Category Archives: Environmental and Sustainability

Food Justice Fortnight

Ped Asgarian is pictured speaking at the launch of Feeding Bristol's Food Justice Fortnight.
Today’s guest blog is from Ped
Asgarian, Director of Feeding Bristol.

It’s been a difficult year for many people in this country. The national cost-of-living crisis, which has been fuelled by a combination of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, has forced more people to live in poverty and struggle to make ends meet.

Double digit inflation has led to wages falling in real terms, meaning that the gap in disposable income between the poorest and richest in the UK is continuing to rise, when it should be falling. When there is an abundance of wealth, it is a great injustice that anyone should struggle to afford or access food in the 21st century.

With record numbers of people experiencing food inequality in our society, community groups and organisations have been working harder than ever to support the most vulnerable. Working together as a society is how we can begin to effect positive change and transform the food system into one that is just and fair for everybody.

The Feeding Bristol logo is pictured on the top of the image, with a blue background. Below text with black highlighting reads: Food Justice Fortnight starts 26th June.

Bristol’s Food Justice Fortnight is an opportunity to raise awareness of issues we are facing locally and highlight the amazing work that is happening in the city. Starting on the 26 June with the launch of the One City Food Equality Action Plan, there will be a host of events around Bristol showcasing the amazing work that is happening across communities and neighbourhoods.

Food Justice is about addressing structural inequalities that disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged individuals and communities. It’s about looking at every aspect of the food system, from growing food, to how it’s distributed, how we access it and how we use it in our homes. Just as important is and importantly, taking an equitable approach to achieve positive change.

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured, speaking on stage from behind a lectern.

At the heart of Food Justice are the principles of working collaboratively and co-producing solutions with those who are most significantly impacted by food inequality. Building connected and resilient communities helps facilitate this approach, which is why Feeding Bristol are co-hosting events with community groups and bringing people together to share ideas, opinions and of course, good food!

The One City Food Equality Action Plan was produced in collaboration with residents who have lived experience of food inequality and organisations that are working to make a positive difference in their communities. Events during Food Justice Fortnight will showcase these actions and start discussions on how we can take the first steps to achieving them, ensuring that the people of Bristol are also included in the next stage of the Food Equality Action Plan.

Food Justice Fortnight is a chance for you to listen and learn from others and to share your own thoughts and ideas on the changes we need and how, together, we can make them a reality.

You can sign up to events through our website.

Feeding Bristol's Food Justice Fortnight events programme is pictured. The Feeding Bristol logo is in the top left of the image, to it's right is the Food Justice Fortnight logo and on the top right is a scannable barcode for tickets. Below Blag Text reads Event Programme. Below this is a list of events that are happening spanning from Monday 26th June to Saturday 8th July. At the bottom of the image, blue text reads: Scan QR code in top left corner for tickets or visit for schedule with links.

Bristol Good Food 2030 framework launches

Councillor Ellie King is pictured, smiling, with Bristol's City Hall in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

Food is a necessity. But, for many, putting food that is healthy, delicious, appropriate and sustainably produced on to the table is extremely challenging. We’ve seen that through the national cost of living crisis, people had to make the stark choice between putting their heating on or eating, let alone consider what good food looks like to them..

That is why over the past 12 months, we have been working with the Bristol Food Network, as well as a diverse range of partners, to develop Bristol Good Food 2030: A One City Framework for Action.

Launched today, the framework sets out priorities and initiatives which aim to make Bristol’s food system better for people and communities, climate and nature, workers and businesses.

The way all of us produce, buy, cook, eat and throw away food in Bristol is important. It can impact our health, our communities, and our economy, and contributes to the climate and ecological emergencies the planet faces. The framework aims to transform the city’s system within the decade, addressing these issues across the city to build a resilient food system that is good for Bristol.

Representatives from organisations, community groups, institutions and citizens joined the Bristol Good Food partnership. In order to develop a framework, the group set up working groups based on themes, each with a different one to focus on. Ultimately, they have all been working towards the same goal, to create the framework and develop a collaborative approach.

The six themes focussed on in the framework are:

  • Eating better – cook, eat well and share more
  • Food justice – access to good food and food fairness
  • Food waste – reduce, redistribute and recycle
  • Good food governance – ensure strong food policies and plans
  • Local food economy – help diverse food businesses thrive
  • Urban growing – grow good food in and around the city

Food sits at the heart of many of the challenges facing our city.

Results from 2023’s Quality of Life survey highlighted that food insecurity is notably worse than last year and pre-pandemic. Eight per cent of respondents told us they are now experiencing moderate or worse food insecurity, doubling to sixteen per cent in the most deprived areas.

The way that food is produced, distributed, bought and sold, wasted and disposed of, is a major contributor to the climate and ecological emergencies too. 46 per cent of the Bristol population also struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

The framework sets out goals that we would like to meet in the next decade, including:

  • More food in the city is sourced from local, regional and sustainable suppliers
  • The best and most suitable land for growing food is identified and protected and the volume of land used for nature-friendly food growing has increased significantly
  • Locally produced, sustainable, culturally appropriate and nutritious food is accessible and affordable for everyone
  • Skills to cook, grow and choose climate-friendly, healthy food are taught in schools 
  • Less than ten per cent of household food waste ends up in black bins

Many of the goals set out in the framework need national policy change and, while progress on this has been frustratingly slow, the framework underpins and adds to the work we’re already doing as a council adminstration to support families and reduce food poverty in our city.

The Household Support Fund (HSF) has allowed us to ensure those who are eligible receive free school meal (FSM) vouchers. In the last financial year, the £8 million of funding we secured from the government for the HSF provided support to over 91,000 households. This included almost 23,000 children and young people being given FSM vouchers during school holidays.

Last year, £1.8 million of funding from the government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme enabled us to provide activities and food over the holidays through Your Holiday Hub for people in receipt of benefits-related free school meals. For additional support residents that are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, may be eligible to get help to buy healthy food and milk with the NHS Healthy Start scheme.

The framework embraces meaningful collaboration with residents and communities, and truly captures what good food looks like across Bristol. I am proud to live in a city that has the ambition, expertise, diversity and determination to achieve the goals set out in this framework.

To read the Bristol Good Food 2030 framework in full, visit the Bristol One City website. For more information about the framework and action plans head to the Bristol Good Food 2030 website.

A £3.4 million boost to active travel in Bristol

Councillor Donald Alexander is pictured, smiling, with trees and College Green 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.

From upgrading pedestrian crossings to creating segregated routes for cyclists, we’re continuing to work to make walking and cycling safer and more pleasant across the city.

That is why I am thrilled that at this month’s Cabinet meeting, we agreed to accept £3.4 million funding secured from the Department for Transport as part of Tranche 4 of the Active Travel Fund, which is administered by the West of England Combined Authority.

We will use £1.6 million of this to deliver our Old City and King Street pedestrian scheme, which is a priority for the Mayor and our administration. Construction work is set to get underway later this year to make the changes permanent, and work should be completed by March 2024.

The project includes:

  • Creating a segregated cycle path on Queen Charlotte Street
  • Pavement widening
  • Improving the King Street and Queen Charlotte Street junction through accessibility and safety features for pedestrians
  • A new zebra crossing on Crow Lane
  • New cycle parking in the area
A concept image of Old Market gap is pictured.

Improving the infrastructure of this historic part of the city, so it is safe and accessible, will help to improve air quality and create an attractive space that will be a further boost to local businesses, while making sure it is appropriate for this iconic part of Bristol.

We will use £871,000 of the funding to draw up detailed plans for four proposed active travel schemes, which includes:  

  • Deanery Road
  • Filwood Quietway
  • Malago Greenway
  • Old Market Quietway

Improvements could include segregated cycle paths, upgraded or new crossings, upgraded junctions, and wayfinding.

Work will now take place to design these schemes so they are ready to be constructed, at which point we would need to seek more funding. We will of course run engagement exercises and consult with residents, traders and businesses throughout the process.

The remaining £915,599 of the funding will go towards installing cycle hangars across Bristol and the wider region. These are lockable pods used to store bikes safely on the street, which should encourage even more people to get on their bikes regularly.

People are pictured walking and cycling in pedestrianised Cotham Hill.

News of the successful Active Travel funding bid follows hot on the heels of work getting underway this month on two more of our active travel projects – improving Bristol Bridge for people who walk and cycle and our pedestrianisation scheme at Cotham Hill. You can find out more about these projects in my recent guest blog.

All these active travel projects, and more in the pipeline, will make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, which is great for our health and wellbeing as we work to encourage more sustainable ways to move about the city.

Join the electric revolution in Bristol

Councillor Donald Alexander is pictured, smiling, with trees and College Green 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.

We’re long past the days when the whir of an electric vehicle (EV) was a new and unfamiliar sound. According to Zap Map, the UK’s leading app and digital platform for EV drivers, more than 760,000 electric cars were registered in the UK at the end of April 2023. 15.4 per cent of all new car registrations are battery electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles form part of our arsenal in the fight against climate change and reducing air pollution.

So, whether you’re an electric convert or just beginning to think about the possibilities, here’s an introduction to all things EV and how we’re helping support the switch to cleaner transport in Bristol. You can also read more about how we’re getting businesses into EVs with our free trial scheme.

Choosing an electric vehicle

Although often still more expensive to buy than most petrol and diesel vehicles, EVs are generally considered to be cheaper to run with lower maintenance and refuelling costs. The range of makes and models available are growing steadily so there’s lots of choice.

First things first, you’ll need to decide which vehicle is right for you. We’ve worked with independent experts, the Energy Saving Trust, on driver training initiatives in Bristol and suggest you check out their guide to EVs as a starting point.

An electric vehicle is pictured

Charging an electric vehicle – a quick intro

We understand that the decision to go electric is closely linked to the availability of charging points nationally and locally so here’s the low-down on chargers:

  • EV charge points are operated by a range of providers, some run privately and others are maintained by public bodies, like ours (Revive) which is backed and owned by the four West of England local authorities.
  • Anyone can use a public charge point. You’ll need to sign up for an account with the charger provider, or use contactless payment where available, then you can plug in and pay for the electricity you use.
  • There are different types and speeds of charging. Standard or slow charging is for long dwell times such as charging at home. Fast charging is what you will find at destinations like shopping centres and leisure centres and could charge a car between four and 12 hours depending on the vehicle. Rapid or ultra-rapid charging can charge a vehicle in 15 to 60 minutes depending on the EV and are typically found at service stations and on key routes in cities and towns.

Charging in Bristol

According to the government’s most recent report, there are more than 35,000 charge points across the UK, a number which has been growing since records began in 2015.

That report also shows that, in the South West, there are more than 2,500 chargers with more than 150 of those units in Bristol (an increase of 11 per cent in the last year).

Locations for Revive charging bays have been informed by the demand from people who live in the region. Help develop our network by suggesting locations for future sites.

Charging at home

There are rules around how to charge your vehicle at home to ensure the safety of everyone using Bristol’s streets. Find more information about home charging.

Electric vehicle parking in Bristol

Many of the city’s car parks, including the Park & Rides, now have vehicle charging bays. See a full list of places you can charge while using Bristol City Council car parks.

Other ways we’re supporting the use of electric vehicles

Councillor Don Alexander is pictured on the left of the image, standing next to a blue electric vehicle.

We helped Zedify, a zero-emissions delivery service, to set up a place near the city centre where deliveries are made by lorry. These goods are then delivered to houses and businesses by electric bikes and vans. Zedify and other similar delivery services are now operating successfully in the city.

We’ve replaced 10 per cent of our own vehicles which we use to deliver our services with electric vehicles.

We offer 50 per cent match funded grants to businesses launching sustainable travel initiatives, which includes installing electric vehicle charge points for staff.

Businesses can try an electric vehicle for free

It’s been a year since we launched Bristol’s electric van loan scheme giving local businesses the chance to borrow an electric vehicle, for free, for between four and eight weeks.

As we’re halfway through the two-year scheme, funded by National Highways, there is still time to try an electric vehicle, but you will need to sign up soon as the scheme is proving popular with businesses across the city.

We have a range of small, medium and large vans available as well as  five cars (for smaller independent traders such as hairdressers) and two hackney carriage taxis.

In the last year over 150 firms have tested one of our EVs to see what they’re like and how they would fit into their business.

We asked them to tell us what the experience was like and 91 per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the driving experience and 97 per cent said they would recommend the EV trial to other businesses.

Visit our website for more information and to sign up for a free EV trial.

Two electric vans are pictured, with an electric vehicle charging point on the right of the image.

Reforming Bristol’s Residents’ Parking Zones

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

Residents’ Parking Zones (RPZs) came into effect in 2013 under the former mayor as a headline transport intervention. They were introduced amid substantial controversy, to cover central Bristol and surrounding areas. The zones are an attempt at managing our city’s limited parking space while striking a balance with connectivity.

Controversies have included that they provide benefits to those able to afford the permit(s), and to people living in central areas to the detriment of residents living in outer wards. One point frequently made against the schemes is that nobody owns the road outside their house and that RPZs effectively extend the boundaries of homes in central areas.

RPZs were primarily intended to reduce commuter parking and therefore car journeys. There is no evidence that they have contributed to reduced car use, although it is difficult to precisely measure its impact. What is clear, is evidence that they have contributed to increasing short term car journeys inside the zones. Given this evidence, I do struggle to understand why self-styled environmental campaigners and some councillors consistently advocate for the convenience of private car ownership when they insist that they want an RPZ for their areas. Worse still, they regularly ignore the housing crisis and try to block planning applications for new homes in the name of parking pressures.  

What is certain is we all need to improve our attitude to our often-crowded spaces, for pedestrians, cyclists, e-scooter users, and motorists. Our streets also need space for street trees, sustainable drainage systems, electric vehicle charge points, cycle hangars, and other features. Single issue campaigners often struggle to see the bigger picture.

Since coming into effect, the zones, the charging structures, and their operation have remained largely unchanged without any review of their operation or effectiveness. Meanwhile, over the past decade, we’ve seen major changes in how Bristol operates alongside advances in national ideas about how we could better maximise the use of limited space available in growing urban areas.

After almost a decade of the zones being in place, it’s important we take the opportunity to revaluate the role they play. Most RPZs are in areas of higher density, older housing with limited parking space. The schemes have had some success in reducing anti-social parking, and we’ve been open-minded about where councillors work with communities to build and demonstrate overwhelming support for the introduction and/or expansion of zones.

That same year, along with our neighbours and the West of England Combined Authority, we adopted the Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP) which, among other policy areas, set out the following commitment: “Through the development of local parking strategies, we will continue to manage parking to control future traffic demand, including policies for on-street parking, off-street parking and residential parking schemes where appropriate. The design and location of new developments and at workplaces, as well as the numbers of spaces, will help to manage demand and reduce the dependency on the private car. All day parking will be controlled in a way to discourage users who could transfer to lower carbon travel choices.”

This passage from the JLTP recognises the need to move away from a one-size fits all approach to parking, traffic, and transport issues to encourage the adoption of schemes that fit the local context and need. In this spirit, the Mayor set out in his 2020 State of the City Address that: “Rather than expand the simplistic and outdated Residents’ Parking Zones, we are working with communities towards liveable streets, improving the public realm, enhancing public transport and active travel.”

This commitment to review the structures already in pace and take action to better listen to the needs of communities was clear in the manifesto which saw us re-elected. That process has seen the community design the city’s first Liveable Neighbourhoods trial in East Bristol across Barton Hill, Redfield, and parts of St George. A second scheme is in the early stages of being developed in BS3.

These new schemes are light-years ahead of the RPZs and aim to counter the growing tendency within these zones for short, local trips by car when active travel should be considered.

The next stage of the process will be brought to our next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 6 June, where I will present a paper that aims to bring the RPZs up to date with the change the city’s going through and align with evolving national policy.

The proposals I will set out in this meeting include:

  • Removing reductions provided to low emissions vehicles, currently free below 100g CO2 and half price between 101 and 110g CO2, to align with an existing government policy change to remove many of the reductions offered to lower emissions vehicles through Vehicle Excise Duty, since parking is about space, not emissions.
  • Doubling cost of secondary permits, from £112 to £224, and raising the cost of third permits from £224 to £560.
  • Increasing Central Parking Zone (CPZ) permit fees from £50 to £250, to reflect the premium on space in our city centre.

These proposals will be followed later this year by additional potential measures to comprehensively further review the effectiveness of the RPZs.

Exciting developments for Bristol’s historic harbour

In February I gave an update on some of the projects in and around our harbour, about how we’re making it a more accessible space for everyone and financially self-sustaining. I’m pleased to be able to share more news on some exciting projects, after reflecting on the end of the harbour swimming pilot at the start this week while also touching on the recovery from the fire at Underfall Yard.

On 23 May, the High Court refused permission to apply for a Judicial Review of our decision to bring the Harbour fees and charges into line with other comparable harbours. We’re pleased that the judge found in our favour. This now means we are able to cover the costs of maintaining this important city asset, which had been taking half a million pounds a year from council services. The revised fees and charges for boats using the harbour have now been updated for the first time in two decades.

It also means we can introduce 70 new live aboard licences for those who want to stay on boats in our city’s harbour all year round. These will be issued annually to people who pay and agree to the license terms and conditions, on a first come first served basis. Some people had already expressed an interest through our survey of harbour users, so we’ll contact them. Others can reach the harbour office at This will help give boat dwellers much more security and let them access services, while keeping control to manage the harbour for everyone with the Harbour Authority.

More good news is that the Capricorn Quay project was granted planning permission at the start of May, meaning we can move ahead with plans to install another 32 new berths for boats and other new facilities. A contractor will be sought for this work as well as planting the new reed bed which will be another fantastic boost for ecology in the harbour.

The Western Harbour project will be tabled at the combined authority committee meeting in June to secure funding for the detailed masterplanning. This is a huge opportunity to move forward with the vision to protect heritage and ecology in this important area, while modernising transport and flood infrastructure. It will look to bring forward hundreds of homes in the spaces released by removing the flyovers in a city centre, sustainable location.

Finally, I can share that the Harbour Revision Order cabinet paper was paused so that the team could have more time to engage with people and let them know about the project. We’ll be writing to leaseholders and neighbours in the coming weeks. There is a statutory consultation period built into the process. Cabinet approval would just be the start of the 18 month long project to work with the Marine Management Organisation to update the last Order, which was completed in 1998.

The Underfall Yard Sluices have been providing Bristol with a means of regulating the water levels within our harbour since 1840. They are integral to how the harbour manages itself. In April’s cabinet meeting, we were able to approve £1.75 million worth of funding to refurbish the sluices, so that they can continue to protect our city for many years to come.

We’re getting the harbour’s governance arrangements ship shape and Bristol fashion so that it is financially sustainable, accessible and contributes to our wider aims of climate resilience and biodiversity.

Construction work to begin on multi-million pound highways improvements

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

Two construction projects are set to get underway in June that will improve journeys across Bristol Bridge and around Cotham Hill.

The first project that will have spades in the ground is at Bristol Bridge, where work will take place to install a segregated two-way cycle lane and remove the traffic signals to replace them with pedestrian crossings. The work falls under the A37/A4018 strategic corridor project to improve the reliability of the number 2 bus service and make walking and cycling easier and safer. 

We’re bringing the Bristol Bridge section of the works forward as its traffic signals are old and could fail if we don’t replace them soon. The £1.4 million project is being funded using investment secured through the West of England Combined Authority’s allocation from the Transforming Cities Fund and the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement. We’re also progressing the plans for the other phases of the number 2 bus route, including extending the Bristol Bridge cycle lane along Victoria Street, which could get started next year.

People are pictured walking and cycling in pedestrianised Cotham Hill.

The second set of construction works to get started this June is over at Cotham Hill and surrounding streets. This follows on from our popular trial of the pedestrianisation scheme, which saw Cotham Hill close between Whiteladies Gate and Hampton Lane and between Hampton Park and Abbotsford Road, in 2021.

Workers will be on site to improve the pedestrian crossings and pavements, carry out changes to junctions and some resurfacing within the pedestrianised areas, add new one-ways and loading and disabled parking bays, and install cycle stands, benches, bins and planters and trees. The new additions will not only make the streets more attractive and easier to walk and cycle down, but they will continue to support local businesses to trade outside and will hopefully boost footfall as more and more people enjoy this traffic-free zone. The £645,000 scheme is being funded by Active Travel England and via the West of England Combined Authority through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement set aside for Liveable Neighbourhood projects in Bristol.

White flowers are pictured on the road of the Old City.

We’re aiming to have both of these schemes completed by the end of the year, which will be great for boosting sustainable transport and active travel in Bristol. These projects are just two in a series of schemes across the city we’re working on that will make getting about local streets easier and improve our neighbourhoods. 

This summer will also see the start of work on Castle Street’s junction with Tower Hill to install a segregated cycle route and widen the crossings so they’re safer for pedestrians and cyclists. We’re also gearing up to start construction work on a package of improvements throughout the Old City and Queen Charlotte Street as well as improving connections to King Street later this year. Work is set to include creating a new segregated cycle path and footpath along Queen Charlotte Street and improving access for pedestrians to Queen Square. There will also be improved pedestrian access from the Bristol Bridge junction to Baldwin Street and Castle Park and other improvements, such as dropped kerbs, improved crossings and raised tables, to make walking, wheeling and cycling more accessible and safer across the area.

With all these schemes, and more on the way, it shows we are continuing to invest in our streets to make sure people can embrace more sustainable ways to move around the city, which will not only help reduce congestion, but will help to cut pollution and meet our climate pledge. 

A concept image of Old Market gap is pictured.

What’s next for open water swimming in Bristol Harbour

It’s been remarkable to see the positive response to our Harbour swimming pilot, which came to a close over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend. These swim sessions have been immensely popular, all selling out in advance even when additional spaces were made available.

We began with 80 swimmers per session and gradually increased spaces to 150 in response to demand, and to accommodate those who missed out after the swim sessions on the 6 and 7 May were cancelled due to the impact of the fire at Underfall Yard.

I know many of you will have seen the images of the devastating fire at Underfall Yard earlier this month. Although works are expected to begin soon, with a crane due on site next week to lower the burnt overhead beams and allow for a structural survey to be carried out safely, Underfall Yard Visitor Centre and Café remain open as usual to visitors and customers. Most of the businesses based at the yard are still trading and events are being planned to take place throughout the summer.

Over the five weeks, we ran eight two-hour swim sessions with a total of 653 swimmers taking a dip in Baltic Wharf. We took an amazing 920 bookings for sessions, not including the 200 for the cancelled sessions. The water quality was tested throughout the pilot and consistently met Excellent Bathing Water Standards. We also monitored costs, popularity, and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment​ and will be reviewing this information along with feedback from participants and the wider public.

Two people are pictured swimming in Bristol harbour.

I’ve really enjoyed hearing people’s stories of their experiences and the vibrant, uplifting atmosphere in Baltic Wharf during the swimming sessions. It’s been a great activity to bring to the city. We’re continuing our work and discussions with our partners, Uswim and All-Aboard Water Sports, to look at the possibility of providing a designated open water swimming area in the Harbour on a regular basis.

Feedback received so far has been very positive, with swimmers commenting on how well organised the sessions were, the friendly and supportive staff on hand and how great an opportunity it was to swim in the Harbour with the picturesque views of Bristol beside you.

Initial survey responses show that the majority of swimmers:

  • were very satisfied with their Harbour swimming experience
  • strongly agreed or agreed that the pilot was good value for money
  • rated the location in the Harbour used for the swimming pilot as a very good place to swim
  • are keen to return once a week or more if we make swimming sessions a permanent feature in the Harbour

We’re keen to hear from people who swam during our pilot sessions to find out more about what they thought of their Harbour swimming experience. Your feedback will help us understand how we might adapt the swim sessions and facilities (including for changing and storing belongings) to best meet swimmers’ needs, if the decision is made to continue swimming sessions beyond our pilot. So, I’d encourage anyone who has received a link to our online survey to complete it and submit your answers.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone, especially to the volunteers, who made sure that those taking part had a safe and enjoyable Harbour swimming experience, and in doing so contributed to the success and positive response to our pilot.

Swimmers are pictured, waving, in Bristol Harbour, with safety equipment in the background.

Please do remember, and continue to share with others, that, without prior consent from the Harbour Master, it remains unsafe and against the bylaws to swim in the Harbour, Cumberland Basin, or other waterways in Bristol.

Our city’s Harbour is a working one, with boats and other watercraft of varying sizes moving up and down the surface throughout the day. Without professional safety supervision and direction, there are a number of significant dangers associated with entering Bristol’s waterways. These include cold water shock, getting hit by a boat, hazardous or discarded objects under the water and occasional very strong currents due to tides.

Please stay out of the water and continue to use one of the many pools available in the city or formal open water swimming venues outside of Bristol. If you get into trouble near the water, or notice someone who needs help in the water, call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.

Growing Bristol’s tree canopy

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

The important role trees play in the urban environment is well established. Trees provide a range of benefits valued at over £279 million to the city economy, as well as valuable shade cover and, as our green lungs, reducing emissions too. The city’s tree canopy is home to a diverse array of wildlife and supports nature recovery by promoting biodiversity. We also know, from personal experience and academic study, that trees are good for our own health and wellbeing.

Across Bristol the council manages over 100,000 trees in parks and woodlands, on streets and school grounds, and other public spaces. That doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands of trees on private property – in gardens and elsewhere.

This may sound a lot of trees, and it is, but there’s always room for more. Working as One City, we have an ambition to double the city’s tree canopy to support Bristol’s response to the climate and ecological emergencies.

We’ve made good progress in this effort during the past year with over 14,300 trees planted across a wide variety of settings. Over 6,200 of these trees consist of woodland trees, including the planting of one Tiny Forest, with a further 4,700 fruit trees distributed to schools, community groups, and members of the public for planting.

The remainder of our efforts have focussed on planting fruit tree orchards, over 2,200 hedgerow trees and a variety of individual trees on streets and in parks and green spaces. We were on track to meet our ambitious target but time became limited, as our attention had to turn to replacing trees damaged as a result of last summer’s drought and extreme heat. We had to plant a further 1,519 replacement trees. This meant that we almost hit our stretching target for the year. In the most recent planting season we exceeded the average number of new trees planted in recent years by more than 2,000, adding to the more than 84,000 planted since 2014/15.

This work is a long-term investment in the city’s health and wellbeing. Whilst the trees we’ve planted this past year will vary in species and maturity, the rule of thumb, it takes decades for a tree to mature and make a meaningful contribution to tree canopy. Doubling our tree canopy cannot be achieved in a matter of a few years, rather we need to plant and keep on planting year on year to generate a cumulative impact for the city in future.

To achieve this we’ve got a number of methods of promoting and delivering tree planting programmes. This includes the incredibly successful One Tree Per Child programme which has supported the planting of over 60,000 trees in the past six years. There are also tree sponsorship programmes and options for communities to direct tree planting via their local area committees.

Mayor Marvin Rees (second right) and Councillor Ellie King (right), are pictured, smiling, alongside tree they planted with local volunteers and school children in Hillfields.

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).