Category Archives: Homes and Communities

Fire safety update

This guest blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard,
Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes,
and Labour Councillor for Horfield ward.

Since 2012, we’ve invested around £2.5 million each year in actions across our council housing estate aimed at improving building safety for our tenants. That investment has seen us replace fire doors, carry out works in flats to improve barriers between walls and floors to prevent the spread of fire, and work to provide better information to tenants on safety arrangements.

During the past seven years we’ve prioritised practical efforts to minimise the risk from dangers posed by fire, and other threats that buildings face. Throughout this period, we’ve followed the advice and guidance from various sources including national regulations and fire service expertise, and feedback from tenants.

Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, we’ve seen changes in this advice with the introduction of new regulations in relation to inspections and new advice from fire services on building safety. This changing picture has required us to act to keep pace and ensure that council homes remain safe and the risk from threats is minimised.

In response to this changing regulatory environment, we committed to invest around £96 million over the coming years to introduce new safety measures into our high-rise blocks, alongside the 24-hour safety patrols already put in place across the blocks that need it. This investment includes installing new sprinkler systems and temporary fire alarm systems, which will be getting underway next month. 

We are also proceeding with the removal of expanded polystyrene cladding (EPS) from blocks with it installed, following new advice given by Avon Fire and Rescue in the wake of the fire at Ecclestone House last year.

Residents of seven blocks* will receive letters this week, informing them of the imminent works about to begin in their properties to install sprinklers and fire alarms. This work will begin in October, with a second batch of blocks to follow later in 2023**.

Further planned programmes are in the diary for the spring months of 2024, and by the end of this financial year we expect to see most blocks in the city fitted with fire alarm systems, and the sprinkler programme moving into phase two. These programmes are being prioritised on a risk basis, depending on the needs of their block.

During that time, we expect to complete another set of cladding removals, with four more EPS removal projects commencing in early January 2024 to have their EPS cladding removed. This follows the recent removal of cladding from Gilton House and Rowan House, in addition to Ecclestone House and Phoenix House earlier this year.

This new investment into safety measures sits alongside that commitment to annual investment in safety measures and a regular cycle of inspections to keep sight of any additional measures we may need to fund in future. This also includes a £2 million investment being made to carry out stock condition surveys of over 20,000 council homes by end of 2025.

Those living in council housing can also expect to see further information on building safety sent to them and a chance to feedback their views, in the latter months of the year. Tenants can also expect to see council officers going from door to door, seeking out views and feedback as we step up our work to inform our investment.

Our aim is to ensure that every person living in a council housing block has access to the right information, in a way they can understand, about what to do in an emergency and what action they can take to maximise the safety of their household.

As the anniversaries of the fires at Twinnell House and Ecclestone House approach, I look back on the past twelve months and recognise the difficult journey many of our tenants have been on with us. There’s been lots of passionate discussion, all of it listened to and heard as part of shaping this next phase of our building safety programme.

*The seven blocks that will form part of the first phase of the work are:

  • Croydon House – fire alarm
  • Hayleigh House – sprinklers
  • Lansdowne Court – fire alarm
  • Middleford House – sprinklers
  • Millmead House – sprinklers
  • Rawnsley House – fire alarm
  • Twinnell House – fire alarm

**The second batch of blocks are:

  • Barlands House – fire alarm
  • Barwick House – fire alarm
  • Brookridge House – fire alarm
  • Sedgewick House – fire alarm
  • Southbow house – sprinklers
  • Whitemead House – sprinklers
  • Winterstoke House – sprinklers

Supporting residents to enable them to live independently for as long as possible

Councillor Helen Holland, smiling with college green, Bristol Cathedral and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and the Integrated Care System and Labour Councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood ward.

Home is where the heart is. It is the place where memories are created and cherished, but, for some people, their home can start to feel like a barrier to their wellbeing if their care needs change. That might mean considering saying goodbye to the home they love and may have lived in for a considerable amount of time, and that might add to their anxiety. However, thanks the work we do with We Care Home Improvements, that doesn’t always need to be the case.

At Bristol City Council, we work with We Care Home Improvements (WECHI) to provide funded home improvement work to eligible people and where subsidies aren’t available, offer low cost loans. We started to work with them back in 2018 and recently approved an extension of their contract at Cabinet in June.

What having home adaptations can mean to someone

Home adaptations help people live independently as much as possible and can be needed for several reasons. To help them enter and leave their homes; wash, bathe and use the toilet; use living and sleeping areas; use food preparation and cooking areas; access some of the garden and reduce risks in the home related to an impairment.

The tour group, including Cllr Helen Holland and Cllr Donald Alexander stand in the garden of Addison Apartments. Behind them, the apartment building and gardens can be seen.
A picture from a visit to Addison Apartments, assisted living homes that allow people to live independently for longer.

Who can get help from us with home adaptations

We may be able to help any vulnerable adult in need of home adaptions, but we’ll see you as a priority if you’re terminally ill, your care arrangements have broken down, your health has suddenly got worse, there is risk of physical injury to you or your carer, or you can’t come home from hospital without alterations to your home.

A red heart is pictured with on a yellow background.

Returning home to a much safer environment thanks to We Care Home Improvements

We Care Home Improvements (WECHI) recently helped make home adaptations to Mr H’s house after being referred to them when he was admitted to hospital. Concerns had been raised that his home was unsafe for him to return to. He lives alone and has no close family or support network. An initial visit was made to assess the issues at the property and a visit to the hospital to agree the works with Mr H. Fall risks included an insecure handrail on the stairs, a loose stair carpet, and the wooden kitchen floor was also unsafe. In addition, the front door lock was faulty, and the toilet cistern was broken. A deep clean was required and a key-safe needed to be fitted to enable a package of care to be put in place for Mr H to return home.

Before any repair work could be undertaken, a deep clean was carried out. A WECHI handyperson visited the property to carry out the small repairs which included securing the rail and stair carpet, fixing the front door lock and fitting a key-safe to enable access for carers. The toilet was then replaced by a plumbing contractor and a carpenter carried out extensive repairs to the kitchen floor, to make it safe.

All the works were coordinated and completed within five working days, and the hospital was updated so that a package of care could be arranged for Mr H to return home as soon as possible.

You can find out more about home adaptations and equipment, how Bristol City Council can help you or someone you know carry on living independently at home and how to get in touch by visiting Home adaptations and equipment (

Bristol’s Living Rent Commission calls for rent control powers

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.

Bristol is now the UK’s most expensive city to rent in outside of London, with the average rent growing by 12.9% annually. In the decade since 2011, the cost of renting privately has grown by 52%, while wages have increased by just 24%. High prices have been compounded by increasing demand, with the population increasing 10% between 2011 and 2021. There are now over 134,000 people currently renting privately in Bristol, representing almost one-third of the city’s population.

Living in quality affordable accommodation is essential for people to live happy and healthy lives. Spiralling costs mean housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, pushing many further away from their place of work, family, and support networks. Ensuring an affordable and fair private rented sector is also essential to our city’s ecosystem, prosperity, and productivity.  

Members of the Living Rent Commission are pictured, smiling, on the ramp outside Bristol's City Hall. Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured on the far left, Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured two people to his right.

In our 2021 manifesto, we pledged to make Bristol a “living rent city” and lobby central government for rent control powers. Since then, we’ve worked across the sector to better support private renters, including the roll out of further landlord licensing schemes, stamping out illegal ‘no DSS’ discrimination, and hosting the first Renters’ Summit to share experiences of renting in Bristol. We’ve also put two motions to Full Council to try to end discrimination against vulnerable tenants and seek cross-party support lobbying the Government for permission to introduce rent controls in Bristol.

Last year we launched the Living Rent Commission to look at issues with Bristol’s private rented sector (PRS) and ways to address the rising costs of renting in Bristol as well as the lack of security that renters face. The commission was made up of sector experts, tenants, and landlords. It has been co-chaired by myself and Professor Alex Marsh from the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol.  The commission heard from sector experts, government representatives and, most importantly, tenants.

There are no simple solutions to a crisis of this scale, and the commission has given us an opportunity to bring organisations together to explore the issues facing renters and the sector, to help us develop an approach that works for Bristol.

The final report, which has been published today, found that there is substantial popular support for rent control to help make renting more affordable, and has called on the council to lobby central government for rent control powers. The national government has recently published the Renters Reform Bill, which sets out their plans to reform the private rented sector and improve housing quality. I set out our thinking on the Bill, welcoming some overdue measures but explaining how it does not go far enough to guarantee decent living standards.

The proposals set out in the Bill will have positive impacts on renters in Bristol and will also ensure clarity for landlords should they come into effect. Our campaign for a fair rental sector has always acknowledged that most landlords provide decent homes and aim to support their tenants.

Armed with the Living Rent Commission report, I have written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, calling on him to devolve powers to Local Authorities so they can better influence the affordability of the local private rented sector. My letter can be found below. The report’s recommendations reflect that the powers to regulate the market come from national government. Therefore, we must work with Westminster to develop any future policy. Working alongside Bristol’s MPs, we’ll ensure that the findings and recommendations from the Living Rent Commission are raised throughout the Renters Reform Bill’s progression through the House.

I will also be taking the report and the recommendations to Cabinet. In the meantime, we will continue to take a firm stance against poor property management standards and will look to continue to increase the supply of new housing in Bristol – adding to the 2,563 homes that were built in the city in 2021/22, including the most new affordable homes in more than a decade, as part of the more than 11,000 built since 2016.

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.

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.

Delivering for Bristol: Southmead regeneration

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.

Finding new and innovative ways to build housing is a key part of our plans to meet ambitious targets for much needed affordable homes across the city. One way to do this is to work with local communities to enable them to build the homes that best reflect the needs of the neighbourhood.

A key example of this approach can be found in Southmead, where we are supporting an ambitious regeneration and housing delivery programme.

The community-led Southmead Masterplan was published in 2018 by the Southmead Development Trust (SDT). It is a community-led development project where the stakeholders and wider community meet on regular basis to review development progress and contribute to decision making.

The plan aims to deliver around 230 new homes in central Southmead, with a mix of new affordable and market housing options, including a development of community-led housing at Glencoyne Square. These new homes will add to the 474 affordable homes we built in 2021/22 and the 1,300 new affordable homes currently being built across the city. Goram Homes, our council-owned housing company, has a pipeline of more than 3,100 new homes – half of them affordable – alongside the around 11,000 homes our administration has helped get built in Bristol since 2016.

Planning permission for 120 new homes was granted in 2021, but the scheme has since been re-designed to improve viability. The new scheme, which is currently going back through planning, is expected to provide up to 187 homes – of which around 66% will be affordable – alongside a new shared library, advice and learning hub, community enterprise space and a health and well-being hub. It is hoped work will start on site next year, subject to planning approval.

Unfortunately, the re-location of Southmead Health Centre has not been possible due to unavailability of sufficient match funding from the NHS. Instead, the proposed health centre area within the new scheme will be replaced with a smaller health and well-being hub, allowing SDT to provide additional new homes, with the current health centre expected to remain on its current site rather than move across.

Implementation of the plan is being undertaken over several phases, and we have already delivered a range of improvements to the Arnside Road district centre and shopping area. Public realm and sustainable urban drainage improvements to Arnside have been completed and opened to the public in May 2022, making the high street a more attractive, safer and eco-friendly place to visit. We have also purchased the White Hall site, which will be used for new council owned homes, while still retaining play facilities on the adjourning park site.

As with any big project of this size, there have been some challenges along the way. We were very disappointed when ALDI made the decision to not expand their anchor store. We had already done a great deal of work, alongside Southmead Development Trust, to relocate services that took place in the youth centre to a newly refurbished space at the Ranch – Southmead Adventure Playground.

Southmead Library has also been moved – taking up a temporary space at Southmead House before a new purpose-built home is created for it as part of future development in the area. We are keen to make sure that the library and youth centre buildings do not stand empty, and they are currently being used to provide day care services and sports classes. In the longer term, we are considering if they could be suitable for additional homes.

In 2019 we received £3.6 million of Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) funding from Homes England to support the delivery of the masterplan, and we have already committed £7 million to help fund the non-residential space at Glencoyne Square. Cabinet will consider a further £620,000 investment to support the scheme, following ALDI’s decision not to expand its store, and to cover other rising costs.

Bristol is a rapidly growing city and is currently undergoing much transformation. Our regeneration programmes stretch from Bedminster to Temple Meads, St Judes’s to Broadmead, and also include Western Harbour, Hengrove, Filwood and Lockleaze. We need to keep working together to make sure that Bristol grows well, with local communities benefiting from the change happening on their doorstep. Regeneration will bring city-wide benefits so that everyone can thrive. 

A group of people are pictured smiling, including Bristol's Lord Mayor (Centre) and Councillor Kye Dudd (Second from the left).

We have a vision to create vibrant communities with sustainable, inclusive economic growth. Quality affordable homes and job opportunities will be in locations where we can have reliable, frequent public transport connections and be within walking and cycling routes.

The transformation of Southmead, including the provision of new homes, an improved town centre, and a healthy and inclusive local community will contribute to city-wide targets for housing and for developing economic and social opportunity and environmental sustainability.

Sharing first thoughts on fostering this Foster Care Fortnight

Pippa and Alex are pictured, smiling, with a bush in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Pippa and Alex, a couple who have recently started their fostering journey with Bristol City Council.

A spare bedroom, a poem by Alex:

A spare bedroom.

Semi-retirement, some spare time and energy.

In the marvellous film, The Quiet Girl (from the book ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan) we saw how a few weeks, a couple of months, of ordinary, simple human kindness suggested the possibility of really making a difference to another person’s life.

 “So, let’s give it ago, in our house”.

And our first experience of fostering?

We learned a lot, did and gave what we could and got so much more back.


We decided to give it a go for several reasons; we had two spare rooms, a little time to give as a couple and greatly admired two people who had given respite to young people in care.

We were apprehensive, unsure if we could do it, wondering if we were too old.

It was interesting from the start, we found the training fascinating, to think about our own parenting and childhoods, and we enjoyed working together.

Our social worker introduced us slowly and we started by giving respite care to two young children. It went well. We felt surer of what we had to offer and were full of admiration for their curiosity, energy and fun. The joy they had for life.

We then were asked to provide foster care to a 14-year-old boy. We were more apprehensive but decided to give it a go.

From the minute we met, we all got on. It has been a total joy to share our home with this teenager. Before we met, I had thought we would provide stability, consistency and safety and be challenged by emotional behaviour – that was a misconception.

A picture of three children, sitting alongside each other in a field.

We have learnt so much from this lively, inquisitive and bright young person. He was always ready to try new things, share his views on the world, and discuss ideas with us.

We found our cats gave him huge solace, also the time spent together on walks and sharing domestic tasks gave space to share stories and memories from the past – an important story for us to listen to.

We provided two months emergency foster care while a long-term placement was found. Those eight weeks flew by, and we feel privileged to have got to know and care for this wonderful, curious, capable, friendly, sociable, kind, helpful and compassionate boy who is hopeful for his future.

We always felt supported by a great team of social workers, teachers and an amazing young male mentor who all provided a supportive belief in a positive future.

Saying goodbye was hard, and we will provide respite when needed.

Being a foster carer is more than rewarding – it is deeply fulfilling, full of new learning and surprises, challenging your own preconceptions about children in care.

It has been a really important step in our own life and we discovered strengths we hadn’t recognised or necessarily valued.

We wholeheartedly encourage anyone who can give their time, has a home with a little space, and is interested in trying something new to give it a go.


If you’re one of our foster carers and you’re thinking about recommending someone to become a foster carer, you will now get £500 when they foster with Bristol City Council – double the previous rate! Find out more about our Refer a Friend scheme on the Fostering Bristol website.

We have also recently increased our allowances for foster carers, and you can now get up to £466 a week. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, you can get in touch with Fostering Bristol for an informal chat on 0117 353 4200 or you can visit

Alternatively, if you are interested in fostering but not ready to take the step yet, there are other ways you can get involved.

Reconstruct provide an independent visiting service for children in care. This service finds volunteers who can commit two to three hours a month and then matches them with children and young people, aged 8-18, to take them out to do activities, such as going to the cinema, bowling, enjoying a meal, playing football, etc.

They are always seeking volunteers and are particularly keen to hear from men and people aged 25-50. Express an interest by contacting Reconstruct on

Renters Reform Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dementia Action Week 2023

Ben Dellow is pictured smiling at an awards ceremony.
Today’s guest blog is from Ben Dellow, Local Systems Influencing Officer
at the Alzheimer’s Society.

We are excited to see City Hall lit up in forget-me-not blue tonight, to mark the start of Dementia Action Week 2023. With more than 4,000 people aged 65 and over currently living with dementia in Bristol, it’s vitally important that we raise awareness of the condition and ensure dementia is a priority locally and nationally.

Dementia Action Week is Alzheimer’s Society’s biggest and longest running awareness-raising campaign, calling on people across the UK to act on dementia. Nearly 1,500 of the 4,000 people living with dementia in Bristol are without a formal diagnosis, meaning they’re facing the challenges the condition poses alone. This is why this year’s Dementia Action Week is focused on increasing dementia diagnosis rates. 

In February 2022, the dementia diagnosis rate in Bristol was 69%, above the national average of 62% and the national ambition of 66.7%. This is in no small part thanks to the brilliant work of the Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service. The service has made great strides in tackling the barriers preventing people from accessing a timely diagnosis.

Founded in 2015 as a partnership between the NHS and Alzheimer’s Society, the Dementia Wellbeing Service has reduced waiting times to the point that 95% of service users have a first appointment booked within 10 days. Meanwhile, through its Community Development Coordinators, the service has promoted dementia awareness and enabled seldom heard from groups to access support. This means the service is widely known as the go-to for dementia support across the city.

Despite this progress, many people in Bristol are still living with undiagnosed dementia and unable to access vital care and support that is needed to live well. We want to encourage those who might be living without a diagnosis to understand and recognise potential dementia symptoms and feel empowered to take their next step.

Getting a diagnosis can be daunting, but we believe it’s always better to know. And so do 91% of people living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Society research found that people living with dementia felt getting a diagnosis benefitted them in more ways than one. It allowed them to plan for their future, receive practical advice, feel a sense of relief through understanding their condition, and get medication to help manage the symptoms of dementia. More importantly, it helped them avoid crisis points.

Alzheimer's society's logo is pictured with a blue flow. Text reads Alzheimer's Society Together we are help & hope for everyone living with dementia.

Empowering individuals and their families to seek a timely diagnosis and avoid reaching these crisis points is therefore vital. However, in addition to illustrating numerous benefits of a timely diagnosis, our research uncovered several barriers preventing people from seeking a diagnosis. Along with misconceptions around memory loss being a normal part of ageing, we found being in denial and specialist referral times to be the biggest barriers to getting people to seek a diagnosis.

The key message we want to share this Dementia Action Week is that dementia isn’t called getting old – it’s called getting ill. If you’re worried about symptoms that could be signs of dementia, you can access our symptoms checklist here. This tool can help begin conversations with health professionals and is endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for support, help and advice. Visit Alzheimer’s Society’s website ( or call 0333 150 3456 for more information.

60 years since the Bristol Bus Boycott

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Bristol Bus Boycott, on 30 April 1963, after Guy Reid-Bailey was turned away from a job interview at the Bristol Omnibus Company once they realised that he was Black. The Boycott saw the “colour bar” lifted after many months of action. It is an incredibly important part of the history of our city and, given its contribution to the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1968, our country too.

The bus in M Shed, Bristol, is pictured alongside a large card that includes a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and a quote from his famous speech, I Have a Dream.
Mayor Marvin Rees (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.

The men and women who led the Bristol Bus Boycott brought protest to our streets and legislation to the statute book. People like Asher and I have been able to walk through the doors that they opened for people of colour. We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, and I thank all of the organisers of Friday’s event for giving us the opportunity to thank and celebrate them once again on the 60th anniversary of the start of the Boycott.

Councillor Asher Craig (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.
Roger Griffith MBE (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.
Barbara Dettering (centre) is pictured, speaking in front of a seated audience, in front of the bus in M Shed, Bristol.

People like Barbara Dettering are both personal and political role models across Bristol. That was true for me when I was a kid playing at Bristol West Indies, the cricket club that Guy Reid-Bailey OBE co-founded, and both before and after the 2012 mayoral elections, when Paul Stephenson was a real support for me. It was also clear at a recent primary school visit in Whitchurch, where pupils rightly spoke to me with reverence about our city’s civil rights leaders and the lasting change that the Bristol Bus Boycott achieved.

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured, smiling and shaking hands, with Guy Reid-Bailey OBE (right) in front of the bus in M Shed, Bristol.

Bristol City Council last year issued an apology to Guy for his treatment by the Bristol Omnibus Company, alongside conferring Freedom of the City upon him and Barbara. This, the highest civic honour which can be bestowed, recognising outstanding contributions to life in Bristol. It was also posthumously given to Roy Hackett MBE, to whom Asher paid tribute last year; Owen Henry; Audley Evans; and Prince Brown. Dr Paul Stephenson OBE was conferred with the honour in 2007. Rosa Parks, who started an earlier bus boycott over 4,000 miles away, is deservedly widely known. But we need to do more, locally and nationally, together to ensure that the names of Bristol’s own civil rights leaders are not forgotten.

Bristol Bus Boycott campaigners (centre, seated) including Barbara Dettering and Guy Reid-Bailey OBE are pictured receiving a standing ovation.
Gamba Cole (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.

Friday saw an event at M Shed, in front of an old Bristol bus, where I was asked to speak alongside Barbara Dettering, Joyce Morris Wisdom, Councillor Asher Craig, Roger Griffith MBE, Gamba Cole, Doug Claringbold, Vernon Samuels, Jacqui Wilson, and Miles Chambers. We will look to organise another event, to mark the 60th anniversary of the success of the Boycott, later this year.

Joyce Morris Wisdom (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.
Doug Claringbold (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.
Vernon Samuels (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.
Jacqui Wilson (left) is pictured speaking, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.
Miles Chambers (left) is pictured reading a poem, alongside the bus in M Shed, Bristol, to a seated audience.

Please credit all images to the Mayor of Bristol’s office, linking to this page where possible.