get us in a back alley and confuse the issues.

We will stay focussed on the fact that we have delivered and built a new city leadership, restored the council’s financial credibility and will continue to focus on the issues that matter to people.

As Michelle Obama said, “when they go low, we will go high”. We will do positive politics!


Bristol is a collective endeavour. Good leadership is about not being afraid to have premier league people around you. It’s about finding great people who want to make things happen and give them the space and the backing to do it.

And so many people have been part of our city leadership.

People like:

  • The late Lorraine Bush, at Hawkspring. She got things done. She touched lives. She liked to say “life is measured not by how much you love but by how much you are loved”. This spoke to Lorraine. She just got it done.
  • Like Paul Hassan does, with local communities.
  • And Jez Sweetland, leading the innovation of the Bristol Housing Festival
  • Marti Burgess, who brings expertise and entrepreneurialism to so many things
  • Dick Penny, who has done so much for our city’s cultural offer

People like:

  • Sado Jirde, of Black South West Network
  • Mohammad Elsharif, who made Bristol his family home after fleeing Sudan
  • Kass Majothi and his son Rashid, who fled Amin’s Uganda founded SweetMart, at the heart of the regeneration of St Marks Rd
  • Silas Crawley, supporting men leaving prison
  • Jean Smith from Nilaari, doing so much on drugs and mental health
  • And my old youth leader Dennis Stinchcombe, who played a huge role in mine and so many other lives

And I want to thank our international ambassadors, Chris Sanigar, Caroline Hassan and Ivor Anderson – DJ Bunjy – who have championed our city on the world stage.

And tonight, we welcome our new international ambassadors:

Dr Mena Fombo, Founder of the Black Girl Convention – and Silas Adekunle – Co-founder of REACH Robotics.


With a council fit for purpose, City partners fully engaged and a plan to deliver, these could be exciting times. Delivery for people on homes, transport, jobs and the environment.


Our homes targets will be met. And we will meet the challenge of building them in a way and in places that minimise our carbon footprint.

The plans for the Western Harbour is central to our ambition.

How and where we build homes will be one of the biggest determinants of our climate impact over the coming years.

A recent report on climate change by Robert Muggah, for the World Economic Forum, tells cities they need to build centrally, more densely and higher to reduce demands on energy through more efficient buildings and reducing the need for cars.

Western Harbour represents:

  • around 2,000 homes within a seven minute bike ride and 25-minute walk of the city centre
  • the opportunity to introduce flood defence at the same time and in sympathy with the development
  • life being brought into the city centre to support the retail offer and that of North Street
  • the opportunity to turn the waterfront into a city destination accessible to all.

And we will deliver on other major infrastructure and housing projects, from the Temple Quarter to St Phillips Marsh and climate resilient housing at Frome Gateway alongside the university campus and Temple Island.

And, we will redevelop the St James area of the city.


Also, within our grasp is a truly transformative transport solution.

We start with a Bus Deal that will double services on key routes as well as regular commuter services down main arterial routes. This is public investment in prioritisation and infrastructure that will trigger private investment in services as the first step towards making public transport the mode of choice.

This will bring greater reliability and connectivity with a loop service – a circle line that will connect the city central areas of Broadmead and Cabot Circus, to the Centre, Redcliffe, Temple Meads, and Old Market every few minutes.

Through traffic will bypass the city central areas completely. This will enable pedestrianisation of the old city and the city centre.

This will deliver cleaner air, safe space for walking and cycling while supporting our local economy, jobs and connectivity.

And then we will deliver Mass Transit. A promise to the city that is both deliverable and essential if we are to offer a real alternative to the car.

Developed within the next decade, this will bring four lines of mainly underground, low carbon, rapid and reliable mass transport.

The first line will connect Temple Meads to the airport, looping through the south of Bristol, connecting people to jobs and opportunity.

The next line will connect the northern fringe, from Cribbs Causeway to the centre and the south and east central areas of the city.

And then we will connect the rest to the east, going as far as Lyde Green and Hicks Gate.

And by also enhancing and growing our urban rail network, these plans will transform public transport.

We will work closely with our local authority neighbours and with the combined authority – but we must not and will not face away from the ambition and the transformative impact of these plans.


And to deliver jobs for everyone, we need investment and we must grow a diverse economy.

We are working with seven cities and surrounding regions to build an economic powerhouse for the West. This is supported by government departments, local economic partnerships, business and city leaders – and linked with the emerging national 2070 plan. This will bring the western region of England and Wales to the table, for government and international investment in the way the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine has for their areas.

And, with the support of unions and business, we will make Bristol a Living Wage city, where well paid decent jobs are the benchmark, not the aspiration.

And by protecting employment land in key areas, we will promote business and diversify our economy. While our high tech sectors grow and prosper, so we have a fundamental need to protect and grow jobs in all sectors including food, care and retail.


Bristol has been a leading voice in the UK’s response to the Climate Emergency:

  • The first council to declare a Climate Emergency,
  • the first to embed leadership of the New Green Deal with a named cabinet lead
  • the first UK city to undertake a voluntary local review against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and
  • the driver of a motion to the Local Government Association which saw 435 councils declare a Climate Emergency and commit to the SDGs.

But declarations and motions are only the first step. The climate emergency requires action. We have the action plan, which has been published today on the council’s website.

From setting a ground-breaking ambition for a carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2030 to driving forward a £1bn programme of investment in cleaner, greener energy, to progressing the actions requested of councils by Friends of the Earth, we are telling the truth about the Climate Emergency and acting now to tackle it, in concert with the linked challenge of social justice.

We will finalise our Local Plan to ensure our planning policies match our ambition. New planning policy will drive zero carbon buildings, affordable housing, community self-build and appropriate student developments.

We will find a way to make Bristol a plastic free city and we are Going for Gold on food sustainability and have plans with the Avon Wildlife Trust and food growing groups to establish local food growth in every ward in the city, tackling food poverty while protecting wildlife habitats.


City Hall is about to install a blue plaque declaring Bristol a City of Hope.

It was presented to Bristol at the July City Gathering in recognition of what we have all been trying to do and encouraging – and challenging – us to continue.

We have the opportunity to make Bristol a better place for all citizens, of all ages, throughout their life.

From childcare and children’s centres, to more and better schools, a diverse, inclusive and sustainable economy with jobs for all, a transport system that is fit for purpose, connecting people and jobs and cleaning our air – to keeping people in their own homes with better support.

To deliver that city we need change.

I started tonight by telling a story of a Bristol mum that was struggling to feed her children. I shared that 40 years ago, my mum was facing the same struggle.

We don’t want to be telling that story in another 40 years.

We have the opportunity now, to make Bristol a better place to live and work for all of our citizens.

Let’s continue the change – let’s do it together.

Thank you.

Global Climate Strike

Today’s blog comes from Bristol Youth Mayors Siena Jackson-Wolfe and Mohamed youth mayors 2Aidid.

It is of the utmost importance that on an issue as complicated and prevalent as climate change we all work together to come up with tangible solutions.

The strikes across the world show a passion in people that is exciting and promising for our future. What we think is even more promising is the fact that this is ultimately led by the youth. The young people of the world, starting with Greta Thunberg, are standing up and voicing their opinions. Letting the world know what they want and making sure they’re heard. What is more it is working.The strikes nationally and globally have been instrumental in pushing the climate problem up on both local and national governments agenda.

However, it is now important to engage in a high-level debate and join in the dialogue with change makers to ensure that actions are being implemented. Bristol’s One City Plan has outlined Bristol’s aims in tackling this issue. When compared to Friends of the Earth list of actions that all local government should take, Bristol City Council is currently either doing or scoping all but three of them. In one case this failure to match is because the council has already got separate plans in place. For example Bristol is implementing alternative-fueled buses (50% of Bristol’s buses will be alternative fuel by 2028) opposed to Friends of the Earth’s call for electric buses.

The strike today is forecast to be the biggest one yet and this show of youth passion and enthusiasm for such a demanding issue is inspiring. However as with all causes there are still some issues.

We have the young and old coming together but now we also need to ensure a more diverse demographic is being reached to express their opinions on this issue to enable more young people to have a voice. Without this diversity the strikes fail to have the same impact in their demands as the calls aren’t necessarily representative of the entirety of Bristol’s young people.

In this strike today we both hope to see a wider spectrum of Bristol’s youth present because we cannot brush away the conversation around race and representation. We know that the youth climate strike group have been pushing for areas not before represented to be present and we hope this is obvious today.

Greta Thunberg has famously said, “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire.” 

The strikes are just the start of this action and now we need to make sure we are communicating with Bristol’s change makers to help make tangible change. Our voices are important but we need to follow through and be part of the solutions.


Green New Deal

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

Last week, I visited Thrive Renewables’ Wind Farm in Avonmouth to celebrate their 25th birthday and I also launched the City Leap prospectus: recognising the history of renewables in Bristol and taking a massive step forward for delivering a decarbonised energy system for Bristol. This is a world first. We are seeking £1 billion of investment to lead the way on carbon reduction, to help enable Bristol to be the UK’s first carbon neutral city by 2030.

Bristol has always been at the cutting edge of environmentalism, and we’re proud to carry on this tradition. We were one of the first cities to own a wind turbine or an energy company, and were the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency. Marvin has taken telling the truth on the dire global environmental straits which we face to the national stage, winning the support of 435 councils across the country both for the climate emergency declaration and for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – which will see us continue to prioritise delivering social justice and environmental justice hand-in-hand.

Friday 20th will see a national climate strike, and we are expecting demonstrations in Bristol to show solidarity with youth climate strikers, demand climate action from central government. As a trade unionist I know the importance of standing up and taking action when change is necessary. As it happens on the morning of the 20th I will be holding a gate meeting at a delivery office to encourage workers in Royal Mail to vote yes to take strike action in the forthcoming national industrial action ballot that the CWU has called.

KD turbine

Although protest has a place in raising awareness, it won’t deliver the solutions the climate crisis needs. Where Labour is in power, our focus is on action now. Just in the last fortnight or so this Labour council has signed off an extra £7 million investment to progress world-leading new technology in the city which cuts energy bills and carbon emissions. We are busy delivering low-carbon heat networks in Bristol – including a new low-carbon water source heat pump in the Floating Harbour.

Also last week, as the UK’s first council cabinet member for the Green New Deal, I was proud to move and support our motion backing the campaign to radically transform and clean up our economy. And in the council chamber I was proud to highlight the need not only for hundreds of thousands of green new jobs but also the just transition for workers. That means skills programmes together with the investment which both people and planet need to survive and thrive in the future.

A practical example of this would mean retraining gas fitters in engineering heat pumps and other green technology. How we engage with workers in jobs at risk from climate change, the need to tackle climate change and automation is extremely important. The Green New Deal is about offering the right economic and skills package to support the current workforce and the future workforce. It is also about looking at world of work and the time spent at work with policies like a four day working week – bringing people with us, rather than blaming them for the jobs they do. The way we tackle this is through the right national regulations, taxes, and incentives, engaging throughout with workers and their representatives, enabling people struggling to make ends meet to make greener choices.

As I said in the chamber, this is not just a nice thing to do, or the right thing to do, but key to delivering our objective. Because if you don’t bring people with you on this journey, they’re against you, which makes delivering carbon neutrality almost impossible to achieve. We need take action to make the transition to a greener economy a just one that puts working people at its heart.

Spaghetti Western

Western Harbour - CB Bristol Design 2019 (1)

Our initial engagement on the future of Western Harbour is now completed – although we remain open to receiving paper copies of the feedback forms.

The opportunity Western Harbour presents for Bristol is so significant because the challenges our city faces are so significant. We face a housing crisis with over 12,000 families on the waiting list and the worst affordability ratio of rent to wages of the Core Cities. Add to this the fact that our population is set to continuously grow. We must minimise the environmental impact of our city’s growth through sustainable buildings and developments that reduce car dependency.  We must significantly strengthen our flood defences as Bristol faces the increased likelihood of the 1 in 100 year flood. Like other cities, our city centre retail is threatened by weakening high street sales.

All of these challenges mean we must proactively put residential, employment, retail and destination venues in the city to ensure Bristol isn’t “hollowed out”. And in the face of growing inequality and social and political division, we must make spaces for people from all parts of Bristol.

The opportunity is to build over 2,000 homes including much needed affordable. These homes would be a seven minute bike ride or 25 minute walk to jobs, shopping and entertainment in the city centre. The opportunity is to build the flood defenses into the development in a sympathetic rather than intrusive way. And it is to remove the 1960s flyovers that have dominated that part of Bristol since before I was born and to open up the waterfront as a welcoming destination for more people.

There has long been ideas for the potential of the land and waterfront – one of the most attractive areas in the city that has been lost to the spaghetti of flyovers and on ramps. But the ideas put forward have remained just that, ideas.

But we have identified a window of opportunity to make ideas real, one that we believe cannot be missed. We face the end of the life of the swing bridge and flyover and the prospect of having to spend £40m to maintain it. We could sink this money into maintaining a status quo that represents lost social, environmental and economic potential, or we can turn it into an investment that releases something better for Bristol. I believe investing in our ability to provide affordable and sustainable homes, increase active travel and reduce car dependency, defend ourselves against floods, strengthen our city centre and make our waterfront a destination for all to be the best use of scarce public money.

There have been a number of concerns raised about the prospect of change to Western Harbour. For our part, we wanted to talk with people as early in the process as possible, to get their views. That is what the past few months have been about. It’s not been a formal consultation, but an effort to ensure as many of the challenges and opportunities were presented at the very start.

The flyover has never been a popular road layout and was built when roads were king and when the city’s population was so much smaller and effective use of land was less crucial. The changes to the road and bridge are simply what’s needed to be moved to free up the land and water.

I can understand people’s concerns about change and I can see that where there has been space – due in part because we are engaging so early – that people may fill these spaces with their worst fears. But we should all be thinking more of Wapping Wharf than Canary Wharf. Last week I was at the ‘topping out’ ceremony of the second phase of that successful development that has quickly become so vibrant.  It also shows what is possible with mixed communities. That development now has 256 homes, 49 homes for shared ownership and 81 affordable. And it is now a destination.

We will publish the wider plans for the housing and mixed use in Western Harbour as soon as we can and I look forward to working with communities, business and all stakeholders on the next stages towards development.

City planning can not be carried out in the abstract. Our context is that the world is changing and our city is changing at break-neck speed. The status quo is not an option and these changes demand that we act now. But we will not act from fear or on the back-foot. Instead we will be proactive and driven by our values. Our values that drive us to deliver homes, mixed communities, opening up the city centre to all, of jobs and a vibrant city centre, an inclusive economy and by our commitment to build a carbon neutral city are at the heart of these plans.

These are exciting times.

My week with the Mayor’s Office: Chelsea & Libby

Today’s guest blog comes from Chelsea and Libby who have spent a week gaining work experience in the Mayor’s Office and Labour Group Office at City Hall.


My name is Chelsea, and this summer I spent a week participating in work experience with the Mayor’s office and Bristol Labour Group. I secured this placement after participating in the Bristol City Leadership Programme in July 2018 – where I met many leaders from across Bristol, including the Mayor, Anna Starkey, Jeremy Sweetland and more!

During my time in the Mayor’s Office, I helped with a variety of office tasks and shadowed the Mayor. The tasks included drafting emails in response to invites; helping with paperwork; sorting the questions for Bristol Question Time and summarising important news articles for the team. When shadowing the Mayor, I accompanied him while he recorded a video with Immediate Media to promote City Leap and as he spoke at the RIBA forum.

While with the Labour office, I was given an overview of the council from a political perspective, tours of the political offices of each party, and completed tasks for the Labour Office, such as checking the news for relevant bodies of the Bristol City Council.

I also had the chance to attend a planning meeting in the Chambers where they discussed the specific plans for construction and changes to the Bristol area. This allowed me to gain insight into how debates work, how the public gain the ability to have a say in the way Councillors and the Mayor change Bristol.

Finally, I met with several councillors. On Tuesday, I learnt what corporate parenting is while shadowing Cllr Helen Godwin during a meeting on the issue. During the event, I met with many other people, including care workers, care leavers, people from the NHS and Councillors that are responsible for children in the care system. This also gave me insight into what Councillors do and the hard work and dedication they put into their areas of concern. Meanwhile, while in the Labour Office I had a meeting with the councillor for the Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward – Jo Sergeant.

I decided to do this work placement to gain insight into the functioning of Bristol City Council and high profile events. Overall, my time at the Mayor’s Office was exciting, and I learnt a lot. Thank you to the Mayor and his team for having me.


My name is Libby, and I had the amazing opportunity of getting a week’s work experience in the Mayor’s office. Over the week, I was able to expand my knowledge and find out about the different functions within the council and the plan for Bristol’s development. As a year 10 student, I haven’t had the opportunity to study law and politics, so this was my first proper insight into the system. From it, I was able to work on my communication and develop new skills.

Throughout the week, the office had me attend different meetings and take part in tasks to give me the best experience possible. Here are some of my favourite moments. On the first day, I was introduced to the office and set up with my own laptop, which made me feel like a proper part of the team.

On Tuesday, I met with two of the cabinet members about their role in the council. One was Kye Dudd, who is the Cabinet member for Transport and Energy, and the other was Paul Smith, who is the Cabinet member for Housing. As well as this, I was able to attend the Full Council meeting. This was a really cool experience to see how people act in a professional environment. I often found myself doing further research on certain things to gain a higher understanding.

On Thursday, I attended the video launch of the #WeAreBristol Campaign at the Watershed, where Marvin Rees gave a speech on divisions in Bristol and how we are all linked in some way. Having gone to a diverse school, it is important for me to have a united community.

Overall, it was an exciting week in which I learned lots of new skills to help me further in life. I now know how the Mayor’s Office functions and what a working environment is like. I loved working with the team and getting to see behind the scenes. Thank you!

Extinction Rebellion

It’s the week after the week before in which many parts of central Bristol were brought to a standstill by Extinction Rebellion. Views on the cause, action and tactics varied.

I want to share some reflections. But I do this making clear that it is possible to question and challenge a group about its approach without being misinterpreted as undermining the goal, in this case, addressing the climate crisis.

I believe in protest as a lever in the democratic process. I am a student of black American politics. I participated in the Jubilee 2000 and the World Bank/IMF and anti-globalisation protests. They shifted public opinion and political awareness and supported real changes to the structures of international finance that drove poverty and the associated consequences for instability, migration and deforestation in the global south.

Extinction Rebellion has played an important role by putting climate change high up on the political agenda. I will be one of many city leaders who welcome this. We have been stressing the need for central government certainty and investment in transport and infrastructure so are be able to deliver the carbon neutral future we have committed to. Government for its part continues to disappear into itself, consumed by Brexit, power contests and delayed, unpredictable and zero-sum funding rounds. Anything that helps get Westminster looking outward is welcome.

But there are challenges.

Blocking the M32 was a tactical error.

Ahead of the planned protests, we agreed with Extinction Rebellion a Memorandum of Understanding to manage the protesters gathered in the Castle Park area. We closed roads around Bristol Bridge to ensure the safety of protesters and the wider public. The planned action was very high profile, and the message was being heard. But once protesters broke our agreement by blocking the M32, Extinction Rebellion began alienating members of the public with every inconvenience. I have been clear that this action stepped over the line, and I think it was a tactical error for the movement that ultimately proved to be counterproductive.

An emergency requires solutions.

I have asked XR for the specific actions they would like the city to take. The challenge is that beyond “tell the truth” and “act now” I have heard little yet in terms of specifics. There are obvious problems with this. If you have no agreed list of specific asks/demands, how do you know that what people are currently doing isn’t enough and isn’t being done fast enough? Secondly, if people say “OK, what do you want?” you have nothing to say.

This happened in the BBC3 documentary, Extinction Rebellion: Last Chance to Save the World. In an interview, the founder of the movement was asked “Does Extinction Rebellion have proposals for how to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025?” To which response was “No, because that’s not our job”.

I have noticed that when spokespeople are asked, they revert to highlighting the scale and immediacy of the crisis. I agree it is immediate, which is why I believe everyone must be developing solutions. If you are on a sinking ship, those who think through solutions, no matter how basic, are more helpful than those who continue to shout the ship is sinking.

As a council, we have successfully achieved our corporate target to reduce carbon emissions two years early with a 71% reduction of carbon emissions in 2017/18 (against a 2005 baseline) and last week we announced our action plan in response to the climate emergency declaration.

And the city is following our lead and stepping up to take responsibility. The City Office has established a city Environment and Sustainability Board to agree to a series of environmental goals up to 2050 through the One City Plan. I’m hopeful we can work with partners across the city to come up with clear steps and milestones to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and beyond.

Signing contracts, running procurement processes, addressing planning, participating in drawn-out negotiations are not as exciting or glamorous as protest, but it’s where many of the things that need to get done actually get done in local government. Again, protest has a critical place in our democracy, but it must be deployed wisely, understanding the people and institutions it is targeting, and with a clear set of actions it wants.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are vital to XR’s campaign if it is going to truly fulfil its stated aim of being a wide-reaching and representative democratic movement.

Democracy isn’t merely a question of voting rights for those in the club. It’s also about openness, connectivity and accountability to outsiders. Without doubt, class hierarchy and global racism are integral to a system whereby the global north has secured their growth without regard to the planet in general and Africa, Asia and South America in particular. These systems robbed so many people of the opportunity to shape the world and their place in it – now they threaten their futures too.

For XR to be successful, and bring people with them on their cause, becoming more diverse and inclusive is the challenge they have to take on.

We face a climate emergency, and we need action now. It’s about focused action and results. A friend of mine said a problem well defined is a problem half solved. We need a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the emergency itself, of the people and institutions in play, of what is required for success, and we need everyone developing solutions.

I have asked to meet with the leaders of Bristol XR again to suggest real solutions and actions for our city to tackle the climate crisis, so that they can be part of the conversation to affect real change.


WeAreBristol Launch 3 - CB Bristol Design 2019

Today we launched a new campaign with the #WeAreBristol film. The film shows 60 Bristol strangers who were randomly selected to come together and take part in a social experiment.

IMG_6579The people in the film represent everyone in Bristol – young, old, rich, poor, people who have always lived here, and people who have moved here from other parts of the world. It is easy to say that on the surface these people are different. But what the film shows is that actually they have far more in common than you would think.

Films and campaigns like this are vital, particularly at a time when many people would say the UK has never been more divided. It is vital because it makes us stop and think. It challenges us to reflect on our own behaviour – do we judge people before we have even heard them speak? Do we make assumptions about a situation because of pre-conceived prejudice?

It is true that political fractures have led to a rise in race-related hate crime. These fractures and the anonymity provided by social media, have seen a surge in both subtle and blatantly obvious discriminatory remarks.  It’s led many people to think it is ok to openly share and display feelings of intolerance.

The #WeAreBristol campaign which starts today says in Bristol we can be different. We can take steps to shut down intolerance, be proud of Bristol’s diversity and stand side by side with our neighbours – no matter where they come from or what they believe in.

Our views, our lifestyles and even the way we look might be different, but deep down we are the same. We are human. We are Bristol.

Please watch and share the film: