Commissioning our interventions

At a recent meeting with VOSCUR and our community development team, I was able to set out a purpose and a number of principles I want to guide the way we approach the commissioning of services.

I want us to move to understand that we are not merely commissioning a service, but an intervention that will improve the way the city works. 

Whether we are talking about a drugs or alcohol service, a mental health intervention or a youth service, the intervention we pay for does not sit, and cannot work effectively, in an abstract. Services like these sit in the middle of many other services and service providers and must join up. It’s not just the service we commission, but the way that service is delivered and the impact that has on other service deliverers in the city. Any organisation bidding for a contract in Bristol must show how it will work to join up with other services areas to ensure people, in particular the most vulnerable, are not falling through the gaps.

But there is something more. The city needs to be underpinned by an ecosystem of voluntary community sector and faith organisations. These are the physical and social spaces in which people come together in community and find the collective power to be able to shape their lives. In that sense, they don’t only provide a service but often an example of local leadership, pathways to employment and a trust and authenticity mere service providers and often times publically provided services simply cannot.

We have in the past seen situations where big outside service providers have won contracts on the basis of being able to meet a specific city need, but the decision to direct the city’s money to them has resulted in the loss of three of our local organisations. So while the contract may be met, the net impact on the city is negative. Not least because when we lose the local organisation, we also lose all its social capital with it. I think here of organisations such as the Southmead Development Trust, Nilaari, Wellspring Healthy Living Centre, The Park and the others who carry a reputation and trust that’s taken years to build up.

So we want to see evidence from those who want to work in our city that they will join up their services and invest in and strengthen the ecosystem of community voluntary and faith sector organisations. It’s in our communities we will find our city resilience.  


Budget Simulator

I spent this morning with students from Bedminster Down School. I was there to launch our budget simulator.

The cuts to local government, as well as financial mismanagement by the previous administration, mean that the council must find £108m of savings over the next five years to balance the budget.

This means service budgets will be affected again. If we increase Council Tax by 1.99% each year (the maximum possible without a referendum) and an additional 3% in 2018/19 for the Social Care Precept, we would increase the money we have available by £29m by 2022/23. This will contribute a significant amount to bridging our budget gap.

We have reviewed all of our spending pressures and changes in funding, and have identified ways to mitigate some demand and inflation pressures, to reduce the gap by a further £14m. This leaves us needing to find another £65m over the next five years.

The budget simulator give you an opportunity to get your hands on this challenge. It gives you a chance to engage in the sheer scale of the complexity of the situation.

You also have the opportunity to Tweet and Facebook your decisions. Doing so would certainly enhance the quality of our political debate. I look forward to your contributions.

DCLG Visit to Bristol


I gathered yesterday with the leaders of Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and our Metro Mayor to host Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid.

The day was about winning backing for the government deal that will enable us to unlock the building of thousands of homes. At present we are awaiting the result of our Housing Infrastructure Fund bid and Housing Deal.

While we can’t guarantee anything until the papers are signed and shovels are in the ground, this morning was very positive for Bristol.

It was positive that the Minister chose Bristol to host his big housing speech yesterday, as we lead up to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and on the same day the Prime Minster declared her commitment to house-building.

It was positive that in his speech he acknowledged the huge potential in Bristol in general and the Temple Meads Quarter in particular. He contrasted our commitment to getting things done, the political cooperation across the region’s borders and the popular recognition of today’s huge opportunity with its history as a symbol of decline.

We will have powerful partners in the Homes and Communities Agency who have been directed to be less cautious and more aggressive in supporting authorities to get homes built. This sits alongside the Minister’s commitment to work with authorities who show willingness to deliver.

The key thing to take away is that Bristol is being recognised as a city that is committed to getting homes built and a place government want to be associated with because we can deliver.  


Open Space, Open Art

city hall art

Today in City Hall we unveiled seven incredible pieces of artwork created by local artists from different Bristol wards.

No.1: Untitled, by Brushstrokes Group, Southmead 2017

No.2: Untitled, by Jasmin Nowak Fearon and Cotham School, Cotham 2017

No.3: Arts in the Park, by Rachel Heaton, Knowle

No.4: Homeward Bound, byMatthew, by Mr K Bradshaw, Stockwood

No.5: Totterdown Together, by Jane Vellender, Windmill Hill

No.6: One Community Handprints, by Knowle West Against Racism, Created at Knowle West Fest August 2016

We want to ensure City Hall is a public space for the people of Bristol. Using the walls of our building to display the work of Bristol people, we can turn City Hall into a gallery of talent and life from across the city. Members of the public can come into the building to view the artwork anytime during opening hours.

The idea came from an inspirational afternoon I spent with people in Knowle West. The community had come together to make a stand against racism following a couple of unwelcome incidents. They had produced a piece of work consisting of multi-coloured handprints (shown below) of people in the community. I suggested it would be great to put the work up in City Hall for the whole city before suggesting it would great to have it joined by work from right across Bristol.  

Knowle west Against Racism

We have now allocated a space on the walls of city hall to every ward in Bristol. We have offered all Bristol City councillors the opportunity to source work from their ward. The opportunity is to have each on the wall for six months before being rotated for a new work. If you have a piece of artwork which you think would be suitable for City Hall, please get in touch with your local councillor.

It’s already made a huge difference to this area of City Hall and I look forward to seeing more artwork on our walls very soon.



Time to get tough on litter


Over the past two weeks over 500 people in Bristol have taken part in the Autumn Litter Blitz, a massive community clean-up campaign. They collected 504 bags of waste between them at 38 separate events. In total, volunteers gave up 1200 hours of their time to pick up litter and make Bristol a more attractive and cleaner place to live. It’s an impressive effort and I’m grateful to everyone who got involved.

It also goes to show just how much people in Bristol care about our local environment. People are getting out there and doing their bit – so now it’s time the council started taking tougher action too.

Inspired by all the people, including children, who get involved in litter picks, we recently ran a major advertising campaign reminding people to use a bin (or if it’s full, take their rubbish with them). Featuring the ‘Clean Streets Superheroes’, the campaign included messages on 1000 bins, 200 buses and 170 bus stops across the city.

Despite this, a minority of people still persist in dropping litter. Our street cleansing teams pick up around 7000 tonnes of waste a year and they are fighting a losing battle.

That’s why I’ve decided that firm action needs to be taken – from this week we are going to try a new approach to prevent people from disrespecting our city.

Think it’s ok to drop litter? Fine.

We’ve signed a contract with a specialist enforcement company, Kingdom, who will work on behalf of the council for a trial period. The enforcement officers will be able to hand out on-the-spot fines of £75 to people they catch dropping litter – including cigarette butts and chewing gum – spitting or tagging. People who leave dog mess or fail to keep their dog under control could be fined up to £100.

The fines will be used to pay for the enforcement service, meaning there will be no extra cost to the taxpayer. If there’s any surplus left over, we’ll use it to improve the city’s environment.

In tandem, the Broadmead BID have given one thousand pounds worth of gifts to the city. These will be randomly handed out to people spotted doing something to clean up Bristol.

Many other UK cities have already used this model to bring about big changes in behaviour. I look forward to seeing the same results in Bristol.

Budget & Corporate Strategy Consultation

Today Bristol City Council have opened a consultation on our draft five-year plan, 2018-19 budget proposals and a range of ways to close its budget gap of £108 million between April 2018 and April 2023.

I am inviting everyone who lives, works and visits Bristol to review the draft Corporate Strategy and budget proposals and have their say:

The ‘Tough Times, High Hopes’ consultation includes draft proposals which outline ways to make the £52m of savings required next year (2018/19). Through it people are able to give their feedback on these, as well as Council Tax and Adult Social Care levy proposals.

I’ve asked for an online tool to simulate the budget and try their hand at dealing with the budget gap themselves: People can use the online tool to better understand the consequences of making savings. However, the budget simulator is not a formal part of the consultation process and people are advised to complete the main survey alongside it.

Bristol is a successful city that has much to be proud of. We want everyone to share in that success and have real hope and aspiration.

We face many challenges in achieving that, not least a £108m budget gap over the next five years as we try to deal with the consequences of austerity, increased costs and the rising population in the city.

To achieve this, the council needs to change and so does what people expect of it. We are being clearer that we are only one part of the wider city network. We will do our utmost to protect our services but we must be more than solely a service provider. We want to be more of a development organisation which empowers people, working far more in partnership to make this happen.

These are not easy decisions and your views will help us shape Bristol’s future.

Bristol 2K Challenge

This week my Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Helen Godwin, has asked to contribute a guest blog about the 2K Challenge.


This weekend my kids, along with hundreds of others, will take part in the first ever Bristol 2K Challenge. We will be running at Junior Parkrun Kingsweston House as part of Team North (despite the inevitable wind and rain!). I know that at the end, red-faced and out of puff, they will feel an exhilarating sense of achievement after competing the 2KM course.

Bristol has had a brilliant year as City of Sport, but as the year draws to a close we will focus on the legacy and how we can make sure that our year of sport has turned into something tangible and positive for our young people.

The City is lucky to host three Junior Parkrun events every week, so this November we want children aged 4 to 14 to get outside in the fresh air and completing their very own Bristol 2K Challenge. The runs are held every Sunday in Victoria Park and Eastville Park (both at 9am and fully accessible) and at 10am at Kingsweston House. They are completely free, all you have to do is pre-register your children and decide which of our Bristol teams they will run for: North, South or East/Central. Everyone who completes the course will receive their time and a limited edition 2K Challenge wristband.  You can register now at the following link:

This generation of children are growing up in a country that has produced world leaders in so many different sporting arenas; from the Olympians and Paralympians of London 2012 to the recent World Cup victory of the U17’s football team – there is nothing to stop young Bristolians from thinking they can make it. We want our children to have a core level of fitness that will give them opportunities to compete in all sports, but most importantly we want them to take part. Bristol has higher than average levels of childhood obesity, by Year 6 one fifth of our children are seriously overweight and we owe it to these children to tackle this issue head on. The power of exercise to improve mental health is proven, and we must support and encourage sport as way to channel energy and negative thoughts.

So, rain or shine, please sign up your children to join in the Bristol 2k Challenge this November. The Mayor and I can’t wait to see Bristol’s children taking over the parks for the next four weeks and, hopefully, beyond.

And, of course, the answer to the burning question – grown ups can join in too!


Our Name in Lights

I am delighted that Bristol’s reputation as a world-leading centre for film has been recognised by today being declared a ‘UNESCO City of Film’.

The announcement, made by the Director-General of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), is fantastic news and an endorsement of Bristol’s position as a world leader in film production, education and training.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network works together towards a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development. The Creative Cities Network is currently formed by 116 Members from 54 countries.

The designation as a City of Film means that Bristol joins Sydney, Galway, Rome and Bradford with this status. Manchester will also take its place alongside Bristol as part of the Creative Cities Network after being named a UNESCO City of Literature.

Bristol has a long and impressive track record of producing TV drama, film, animation and particularly natural history content – we have been home to the BBC’s globally renowned Natural History Unit for more than 60 years.

We prioritise a strong and competitive film sector.  In addition to a supportive Film Office, we have driven the development of the largest dedicated film and TV studio facility in the West of England; The Bottle Yard Studios.  It is now home to some of Britain’s best high end TV and film titles, watched in the UK and internationally, including most recently Poldark (BBC), Broadchurch (ITV), The White Princess (STARZ) and Galavant (Disney).

Our cultural sector is a diverse industry that plays an important role in breaking down the barriers inequality creates. The creative industries in the city employ around 16,000 people and are growing fast. Our ambition is that the education, training and employment opportunities developed by the sector will benefit all communities across Bristol.

I have recently launched a competition for young, Bristol-based filmmakers to make a 90-second film, animation or motion video suitable for use on social media that captures their view of what makes our city the place to be. The winner will receive £1000 and their film will be used by my office and international broadcasters to show the world what a creative force Bristol is. Details of how to enter can be found here.

I hope this recognition will be a catalyst for bigger opportunities for the city and Bristolians to showcase Bristol as a centre for film.

WECA Infrastructure Investment

Yesterday I attended a meeting of the West of England Combined Authority Committee in Bath. We considered funding for several majors schemes to improve transport, housing and employment in our area. A series of feasibility studies and the development of business cases for strategically important infrastructure schemes were agreed within the WECA area.

While I know local government can sometimes be dull and inaccessible, these are projects which will have a major impact on our city region for the future.

Here are the items which were secured for Bristol:

Strategic Transport Feasibility

Orbital Route

This scheme comprises a combination of new links and improvements to existing highway, between Whitchurch and Hengrove. It would link up new housing opportunities at Whitchurch as set out in the Joint Spatial Plan, and support regeneration in South Bristol.

Temple Meads Masterplan

The study will consider a range of major improvements at this key regional hub, including more platforms, better access to the northern entrance, and access improvements for passengers and cyclists. This element will enable the development of a station masterplan, essential to the delivery of station improvements.

Underground and rapid transport options

This would include studies into four mass transit corridors linking Bristol city centre with Bristol Airport, the North Fringe, the East Fringe and via the A4 corridor to Hicks Gate/Keynsham, as identified in the Joint Transport Plan. There will also be a study into a light rail/Metro hybrid option, supporting Bristol City Council’s study.

Schemes for Business Case Development


Bristol City Council has identified land for 800 new homes and a new school at Lockleaze. This study will look at what transport infrastructure is needed for this development, including bus lanes, cycle routes, and junction improvements.


Bristol City Council is in the process of securing outline planning consent for around 1500 new homes, a large park, onsite highways and access. This initiative would look at the improvements needed to support the development of new homes here, including improvements to William Jessop Way, utilities infrastructure and new access and junctions from Hengrove Way and Bamfield.



Smartened Up

Bristol has just overtaken London as the UK’s leading ‘smart city’ according to the second UK Smart Cities Index.

The report evaluated twenty cities and their strategies, key projects and overall ability in using digital technology to improve crucial civic services, such as transport infrastructure and healthcare. Bristol was differentiated from the other contenders through the clarity, breadth and inclusiveness of our smart city vision and planning, and was named as a ‘leader’ in the field.

This achievement has in part been made possible by the work of Bristol Is Open, a joint venture between BCC and the University of Bristol which aims to develop Bristol as a smart city and support an ‘Internet of Things’. Our new Operations Centre uses state-of-the-art technology linked to our high speed fibre network and monitors traffic flow and CCTV around the city. This could eventually provide services in areas such as health protection, traffic management, waste management and energy monitoring. Our city also leads the way in open data access, energy innovation and community engagement.

The University of Bristol has recently been named as one of three UK testbeds for cutting-edge 5G technology, keeping the city at the forefront of this pioneering research. This innovation and forward-thinking makes us more attractive to the global tech sector, academics and media innovators, whether they be Channel 4, the BBC or independents.

However, we need to ensure that improving connectivity is experienced by the whole city and that progress is shared by all. Some areas of Bristol, such as Whitchurch, are still experiencing below-average broadband speeds and we are working with providers to upgrade exchanges and improve service in these less connected areas.

Being a smart city means being a more resilient, efficient and integrated city, which is able to adapt to change more readily to an unpredictable future. Being named as the UK’s ‘smartest’ city is an impressive accolade, and one which demonstrates our city’s capacity to lead in research and technology on a national and international scale. But making sure this progress is inclusive is vital to the future success of Bristol’s economy and communities.