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City of Bristol Rowing Club

Christina de la Mare is pictured, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Christina de la Mare, junior bursary officer at City of Bristol Rowing Club.

City of Bristol Rowing Club (CoBRC), situated on Bristol Harbour, is working hard to become more accessible to the Bristol community. With a strong focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI), it has started a junior bursary. This makes club membership more affordable to children in the Bristol area. However, the club faces many challenges in expanding its DEI programmes. On August 18, Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, came to visit us, and we were delighted to welcome him. Not only did he learn a lot more about the club, he tried out in a single, too!                                                   

CoBRC and Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured, smiling, rowing on Bristol Harbour.

CoBRC may seem like an elitist club that is off limits to most. However, this is far from the truth. Not only was it started by dockers in 1952, it is entirely volunteer run, and attracts people from age 13 upwards from different backgrounds and incomes. The club has a longstanding commitment to DEI, and has run outreach programs for several years with schools in Bristol. These have given more children the opportunity to row.

More recently, CoBRC has started a junior bursary program for children from lower-income backgrounds. It covers all the costs of rowing membership in the juniors section, as well as competitive events. Our goal is not necessarily to find a future Olympian – though that could, of course, happen! Rather, it aims to provide a solid framework that supports a child’s progress, academically, physically, and mentally. One of the scheme’s first recipients, aged 14, writes about their experience of the bursary here:

“First of all CoBRC has given me an amazing opportunity. It is a great community for everyone from different backgrounds and interests, where strangers become friends, inside and outside of the club. For me personally, I have met a lot of people and have continued the friendships outside of the club. This rowing club has given me an opportunity to be active and engaged in a sport with a lot of dedication. This helps in a lot of different ways: in school and in everyday scenarios. It improves concentration and team working skills, which help in group and single activities.

Young people are pictured rowing in Bristol Harbour, they are taking part in the City of Bristol Rowing club's Learn to Row course.
Young people are pictured putting rowing boats in the Bristol Harbour. They are attending the City of Bristol Rowing Club's Learn to Row course.

Plans for the future

The bursary and outreach programs are just the beginning of CoBRC’s plans to offer more to the Bristol community. Lying in the heart of the city, it hopes to attract more people from different backgrounds and with different needs. With plans to build a new boathouse, the club intends one day to offer adaptive rowing, making it even more accessible.


The City of Bristol Rowing club's boathouse is pictured, with a mixture of rowing boats in the foreground.

No plans come without problems, not least the ever-present challenges of fundraising for DEI, a much-needed new boathouse and equipment. We really appreciated Marvin’s interest in our ethos, hopes and plans, and the help we need to make them happen. We all felt he really understood that the club has a big heart, and has the potential to reach many more people in Bristol.

Thank you Marvin

As a club, we echo the closing words of our bursary recipient:

I would like to thank the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, once again for supporting the club and the possibility of helping us with the obstacles that we face.

And, if you ever fancy another go in a single, you’re always welcome!

Mayor Marvin Rees (left) is pictured, smiling, alongside Caitlin (right), a City of Bristol Rowing instructor.

Exciting news for Bristol: Branwhite Close development

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured, smiling, out side City Hall, 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.

A development of much-needed new council homes in Lockleaze took a major step forward this weekend, as we secured ownership of the former pub on Gainsborough Square that needs to be demolished in order to allow work to begin.

In 2021/22, Bristol built 2,563 new homes – exceeding the Mayor’s ambitious manifesto target – and as the city continues tackling the housing crisis, we are looking to build 47 homes on disused land at Branwhite Close in Lockleaze. These will add to the 474 affordable homes built in Bristol in 2021/22.

In order to get the development site ready, we have been working hard to acquire two buildings: the former pub on Gainsborough Square and a privately owned home on Branwhite Close.

The pub on Gainsborough Square has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair for many years and the owner of the property was recently fined after failing to take care of the site, along with two other buildings in the city that they also own or manage. Following the second round of fines, some work was finally done to address some of the issues.

The derelict Gainsborough pub is pictured, with the perimeter boarded up to restrict access.

Several approaches were made to buy the pub at full market value. However, the owners were unwilling to sell, so to progress, the council made a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to acquire the property. The legal process is now complete, and we became official owners of the pub on August 27. The owner of the privately owned home has now relocated too and received a full compensation package.

Our housing teams have worked really hard to get this site ready for development, as we are committed to doing everything we can to tackle the housing shortage in the city.

The 47 homes that will be built on this site are part of the council’s New Build Housing Programme, regenerating brownfield sites to provide new high-quality homes across the city. To date 260 new homes have been completed.

The new build programme aims to deliver more than 1,750 new homes for the city over the next five years as part of a planned investment of over £1.8 billion in building new council homes. We are currently on site at six locations building 195 new homes, and we are also acquiring 300 new homes from developers including Goram Homes. We have a further 280 council homes on various developments due to start on site in the next twelve months.

An artist's impression of the Branwhite Close development is pictured, with cartoon people stood in front of new homes.

All these new homes will form part of our Project 1,000 plans, our ambition to see at least a thousand much needed new affordable homes built each year from 2024. Every property we build is important to the city, and we are exploring all options to accelerate our building programme further.

But it is not just about the number of new homes we build; we are committed to developing mixed and balanced communities, working hard to make sure any new homes are suitable for the surrounding local area. Lockleaze is going through a big transformation at the moment, and we are working hard to make sure all the developments complement each other, as well as developing community spaces and facilities for local residents to use.

The development will have a non-residential unit built facing onto Gainsborough Square. The exact use has not yet been decided, and we will be engaging with local community organisations and residents on potential options. We know that local people are keen to see the space used to benefit the community, which could include café or community space.

As well as enabling the housing development, the demolition of the pub will come as a relief to local people, as it has become an eye sore, and a target for fly tipping and graffiti in recent years.

Demolition is due to start on Branwhite Close later this year, and I look forward to finally being able to break ground on this site next Spring.

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured, smiling, standing in front of the former pub on Gainsborough Square.

Supporting fish populations in Bristol so they recover and thrive

Councillor Kye Dudd is pictured, 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.

The Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership has just launched the Bristol Avon Fish Recovery Strategy, which sets out four main aims to ensure healthy and diverse fish populations across the River Avon in Bristol. 

It is a comprehensive strategy that outlines key improvements needed to restore fish populations, affected by the impact of climate change and human intervention on the Avon in Bristol, ensuring they are protected and able to thrive in our waterways.  

The strategy is supported throughout the region with Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council, North Somerset Council, Wiltshire Council, and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), all acknowledging the need to address the impacts of climate change and the loss of biodiversity in the Bristol Avon Catchment. 

Where is the Bristol Avon Catchment? 

The Bristol Avon Catchment is a special and extensive network of rivers, streams, and lakes, with its main river flowing 75 miles from its source in Wiltshire, through Bath and Bristol, to the sea at Avonmouth on the Severn Estuary. The river has been managed over the years by dredging and straightening to accommodate the building of industries and housing. Unfortunately, this has negatively impacted on the fish population as obstructions stop them reaching spawning grounds, and poor water quality and low flow affects the health and diversity of species.  

A map of the Bristol Avon Catchment is pictured.

Which fish are found in the Bristol Avon Catchment? 

The Bristol Avon Catchment supports a wide range of fish species, with coarse fish (fish species traditionally considered undesirable as a food) dominating the lower, slow-flowing reaches, and brown trout widely found in the faster flowing upper reaches and tributaries. Sea trout are recorded in tributaries of the estuary, the waters of Bristol Harbour, and have occasionally been reported by anglers further upstream.  

Twenty-two river species such as grayling and silver bream, nine marine species such as Atlantic mackerel and common sole, and six migratory species have been recorded in the Bristol Avon Catchment.   

A pilot environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis was carried out by Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) in 2022, working in partnership with Bristol City Council. This cutting-edge technique for biomonitoring rare and difficult-to-observe species, found Atlantic salmon, an endangered migratory species, around the Harbour and New Cut in Bristol.  

Read the summary report and our previous Mayor’s Blog celebrating and protecting the heart and ‘sole’ of Bristol rivers’ biodiversity for more on the eDNA survey results. 

What needs to be done to ensure fish recover and thrive? 

The strategy for the Bristol Avon Catchment has four main aims: 

  1. Healthy populations of fish 
  2. A diversity of coarse fish species 
  3. A diverse abundance of estuarine and marine fish species 
  4. Protection of different habitats for all the life stages of fish 
A poster pictured highlights four main aims of the Bristol Avon Catchment strategy.

It also outlines the actions we need to take to reduce the impact of climate change, improve water quality, remove barriers to fish movement, and improve the river habitat. These include: 

  • No new barriers to fish such as weirs to be built, and where possible existing ones to be removed 
  • Controlling invasive plant species both in-stream and on the riverbanks to protect our native ecology 
  • A planting programme on banks with overhanging branches and tree roots to provide refuge for fish and help regulate water temperature 
  • Leaving a buffer strip between fields and the river to stop any residual run-off/pollution from reaching the watercourse 
  • Implementing nature-based solutions such as natural dams, to slow the flow of water in the landscape 
A poster that contains an image of a lake, with trees, has figures that highlights the processes at work in a natural river, that creates different habitats for wildlife.

What is already in place to support fish recovery? 

We are investing in Bristol’s floating harbour wildlife and boating community. A new floating reed bed habitat has been installed on Bristol Harbourside (Capricorn Quay) which provides around 1,000 square metres of habitat that as an ecosystem will improve water quality, support stronger fish stocks and provide haven for birds.   

Continuing to work together 

The majority of the Bristol Avon Catchment’s rivers are of poor to moderate ecological status and the status of the Severn Estuary, into which the Bristol Avon Catchment drains, is deteriorating. We need to keep working together with our neighbouring councils, landowners, farmers and the general public to respond to the challenges of our fish population. It is through our partnerships that we can collectively improve the water environment as a priority while also protecting it for years to come. 

To find out more, read the full Bristol Avon Fish Recovery Strategy and the initial set of actions set out in the Bristol Avon Fish Recovery Five Year Action Plan.  

*The Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership would like to thank the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust for leading this work and the Partnership Fish Recovery Task Group members for providing their expertise: Environment Agency, Natural England, Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Wild Trout Trust and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. 

Three fish are pictured in a river.

Amazing line up of free city-wide events in September

Councillor Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling, with a white wall in the background.

Since the launch of our High Streets Culture and Events Programme, 45 projects with 116 free events days have been delivered or are currently underway, helping to support businesses, the local economy, and the recovery of the culture and events sector.

Analysis of 20 already completed projects shows that we have so far attracted over 134,000 extra visitors to the city, generated over £2 million of additional spend in Bristol’s businesses and supported 320 paid jobs in culture and events, all from an investment to date of £444,000.

In the final month of the current programme, September promises to build on our successes with more fantastic free events planned, for people across the city to enjoy.

For a great family way to explore St Nick’s Market head down before 16 September for a free treasure hunt! Collect your official stamp book from the main foyer, take the quiz, and find the six hidden hot air balloons placed around the market. Once you’ve collected your stamp at each balloon location you’ll receive an official treasure hunter badge and a 10% discount at selected stores.

A stamp booklet is pictured for the St Nicks Market Treasure Hunt. A white booklet is pictured with black text at the top reading: St Nicks Treasure Hunt. Below the St Nicks Market treasure hunt logo is pictured.
Stamp Booklet from St Nicks Treasure Hunt

Bristol Photo Festival have worked with over 20 community groups and 14 artists across the city to create DREAMLINES: Picturing Bristol High Streets, a series of high street exhibitions taking place from 9 to 17 September across four of our priority high streets; Filton Avenue, Shirehampton High Street, Stapleton Road, and Two Mile Hill. Picturing Bristol aims to help animate the high streets and encourage residents to explore and celebrate the places they live, making connections to each other and adding to a sense of belonging and identity.

In addition, Bristol Photo Festival is running further activities in Shirehampton including free family friendly photography workshops, talks and walks on Saturday 9 September, culminating with a tribute to the Savoy Cinema with the screening of a classic British Film from 1961, the year the cinema closed, at the Shirehampton Methodist Church.

Continuing our celebrations of Bristol’s culture and identity through film, the final events in Bristol’s Summer Film Takeover take place in September.

On 15 and 16 September, award-winning multimedia studio Limbic Cinema will present Illusions of Movement. This sensory experience takes the audience on a 45,000-year visual journey exploring how humans use technology to bring imagination and storytelling to life, from cave drawings animated by flickering firelight, to the advent of moving pictures, cinema’s golden age, TV, digital and CGI to today’s virtual media advances.

People are pictured looking at a screen, that has been projected onto a wall. For the Wall is a Screen event in Bristol's Old City.
Wall is a Screen: Secrets of the Old City

Returning on 16 September, A Wall is a Screen: Secrets of the Old City is a guided evening walking tour around the Old City, exploring hidden architectural gems and features a curated selection of short films projected onto nearby buildings to watch along the way.

Lamplighter Arts CIC will illuminate Two Mile Hill on 23 September with a magical Enchanted Forest Glow event at St Michael the Archangel Church Hall from 5:30pm. Workshops at The Hive and Two Mile Hill Primary school will bring the community together to transform the church hall with beautiful illuminated artworks creating a magical after dark experience.

At Knowle West Fest in August The People Speak brought Talkaoke – a live interactive chat show where you decide the talking points. Join them at 6pm on Friday 29 September on Filwood Broadway to hear what the people of Filwood had to say. This will be followed at 7pm by a film screening, voted for by the public, together with some special trailers of Filwood Broadway gone by. Keep an eye on Filwood Community Centre website more information and details of how to book your free ticket.

eat:Festival returns to East Street on Saturday 30 September from 10am and 4pm. Free to attend, and fully accessible, eat:Bedminster will take over East Street and Dean Street with over 50 food and drink stalls, live music, entertainment and buskers dotted throughout the market, providing a relaxed atmosphere and fun for all the family.

Three people are pictured looking at walls that have objects creating illusions of colour and light. This is for the Illusions of Movement event in Bristol.
Illusions of Movement

Two Bristol street artists have been commissioned to paint two murals along Two Mile Hill. The commissions intend to engage with local narratives to help renew a sense of pride and identity in the community. To get local people involved in the creative process, the artists have set up a short online form to collect thoughts and ideas, to help inspire their artwork.

Working with the City Centre BID, we are commissioning a permanent artwork or cohesive design for King Street that will draw on and enhance the public realm, character and appearance of the street. Once the artist has been selected and design finalised, it will go into production ready to be installed in early 2024.

Further public art projects are underway in Brislington, Stapleton Road, and in early stages of development in Shirehampton, Stockwood, Filton Avenue and Church Road. 

The city centre and community markets continue to support traders, attract visitors and bring communities together:

A person is pictured readying food at a market stall at Broadmead Sunday Market.
Broadmead Sunday Market

Open water swimming returns to Bristol Harbour

Following the success of our Bristol Harbour swimming pilot earlier this year, we have been working with local partners All-Aboard Water Sports, Open Minds Active CIC, and Swim Bristol Harbour to look at options for continuing these open water swim sessions.

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities, spoke to local and national media during our initial test swim in March, when we launched the Harbour swimming pilot.

Our spring pilot swims were hugely popular receiving a total of 920 bookings and all sessions selling out in advance. Initial feedback from the more than 650 swimmers was very positive with the majority being very satisfied with their Harbour swimming experience and keen to return for more sessions in the future.

I’m delighted that we’re now able to bring another round of public swim sessions to the harbour for four more weekends starting on 9 September.

The swim sessions will run as they did during the pilot earlier this year – 8am to 10am Saturdays and Sundays in Baltic Wharf, this time for a fee of £7.50 per person, covering the costs of improving the registration system with wristbands on top of the provision of water safety measures. All swim sessions must be booked in advance via the Wild booking platform.

These additional sessions will allow us to monitor interest in swims during the cooler months, as we move towards the Autumn, alongside costs, and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment throughout our harbour.

Bristol Harbour is pictured, open water swimmer are seen, surrounded with safety equipment for the safe swimming pilot.

Together with other members of the Bristol Water Safety Partnership, our harbour staff will continue to monitor any unpermitted swimming and other dangerous behaviour of people entering the water outside of the harbour swimming arrangements, helping to prevent accidents and maintain a safe waterway.

If demand and interest in the swims continues, and we’re able to maintain a safe and financially self-sustaining open water swimming area in Bristol Harbour, we will look into options for how we can provide swim sessions on a regular basis for Spring/Summer 2024.

Please remember that outside of the permitted harbour swimming times and the designated area, it remains unsafe and against the bylaws to swim in the Harbour, Cumberland Basin, or other waterways in Bristol. Our city’s many pools continue to offer swimming all year-round.

If you would like to volunteer to be part of the team setting up and running the swimming sessions, please email – there are lots of opportunities to get involved.

An open water swimmer is pictured with Bristol harbour in the background. Safety equipment for open water swimming can be seen.

Improving the quality of private rented properties across Bristol

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.

Today we are launching a consultation on proposals to introduce new property licensing schemes in Bristol. We believe that licensing will help further improve the quality and management of private rented properties across the city.

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 poor-quality homes.

We want to make sure that people renting properties across the city can feel confident that their home will be safe and secure, with clear standards for what this looks like and routes to raise concerns where property conditions are falling short.

The ten week consultation focusses on plans to introduce licensing requirements for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) citywide, and to certain properties in the Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham, and Easton wards.

What are the main changes?

The property licencing consultation poster is pictured, with a blue background. A cartoon of a house and block of flats is pictured in the bottom right of the image. White text at the top of the poster reads: "Help us improve the standard of private rented properties in the city." Black text below reads: "Have your say on proposals to introduce new property licensing schemes in Bristol;; Consultation closes Tuesday 7 November 2023". The Bristol City Council logo is pictured in the bottom left of the poster.

The proposed scheme covers two types of licensing:

  • Additional licensing will include a house or flat that is occupied by three or four unrelated people who live together and share some facilities including kitchens and/or bathrooms.
  • Selective licensing will include private rented properties that are occupied by one or two tenants, or a family, but are not HMOs.

Private rented accommodation has been identified as more likely to be in poor condition or have lower standards of management than other properties. Therefore, we are proposing these tighter measures to drive up standards.

Those in private rented accommodation have lived for too long without adequate protections and very limited options to guarantee decent living standards. Licensing places conditions on the landlord or agent to ensure certain property standards are met, and good management practice is delivered.

A property is pictured with a white door in the centre of the image. There is nothing in front of the door but a drop.

While we know that the majority of landlords offer good quality homes and have positive relationships with their tenants, these additional measures would allow us to take action where this is not the case.

Previous licensing schemes in Bristol have proved to be successful, helping us to improve standards of accommodation and tackle bad management practices.

The first discretionary licensing scheme ran from April 2013 to April 2018 in the Stapleton Road area. The scheme was set up to help tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and we worked with several stakeholders to achieve the scheme objectives. In total, 1,207 properties were licensed as part of the scheme. Of these, 396 (33%) properties had at least one serious hazard resolved, 845 (70%) required improvements to meet licensing conditions, and 10 landlords were prosecuted for 37 offences.

The Eastville and St George selective and additional licensing scheme ran from July 2016 to June 2021. The scheme delivered significant improvements to private-rented housing standards including: 3,316 licences were issued, 3,409 inspections were conducted, 3,019 (88%) properties were improved to meet licensing standards, and 675 properties had fire safety improvements made.

A dangerous staircase is pictured, with a big drop, no railings, and not much room to move around.

We are working hard to make sure that people living in private rented accommodation have adequate protections and decent living standards. We will continue to take action to crack down on criminal landlords who do not meet the legal requirements for a safe and secure living environment. This includes the use of banning orders where necessary.

Licensing is just one way we are looking to further improve the private rented sector. We are actively working to protect renters, but we can only work with the legislation we have. The Living Rent Commission was set up to look at how we can improve the sector, including what the impact of rent regulation across the city could be.

The commission concluded that private renting in Bristol faces a serious access, affordability, and security of tenure crisis which is impacting the wellbeing and quality of life for people and playing a major role in creating homelessness.

The report, written by the University of Bristol, sets out a range of recommendations based on evidence of the challenges we face and potential solutions we could introduce. We made sure that a wide range of people were heard during the process, including listening to the lived experience of tenants, residents and landlords.

A dangerous shower installation is pictured, with a live plug socket to the left of the shower.

If the licensing schemes go ahead, landlords will be charged a fee for licensing their properties. A licence will normally last for five years and conditions would be attached to the licence to improve management practices and standards. This includes anti-discrimination practices, which now also includes discrimination against people because they are in receipt of welfare benefits.

Landlords will be offered advice and guidance on the necessary improvements required to ensure properties comply with licensing conditions, but where landlords do not meet the required condition standards, enforcement action may follow.

A leaky sink is pictured, with a black bucket placed underneath to catch the water.

We are consulting with residents, private landlords, agents, and local organisations that may be affected by the changes to find out what they think, and we would like to hear your views. We will be writing to landlords and tenants across the city to make sure they are aware of the proposals.

You can find out more and have their say by filling in a survey available online at

Alternative formats or paper copies of the information can be requested by emailing or calling 0117 9224947 and leaving contact details.

The consultation closes on Tuesday 7 November.

Free travel offers for people in Bristol

Councillor Don Alexander is pictured, smiling, outside City Hall with College Green and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport and Labour Councillor for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward.

Walking, cycling, and active travel are great ways to incorporate physical activity in our daily lives. Just 20 minutes of exercise a day can be long enough to reap the rewards, helping to ease stress, reduce the risk of depression, and increase productivity. That could easily be achieved in a walk to the shops, a scoot to school, or a short cycle ride to the office.

I regularly travel into City Hall by walking and taking the bus or by hopping on an e-scooter, and I find it a great way to start a busy day.

We’re helping people in Bristol to travel more actively where they can and save money by giving out free travel offers. This includes free bike and e-bike loans, cycle training, bus and train taster vouchers, and car club credit. This is a great opportunity to try out new ways of travelling for free while looking after your wellbeing. The offers are open to anyone who lives or works in Bristol, so I would encourage people to give it a go and sign up today.

People in Bristol have already been benefitting from these offers and we’ve given out over 15,000 since the scheme launched last year. And it’s having a measurable impact; as part of the Big Bristol Travel Challenge the council ran with Sustrans in July, we recorded a total of 6,269 sustainable journeys. Of these, 2,988 were by walking and 1,718 were by cycling. In all, this change over the month saved 2,341Kg of Co2 emissions as well as people saving £3,575 in travel costs.

I’d love to see more of us making the most of the offers this summer to get around the city to enjoy the many exciting events that are taking place.

I know that it’s not always possible to leave the car at home, but it’s important to remember that together our small actions can make a big difference, not only to our own lives, but to the health of our environment and the people around us.

Air pollution affects everyone, after all. In Bristol, exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter were estimated to contribute to around 300 deaths a year, before the introduction of the Clean Air Zone. This is something that we must continue to work together to reduce and leaving the car at home just once a week can make a big difference. We can all do our bit to help keep Bristol’s air clean. 

Two people are pictured, smiling, holding bicycles on Bristol Harbour. The Harbour and M-Shed museum are seen in the background.

Swap four wheels for two

While many people feel comfortable getting around on two wheels, for others cycling can feel daunting for many reasons. Loss of confidence on a bike, not having the equipment, or perhaps having never had the chance to learn – we are offering support to help you overcome these challenges and give cycling a go.

As part of our free travel offers, you can get a free loan bike for up to a month to try out a bike before investing in one yourself. We have a range of different bikes available to try including standard cycles great for everyday use, e-bikes that give you an extra boost going up the hills, and folding bikes that are convenient for small spaces or commuting by train.

There’s something to suit every type of rider. Also available is free cycle training to help give you more confidence on a bike. Make the most of a guided ride to help you find the best cycle route for your daily commute or take part in a Bikeability skills course. Find out more about free support for cycling.

Using public transport

Using some of the many public transport options in Bristol might also be a good option for you. You can give the bus or train a go with taster vouchers, helping you explore some of your local stations and routes for free.

If you’re not sure what route is the best for you, take a look at the useful Travelwest Journey planner or sign up for a free one-to-one travel planning appointment with our specially trained Travel Advisors.

Two people are pictured standing at a bus stop, a blue double decker bus is pictured on the left of the image. The bus has an automated sign reading: Emerson's Green 48.

Car clubs

If you live or work in the city centre, joining a car club could be a great way to make those occasional trips when you really need a car.  With over 25 cars across the city centre, give it a go with some free car club credit.

And get set for Cycle September

With September not far off, I’d urge you to get involved in this annual celebration of cycling. Cycle September is a month-long national competition from Love to Ride, which aims to get people cycling more often. This is a fun competition with no pressure on you to compete; you can either log your rides on the Love to Ride website or download the app. You’ll accumulate points for each ride you do and can win a range of great prizes including a £4,000 holiday. We’ll be announcing more on how to get involved very soon.

Protecting the mental health of Bristol’s night-time economy workers

From left to right: Lynn Stanley, Cllr Ellie King, Carly Heath and Christina Gray are pictured, smiling, holding the Thrive at Night Managers' handbook.

Bristol’s night-time economy plays a key role, directly or indirectly supporting the employment of over 116,000 people, representing 38% of the city’s overall jobs and including nearly 1,100 licenced premises in Bristol.  

The sector is driven by the strong workforce that keeps it running from 6pm to 6am. This workforce is the engine that drives our renowned night-time economy and is also its greatest asset. Prioritising the wellbeing and safety of Bristol’s night-time workers is vital to the continued success of the sector.  

Thrive at Night is an initiative by Bristol Nights to provide free mental health and wellbeing support for all those working in the night-time economy. Councillor Ellie King and Carly Heath were proud to launch this work in June 2023.

Late night work can be rewarding, from meeting great characters to helping create the atmosphere in our venues that fellow Bristolians love. But this work can also be demanding. From dealing with challenging customers to the shifts that leave staff getting home in the early hours, there are many potential challenges to maintaining good mental health.  

Thrive at Night handbook is pictured with a purple cover and cartoon designs. Black text reads: A workbook helping you to Thrive at Night.

Immense pressure has been placed on the mental health of staff over recent years: the pressures of working during the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty caused by furlough, the rapid recovery post-pandemic, and now a national cost of living crisis. These are all major challenges that have impacted people across Bristol, something that, as One City, we must take steps to address.  

Thrive at Night includes a comprehensive range of mental health resources and training for local hospitality businesses, including bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. The package of support includes:

  • A managers’ guide to creating mentally healthy workplaces
  • A workbook for night workers
  • Monthly workshops and training

Businesses who have already benefitted from the training workshops include Motion, Pasture, The Assemblies Bristol, Thekla Bristol, Team Love, Under the Stars and more.  

The Deep Dive Wellbeing workshops include sessions on stress relief, how to embrace a healthy lifestyle as a night worker, boosting wellbeing and productivity, and how to improve team dynamics. Additionally, the monthly Introduction to Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace workshop will provide organisations with the tools and support needed to create and implement their own mental health and wellbeing policy.  

The Thrive at Night Managers handbook is pictured, with pink cover and cartoon designs.

The Managers’ handbook is an important tool from Bristol Nights. It is a thorough guide that helps business owners, organisations, and managers create emotionally resilient and compassionate teams.  

The workbook for night workers is designed for individuals to work through. It’s packed with tips and techniques to give you the ability to cope with stressors and challenges you might be facing at work or at home.  

I want to thank all staff in Public Health and at Bristol Nights that have put so much work into this programme. They have shown that Bristol working as One City is committed to protecting front line staff and its thriving nightlife.  

Visit the Bristol Nights website for further information and resources on Thrive at Night.

Jez Kynaston, Managing Director of The Assemblies, says “I thought the course was really very good. It was like it was written for our company which can only show how in touch it was/is with what’s needed right now.”

And Daniel Ducz, Assistant Manager at Motion, said “We are proud supporters of Thrive at Night and are very happy that we were able to contribute to its creation, right from the beginning.”

The Thrive at Night deep dive session poster is pictured, with a yellow background and cartoon designs. Black text in the centre of the image reads Thrive at Night Deep Dive Session.

Empire Fighting Chance in Medellín


Martin Bisp is pictured, smiling, standing inside a boxing ring, leaning on the ropes.
Today’s guest blog is from Martin Bisp,
CEO of Empire Fighting Chance.

Last year Empire Fighting Chance was invited to take part in a global United Nations & Brookings Institute initiative around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 17 Rooms. My group was working on SDG 16, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies.

The working group consisted of leading academics on violence prevention, policy makers (including people who worked with Presidents Obama and Mandela) and a small number of practitioners. We were the only UK organisation present. 

We were given an opportunity to speak, but rather than it be from a leadership perspective, we asked a young person to give their thoughts openly. Serena spoke brilliantly about feeling excluded in her city and how violence can manifest itself in different ways. She was brilliant and was asked to input further to an academic volume around Identity Based Violence, challenging the world to change!  

One of the practitioners was Santiago Uribe Rocha, the CEO of Medellín Resiliente from Colombia. Coincidentally Santiago and I and messaged each other at the same time as we both wanted some more information about what each other did.  

I wanted to learn how they moved institutions to tackle things differently in a city that was once the world’s most dangerous place. Santiago was fascinated by our model and approach and was interested in whether we could operate in Latin America.

I didn’t know much about Medellín, to be honest I hadn’t even seen Narcos, but I knew of Pablo Escobar and the violence the city had suffered.   

We then met fortnightly, exchanging ideas and context and, after six months, Santiago invited a team of seven to Medellín to create a formalised knowledge exchange. The trip also lead us to be invited to join the international network of Peace in our Cities, who seek to galvanize mayors, city governments, and civil society organizations to halve urban violence by 2030.  

We have since returned to both Medellín and Palmira as a guest of Peace in our Cities, where we presented our partnership to an audience of global city leaders.  

Empire Fighting Chance employees are pictured, smiling, wearing blue Empire t-shirts. A Peace in Our Cities sign is seen in the middle of the image.


The initial drive for learning was simple – a young man we worked with and cared for was killed. This made us realise we needed to do more, to learn from world leaders in violence prevention and reduction, to be better.

A knowledge exchange on tackling youth violence with Medellín was an unmissable opportunity to grow our impact. We saw that the city is a living model for how people can come together to create profound changes to the places they live, how we can make the difference.  

Medellín moved institutions, transformed attitudes and communities so I wanted to know if we could.  

What we did

We toured the city with Santiago and his co-founder Jean incorporating discussions with policymakers, academics, visiting infrastructure projects and meeting people from the local community.  

These weren’t sterile visits but ones that meant we started to understand the city, its thinking, and its people. We listened to their stories, their perceptions of violence and the challenges they are still facing. The visit was full of opportunities for reflection. The big question for every visit, every conversation was what could we learn and what could we apply to Bristol?

We reciprocated Santiago’s hospitality recently where Santiago met different communities here and understood how not everyone has equal access to, or experience of, the city. Working together we focused on our programmes and model plus understanding how the wider context in Bristol affects what we can do.  

What it means

A group of people are pictured, smiling in Medellin. As apart of a collaboration to tackle youth violence between Empire Fighting Chance and Medellin Resiliente.

Santiago is a world leading expert in violence reduction and prevention. He has worked in 52 countries and over 300 cities and believes that our programme is in the top two or three he has ever seen. Santiago will be working with us to help us do more.  

In exchange Medellín want us to work there and across Colombia. Their political leaders are interested in our model and how we can make their cities safer. They also see ways in which, by combining our knowledge, we can make both places safer.

Bristol will benefit, at no cost to itself, from worldwide experts looking to work here to help the city. These are being funded externally thanks to this relationship, help us form alliances and take a global approach to make this city safer. In an environment where three young people we worked with have died through knife crime, we have to find ways to learn, innovate and work together.  

Bristol residents can enjoy new playpark equipment and park improvements across the city

From Albany Green to Withywood Park, Bristol has almost 150 brilliant play areas, with a variety of facilities and play equipment for families to enjoy. Ten of these play areas have benefited from exciting refurbishments and improvements over the summer thanks to council investment. So, now is the perfect time to explore a new park.

Zipwire at Eastville Park

These improvements include brand new equipment such as zip lines, trim trails and large swings, rubberised safety surfacing, replacing older equipment and extending the dog-free play areas. Young people will also be impressed by the new multi-purpose basketball courts and football pitches. Some play areas have new seating and picnic areas for parents and carers, also giving children space to relax after all the excitement.

Many of these playparks have been designed through collaboration with the communities who use them, including the young people themselves. The designs reflect those who use Bristol’s playparks; requests for communal style picnic seating, accessible equipment and improved access highlight that playparks are for people of all abilities and age groups to meet, move and play.  

Outdoor play is vital for children’s physical, mental and emotional health and away from home, playgrounds are the most popular spaces for young people. We recognise that access to quality play is important for Bristol families. They provide a great chance for parents and carers to socialise and are a free way for children to engage in play; and learn valuable life skills.  

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward, has been out and about visiting some of these playparks to ‘test’ out the new equipment. The verdict was that the trimtrails are great fun (and good for the core muscles!), and it’s brilliant to see more accessible entrances and pathways opening up these areas to more children.  

So, with fingers crossed for suitable weather, which play area will you choose to explore with the family?  

Newly installed Trimtrails are pictured in Stoke park.
Stoke Park Trimtrail
  • Stoke Park Estate, Lockleaze – New wooden trim trail and exercise equipment off Romney Avenue.
  • Eastville Park Upper Play Area, Eastville – Addition of new swings, zip wire and junior/teen play equipment.      
New play area is pictured in Eastville park.
Eastville Park
  • Mina Road Park, St Werburghs- New MUGA with dual basketball hoops and football goals. A children’s play area is due to be refurbished from early September
  • Barton Hill Urban Park, Barton Hill – Renovation of existing play area, including extending dog free area and creating a new large kick-a-bout area, extensive new rubber play surfacing, three new multi-units for toddlers, juniors and teens; new trim trail unit, a new toddler basket swing and large new seating area with grouped picnic benches.
The new Multi Use Games Area in Mina Road park is pictured.
The newly refurbished play area in Barton Hill Urban Park is pictured.
Barton Hill Playpark and Mina Road park MUGA
  • Newtown Park/Hassell Drive Open Space, Lawrence Hill – Extended dog free area by fencing off large area of grass to extend play area, new larger entrance into play area and relandscaped area to play football. A large new play structure for juniors/teens is due to be installed in the autumn.                  
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge Play Area, Clifton – Extensive drainage works to existing play area and new accessible path installed.
  • Maskelyne Avenue Green Space, Horfield – New football goals and seating installed in the open space. New toddler slide to be installed in adjacent play area in autumn.
  • Dame Emily Play Area, Bedminster – Refurbishment of an existing climbing play unit, new surfacing under existing play equipment and a new zipwire.
  • Guants Ham Park, Barton Hill – New colourful safety surfacing under existing play equipment.
  • Lamplighters Open Space Play Area, Shirehampton – New large three swing unit installed
The newly refurbished paly at the Clifton Suspension Bridge play area is pictured.
Clifton Suspension Bridge play area

Playpark improvements have been secured through a mixture of fundraising by local park Friends groups, and funding as a result of local developments. As we continue to tackle the housing crisis and deliver historic numbers of new homes, this brings new investment into local areas through the Community Infrastructure Levy. £1.15m of Bristol City Council’s budget has also been invested in Bristol’s play areas since 2021, with £4m more to come by 2024.

Other play areas will see improvement works over the next year, I would encourage everyone to input in upcoming redesigns of your local play park.  

Look out for how you can get involved in the design and equipment choice for Oldbury Court and Hengrove Park play area.  

For a full list of playparks in Bristol and what equipment and facilities they each have, visit: Find a park with play equipment (

The new zip line in Dame Emily park is pictured, with trees seen in the background.
The new Zip Line in Dame Emily Park