On The Spot

This week we’re launching an exciting new podcast series called On The Spot.

It’s the Council’s first venture into the world of podcasts. We’ll be uploading an episode every week in which a different guest interviewer gets the chance to ask me their burning questions about Bristol. We’ll be talking education, diversity in senior leadership, transport, climate change, Bristol’s heritage and much more.

On The Spot is a chance for Bristol people to go deeper than the headlines, to learn more about the work we’re already doing, and what needs to change. It’s all about elevating the voices of Bristol’s people, and giving them a public platform on which to share their views – it’s an invaluable learning opportunity for me, my team and for the city.

The first episode of the podcast is all about the ecological emergency, which Bristol was the first city in the UK to declare. The declaration provides a focus for the whole city to come together and take positive action to protect our wildlife, animal habitats, green spaces and parks. The statistics are heart-breaking. 15% of British wildlife is now at risk of extinction. In Bristol, bird species like swifts and starlings have almost been wiped out and habitats for hedgehogs, birds and insects have all but been destroyed.

CEO of Avon Wildlife Trust, Ian Barrett, joined us on our first episode to talk about the action behind the declaration. AWT have played a vital role in the declaration and in their continued efforts to protect Bristol’s natural wonders. The MyWildCity project is a 3 year project led by AWT and supported by the Council, and has already done so much to raise the profile of eight wildlife sites across the city.

Listen to this week’s episode to find out more from Ian about the brilliant work already being done by individuals, organisations and city partners, and what more now needs to be done in a collective city-wide effort.

It was a pleasure speaking with Ian for the first in our podcast series, and I look forward to sharing the conversations I’ve had with other Bristol citizens over the coming weeks.

You can download and subscribe to On The Spot on Anchor, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Episode 1: The Ecological Emergency is available to listen now. This podcast is created and hosted by Bristol City Council: https://anchor.fm/bristolcitycouncil

Can Do Bristol

Last week saw the launch of the Year of Can Do 2020, a year of activity to inspire, motivate and support the citizens of Bristol to get involved in their community. It’s about sharing skills, knowledge and time, accessing volunteering opportunities and celebrating the huge positive impact social action has on our city.

The Year of Can Do is being led by local Bristol community organisations including Knowle West Media Centre and Up Our Street, and will be packed with events, training and opportunities.

Having spent time working in the voluntary and community sector, I know the vital role these organisations play in shaping the identity of a place. I’m proud of Bristol’s reputation for independent spirit and community action, and of the things we have achieved by collectively stepping up and demanding better.

There are thousands of people in the city who give their time each year to helping others. Many volunteer with third sector organisations or with other services such as hospitals, schools, parks and libraries. But there is also a groundswell of individuals who offer support or give their time for free to their friends, neighbours, local communities, faith and cultural groups.

I want to thank all those who give their time to making our city a better place for everyone. We want to celebrate all these acts of kindness, large or small, during the Year of Can Do. Those that are already active in their community serve as inspiration to us all – and we want to encourage more people to get involved.

But it’s not just about what you can give – there is so much to gain from getting involved in your local community. Volunteering can offer you skills, keep you active and allow you to connect with others. It can be a channel through which to empower those who may not typically get a seat at the table, and then there’s the sense of satisfaction that so many volunteers report.

A great way to get involved is to connect with your neighbours and others Can Do Bristol (www.candobristol.co.uk), Bristol’s dedicated new web platform for enabling and celebrating community action in the city.

It has been developed by partners across Bristol and is an easy way to find information on campaigns, events, training and volunteering opportunities throughout the year. You can use it to find out what’s happening near where you live, take part in local initiatives or create your own.

There will also be a Can Do Festival running from 2nd-15th March. The festival will offer the opportunity to attend training, take part in events and activities, share your learning or discover something new.

So, what is it you feel most passionate about? What change would you most like to see and how can you help to make that a reality?

Bristol belongs to the people who live, work and study here. We want to empower more people to positively shape their communities through volunteering and neighbourly activity. Together, we can deliver a Bristol that works for everybody.

Bristol@Night

It’s just over a year since we formed the Bristol@Night advisory panel. On Monday night I was delighted to be joined by Amy Lamé, the Night Czar for London, along with many of those working in the night time economy, to celebrate all that’s been achieved so far. Complete with Jamaican food, Bristol-based musician Harvey Causon and a sound system provided by Motion nightclub, it was a proper Bristol get-together.

Bristol has a reputation for being a bit loud. From Eats Everything to Massive Attack, Portishead to Roni Size, we have a long history of making noise. But this aspect of our city can too often seem removed from the everyday workings of City Hall.

Councillor Nicola Beech, my cabinet lead for Spatial Planning and City Design, came to me two years ago when it became clear that those working in the night time economy didn’t have a voice in the council. In creating the Bristol@Night panel, we wanted to bring partners together to work through the challenges and support a safe, vibrant and inclusive night time economy.

With so much change going on in our growing city, and as we tackle competing priorities from housing to transport,  we mustn’t forget the importance of our culture. And I don’t just mean ‘high culture’, which is of course vitally important in its own right. I mean grassroots culture and all those smaller, independent venues that make Bristol such an attractive place to live, but are all too often left vulnerable in the face of change.

The city is complex and there are going to be changes that need to happen. Cleaning up our dirty air must happen, but there will be consequences in implementing the measures we need to take. That’s why we need a range of voices at the table to help mitigate the impact of these measures and protect business and nightlife. Only by coming together can we support businesses to thrive and adapt to the changes going on around them.

There’s a real opportunity for those working in this sector to step up and shape the future of our city. Bristol’s night time economy, and particularly its underground music scene, attracts a diverse audience. The night time economy is worth 6% of UK GDP or £66billion annually and provides jobs for 1.3million people in the UK, so the opportunity is huge.

So how can we support more young people from a range of communities to view this industry as a potential career?

We want to explore how this sector can support a pipeline of diverse and inclusive leaders for the future. One way we’re hoping to do this is through sharing some of our Apprenticeship Levy Funds with employers who would otherwise be unable to support such an opportunity due to costs or lack of funding.

We are particularly interested in hearing about apprenticeship opportunities that will diversify the workforce and help fill skills gaps. To find out more about how your business can tap into these funds, contact bristol.apprentices@bristol.gov.uk.

But it’s not all about bars, pubs and clubs. Amy Lamé spoke about being a Czar for all Londoners at night, whether you want to get a good night’s sleep, you work at night time or you want to be out dancing until the early hours. That’s why the panel will work closely with our emergency services, our transport colleagues and developers to ensure that Bristol is a safe and inclusive place to be at all hours of the day or night. 

The foundations have been laid for a new relationship with the night time economy. I’m excited to see what the Bristol@Night panel achieve in their second year as we strive to ensure Bristol continues to be an open and vibrant place for visitors, residents and workers alike.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020

Today’s blog comes from Donna Speed, Chief Executive of We The Curious on the importance of marking International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020.

The theme for this year is ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.’ 

I’m proud to say that We The Curious was the first science centre in the world to declare a climate emergency and has inspired more science centres to act. In Bristol, many organisations have united to address the causes of climate change, before the impacts become irreversible.

We hear daily accounts describing the devastating impact that the actions of humans are having on our planet. We are moved by the bravery of those trying to turn the tide before it’s too late; such as Greta Thunberg’s impassioned speeches challenging those in power to do more. For me, Greta is incredibly inspirational as a young woman and as an advocate of the power and importance of science. Greta’s focus has always been on the facts, looking at the research and what it tells us:

These numbers are not my opinions. They aren’t anyone’s opinions or political views. This is the current best available science. Though a great number of scientists suggest even these figures are too moderate, these are the ones that have been accepted by all nations through the IPCC.”

Given the challenges we face on a global scale, it makes sense to have as many brains – as many different ideas, experience, talents and views – as possible working on scientific solutions. Yet science, in education and in industry, is still very much the province of men. Barely over a quarter of girls choose to go into science subjects in education, with women making up a similar percentage of research posts and just 25% of the STEM workforce. 

We need more girls and women in science. We need to be included in both post-GCSE science education and going on into research and industry. We need to recognise the power that we possess and the value we bring, and take inspiration from brilliant women, because the problems we face are going to need all of us working together to solve them.

For those of you think that science ‘Is Not For Me’. I myself thought the same way at school, because I didn’t have all the answers. But science isn’t about answers, it’s about questions, and it’s EVERYWHERE. If you’re curious or concerned about any aspect of the world – from the technology that gave you the phone in your hand to the science that may help to solve the climate emergency – then you’re interested in science. Why not follow that interest and see where it leads?

Protecting Bristol’s Nightlife: an update from Motion

© Photography by Ollie Kirk for Here & Now (fb.com/wearehereandnow)

Today’s blog comes from Dan Deeks, Managing Director of Motion Bristol

Today marks a milestone for Motion, and for our nightlife more broadly. As we work to protect city-centre venues from the changes going on around us, we have succeeded in securing a deed of easement.

Motion as a venue has existed in the industrial area of our city, with little residential properties in proximity. As part of our city’s growth a university campus will be situated over the river from us with residential property coming with it. This is much-needed regeneration, and we welcome the change. However, these new properties leave us at risk of potential noise complaints.

A deed of easement of noise will give our venue the right to make noise up to pre-existing levels without the risk of legal action from the owner or tenant of a newly developed home. This means Bristol’s cultural offer can be protected and our world-famous music and nightlife can continue to exist in a growing city.

Where deed of easement has been used to protect nightlife previously in the UK, it has mostly involved one development and one venue. Our situation is unique in the fact that we have six proposed sites around us. Although we have secured only one easement so far, it still feels like a massive success. The natural progression here would be that the rest of the developments followed suit.

For my partner and myself we found the situation very daunting. This has been a steep learning curve. I specialise in dark rooms, high tech laser and lighting systems, not planning terms. My partner, Martin, specialises in Chemical Brother albums and every condition you have ever seen on a premises license.

Cllr Nicola Beech has been working alongside us since very early on. It wasn’t long before Nicola, armed with her Bristol @ Night panel, supported the proposed measures we suggested. Nicola has spoken publicly of the cultural and economic importance of nightlife to our city, and her interest in supporting to re-generation of existing and new spaces for potential nightlife use in the future.

We worked with Bristol City Council’s Planning and Pollution Control Officers to ensure that suitable mitigation measures were enforced, and began collectively looking at other cases and learning what we could – easements of noise are in fairly new in their application.

These conversations were followed by talks with developers themselves. The conversation with Summix was initiated by Nicola and Jim Tarzy our planning consultant. Stuart Black from Summix was very willing to look at several options. The easement of noise idea comes with a lot of stigma with developers and is pushed away without really looking at the facts. Stuart diligently looked through case studies and decided he was happy to go ahead with it.

I’m certainly very happy with the outcome. Our city has rich heritage of music culture, and a lot of this culture stems from our multicultural roots. It’s something we should be proud of.

There are still hurdles ahead for the Night Time Economy. Action such as the business rate cut for music venues announced by the government is a massive boost but does not solve wider issues. Public Transport, including later running trains and buses, would have massive benefits. We have empty shops and shopping centres, and this creates a unique opportunity to re-purpose spaces, but as a city we need to have open minds.

Nightlife in Bristol provides thousands of jobs – we must work to safeguard these jobs and the people that do them.  We must focus on making our nightlife venues safe places where everyone is welcome. We are so grateful for the courtesy others gave us in listening to our views and ideas, and I hope we can use this experience to help build a bright future for nightlife in Bristol.

Labour Leadership: Getting Stuff Done

Yesterday and today, I have been at Labour’s local government conference in Nottingham – discussing the future of local government and how we can work together for the best interests of our citizens in Boris Johnson’s post Brexit world.

I took some time out to look at Nottingham’s famed tram network and a bus service which runs every seven minutes. One service even stops in Nottingham’s very own “Clifton”. Compare this to the decades of absent vision and failed delivery for transport in Bristol that have left our city woefully underserved. And we are dealing with consequences of that failure with disconnected communities, economic exclusion, and car dependency.

Nottingham is a case-in-point of the ambition which I and my colleagues here have for our communities. Nottingham is proof what can happen when a council aligns vision with a commitment and ability to deliver.

Bristol is now a city with that ambition and is getting stuff done. The cranes across the city scape, new homes, the opening of Channel 4 Bristol, a city able to end period poverty and  organise with no national government funding to supply and distribute 55,000 meals to tackle holiday hunger, and a Bristol at the heart of the Western Gateway, the UK’s latest regional powerhouse.

We have taken this vision and delivery into transport through our work on the Bristol Bus Deal and our plans for a long overdue mass transit system. The Bus Deal is already seeing investment to double the frequency of bus services and make them more reliable. This chapter change comes alongside the arrival of the UK’s biggest order of bio-gas eco buses here in Bristol, cleaning up our air at the same time as cutting congestion.

It’s often said that the best time to plant a tree was forty years ago, and that the second best time is today. Transport networks, like trees, don’t appear overnight.  Transport networks need time, planning, and finance.

Nottingham’s tram network, for example, was first talked about in the 1980s. Thanks to investment from the Labour Government, the first phase was then completed between 1998-2004; the second in 2015. Like Nottingham, Bristol should have understood the challenge, set the vision and put the foundations in a place decades ago. But it didn’t. And so we have been doing so for four years. We have to start from where we are, rather than where we wish we were.

In a video which I posted from the conference, I said that we have to get past the nay-sayers: the people who call progress a pipe-dream, who deride serious plans as pie-in-the-sky. Instead of being guided by what Bristolians need, they let the city’s historic non-delivery and their own lack of ambition and confidence limit our future. Newcastle, Liverpool, and Glasgow have all proved that’s it’s possible to deliver an underground outside of the capital. These are all cities with similar metro-region populations to Bristol. Now, with Bristol uniting around delivering mass transit, after the youth mayors and youth council chose to make it a city priority for 2020, there is real hope for the future for us too.

National Apprenticeship Week

Today’s guest blog comes from Jaya Kaur, Marketing and Communications Apprentice at Bristol City Council.

This week we celebrated National Apprenticeships Week (3-9 February), which shines a light on apprentices and employers across the country. The aim is to encourage others to look beyond the common stereotypes surrounding apprenticeships and celebrate the diversity of opportunity and value they bring to our city and beyond.

I’ve always liked the option of doing an apprenticeship because you can learn whilst working and that was a better option for me. After leaving college, I applied for various jobs but I was unable to find anything I really wanted to pursue.

At this point, I started to look at alternative routes into work and after much persistence I secured this apprenticeship. I was drawn to this type of role because of the experience that it would offer me in social media, events and campaigns. I was really nervous at the interview, but I felt passionately that this was something I really wanted to do.

Since joining the council I’ve gained experience working on a wide range of projects including St Nicholas Market, Bristol’s Going for Gold bid and National Apprenticeship Week. I’ve also developed a range of skills including producing and editing films. This week I had the chance to interview apprentices from across the council who shared their thoughts on apprenticeships and the benefits they have to offer.

Overall, I think this whole journey has opened my eyes to how important it is to keep positive and motivated.  I’ve learned so much on my apprenticeship and it has certainly changed my whole outlook and aspirations for life. If you’re thinking of applying for an apprenticeship, I would certainly suggest you go for it. It’s a good option for those who want to start a career and learn at the same time.

Bristol City Council currently has over 250 apprentices across all areas, including the Mayor’s Office. They help deliver key services and play an important role in the organisation. Current apprentice vacancies include Chartered Town Planner, Solicitor and Business Administrator roles. 

Did you know?

  • Apprenticeships are suitable for anyone aged 16 or over
  • Apprenticeships are available at a range of levels, from Level 2 for those just starting their career to Level 7 Master’s Degree equivalent across professional and management roles
  • Apprenticeships cover a range of sectors, including law, finance, education, sales, marketing, IT as well as more traditional subjects
  • Doing an apprenticeship can increase your long term earning potential and are also great for those returning to work or changing career
  • Apprenticeships offer a competitive salary whilst all your training costs are paid, including at degree level

If you would like to apply for the apprenticeship programme, visit the Bristol City Council website.

For information about National Apprenticeship Week, click here.

On Track – Putting Temple Meads Station at the heart of Bristol’s future

Today’s guest blog comes from Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail.

SPH Routemaster bio headshotIt’s a crucial time for Temple Meads station. Investment in a new rail fleet is creating extra train capacity and faster connections between Bristol, London and elsewhere, and passenger numbers passing through Brunel’s masterpiece are expected to reach 22 million a year by 2030.

We’ve wanted to improve Temple Meads station for passengers and people passing through the area for a long time.

We haven’t had the resources to do this on our own, so we’ve grasped a once-in–a-lifetime opportunity to work with Bristol City Council, WECA, Homes England and the University of Bristol to put Temple Meads at the heart of a new urban quarter helping to unlock new homes, jobs, opportunities and connectivity.

Improvements to the station will make it a 21st century transport hub by doubling its passenger capacity and linking to public transport improvements that will reduce congestion, reduce carbon use and make it easier to travel to and around the city.

As part of the Temple Quarter masterplan work we plan to:

  • •Make it easier for passengers to move around in the station itself, create new platforms and improve existing ones.
  • •Transform the northern gateway (by the Friary) creating a new concourse with improved retail, ticket office and passenger facilities.  The gateway will open up to a new transport hub on the Friary with easy connections for pedestrians, cyclists and the local and citywide bus network.
  • •Create a new eastern entrance from the station subway opening onto the University of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and the east of the city.

We’re excited and proud to see Temple Meads at the centre of this harmonious, co-ordinated plan to create a thriving new quarter in the centre of the city that will help boost the city economy and open up opportunities for people and businesses.

Succeeding in this needs a shared ambition so we really value the support and collaboration from our fellow partners both to create something unique for Bristol, its citizens and economy, and, as we should, putting passengers first on our railway.

Temple Meads pic

Bristol City Council is presenting an overview of the work in Temple Quarter, and an update on how future proposals for the area are progressing, to the Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee next week. You can view the presentation here and here.

Destination Bristol

Today’s blog comes from Kathryn Davis, Head of Tourism at Destination Bristol

This week sees Bristol host the UKinbound Annual Tourism Convention. This is in recognition of Bristol’s growing reputation as a visitor destination, with a visitor economy now worth over £1bn.

Bristol is a UNESCO City of Film. We’re home to Aardman animation, creators of Wallace and Gromit and has been used as a filming location in many popular TV programmes and films. We were crowned Best Culinary Destination in the World at the Food Travel Association’s Food Trekking Awards, and one of the Best European Cities to visit by The Independent. In 2015, Bristol was the first UK city to hold the title of European Green Capital and we are a Fairtrade city.

So there’s a lot to shout about. Destination Bristol has been supporting and developing the visitor economy in Bristol and South Gloucestershire for 20 years, during which time its value has almost doubled.

More places to stay and more reasons to visit mean that we have enjoyed sustained growth.  Around 80% of all staying visitors are estimated to come from within the UK.  And with around 20% of all staying visitors estimated to come from overseas, this makes Bristol one of the most visited towns and cities by international visitors in the UK (currently ranked 7th). 

So why do people come? 

Business events and conferences are a critical part of the visitor economy.  Worth around £307m, those here on business are likely to visit because, well, they have to.  Attracting conferences and other business events to the region is a year-round task, which involves investing in relationships with professional organisers, agencies and influencers, developing marketing communications and connecting with organisers at a variety of trade shows and events. 

Those coming for leisure come for a wide range of reasons, often simply to see a band, play or performance, attend a festival or event, try a certain restaurant or visit a specific attraction. 

Street art continues to attract people from around the world, as does our reputation for a diverse nightlife and outstanding food and drink scene.  Bristol’s evolution as a place of independent, sustainable and collaborative businesses and experiences means that it is genuinely unlike anywhere else.  Something we often take for granted living here.

World class events such as the Cricket World Cup in 2019 undoubtedly bring huge numbers of visitors and attract worldwide attention. But it is the everyday range of activities, experiences, events and attractions that make Bristol such an attractive proposition for visitors.  Visitor research has shown that often it isn’t always just one thing, but the broader offer that make Bristol such a popular place to visit. 

There is a phenomenal amount of work that takes place to maintain interest in the city region as a visitor destination.  In the last 12 months, this has included articles being produced in countries including the UK, USA, China, Germany, The Netherlands, France, and Spain.  This not only acts as inspiration to visit but builds a ‘soft power’, raising the profile of the city region as a whole.

As well as short breaks focussed in and around the city, we highlight Bristol as a base to explore other places within the region, using sustainable travel solutions wherever possible.  For instance, there are a wide range of rail passes, some available exclusively for international visitors, which enable uncomplicated off-peak travel in a short period.

There are at least 45 religions, 187 countries of birth and 91 main languages spoken in the city. This diversity means our communities are often well-connected internationally. It is critical that Bristol remains open and welcoming to all – from those who live here year-round, to those visiting from the rest of the UK and overseas. 

Ultimately, it is the people of Bristol who make this such a special place to be.

Bristol declares an ecological emergency

Today, with city partners, we  declared an Ecological Emergency– making us the first city in the UK to do so. This declaration will provide a focus for the whole city to come together and take positive action on the nature and wildlife emergency.   

The figures are shocking. 15% of British wildlife is now at risk of extinction. In Bristol, swifts and starlings have been virtually wiped out, with recorded numbers dropping by 96% since 1994

Priorities will include looking at ways to stop wildlife habitats from being destroyed, managing land in a sustainable way and creating and caring for wildlife-rich spaces in every part of the city.

It is our hope that this announcement will kick-start the response that is required to deal with the scale of the challenges that face us, providing a focus for the whole city to come together and take positive action.

Action is needed at all levels, from central Government, through to local partnerships, communities and individuals. In recognition of this, we will be working with our colleagues across the West of England and with Government to seek to secure the policies, funding and powers we need to restore nature nationally and locally.

Building on the city’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2018, today’s announcement acknowledges the essential role nature plays in society and the economy, from clean water and air, food, timber and flood protection.

Pioritising the protection of wildlife is motivated by economics as much as the ecological need.   The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report ranks biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse as one of the top five threats humanity will face in the next ten years. Over half the world’s total GDP is dependent on nature and its services through impacts on operations, supply chains, and markets  – that’s $44 trillion.

We are not starting from scratch on this issue. The One City Plan already includes an ambition to double wildlife in Bristol, which demonstrates the ambition of the city to stop the decline in wildlife and start to restore what has been lost.

Some examples of the work we are doing include:

  • MyWildCity, a 3-year project led by Avon Wildlife Trust project with Council support to raise the profile of eight wildlife sites in neighbourhoods across the city;
  • Replant Bristol, a multi-stakeholder group championing the current One City Plan’s ‘double tree canopy by 2046’ target;
  • Bristol Green Capital Partnership have chosen Nature as one of its five workstreams;
  • The West of England Nature Partnership is working on a regional Nature Recovery Network as part of a national initiative, which supports biodiversity by joining up wildlife-rich landscapes.

As a council, we are committed to playing our part. My ask is that you do yours too. If you’ve got a garden, let your grass grow, build a bug hotel or pond, or let a patch go wild to support more wildlife. Maybe you could work with your neighbours to create wildlife rich green spaces in your local area. And if you’re not green-fingered, you can still have an impact by reducing your consumption of products produced in ways that damage wildlife habitats worldwide.

We know that there will be times when this intention comes into conflict with other aims and goals, but we endeavour meet these challenges with practical compromise and pragmatic approach to do our best for Bristol’s wildlife.

It is not too late to start the recovery of our wildlife. We must work together to grasp this last chance and put things right for nature and wildlife in our city. This is about how we responsibly build and develop the city so humans don’t threaten wildlife and instead support them to grow alongside us.

Thank you to the Avon Wildlife Trust, We the Curious, the SS Great Britain Trust, the University of the West of England, Bristol Zoological Society, NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, North Bristol NHS Trust, University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust and the Future Economy Network for their support.