Category Archives: Environmental and Sustainability

Bristol’s Heat Network

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Energy, and Waste, and Labour Councillor for St George Central

To play our part in the fight against climate change, Bristol has committed to becoming a carbon neutral city by the year 2030. The expansion of Bristol’s Heat Network to new communities across Bristol is one key ingredient in securing Bristol’s energy future and providing businesses and homes with heat and energy form low carbon sources.

Heating and hot water currently account for 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, and 40% of Bristol’s emissions come from heating our homes and workspaces, so it is vital that we continue to invest in technology like this to support our transition to net zero.

What’s Bristol’s Heat Network?

Heat networks are a network of underground pipes that deliver affordable, low-carbon heat and energy to homes and businesses across the city. Bristol’s Heat Network is divided into different sections that cover areas across the city, with each section powered by a local energy centre. Heat networks are not new technology and are commonplace across Europe, with Copenhagen topping the charts with its heat network supplying around 98% of the city’s heat demand. Heat networks are less common in the UK and Bristol really does lead the way here.

Our existing heat network now supplies over 1,000 properties with low-carbon heat with pipe spanning over 8km underground. The neat part of heat networks is that they can draw their heat from many different sources – from the river to sewers to underground geothermal. So as our city continues to transition to 2030 and other heat sources become available, our heat network can live on.

But timing is everything and our cabinet paper brings forward our investment into Bedminster Green where 2,000 new homes are being built. By taking this decision, we are ensuring that we minimise disruption during the installation of the underground pipes and low carbon energy centres and have the energy solution in place ready to serve new developments as they are built.

What’s next for Bristol’s Heat Network?

The approved Bedminster section of the network will use heat extracted from waste-water in our sewer system to provide homes with warmth and warm water. We are living our waste nothing values by recycling Bristol’s hot shower water to heat homes elsewhere.

We are also continuing with the construction of a new Water Source Heat Pump in Castle Park, a renewable technology that will create heat from water in the floating harbour and the largest in the country.

As we see global shocks in gas prices forcing consumer bills up, I am really proud to be part of an administration which is creating the energy infrastructure Bristol needs, putting us in control of our energy future and taking big leaps on our journey to 2030.

You can find out more about Bristol’s Heat Network at: www.energyservicebristol.co.uk

World Habitat Day

Ian Barrett stands, smiling, in a black fleece with Avon Wildlife Trust's badger logo, with green hills and trees behind him. Ian writes for World Habitat Day.
Today’s guest blog is from Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust (photo credit: Jon Craig)

The United Nations recognises the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day, which is intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

We live in challenging times, but there is reason for hope and things that we can all do to help to restore the health of our planet for people and wildlife.

An Ecological Emergency

Next month, countries from around the world will meet in Glasgow to talk about how we tackle the challenge of climate change. Next year they will be meeting in China to look at how we tackle the challenge of declining wildlife and the ecosystems that support life on Earth.

The figures are stark. We’ve lost 68% of the world’s wild vertebrates since the 1970s. Nationally, we’ve seen massive and accelerating declines in previously common species such as songbirds and hedgehogs. In Bristol we’ve lost 96% of our swifts and swallows since the 1990s. This matters not only for wildlife, but also for all of the things nature does for us, ultimately including clean air, clean water, and the pollination of food.

Reasons for Hope

It’s easy to get down about the state of the world’s natural environment. “Eco-anxiety” is a growing issue for people of all ages. But there are signs of hope. We have wild beavers back in the river Avon for the first time in over 400 years. Lapwing are raising chicks in the Gordano valley after a 20 year absence. We know that where we restore damaged habitats and give nature a helping hand, wildlife can recover and thrive. 

Bristol has led the way in facing up to today’s environmental challenges. We were the first major UK city to declare a climate emergency in November 2018 and the first to declare an ecological emergency in February 2020.

What You Can Do

Our ecological emergency strategy sets out the actions we need to take as a city and as individuals to restore nature and bring wildlife back. This includes managing more land for nature, reducing pesticide use, cleaning up our rivers and reducing the impact of the things we buy on wildlife and habitats around the world. Our ambition is to see 30% of land managed for the benefit of wildlife by 2030, including wildlife friendly gardens, green spaces and business parks and more nature-friendly farming.  

We want to create and support a movement for change, with people and communities coming together to take action for wildlife. Every little action can help, from planting bee-friendly plants in window boxes to rewilding local green spaces, creating a pond or bug hotel, choosing to buy food from local, organic producers. You can find 30 things you can do to help wildlife on the Avon Wildlife Trust website. Join us today in helping to secure the future of our planet for people and wildlife.

Avon Wildlife Trust's banner, showing a wild beaver in the river Avon, with the following text: 

"30% of land and sea by 2030: help aid nature's recovery - donate today."

Ian writes today for World Habitat Day.

A harbour for the whole of Bristol

The Western Harbour from above, with fields on the other side of the River Avon, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and Cumberland Basin Road network.

Tides of history

For many of the people that enjoy walking around Bristol’s harbour, between solid redbrick structures and lapping water, it seems permanent. But in fact, the tides of history continuously change and rearrange this place and people as it responds to the needs and hopes of our city.

The edge of the Western Harbour, looking across the water, through the lock towards the river Avon.

The most significant change might have been the engineering works to create the New Cut and Feeder Canal over two hundred years ago. The SS Great Britain now reminds us of the Victorian ambition and scale that followed these constructions.

These physical changes have coincided with other changes in demographics and uses. The slum clearances of Bristol communities in the early 20th century scattered dockers and their communities across the city into new council estates, while regeneration and redevelopment in the 1980s and 1990s eventually saw a gentrification of the area. 

Renewed engagement about our harbour

Given this heritage and history, it is clear the harbour belongs to the whole city.  That is why, as part of our renewed engagement on the Western Harbour project, we will make sure as many people, from right across Bristol speak into the future of the area as part of our ambition to make the harbour an inclusive place where people and families visit from the very fringes of the city.

We’re trying a creative approach to this engagement, with a variety of ways for people to share their thoughts. In-person and online workshops, which are open to the community in and around Western Harbour at Riverside Garden Centre, as well as Lawrence Weston, Easton, and Knowle, are designed to draw out stories of the area and establish what the harbour means to people.

Local Creative Ambassadors, and City Poet Caleb Parkin, will connect Bristol’s talent in photography, film, illustration, and poetry with local people, to help better understand the character of the area and bring ideas to life. There is an audio walking tour that gives an insight into the changing history of the area. The Harbour Hopes website and Instagram page have been created so you can follow and share your own hopes for the harbour using the hashtag #HarbourHopes.  

We’re right at the start of this process, no designs have been decided and there will be plenty more opportunities to have your say in 2022. This engagement is about getting a sense of people’s thoughts and aspirations, before developing a masterplan which will include formal consultation and the wider planning process too.

Why Western Harbour matters

Western Harbour is a huge opportunity for the city because it gives us the space to deliver:

  • Much needed homes – a thriving, mixed community with variety of tenures, including affordable homes.
  • Sympathetic flood prevention engineering – future-proofing the location and wider area.
  • City Centre revitalisation – bringing families (and customers) to the city centre and North Street at a time our high streets are struggling.
  • A sustainable, climate friendly development, inside a high active travel area – connecting people to jobs and leisure, enabling people to live without a reliance on cars.
  • Opening access to the waterfront and enhancing the important heritage there – making it a destination all of Bristol can use and enjoy.

These are important goals for Bristol, but we know that in a complex city any decision has trade-offs. We must recognise that any decision is balanced. Our responsibility is to balance them as a city to achieve the best for us all.

Building in and up, not out

Two weeks ago at Full Council, members debated a motion about the protection of green belt land in the face of our housing need. I will continue to work with councillors as we develop a revised Local Plan which will take into account these considerations. But as I keep asking people that ask me not to build somewhere – “if not there, where?” I look forward to those councillors now, supporting and advocating for the development of this brownfield site in the centre of the city.

The harbour, from beneath a bridge of the Cumberland Basin road network. The red brick 'A' and 'B' Bond warehouses sit across the water.

The raw material of the city isn’t changing. We are a city with an area of 42 square miles, a population of around 460,000 and rapidly growing. 15% of our residents live in areas that are among the 10% most deprived in England and 16,000 people are on our housing waiting list. This all happens while we face a climate and ecological emergency requiring urgent action.

If we are going to avoid urban sprawl and protect space for nature, we need to build more densely on the brownfield sites.

Bristol’s harbour has adapted to respond to the challenges our city faces, and in the 21st century, as we wrestle with housing and climate crises, taking the opportunity to plan for what could replace an ageing 1960s road system is a citywide discussion. Everyone has a role to play in that and we want everyone to have a voice.

Greening schools, inside and out

On the left is Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy. On the right is Councillor Don Alexander, cabinet member for transport.
Today’s blog is from Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy, and Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet member for Transport,

With young people’s voices playing a key role in tackling the climate emergency, we have made greening schools a top priority for our administration. Their enthusiasm can clearly be seen in Bristol Youth Council’s Environment and Transport group survey results, which recorded over 1,300 responses from young people keen to promote sustainable transport. Listening and developing their ideas is key to setting up future generations for success, and we will continue to work with young people towards a better and more sustainable Bristol.

We were the first city to declare an Ecological Emergency. Since then, we have focused on delivering ambitious green policies and goals, such as setting a ground-breaking goal of becoming carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2030. We know this is an ambitious challenge and will involve the action of everyone in the city, including our schools.

Our Schools Energy Efficiency Scheme has helped support local schools to cut carbon over the last 3 years. We have invested £1.3 million in 30 schools and this will save a staggering 6,320 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 10 years, equivalent to 1,150 homes’ electricity use for one year. This has complemented our work connecting our schools to Bristol’s Heat Network, a £6.9 million project which provides local businesses, organisations, and housing with heat and power from more sustainable sources.

Oasis Community Learning, and their partner, Eden Sustainable, have done some fantastic work towards our shared goals. Oasis John Williams, their school in Hengrove, has recently installed 408 solar panels on the roof, which will produce free electricity and help support Bristol becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees visiting the newly installed solar panels with the student from Oasis Academy
Visit to Oasis Academy

Equally, it has been gratifying to see the enthusiasm across the city for the Bristol School Streets pilots, which have not only been designed to reduce the volume of traffic around school gates, but also to improve the air quality around schools as we work with communities towards Liveable Neighbourhood schemes.

We work with schools to encourage sustainable lifestyles and reduce vehicle traffic through a range of options. This includes ‘Bikeability‘ training for pupils, setting up park and strides, providing parking buddies to help keep the school entrances clear, providing signage such as ‘Show you care, park elsewhere’ and delivering road safety education.

We know that the challenges that face us in terms of living more sustainably will be there for years to come. Therefore, we want to build long-term, sustainable solutions. That’s why we have also been encouraging schools to get students involved in developing their own ideas for being greener, such as installing smart meters or turning waste into wildlife habitats. One example of this is the Bristol Education Partnership Climate Challenge, which brings together schools with colleges and universities to address the climate crisis.

So as we look to the year ahead for our schools, we would like to thank them for their engagement as we move towards our goal of carbon neutrality. Through changes to the curriculum, travel, and building infrastructure, they are helping us to take significant steps forward as a city – and setting a brilliant example while doing it.

Bristol’s Ecological Emergency Action Plan

Mayor Marvin Rees at Eastwood Farm in Brislington, with Councillor Nicola Beech, to launch Bristol's Ecological Emergency Action Plan. Marvin and Nicola are holding vegetable boxes, smiling alongside Lisa Jones, Head of Communities and Engagement at Avon Wildlife Trust, and Stuart Gardner, West of England Nature Partnership (WENP) Manager.

Bristol’s Ecological Emergency Action Plan is how the council will protect species, restore habitats, and embed nature into decision-making.

Crucially, it sits alongside our wider environmental efforts, and takes us up to 2025. Last year, we declared an Ecological Emergency, and are working together with city partners to deliver our One City Ecological Emergency Strategy.

Bristol’s ecosystems are vitally important to us all. After all, many of us have enjoyed the chance to connect – or reconnect – with nature in our parks and green spaces. All Bristolians should be able to access greenspaces and wildlife in their neighbourhood.

Progress so far

Our administration has overseen an 80% reduction in direct council emissions and we are working to be carbon neutral by 2025. Meanwhile, Bristol beat it’s 40% reduction target by 2019. We need that same ambition – with local and national support – to tackle our ecological emergency.

And, while it is true that climate and ecology are interdependent, they are not the same. As Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust, rightly says: if we tackle climate change but our eco-systems collapse, then that will still be an existential threat.

Importantly, we’ve got more than just the green shoots of recovery. Our administration has already planted 60,000 trees and reduced mowing to help pollinators. Moreover, we have also brought cows to Stoke Park, goats to the gorge, and are investing in new wetlands as part of flood defences in Severnside. But the challenge cannot be understated. Amid a global collapse, 96% of Bristol’s songbirds have been lost; we need to continue to adapt and invest to safeguard our ecosystems.

Our Ecological Emergency Action Plan

Bristol’s Ecological Emergency Action Plan has five key points to do just that:

  1. Integrate best ecological practice into each area of the council’s activity, allowing us to lead the city by example
  2. Demonstrate the council’s commitment to the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy alongside the One City Climate Strategy and its objectives
  3. Support and influence action by partners and through partnerships
  4. Support and enable action by citizens
  5. Develop evidence and knowledge to support decision making and innovation in addressing nature-related issues

In partnership with communities, organisations, and businesses, we can create a healthy, happy, habitat-rich city. Together, we can ensure that 30% of Bristol’s land is managed for the benefit of wildlife and reduce the use of pesticides in the city by at least half. Likewise, all our waterways should have excellent water quality with reduced consumption of products that undermine ecosystems around the world.

Mayor Marvin Rees at Eastwood Farm in Brislington to launch Bristol's Ecological Emergency Action Plan. Marvin is smiling, alongside a volunteer posing with a scythe.

International Youth Day – a voice for young people

Today’s blog is from John Wayman and Alice Towle, Bristol’s Youth Mayors. Both John and Alice also sit on the Bristol Youth Council, representing north and east-central Bristol respectively, and were elected in 2019 through the Bristol Big Youth Vote.

This year’s International Youth Day comes at perhaps a sobering moment when considering the future (and for many the present) of today’s young people. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s damning report concerning humanity’s destructive impact on the climate once again reminds us that this generation seems to have been born into a world on fire, both literally and metaphorically. Indeed, to avert disaster, action needs to be taken on multiple fronts by both current leaders and young people.

The transformation of food systems, the theme of this year’s International Youth Day, certainly constitutes a key aspect of our global response to the climate crisis given the significance of both food production and food transport to global greenhouse gas emissions. It will require the aid and input of young people to ensure we strike a balance between radically transforming food systems to remove their impact on the climate and maintaining food security to avoid disastrous consequences of another kind.

What has the Youth Council been up to?

In a world more globalised than ever before, as both the climate crisis and the covid-19 pandemic have thrown into stark relief, making global connections has been more important than ever before. This need for collaboration is the reason that we started the International Youth Mayors’ Association (IYMA) , a group of young leaders from five countries (and growing) who meet every month to discuss best practice and the various youth issues we face, both similar and different. Past topics have included how to set up youth mayors, youth involvement in environmental politics, and different countries’ political systems. Although we are a relatively new organisation, we hope to expand our membership and grow into a group that can represent both the unity and diversity of young people around the world.

However, although taking action on an international level is important, local action remains crucial. For instance, active travel brings benefits to both the environment and to students’ mental and physical health. That is why the Youth Council’s Environment and Transport group have been running a project centred on encouraging young people to walk and cycle to school. Earlier this year we launched a survey hoping to identify the primary barriers that stop young people from walking or cycling to school. The survey was immensely successful. We had over 1,300 responses from around the city and now we aim to run a series of focus groups to brainstorm solutions to the barriers identified by the survey. Hopefully the views of the city’s young people will be able to meaningfully shape its transport policies.

Although the looming threat of climate change combined with the immense uncertainty of covid-19 may present a bleak reality facing today’s young people, there is still hope for the future. With young people sharing their voices and leaders acting on them, perhaps a fairer and more resilient world can be built.

OFGEM’s energy cap rise: the triple hit – the cap doesn’t fit

Today’s blog is from Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy, and councillor for St. George Central.

OFGEM’s announcement that the energy cap will see household energy bills rise by up to £153 a year is just the news we didn’t need. October 2021 now looks to be the season of the triple hit: winter energy use, the £20 a week Universal Credit cut, and now the energy cap rise. Following over a year of pandemic and economic uncertainty, and with the furlough scheme tapering down, this news will make many people many anxious about the months ahead.

Government spokespeople will say that the cap is a back-stop for the market, and that people can always switch provider. But the cold reality is that yet again it is the poorest paying for deeply flawed energy and housing policy.

There are often loads of reasons why people can’t switch their energy providers, many linked to the consequences of poverty: debt, stress, adverse previous experiences resulting in a loss of confidence and ill health. Never mind pre-payment customers, who typically are some of the most deprived, frozen out of the market by a lack of providers.

Because of a decade of poor policy, the cap is a plaster on an open wound. Our lack of energy autonomy and our dependency on global fossil fuel markets has made us vulnerable to the macro energy challenges which are now being blamed for this rise. But we would be far better insulated against these fluctuations if we generated more of our own renewable energy.

The failure is compounded by the Government’s housing policy. The narrow rails around the warm homes grant aren’t good enough. We need support for homeowners at scale to improve the energy efficiency of our homes. After all, the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use.

Had the national government invested to generate renewable energy in the UK, home energy efficiency, and supporting a workforce transition then we wouldn’t be in this exposed position we find ourselves in this winter.

The solution is out there and it’s been there for decades. With less than 100 days until world leaders meet at COP26 to discuss the climate emergency, we are left wondering how much longer our poorest will left be picking up the bill for this inadequate approach to powering the UK.

Sustainable Fashion Week 2021

Amber Rochette, Sustainable Fashion Week

Today’s guest blog is from Amber Rochette, part of the Partnerships team at Sustainable Fashion Week, non-profit project raising awareness of the environmental and social issues faced by the fashion industry.

We all wear clothes; they are an important part of our lives and expression of identity for most people.

We all share the same planet, the very planet that is in the midst of a climate crisis. It is safe to say that everyone on the planet knowingly, or unknowingly, interacts with the global fashion industry.

However, the issues with the fashion industry are not exclusive to the developing countries that many fashion brands exploit for cheap labour and manufacturing. Although overseas issues such as the depletion of natural resources and destruction of communities cannot be ignored, there are so many issues that are locally relevant too.

Every piece of clothing carries a carbon price tag with it, and as soon as it falls into our laps we need to do as much as we can to stop this from increasing. Many things we do with our clothes, from returning items, over-washing, over-drying, and disposing can have a huge detriment to the earth’s integrity. Returning an item will double the greenhouse gas emissions and plastic waste, over-washing can waste water and pollute our waterways with microplastics, over-drying can waste energy and damage our clothes, forcing us to throw them out, and more often than not when we throw our clothes, they end up on landfill.

These issues are so locally relevant to us all, from our waterways to our waste – we all contribute. We therefore need to collectively change our relationship with clothing for the better, so that we can continue to express our identity and enjoy wearing our clothing for the longer-term, without harming the planet we live on or the communities involved in producing fashion.

What is Sustainable Fashion Week and how can I get involved?

In September Sustainable Fashion Week will host a week long programme of creative and community activity celebrating and promoting a sustainable fashion future – SFW 2021.

Sustainable Fashion Week is calling on you, whoever or wherever you are, to get involved with SFW 2021. You can do this by hosting a little event within your community to connect with your friends, family and those around you and help them feel empowered to make positive changes in their fashion habits. We want to move away from the very linear fashion business model that we are all so used to, but we don’t want sustainable fashion to be aspirational – it should feel relevant and accessible to everyone.

We’ll all be choosing different ways of engaging with it. SFW 2021 will be the first fashion week of its kind where the focus is on inspiring, empowering and upskilling the community. It will be a week of workshops, talks, discussions, skills sharing and more, aimed at engaging the community on the importance of sustainability in fashion, including the wider social and environmental impacts of the industry and the need for change.

When is Sustainable Fashion Week?

The event will take place from 11-19 September 2021.

We are building the programme around the four themes of regenerate, rewear, repurpose and reconnect. Our ‘SFW Hub’ will be held in the MShed on 11 and 12 September. There we’ll have a number of panel discussions, live workshops
and a buzzing sustainable fashion marketplace.

The rest of our programme will be made up of community-led mini events and workshops – hosted by people like YOU! You can be part of our event, and part of this growing movement for change.

We all wear clothing every day and we all share the same future. Sustainability in fashion is relevant to everyone, and we want to take a stand for the kind of fashion industry you want to see.

Please get in touch with us to find out more about how to get involved! Email us at
hello@sustainablefashionweek.uk

Love Parks Week

Today’s blog comes from Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Communities, Equalities and Public Health, Councillor Asher Craig.

Parks have been more important than ever for many people in the past year.

During the pandemic, parks were some of the only spaces where people were able to socialise safely. Access to parks is also good for our mental and physical health, with Natural England finding that 9 in 10 people agree that visiting natural spaces is good for their wellbeing.

That’s why we were determined to keep parks open during the pandemic and why we’re working on a new strategy to ensure the sustainability of our parks for years to come.

Royal Fort Gardens, Bristol.

We’re fortunate to have access to so many great parks and green spaces in Bristol, with studies finding Bristol has the largest amount of green space of any English city. In addition, we are proud to say that in 2015, Bristol became the UK’s first ever European Green Capital.

We’re committed to protecting these spaces and supporting sustainable environments for both people and wildlife. Bristol’s One City Plan includes an ambitious target of doubling the tree canopy by 2045 and supporting the return of species such as pine marten, red kite, and beavers to our natural environments by 2033.

We recognise the role parks play in responding to the ecological emergency. As a result, the One City Environment Board have developed a working group of over 30 organisations across Bristol, with an aim of taking action to restore the natural systems that we all depend on.

Parks are not only vital for nature; our city’s green spaces are used to support events, food growing and organised sport.

We understand as the weather gets hotter and the summer holidays are fast approaching, many of our parks will see a rise in footfall.

If you’re out using our parks, make sure you’re being respectful of others and tidying up after yourself. This is a simple way of helping our staff, other park users and the environment. Keep Britain Tidy have more great information on how we can all take steps to look after our parks.

There are lots of ways you can get involved with improving our parks and green spaces and we always welcome ideas – you can find out more and have your say here on our website. 

Crucially, as restriction lift, we are asking everyone to continue to follow the hands, face, space, fresh air guidance. Many more people will continue to use our parks to see family and friends, or to exercise. Therefore, it is important to reduce our risk of catching or passing on the virus by using green spaces safely.

Covid rates in Bristol are the highest we’ve seen, so let’s do our bit to keep each other safe.

Levelling up

The Prime Minister has today set out his ambitions for ‘levelling up’, with the stated aims of improving services and boosting community pride across the UK, seeking to create a more balanced economy. We agree with the ambition to give everyone the chance of a good job on decent pay, and are determined to make Bristol a true Living Wage City – where poverty pay is a thing of the past. Increasing access to opportunity no matter where you live is at the heart of our approach in Bristol and something we should all be working towards as a country.

Levelling up will only be successful if it targets those living in deprivation –  it is vital that ‘levelling up’ policy impacts the communities and groups that need it most.

We encourage Government to focus on the challenges of poverty, social mobility, inequalities, and on the groups most affected by these challenges, that the pandemic has further entrenched. If Government takes too much of a blunt, North versus South approach, those poorer communities, often hidden and invisible across our country and in our major cities, will continue to miss out and get left even further behind.

Bristol is an example of this complexity. We have a fantastic story to tell – a £15 billion economy with sectors of high growth and opportunity. And yet we are one of the most unequal cities in England with six areas in the top 1% most deprived in the UK and 20% of our children at risk of hunger every day. Writing off deprivation in Bristol just because we live further south than, say, Birmingham, would only see more Bristolians fall further south of the poverty line.

The last thing we need is for regions or areas to be set against each other, dictated by competitive funding pots from Whitehall, which inevitably will result in the very people who stand to benefit the most missing out. In recent years, that Bingo-style approach has set hungry children in Bristol against hungry children in Plymouth, and pitted homeless people in Bristol against homeless people in Manchester: for the Prime Minister’s pledge for ‘levelling up’ to be ‘win-win’, we need fundamental change.

What is required is a national approach that recognises that our focus is addressing the big challenges of the day – including the climate and ecological emergencies – in a way which takes all communities forward and provides ample opportunities for everyone.

The Prime Minister  emphasised the role of local leadership as part of ‘levelling up’ places. What local leaders need the most is predictable funding that best enables ourselves and city partners, like our local NHS, charities, and businesses, to come together around long-term plans. The UK is one of the most heavily centralised countries in Europe – that has been known for far longer than I have been Mayor, and even before Boris Johnson was one. For ‘levelling up’ to be truly effective, I would urge Government to release more funding to local places, then step back and help create the space for us to take the opportunities we know we can deliver.