Author Archives: marvinjrees

Renters Reform Bill

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured smiling, with college green and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard,
Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery & Homes
and Labour Councillor for Horfield Ward.

The government’s Renters (Reform) Bill has finally been unveiled and, while the overdue plans to ban no fault evictions are welcome, I cannot help but feel that the proposals do not go far enough to tackle the mounting housing crisis being faced in Bristol and across the country. More needs to be done to provide protection for renters and tackle a market that has spiralled out of control.

Bristol’s private rented sector is becoming increasingly unaffordable, leading to serious access and affordability issues which are impacting the wellbeing and quality of life of people in Bristol and playing a major role in creating homelessness. Those in private rented accommodation have lived for too long without adequate protections and with very limited options to guarantee decent living standards.

Some proposals set out in the bill will have positive impacts on renters in Bristol and will also ensure clarity for landlords should they come into effect. Our campaign for a fair rental sector has always acknowledged that most landlords provide decent homes and aim to support their tenants. Solutions to this crisis need to be formed by working together across the sector and we’ve committed to with all parties to take positive action.

While I am pleased to see a basic decent homes standard planned, along with a new ombudsman to oversee the private rented sector, applying home quality standards to the private sector for the first time, the bill does little to address the affordability of renting. It will not provide for the powers for areas like Bristol to intervene in the private rented sector to tackle this issue – which could mean property owners will still find ways to skirt the laws by using large rent hikes to force unwanted tenants out who can’t afford them, even if rent increases are limited to once a year with a minimum two month notice period. Out of control rents mean housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, pushing many further away from their place of work, family, and support networks.

Plans to make it illegal to refuse tenancies to people on benefits or with children are vitally important and will make sure no family is unjustly discriminated against when looking for a place to live. Banning discrimination against renters on benefits is something we have long campaigned for, making it council policy last year.

I also welcome the introduction of a property portal to act as a database for properties in the private rented sector. I will be looking at the detail of this to ensure what is brought in can be used to its full potential and equip tenants with the information they need about the property they are renting.

A right to request a pet is also a welcome step forward. As a dog owner myself, I know the important role pets can play in our lives. However, we need to ensure that a landlord not being able to unreasonably withhold consent is sufficiently clarified in law.

Here in Bristol, we have been campaigning for renters reform and increased security for tenants for some time, and must continue to put pressure on the government to deliver on their promises. Having a safe and secure roof over our heads is key to ensuring we all have the best possible opportunity to live a happy and healthy life but, unfortunately, many renters still live in fear of spiralling costs and unfair evictions. 

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured posing with his teams award for Best Coalition End Unfair Evictions at SMK's National Campaigner Awards 2020
Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured posing with his teams award for Best Coalition End Unfair Evictions at SMK’s National Campaigner Awards 2020

We have over 19,000 households on our waiting list for social housing, along with over 1,200 households in temporary accommodation. The cost of renting in this city is one key cause alongside the lack of security that renters have in the private rented sector.

In the Mayor’s 2021 manifesto, we pledged to make Bristol a “living rent city” and lobby central government for the powers to introduce rent controls that work for the city. Since this we’ve worked across the sector to better support private renters, including the roll out of landlord licensing schemes, stamping out illegal ‘no DSS’ discrimination and hosting the first the Renters’ Summit to share their experiences of renting in Bristol.

We also launched the Living Rent Commission, bringing the best, partnership focused organisations together to explore the issues facing renters. As part of its work looking to improve the affordability, quality and tenant experience of the private rented sector in Bristol, the One City Living Rent Commission has looked at how we can improve the sector, including what the impact of rent regulation across the city could be.

An upcoming report, written by the University of Bristol, will be officially launched in the coming weeks, sets out a range of recommendations based on evidence of the challenges we face and potential solutions we could introduce. We have made sure that a wide range of people have been heard during the process, including listening to the lived experience of tenants, residents and landlords.

There are no simple solutions to a crisis of this scale and we know that part of it is about building more homes that are truly affordable. However, the commission has given us an opportunity to bring organisations together to explore the issues facing renters and the sector, to help us develop an approach that works for Bristol and better protects renters.

The report’s recommendations reflect that the powers to regulate the market come from government. Therefore, we must work with Westminster to develop any future policy. The recommendations also highlight the need to continue the constructive dialogue with renters and other stakeholders in the private rented sector to achieve our goal of delivering meaningful and lasting positive change, enabling Bristol to become a Living Rent City.

We recognise that there is substantial support for rent control to help make renting in the city more affordable, however, there are also concerns about negative impacts. Further work will now take place to develop the proposals put forward in the report. This will happen in partnership with sector stakeholders and ensure that tenants’ views continue to be taken into account.

Protecting Bristol’s frontline services

Councillor Craig Cheney is pictured smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney,
Deputy Mayor for Finance, Governance, Performance,
and Culture and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

It’s well established that local government across our country is facing a cost of operating crisis that is affecting all areas of local authority work. The systematic defunding of the local government sector by successive governments over thirteen years has left all councils facing increasing demand without the financing necessary to do all the things we used to do.

In February, we set another balanced budget for the seventh consecutive year of this administration, no easy feat considering the challenges. We have continued to protect all of Bristol’s libraries and children centres, prioritised support for low-income families by continuing to fully fund the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and Local Crisis Prevention Fund, and set aside the funding needed to continue our ambitious home building programme.

We continue to tackle the big issues facing our city head on, and reduce pressure on the frontline services that fellow Bristolians rely upon wherever we can — including thanks to the £1 million that we have saved by reducing the number of council directors.

With every year, however, the impact of delivering on our priorities becomes increasingly challenging. This year’s council budget was set against the backdrop of the national cost of living crisis, made worse by the national mini Budget, which has driven up the costs of goods, services, and energy. Coupled with rising demand for the services that we deliver and lower government funding than we need, the council’s budget gap over the coming five years was estimated to be over £30 million. This led us to set out a number of areas where we would look to save money and increase income whilst continuing to protect frontline services as much as possible.

Whilst this has meant that we have needed to review how services are delivered across all areas. Our plans also include over £11 million of actions to change the way the council operates, further improve efficiency, and deliver even greater value for money in how the council is run. A large part of these savings, nearly a quarter, will be achieved by further reducing the number of buildings used by our staff, following on from a January cabinet decision to sell six sites.

After many months of work to explore the various options to reduce office space without negatively impacting frontline services, we are now in a position to take the next steps and begin delivering these much needed work.

This approach will see us move out of a number of sites across Bristol. City Hall will continue to be the council’s main office with other buildings retained in the north, south, and east of our city to provide space for officers to work closely with people in those communities. These local offices of course sit alongside the network of libraries and children’s centres that we are proud to have protected across Bristol, which help connect residents with services.

Final decisions on which buildings will be retained are yet to be made, but we have made a commitment to keep the Citizen Service Point on Temple Street despite other council officers moving from this office space later this year.

As this project develops we will be in touch with people affected by any planned closures to let them know what changes are being delivered and where they can continue to access the services they need.

Fairtrade farmer to visit Bristol

On World Fairtrade Day, today’s guest blog is from Bristol Link with Nicaragua, home to Puerto Morazan, one of our seven twin cities, and Bristol Fairtrade Network:

We are delighted to announce that our city will once again be hosting a visit of a Fairtrade farmer from Nicaragua. Bristol is proud to have been a Fairtrade City for 18 years and the visit has been an annual event for much of that time. Like so many activities this had to pause due to the pandemic, but this year, at the end of May, we look forward to meeting coffee farmer, Erika Lanzas Rodas.

The visit is taking place between 11 and 27 May and, like previous visits, will mainly focus on visits to schools in the area. As we strive to ensure young people in Bristol grow up ‘as global citizens’, it’s important that they have a chance to learn how their lives link with so many other places in the world. Meeting a Fairtrade producer in person and hearing about her experiences first hand will aim to help them understand the impacts their choices have on people the other side of the world. In previous years, we have always had extremely positive feedback from schools and young people on what a significant impact these visits have had on their thinking and understanding on the complex issues of ethics in world supply chains.

Erika Lanzas Rodas is pictured on her farm in Nicaragua, with greenery and buildings seen behind her.
Erika Lanzas Rodas on her farm in Nicaragua.

A bit about Erika

Erika Lanzas Rodas is 39 years old, a single mother of four children, a coffee producer, and a member of the UCA SOPPEXCCA Cooperative. She has a farm called La Libertad, with ​​two hectares of coffee. UCA SOPPEXCCA is a Fairtrade certified organisation and you can read more about it on the Fairtrade Foundation’s website.

Erika has been a member of the cooperative since 2012. She has enjoyed many benefits and achievements over the years, but the most significant have been the improvements to her home. Erika had a small house and only basic living conditions: the change from then to now and the progress she has made since she joined are clear, as is the improvement in her family’s income thanks to the fact that her coffee is certified and marketed through Fairtrade.

For Erika, being a member of the cooperative means having opportunities for herself and her family. One of her achievements are the improvements she has made to her home in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of her children. She began by changing the roof, as it was in poor condition. She also built a toilet, from cement blocks, inside the house, since they previously had a latrine outside, causing insecurity for her and her daughters.

Erika has her own wet coffee-processing space, which she obtained from the premium earned by ‘Las Hermanas’ coffee and the Fairtrade social premium, investing the money to guarantee the best quality for her coffee.

Belonging to the ‘Café Las Hermanas’ group for small women producers means having opportunities to grow emotionally, socially and economically, thanks to the coffee’s high value based on quality and origin. It is produced 100% by women coffee producers who are members of SOPPEXCCA.

Today Erika is a woman entrepreneur and a leader in her cooperative. She currently belongs to the Gender Committee of the ‘Arlen Siu’ base cooperative, where she has been training in environment, production, gender equality, human rights, and other areas. Her children have also benefited from scholarships and receiving school supplies, which have allowed them to finish secondary school and which they continue to receive today.

Together with other women members of the cooperative, Erika has begun to diversify her crop and work in family gardens, in order to guarantee food security for the families and to improve their income.

We are excited to say that there is an opportunity for you all to meet Erika on 26 May at Sparks, the new art, sustainability and education hub in the old Marks and Spencer building in Broadmead. SPARKS is an exciting new development in the city launching on today.  The event to meet Erika is free to attend but booking is required.

This visit is organised via a partnership between Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC); SOPPEXCCA, the union of Fairtrade Co-operatives based in Nicaragua’s highlands; The Venturers’ Trust; the University of Bristol; the University of Bath; and Bristol Fair Trade Network (BFTN).

Bristol’s £2.4 million Pothole Action Fund

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Don Alexander,
Cabinet Member for Transport and Labour councillor
for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward.

The highways department at the council manages and maintains over 750 miles of roads across the network. It’s a pretty expansive network that requires constant monitoring and maintenance. A big part of that job is identifying, fixing and monitoring potholes across the city.

Despite the effort we put in to maintain the roads, we can’t be everywhere at once and I understand how frustrating potholes can be for motorists and other road users. I hear often about the concern people have about the number of potholes across Bristol and have been working closely with officers to ensure the plans and finances are in place to tackle issues as quickly as possible.

Back in March, I was pleased to confirm an investment of over £9 million had been secured to carry out essential highways maintenance and deliver transport schemes. As part of that funding, £1.4 million was put into the city’s Pothole Action Fund to pay for important road repairs and surfacing works.

Now, only a few weeks later, I’m delighted to be able to add a further £1 million to that fund, bringing this year’s Pothole Action Fund up to £2.4 million. This extra funding, secured from extra money made available by the Department for Transport, will be used to increase on the 2,500 pothole repairs carried out on average per year.

Our focus remains squarely on preventing defects from happening in the first place and we have a fully funded programme of maintenance interventions such as surface dressing, micro asphalt and other approaches lined us throughout the year.

By using a mix of inspections by highways officers, using digital condition surveys and reports from residents and visitors, we can prioritise this work to ensure the most necessary works are planned in first. This is why it’s important that if anyone sees an issue with the highway they should report it and help us better map out the areas we need to spend this additional funding on.

Anyone can report a damaged road or a pothole in Bristol. To report an issue on a motorway or the A4 Bristol Portway at Avonmouth contact the Highways Agency.

Bristol gets Living Wage City status for three more years

Bristol Living Wage City's logo is pictured. A blue outline of city landmarks is pictured, with text below reading Making Bristol a Living Wage City.

When Bristol achieved Living Wage City recognition in 2019, it showed how serious we are about addressing low pay and in-work poverty.  

Three years on and we have received Living Wage City status for a further three years, enabling us to continue our work to encourage employers in Bristol to pay a good wage. 

Our first three years of being a Living Wage City have seen us exceed our targets. The aim was to double the number of real Living Wage accredited employers headquartered in Bristol from 62 to 125, but we were able to achieve 140 accreditations. In 2019, there were just under 20,000 people in Bristol working with accredited real Living Wage employers, now we have around 43,000. As part of our city’s efforts to increase people’s pay, approximately 4,000 people have had a pay rise, uplifting them to the real Living Wage or higher. This is an increase nearly three times higher than expected. 

With no signs of the national cost of living crisis ending, earning a wage that is based on the actual cost of living has never been more important. While the real Living Wage will not solve the crisis, providing employees with a wage based on living costs can help provide security and stability for workers. 

Text reads: We are one of Thousands of Accredited Living Wage Employers.

Research by the Living Wage Foundation in late 2022 highlighted our concerns that low paid workers are more likely to be in financial hardship now than at any point over the past few years. These people are likely to be skipping meals regularly for financial reasons, are unable to heat their homes and may be seeking a pay-day loan to cover essentials. 

Clearly earning less than the real Living Wage is harder now than ever before which is why our work in Bristol to encourage our city’s employers to pay a fair wage is so vital.  

In January 2019, the City Office launched our shared One City plan, setting out how city partners would work together to create a fair, healthy and sustainable city. Bristol Living Wage City became a part of this vision in January 2020. 

Major organisations across our city came together to form a Bristol Living Wage City action group, which has been integral to our city’s success. Key founding partners who are still leading the initiative alongside Bristol City Council today include Business West, University of Bristol, the Great Western Credit Union, TUC South West, and ACH. 

Text Reads: What has The Living Wage done for businesses? 93% say it has benefited the business. 86% Say it has improved the reputation of the business. 75% say it has increased motivation and retention rates for employees. 64% Say it has helped differnative themselves from others in their industry.

New members have regularly joined the group, picking up the work of other founding members during three years of hard work and challenging times. The University of the West of England, Hargreaves Lansdown, and We the Curious are now established key members of the group. 

Our Bristol Living Wage action group is the perfect example of how we can successfully work together as One City. We have a strong partnership and clear strategy and action plan to continue this work through the next three years. Renewing Bristol’s commitment to becoming a Living Wage City is both a call to action and a clear way forward to achieving a fair and inclusive economy for all in Bristol.  

The action group are proud, and rightly so, of their achievements over the last three years, hitting all their targets and making good inroads into traditionally low paid industries, such as cleaning, childcare, retail and hospitality, with 29 per cent of accredited employers headquartered in Bristol from these employment sectors.  

Box-E are quoted talking about Living Wage city, text reads: " I think the accreditation shows an added commitment to increasing pay regularly and this particularly helpful to know right now with the cost of living skyrocketing. We would definitely encourage other businesses to get accredited."

The action group meets every two months to review the approach and monitor progress against targets. The group annually review our city’s journey and ambitions, working together to co-design a new action plan for the next three years.  

Looking forward up to December 2025, our action group has five key aims: 

  • Targeting large and iconic employers in Bristol 
  • Engaging low-pay sectors 
  • Supporting small and medium enterprise to commit to the real Living Wage 
  • Raising awareness of the real Living Wage movement across the city, with a focus on target sectors and peer to peer support 
  • Developing and sharing practical guidance on the real Living Wage to employers and employees 

Our action group will work hard to reach our new targets of an additional 120 accredited employers headquartered in our city. This would lead to an additional 1,200 employees’ salaries being uplifted to at least the real Living Wage. 

The national cost of living crisis threatens to significantly impact living standards, making the campaign for the real Living Wage even more important. Bristol has a strong vision for its future as a city that has a vibrant and successful economy, where everyone has the opportunity to both contribute to and benefit from economic growth. A city that is fair and inclusive. Bristol Living Wage City is fundamental platform for delivering this vision. 

If you are interested in becoming an accredited real Living Wage employer visit the Living Wage Foundation website to find out more or contact our Living Wage team at 

Hargreaves Lansdowne are quoted talking about Bristol as a Living Wage city. Text reads: "Getting accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation really cements our longstanding support of fair pay for our colleagues. It's a visible marker of who we are, our values and what we stand for."

Giving back to your local community

Councillor Ellie King, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities and Labour councillor for Hillfields ward.

Bristol residents never cease to amaze me with their dedication to helping others and making a difference to other people’s lives. I would like to start with a thank you to all of the unsung heroes who volunteer their time to support so many people and activities across our city.

There are lots of ways to give back to your local community, and volunteering is one of the most rewarding. Often the questions I get asked are about where to begin, how to support others, or even if it’s worth doing.

As we look forward to this year’s Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), I want to share my volunteering experience and why I recommend everyone gets involved.

My five reasons to volunteer:

  1. Make a difference – helping someone who needs it and giving back to the people in your local community is an incredibly rewarding experience
  2. Build new relationships – making new connections with people can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll get the chance to meet a variety of people from different backgrounds who you might not usually get the chance to speak to
  3. Expand your skill set – developing new skills is great for your personal and work life. Volunteering can help you add achievements you might need to your CV and increase your career opportunities
  4. Boost your confidence – doing something new or continuing to develop a skill you already have can increase your self-confidence.
  5. Great for your own wellbeing – it’s not selfish to say that doing something good makes you feel good. Supporting those around you or helping with the success of an event will bring a smile to your face and help you feel great!

How can you volunteer?

From Monday 8 May, to mark His Majesty The King’s Coronation, thousands of organisations across the country are getting together to help people give back to their local communities with The Big Help Out. No matter what you are good at, there will be something that will suit you. The idea is for people to spare as little as an hour or as much as a day. Even doing something small can make a big difference.

To find local volunteering opportunities, you can visit the Can Do Bristol website. You will find a range of options from volunteering at festivals, helping to train young sea cadets, supporting people with dementia, and lots more. You can sign up for regular volunteering slots or one-off events, and people looking for volunteers can also contact you directly. If you’re looking for volunteers to support your event or organisation you can also advertise for free on the Can Do Bristol website.

Marking Volunteers’ Week 2023

Two people are photographed holding hands.

I firstly want to say a huge thank you to anyone who already volunteers in Bristol, whether you do this through Can Do Bristol, with local community organisations or by just helping out friends or family.

We are once again working closely with Voscur and Black South West Network to give a big city thank you and put a spotlight on some of the amazing work Bristol’s volunteers have been doing. More details on this will be available closer to Volunteers’ Week.

As we have done for previous years, we are running our Wall of Thanks on the Can Do Bristol website where you can submit messages of thanks and appreciation to volunteers or community organisations that have helped you. You can submit these here: The Wall of Thanks 2023 – Can Do Bristol

If you are an organisation and you’ve received support from volunteers over the past year, as well as posting messages on the Wall of Thanks, you can visit the Volunteers’ Week website and find out how else you can say thank you.

Firefighters Memorial Day

Tam McFarlane is pictured smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Tam McFarlane, National Officer, Fire Brigades Union.

The people of Bristol can be rightly proud of their firefighters, who, for generations, have been willing to risk their lives on a daily basis to serve the city and protect its citizens from the devastation that fire can bring. From high profile incidents like the tragic fire at Twinnel House in Easton, through to the everyday jobs of dealing with house fires, road traffic collisions and a plethora of other incidents, our firefighters can be relied upon to protect us in times of need.

The service that they bring should never be taken for granted, and neither should their sacrifice. While others are running away from danger, firefighters are running towards it and tragically, the nature of our job has meant that over 2,300 UK firefighters have lost their lives whilst serving their communities. The names on this role of honour include many from Bristol and the surrounding area, from the heroes who fought the infernos of the WW2 blitz, through to Fleur Lombard, the young firefighter who lost her life fighting a supermarket blaze in 1996.

The Fire Brigades Union is committed to ensuring that no matter how much time has passed, firefighters who died protecting their communities are remembered and honoured. That’s why, working with the Firefighters Memorial Trust, we helped instigate Firefighters Memorial Day.

Firefighters’ Memorial Day falls on 4 May every year and is an important day for all serving and retired firefighters. The day honours the sacrifice of firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty, acknowledging the courage and dedication of generations of firefighters, including those who serve our communities today.

On Firefighters Memorial Day, firefighters stand outside of their stations at midday and hold a minute’s silence. A wreath-laying also takes place at the National Firefighters’ Memorial by St Paul’s Cathedral with representatives from the FBU and the Firefighters Memorial Trust. This year will be especially poignant for all of us in the service, following the tragic line of duty death of our colleague Firefighter Barry Martin, who lost his life serving the public of Edinburgh.

We want Firefighters Memorial Day to be a public event and we encourage members of the community, local politicians, and families of fallen firefighters to attend local fire stations and participate in the minutes silence. Contact your local fire station if you want to know more, I can assure you that any expression of solidarity is deeply appreciated.

You can also help us honour fallen firefighters by supporting our Red Plaque Scheme, which aims to recognise the sacrifice of firefighters by mounting a special plaque near the scene of the incident where a firefighter lost their life.

The Red Plaques take inspiration from English Heritage’s Blue Plaque Scheme, which marks the homes of influential historic and cultural figures, and our aim for the Red Plaque scheme is to recognise and honour as many fallen firefighters as possible for their selfless commitment to protecting others.

You can explore and view Red Plaque sites across the UK honouring fallen firefighters and nominate a fallen hero for a Red Plaque at this link:

The scheme is funded entirely by the Firefighters 100 Lottery and, by joining up to the lottery, you’ll also be helping support the families of firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty.

Firefighters Memorial Day is a hugely important day for all of us in, and associated with, the UK Fire & Rescue Service. I know from experience the powerful impact that Firefighters Memorial Day has on the public and all those who witness it. I hope that all of you reading this feature will be able to participate and to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of all firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty.

Pilot for Bristol Harbour goes swimmingly

Councillor Ellie King, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities and Labour councillor for Hillfields ward.

This weekend we welcomed a first for Bristol with the start of our open water swimming pilot in Baltic Wharf.

Under the misty morning skies of Bristol with a buzz of excitement and delight, the first swimmers took to the water to kick off the city’s harbour swimming pilot at 8am on Saturday 29 April. Over the weekend a total of 124 swimmers enjoyed a dip in the harbour water during two supervised swimming sessions from 8am to 10am on Saturday and Sunday.

The event had a lovely feeling to it, with a community of swimmers, including lots of women, coming together to enjoy the pilot.

Working in partnership with open water swim specialists Uswim and Bristol based charity All-Aboard Water Sports we’ve brought a five-week open water swimming pilot to Baltic Wharf. During the swim sessions lifeguards and safety boats are on hand to ensure a safe 200m out and 200m back swim course, marked out with buoys at 50m intervals to provide options for a shorter loop.

People are pictured swimming in Bristol's harbour, with colourful buildings in the background.

The 10 swim sessions of the pilot will allow us to assess whether or not we can provide a designated open water swimming area on a regular basis that is safe and financially sustainable. Throughout the pilot we’ll monitor costs, popularity and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment. We’ll also gather feedback from participants and listen to the response from the wider public.

Outside of the harbour swim pilot arrangements it remains unsafe and against the bylaw to swim in the harbour or other waterways in Bristol.

A swimmer is pictured holding out a cut out, reading: I'm a totally legit Bristol Harbour Swimmer.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who were kept busy checking swimmers in and out of the water and also those who made sure everyone had a safe and enjoyable swimming experience. Also, thanks go out to Dippy for the loan of their tow floats.

If you’d like to get involved and volunteer to help run the pilot swim sessions please email Steve Weeks at All Aboard on or the team at Uswim on

Synchronised swimmer are pictured at the harbour swim pilot launch.

The Harbour swimming pilot will continue for a further four weekends. Due to high demand we’ve made additional spaces available for the remaining swimming sessions which are already selling out fast.

Further information about the pilot and how to book are available on our website: Bristol Harbour swimming pilot.

Councillor Ellie king is pictured being interviewed in front of the harbour.
People are pictured at the harbour swim pilot launch.
A swimmer is pictured in front of Bristol Harbour.
Swimmers are pictured in Bristol Harbour, for the launch of the Bristol's harbour swimming pilot.

Heritage, Identity and Belonging

Jamie Gill smiling, with a brick building in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Jamie Gill, Partnership Director at 1625 Independent People.

Every year, here at 1625 Independent People (1625ip), we support over 1,500 young people with experience of homelessness and care. As well as providing safe homes, we support young people to access good quality education, training, and jobs, helping them develop healthy relationships.

We are now embarking on ambitious plans to transform our charity’s base at Kingsley Hall, a Grade II* listed building in Bristol’s Old Market conservation area for sustainable, long-term use. We plan to create a safe and welcoming space where young homeless people can overcome isolation, develop skills, and rebuild their lives.

The Kingsley Hall project will bring people together to create new learning facilities, a youth-led social enterprise and new homes for young homeless people in partnership with Bristol City Council and the construction industry charity LandAid.

It is vital that young people feel part of the city, believe in themselves and are able to make positive choices about their future. Through participation in the project, young homeless people will build their sense of ownership, establish a positive connection with where they live and develop new skills and capabilities. Critically, they will be able to develop a sense of identity, connection, and belonging in the city – something they have often lacked in their early lives.

The project will broaden young people’s horizons and open up new opportunities through their interaction with universities, colleges, businesses, community groups and heritage organisations. The project will empower young people to build new healthy relationships and participate in every part of the project – from building design to developing the business plan and undertaking the construction works.

The History of Kingsley Hall

Kingsley Hall, with its medieval cellar and walls, has a history going back centuries. Following a period as a Conservative Club in the 19th century, it was opened in 1911 as the headquarters of the Independent Labour Party by the party’s founder, Keir Hardie.

The Hall has played a significant role in the history of social change in Bristol – from meetings of the Suffragettes to debating wars, workers’ pay and conditions, gentrification, and housing. The Hall’s link to social change continues today as home to the South West’s largest youth homelessness charity.

Working across generations

Consultations have shown that the social issues linked to Kingsley Hall are highly important to the young people 1625ip support. These issues range from campaigns for equality, anti-racism, and good-quality housing, to the history of slavery and migration in Bristol. 

We plan to use Kingsley Hall’s strong historical links as a platform for young people to sense of identity, share their views on Bristol’s history, and participate in new projects that tackle the social issues they face today. These challenges include access to housing; suitable, quality employment; and mental health. Young people will work with us to transform Kingsley Hall into a place they can be proud to pass on to future generations of young people.

Bristol’s History Commission’s Report on The Colston Statue found that age made the biggest difference in how people felt about the statue being pulled down. The Kingsley Hall project will bring younger and older people together. They will be able to share experiences and their views on the city’s past, present and future and hopefully build greater empathy and understanding across generations.

What young people say

You can see some of the young people’s views about the Heritage Project:

We can’t do it on our own – how you can get involved!

The project has come this far thanks to the tenacity and talents of the young people at 1625ip, and support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Bristol City Council, the Mayor’s Office, LandAid, Every Youth, We are Bristol History Commission, University of Bristol, Historic England, and City of Bristol College. We are looking forward to working with many community partners including Off the Record, ACH Refugee Integration and Brunel Care.

If you would like to know more about how you can support the project, please get in touch with our Partnerships Manager, Hannah Camm, at

Are you a 1625ip Alumni?

1625ip is currently working with a group of alumni – members of the charity that have been supported by us over the past 40 years. Our aim is for our alumni to inspire the young people currently supported by the charity.

If you have been supported by 1625ip, or any of the charities (below) that came together to create 1625ip, and you are interested in joining 1625ip’s Alumni or would like to hear more about our 40th birthday celebrations, please get in touch at

  • Wayahead (previously East Bristol Youth Housing) and Priority Youth Housing. The two charities merged in 2009 to create 1625ip
  • Youth Education Service (who joined 1625ip this year)  

Bristol’s response to the climate emergency

Councillor Kye Dudd, smiling, with trees and College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor
Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for
Climate, Ecology, Waste, and Energy and Labour Councillor for Southmead ward.

Taking action to meet the climate emergency is a key job for our administration. As a local authority, many of the decisions we make can be traced back to the challenge we face in protecting our city against a changing climate and building a Bristol that is resilient but supports sustainable growth.

Together, we’ve set ambitious goals of becoming a carbon neutral, climate resilient, and nature rich city. To do this, we have to decarbonise our economy and infrastructure. We must also create a more circular economy where we reduce water use, better reuse and recycle products and materials, and support the regeneration of the natural environment.

You’ll notice I am using “we” a lot. That’s because this is a challenge that cannot be met by one person or organisation alone – it will take a collective effort both within and outside of our city.

Our One City Climate Strategy sets out what that collaboration looks like and the contribution that’s needed from different parts of our city economy. From the individual up to the biggest employers, each has a role to play, including us at the council.

At the start of every financial year we set out the actions we intend to take in the following 12 months. The latest version of this plan will be discussed and reviewed at Cabinet next week (Tuesday 2 May) and includes the set of actions the council intends to deliver in pursuit of our climate goals. These actions are spread across four themes that relate to delivering carbon neutrality, ecological recovery, cleanliness and waste, and climate resilience.

You can read the plan online and see how each of these themes is expected to bring us closer to meeting our goals. The annual business plan contains a few of the highlights of the action we are taking and for more detail you can read the Mayor’s Climate Emergency Action Plan or our website.

The plan includes actions we will take within the council to cut our emissions but also through the Bristol City Leap Partnership we secured, building on the £100 million our administration has already invested in decarbonisation programmes. We will make the most of the £630 million investment planned for the next five years, creating over 1,000 new jobs and cutting a further 150,000 tonnes of emissions.

Despite the council now being responsible for less than 0.5% of our city’s carbon emissions, we must continue play a key leadership role in bringing organisations together to achieve net zero. The One City Approach is about collective city leadership and generating united action, including on climate change, like never before. But those collective efforts have a ceiling and will only achieve our targets if national and international bodies can also pull the right levers to bring about change. We continue to work with partners to begin to leverage hundreds of billions of pounds of climate investment into cities like Bristol.

Whilst our business plan contains much to set the course of the action we will take this year, it also delivers a stark warning that a just transition to a low-carbon economy needs largescale national investment and action from the government and the business community.