Mayor’s Migration Council

Cities do not exist in a vacuum. While some of the challenges we face in Bristol are local issues within our control, many more are the products of wider national and international dysfunction. And so if we’re going to be serious about tackling them, we have to be prepared to get outside the city boundaries and engage with the wider world.

That’s what I’ve been doing this weekend at the first Leadership Board meeting of the Mayor’s Migration Council. The Mayor’s Migration Council is a new initiative to help cities become more influential at the international level on issues related to migration. The Leadership Board is made up of 12 Mayors from all over the world, who come together to help guide the work of the organisation. Sitting alongside my colleagues from Los Angeles, Sao Paolo, Kampala, Amman and elsewhere, it is striking how much we have in common. We are all aiming for the same thing – creating an inclusive city that values and unlocks the contribution of all of its residents. We are all facing many of the same practical challenges in making this vision a reality – affordable housing, access to education, issues with skills recognition and access to good quality work. And most of us are also facing the political challenge of a rising tide of nationalism and intolerance, with national-level demagogues trying to whip up fear of the other, with migrants and refugees bearing the brunt.

It has also been instructive to think through some of our different contexts, and how we can better work together to become more than the sum of our parts. For example, it can be easy to slip into a discussion which is all about being a ‘welcoming city’, with an assumption that our cities are migrant destinations, when for places like Freetown in Sierra Leone the challenge is about how to stop their young people from leaving. Some of our discussions this weekend have been about what it might look like for ‘sending cities’ to find common cause with ‘transit cities’ and ‘destination cities’ to advance our shared values and goals for migrants and host communities alike.

But the discussions have not just been about how cities can work with each other. We’ve also made good progress in planning for how cities can have a great impact on the international stage, particularly through the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees. For these Compacts to come to life, city voices need to be at the table alongside national governments, bringing their expertise and providing a platform for a more effective use of resources than our current systems allow for. It’s particularly exciting to see these conversations advance beyond the progress we made at the Global Parliament of Mayors Summit in Bristol last October, which saw the first mass commitment by city leaders to enacting the Compacts at the local level.

We’ve also been thinking about how we can best work with our national governments and hold them to account for their responsibilities to migrants and refugees. In Bristol this means continued work on the Lift the Ban campaign to give asylum seekers the right to work, as well as continuing to call for a complete rethinking of the ‘Hostile Environment’ and the way it continues to drive so many innocent people into destitution and despair. Engaging at the international level gives us new avenues to pursue these issues and press for the UK to adopt a more humane and inclusive approach to immigration policy.

Initiatives like the Mayor’s Migration Council give me hope that we can make real progress on these and many more issues. By working alongside other cities from around the world, we can find new ways to increase our collective power on the world stage, and in doing so create tangible improvements for migrants, refugees and all of us here in Bristol.

*The Mayor of Bristol was invited to attend this event in New York by the Mayors Migration Council (MMC). All flights, accommodation and expenses have been covered by the MMC.

Bristol Pride 2019


Today’s blog comes from my Cabinet lead for Women, Children and Families, Helen Godwin, on her time at Bristol Pride.

Photos: Wayne Godwin Reid

July is Pride month, and I was thrilled to have celebrated its 10th Anniversary march through the city and then up to the Downs with a much-anticipated festival on Saturday 13 July.

By raising a flag on College Green last month, Bristol’s residents commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 – a series of events that are often recognised as the birth of the LGBT+ liberation movement, as well as Pride. Pride is a positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. This year, every year and across the world, Pride is celebrated by the LGBT+ community and beyond to showcase, celebrate and embrace the dynamic and diverse LGBT+ community. I am thrilled that on Bristol Pride Day, I felt just how strong these community networks are.

Walking through the city on Saturday morning with my daughter, friends and family, I felt the love all around. In such difficult and divisive times, it was refreshing and enriching to feel positivity and celebration from people on the parade and spectators. Whistles, flags, drums and smiles all encased in a giant rainbow – could we have asked for more?

I saw several older people on the march and couldn’t help but imagine the joy that they must feel seeing how far the fight for equality has come. But of course, there is much to do. Up on the Downs the wonderful Aled Osborne was masterfully curating the Cabaret Stage. He reminded us in an impassioned speech that black transgender women had been amongst the first to give gay people a safe space to be and to love. We must keep fighting, keep protesting and keep going until we truly have equality for all.

Taking Pride in our city is really important for our administration. As Cabinet lead for Women, Children and Families, I see how Bristol’s diversity positively impacts our children. This March, we organised events during LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week and asked members of the community to consider if they could provide loving, stable homes for children in care. Approximately 10% of adopters in Bristol identify as LGBT, but only 2% of our foster carers do. So we want to get the message out that fostering can also be a long term option and way of creating a stable family life. I encourage anyone of the LGBTQ+ community who is willing to provide a loving home for a child in care to find out more here.

Bristol has come a long way, along with the rest of the UK since the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Love is love, and this message was clear throughout Pride. I thank the fantastic team behind Bristol Pride for bringing so much love and joy to our city and creating a beautiful space for all of us to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community. We will always stand with you. Here’s to Pride 2020.

We want our venues to flourish

Today’s blog is an article by Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Strategic Planning and City Design, on the importance of our city’s nightlife, which was recently posted on Bristol 24/7.

Bristol is great. Our city is renowned for its incredible nightlife, which attracts international acts and audiences to experience everything the city has to offer.

Nightlife – as much as ‘day life’ – is what brings people to Bristol and what makes them want to stay.

The 4,000 people who move here from the South East every year, the students who decide to stay on here, and the born and bred Bristolians who never leave are not motivated to make Bristol home because we have a great Starbucks or a tasty Nandos.

It is because of the indescribable quality that is the very fabric of Bristol. And it’s this fabric of our city that we are absolutely committed to protecting.

Great cities evolve and Bristol is no different. My portfolio of spatial planning and city design is all about shaping the nature and degree of any change as we evolve.

But Bristol is not perfect. It is a wonderful place to live, but we also face a number of challenges as a city.

Take housing, for example:

  • 500 families endure living in temporary accommodation
  • 11,000 families on the waiting list for social housing
  • 33,500 more homes are needed to meet demand in the next 15 years

This shows building quality homes is extremely important and it is clear Bristol has a housing crisis as a result of a failure to build homes over previous decades.

This is why this mayor’s administration has made building 2,000 homes a year, at least 800 of which affordable, by 2020 a key priority.

We have begun the largest programme of council house building since the 1970s, and I am pleased we are on target to meet this pledge.

I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I wasn’t looking for land for housing. We believe underused brownfield land in Bristol should be developed before a green field is touched.

However, this is not – and should never be – something that happens at the expense of our fabric; our venues in old industrial buildings which are not listed, our tunnels, cellars, and weird and wonderful idiosyncratic spaces.

It is these spaces which make a city real and atmospheric. Wherever possible, these should be saved and enhanced, and it is essential to ensure that the vitality of the nighttime economy and what it contributes to our city’s cultural offer is preserved and supported to expand and flourish.

Our world class city deserves a world class entrance point, and the modernisation of Temple Meads is long overdue.

We believe that Motion, one of our city’s most iconic nightclubs, can continue to thrive in this context.

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that a booming city necessarily leads to a vibrant nightlife, but this is not always the case.

There are examples of clubs and bars being forced to close in other cities when new developments are built nearby. We want to do everything in our power to ensure that this doesn’t happen in Bristol, so we introduced a planning policy called Agent of Change to protect venues.

This prioritises existing businesses over new developments. There should be no prospect of unreasonable neighbour complaints, licensing restrictions or threats of closure and acoustic and other design measures should be used to mitigate noise and other impacts on a new development.

Of course, the venue has to stick to its own conditions, but our message to bars, clubs and venues is this: treat the city with respect and we have got your back. We want our venues to flourish.

Policy is the tool for achieving this, but it has to work in practice too. I have shuffled things around in City Hall to do this – our planners and licensing colleagues are now combined with the culture team to ensure that new planning applications are assessed for their impact on nightlife.

Last year we launched Bristol @ Night – an independent advisory panel made up of key representatives from across our night time economy.

It advises myself and Bristol City Council on how to best support Bristol’s night time economy. This covers a wide range of areas including venues and licensing, safety, employment and skills and promotion.

In the coming years, it is inevitable that new venues will open and some old venues will close. New trends will come to Bristol; some will stick around and others will fade away (apparently, axe throwing is the next big trend).

If a venue wants to succeed and is committed to operating fairly and safely, then we will have your back, so that Bristol can continue to be celebrated for being a place for a great night out.

City Gathering – Delivering Together for Bristol

On Friday morning, the City Office held its bi-annual City Gathering. They bring together over 200 leaders from across the public, private, third and voluntary sectors. The City Gatherings are key events in the One City calendar, and central to getting things done collectively in Bristol. Partners provided updates on the priorities we agreed at the January city gathering and captured in the One City Plan.

I’d like to share some key highlights from the day.

Bristol Housing Festival

Update: The pioneering housing festival is working to drive innovation in off-site manufacturing and modular methods of construction, to help solve the city’s housing crisis.

The Offer: Delivering on sites in St George and Fishponds.

The Ask: For people to bring land forward, for development/investment partners, and for city support.

City Funds Project

Update: Our City Funds project has encouraged businesses, community organisations, funders and the public sector to share resources and commit CSR to a single pot to be spent at scale in Bristol rather than divided into smaller projects. At the gathering we announced that £5m funding from Bristol City Council has been matched by the Big Society Capital, with a further £250,000 being invested by Power to Change. These funds will have a real impact on the lives of Bristolians.

The Offer:  To build an investment pot owned and run by the city.

The Ask: For investors to come forward to participate in the City Funds project.

Period Friendly Bristol

Update: Working with partners across all sectors, we have made incredible progress on tackling period poverty and making Bristol a dignified place for people who have periods. An education programme is being developed for schools with partners from The Real Period Project and City to Sea. A youth task group has been put together who are making a video with Plimsoll Productions to highlight young people’s experiences of period indignity.

The Offer:  A citywide donation and distribution network for menstrual products, driven by a web app indicating where people can pick up or drop off period products, a ‘Bristol standard’ education programme for schools.

The Ask: Financial support, volunteer support.

Reducing Serious Youth Violence and Child Criminal Exploitation

Update: Since January, the city has established a new multi-agency team and mentoring programme.

The Offer: To address the underlying causes contributing to street conflict.

The Ask: For employers to consider following Bristol City Council’s lead to ban the box and to offer mentorship, apprenticeships or entry-level jobs from September 2019 when the first cohort of the 6 month call in programme will be nearing completion.

Affordable Childcare

Update: A task group on affordable childcare has been formed to address some of the barriers to offering affordable childcare.

The Offer:  To consider affordable childcare as a key priority for the city, and increase its provision.

The Ask: For employers to consider the childcare needs of their employees and determine what role they can play in facilitating the delivery of affordable childcare.

Fostering in Bristol

Update: Since January, a number of key employers in the city have received fostering friendly employers status. We also recently launched a joint campaign between Bristol City Council and Bristol Post, which features stories of foster families and has encouraged new families to become foster carers. Our newly-established EPIC Fund will ensure that all young people have access to those extra ‘asks’ to parents – e.g. driving lessons and other lifelong skills.

The Offer: Every child in Bristol has a family with no child having to leave the city for care or end up in the care system unnecessarily.

The Ask: Continue to help us recruit foster carers by becoming a Fostering Friendly Employer and/or promoting fostering within your workplace and networks.

New Big Offer Big Asks

Waste Incentivisation

To raise awareness of the waste produced by households and commercial businesses within the city.

The Offer:
Bring a greater understanding of the ‘cost’ of waste and resource use across the city/region and to drive a demonstrable reduction in waste generated.

The Ask:
Get involved in the conversation – demonstrate the benefits of reducing our use of resources  and help us communicate this with those concerned – digitally or visually. We would also encourage businesses to sign up to Bristol Waste as their commercial waste provider. You can do this here.

Cleaning up our Act

Details: Vehicle emissions from fossil fuels  damage for our health and   planet. Physical activity can reduce the risk of major illnesses by up to 50% and lower the risk of early death by up to 30%.

The Offer: Bristol Health and Wellbeing Board has adopted the One City ambition that member organisations will have a 30% non-fossil fuel fleet by 2030. Bristol Public Health is working with partners to create a healthy city.

The Ask: Can you help us make this a Bristol-wide ambition? Can you help us to go further, faster? How can we innovate and scale? How can we live our lives and conduct our business in a way that is healthy for us all?

Declare a Climate Emergency

In response to warnings from scientists, councils and organisations around the world have declared a climate emergency. Bristol has the first council, the first university and the first science centre in the UK to do this.

Offer: We The Curious is where the public can engage with science, sustainability and the planet. We have decided to declare a climate emergency and commit to being carbon neutral by 2030. We share our sustainability journey with others by being members of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership.

Ask: Declare a climate emergency and make commitments to reduce your organisation’s environmental impact. Learn more from We The Curious and others at the BGCP Green Mingle, 5.30pm, 1 August, The Kitchen @ The Station.

City Future

We concluded the event by setting out reflections for the future of Bristol. Led by Professor Robin Hambleton from University of the West of England and Dr Ges Rosenberg from the University of Bristol, we reflected on Bristol’s progress on delivering against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are 17 clear, specific and holistic goals adopted by 193 countries with the aim of providing a common language for all as we collectively aim to address complex local and global challenges. These global goals inform our One City Plan. Bristol was the first city in the UK to hold a voluntary national review, in which key stakeholders discussed how they contribute to the goals, which areas they can improve in, and what action we all need to take. This summer, our City Office will be releasing a report on how public, private, and non-profit organisations across the city contribute to our vision. Although as a city we are performing relatively well in securing decent work and economic growth, inequality is still an issue that cuts across the lives of residents and needs to be at the heart of all we do. By publishing our report and reflecting on our progress, we are sending a strong message to the world that we are willing to take action to achieve a fair, healthy and sustainable city where nobody is left behind.

The positive, collaborative and incredibly productive nature of today’s gathering is a testament to what we can achieve as a city when combining our efforts. I look forward to continuing on this journey together.

We welcome your comments and suggestions on the One City Plan. If you would like to share your solutions and get involved, please get in touch with the One City thematic boards:

St Pauls Carnival 2019

Today’s guest blog is from Deputy Mayor Councillor Asher Craig (Communities, Equalities & Public Health).

I have been going to St Pauls Carnival since I was a child. For me, carnival is a celebration and reminder of my Jamaican roots. I still remember the place from when I was a child and when the carnival was held on the field which is now an athletic track, next to Cabot School. It’s no surprise then that carnival is a great place for me to catch up with friends, both old and new. I’m always bumping into people I have not seen in years. I have enjoyed watching carnival grow, both in numbers and ambition.

As Deputy Mayor, I am proud to have felt the impact of Bristol City Council, Arts Council England and our partners who have been integral in facilitating a welcoming space for the annual celebration of a community who have been a vital part of the city for generations. Last year, for carnival’s 50th anniversary, we received a PCC Pride Award as recognition of the dedication and hard work of people behind the scenes who ensured that carnival’s special year was a spectacular celebration.

Photo by Colin Rayner

St Pauls Carnival returns for its 51st year on Saturday 6th July 2019 from 10am until 11pm. This year, the theme is “Our Journey” and honours the Windrush generation who came to Bristol from the Caribbean after WW2 and set up groups to support their lives in the UK. The vibrant, colourful and immersive carnival is well-known by many residents and tourists for its integral and reputable celebration of African Caribbean culture, as organised by the local community, in the name of the local community and yet open for all to enjoy. This Saturday, people of all ages and from all backgrounds will gather on the streets of St Pauls to engage in events that include opportunities to watch lively parades of floats, taste a delicious range of street food and listen to live music by Bristol-based musicians and beyond.

Photo by Colin Rayner

Known as one of Bristol’s greatest cultural events, St Pauls Carnival will represent some of the best of African Caribbean culture and will highlight the diversity, ingenuity and liveliness of Bristol, a city that aims to embrace similarities and differences, and champion inclusion. Music, dance and food have brought people together for years. This year, I am sure this community spirit will remain. A procession of over 1,000 people will begin on Wilson Street and end outside of St Pauls Sports Centre. Meanwhile, static stages will host artists and music from a variety of genres, including dancehall, reggae, soca, dub, calypso and drum and bass. Authentic Caribbean plantain, curry goat, jerk chicken, rice and peas and sugar cane will be available at one of the many street food stalls that will be at service.

St Paul’s Carnival demonstrates the strength of community in Bristol and is only made possible by the collaborative work of community activists, council officers, emergency services, partner organisations and the public, who get involved and bring the summery streets of St Pauls to life. If you are planning on attending, be sure to stay safe, enjoy yourself and embrace the carnival spirit!

Don’t forget to follow the link and find out more about this year’s events:

Bristol wins bid for £1m Everyday Integration Project

I’m delighted to announce that Bristol City Council will be partnering with the University of Bristol and 30 community organisations from across the city on a £1m research project on integration, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council.

This innovative project develops a bottom-up approach to how integration works in Bristol, and how it can be improved upon with inventive and timely policy interventions. It’s the culmination of two years of hard work bringing together Bristol City Council, the university and partners across the city to collaborate on how best to tackle integration in Bristol.

We all know that Bristol is an amazing place to live, but also a city that struggles with inequality and division. Bridging those divides is at the heart of our One City approach, and this project will add further resources and expertise to this critical issue.

The approach of the project turns conventional understandings of integration on its head. Rather than thinking of integration as a ‘problem’ that names immigrants, refugees, and ethnic minorities as the face of that ‘problem’, we will approach integration as a process and goal involving everyone – not just immigrants or minorities.

Rather than approaching integration as something the Home Office should be responsible for, we see integration as something that cities – and the people living in them – are responsible for. And rather than viewing integration as happening through bureaucratic tests and checklists, we view integration as (already) taking place through routine interaction and exchange in everyday life in Bristol. The approach asks us to completely rethink integration in ways that will have a real impact on people’s lives in Bristol.

The project will proceed in two main phases. In the first phase, we will explore how integration works, and sometimes doesn’t work, in Bristol. Working with and through our many collaborators, we’ll go to different neighbourhoods, work with different community and interest groups, and talk to people from different backgrounds to develop a solid evidence base of integration in Bristol from the ground up.

In the second phase, we’ll develop an Integration Strategy for Bristol. This will be a co-production involving the Council, our partners from across the city, and the University of Bristol. Our goal with this strategy is not to tell Bristolians how they should integrate but to come up with creative new spaces, processes, and ideas that will allow and help people to come together in meaningful, real-life ways.

And we won’t stop there. Once we’ve fleshed out our own approach to integration, we’ll distil its key insights into an Integration Toolkit that we can share with other cities across the UK. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to integration, which is why we want to develop our own approach for Bristol. But there will be key insights that we can share with others to learn from, becoming a leader in this national challenge. We’ll work with different local authorities to help them develop their own approaches to integration.

Integration isn’t going to work if we keep naming and shaming certain communities as being in need of integration, or if we impose integration policies on people from the top-down. With this project I’m excited to see how we can develop a different approach to integration which gets to the heart of our challenges and helps us take practical steps towards our vision of Bristol as a city of hope where nobody is left behind.

For more information on this project and to get involved please contact Jon Fox, Professor of Sociology at the University of Bristol, at

435 councils back Bristol’s pledge to deliver the UN’s SDGs and declare a climate emergency.

On Tuesday, I was proud to move a motion for Bristol at the Local Government Association (LGA) which saw 435 local councils declare a climate emergency and support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As co-chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors, the local leaders I meet rally around common challenges — rapid urbanisation or depopulation, delivering affordable housing and growing the economy without increasing inequality that undermines our social fabric, population health, air quality, and climate change.

The SDGs are a collection of 17 global targets for 2030, set by the UN General Assembly, that offer a coordinated framework for tackling these issues through sustainable development. They build on the Millennium Development Goals and cover a range of interdependent challenges that we are all grappling with. Poverty, hunger, climate change, decent work, inclusive growth and global partnerships are all central to the agreement

They SDGs cannot be delivered solely through the drive of national governments. All levels of government — local, regional, national, and international — must work together. Local leadership, with its immediate connection the complexity of people’s lives, is well positioned to tackle the challenges we face at a time when national governments are falling short. We are making a case for empowering local government to tackle the issues on the ground in our communities.

I was pleased to work with my colleague from Wakefield to amend the SDG motion to include a declaration of climate emergency in response to the IPCC report. Their report advised that we must limit global warming to 1.5°C, as opposed to the previous target of 2°C. Their review of over 6,000 sources of evidence found that, with a rise of 1.5°C, there would be risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth. An increase to 2°C would be even more catastrophic.

In Bristol, we’ve aligned our One City Plan to the SDGs – underpinning a collective city-wide commitment to their delivery. What’s more, the SDGs ensure we recognise the interdependence of our challenges. One of the worst features of the Twitter-isation of our politics is single-issue campaigns, which give little or no thought to other vital areas of public concern. After all, ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with creating jobs, developing the economy and saving the planet from climate emergency.

Sustainability must be delivered by realising environmental, economic, social and political justice at the same time. While environmental injustice compounds social injustice, poverty — a lived reality which too many struggle with — robs people of the financial and emotional space to think beyond the crisis of today, to the crisis of tomorrow. With the SDGs insisting that we recognise interdependence, we are ensuring that our efforts to address climate change recognise this reality.

But as we know, cities and local government face a continued challenge from funding pressures and increased demand. Alongside our partners, leaders across the UK have a huge role to play, and this motion is an important milestone on this journey. We must be empowered to plan, implement, monitor, and adapt to deliver on the SDGs and avert the climate emergency.

Once again, our administration is partnering with councils across the country to lobby Government for the resources to build a better Bristol, country and world.

Clean Air Day

Today at the Create Centre I delivered a speech to outline our plans to tackle air pollution in Bristol.

Bristol City Council last year declared a climate emergency.  We were the first council in the UK to do so. In April we were joined by the University of Bristol who also declared a climate emergency, becoming the first university to do so.  Declaring the emergency is just one part of creating a green, healthy and prosperous city.

The council motion was unanimously carried. It said:

“Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. Global temperatures have already increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million. This far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity;

“In order to reduce the chance of runaway Global Warming and limit the effects of Climate Breakdown, it is imperative that we as a species reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from their current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible;

“Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm.”

It went on to say:

“Cities are uniquely placed to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions, as they are in many ways easier to decarbonise than rural areas – for example because of their capacity for heat networks and mass transit.”

Both in our leadership of Bristol and the leadership role in key global city networks such as the Mayor’s migration Council and the Global Parliament of Mayors that I co-chair, we are making real the potential of cities being at the forefront in recognizing and tackling the wave interdependent global crisis from as migration, climate change and unprecedented inequality.

Within Bristol itself. 

• We have introduced the City Leap prospectus, a £1 billion package of projects that will transform the way Bristol generates, distributes, stores and uses energy. We are set to deliver a low carbon, smart energy infrastructure that will put us on the path to be the leading carbon reduction city in the UK.

• We have been installing district heating systems, insulated 20 thousand council properties and launched a citywide programme to tackle fuel poverty.

• We are overturning decades of failure and under investment, and have opened up the prospect of a mass transit system – including an underground – with ultra-low carbon output.  And despite the negativity and lack of belief from my political opponents and the understandable caution of many citizens, who struggled to believe anything from a city with such a tragic record of failure, we are now making progress and could link the city centre to the south and to the airport within 8 years. 

We have shown we are the administration that’s broken free of the cant do, risk-averse culture that bound the council for so long. We have genuine ambition for Bristol, a commitment to get stuff done and an impatience with those touch line prophets who shout down our city’s potential and anyone who has the guts to step onto the field of play to work for it.

The Bristol One City Plan was written over two and a half years with over 200 city partners. It sets out a sequence for ambitious city targets for carbon reduction taking up to 2050 and all aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals. These ambitions include:

• A regional bus deal that will double public transport usage as we improve our road infrastructure and bus lanes using both private and public sector investment;

• radically increasing the number of electric car charging points year on year,

• working with all our public partners to transition to non-fossil fuel fleet vehicles;

• tackle food poverty including introducing food production sites in every ward and create a regional produce hub to keep food miles low and ensure local food is available;

• work through Bristol Waste and the Clean streets campaign to transform the city’s relationship with waste: reducing the amount we generate, increasing reuse and recycling, and making better use of waste such as turning it into energy.

And our aim that within three years we will:

• Achieve the gold standard for Bristol in the Sustainable Food City Awards,

• Be using smart energy technology to support the efficient use of energy in over 50% of homes, the proportion growing year on year thereafter;

• increasing the number of taxis on Ultra Low Emissions;

• have a full fleet of bio-fuel buses;

• continue metro west developments to grow rail usage;

• have a fully operational freight consolidation centre, reducing freight journeys in and around the city centre;

• and complete the ring of park and rides around the city to reduce the number of commuter cars driving in.

And of course, we intend to work with partners to double the tree canopy. 

The sheer scale and breadth of what we have done should stand in stark contrast to the background noise and opportunistic criticism our opponents have attempted to attach to us. A mentor once said to me “values are what you do, everything else is just words”. It is worth reflecting on this as you look at the conduct of politicians, would be politicians and self-appointed leaders as they compete for attention, approval and seek their purpose across the social media platforms on which too many are living their lives.

But it would be foolish not to recognise there are limits to what cities alone can achieve.

The 2017 Carbon Majors report warns that the big carbon emitting companies need to change behaviour if we are to get the systemic change the world needs. It says:

• not much has changed for the biggest polluters and it’s a relatively small number of fossil fuel producers hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions. 

• that more than half of global emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 25 corporate and state owned entities.

• and it heightens concerns around temperature rises, confirming that if fossil fuels are extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as the last 28, we would be on course for a temperature rise of 4C. 

Yet the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change tells us we have only 12 years to limit global warming increases to below a rise of 1.5C. Beyond that we face irreversible and self-enforcing climate change characterized by global drought and food shortages, extreme heat, floods and the extension of extreme poverty to many more hundreds of millions of people. 

I want to dwell on this last point for a bit, this relationship between environmental and social justice. Because while it is true that environmental injustice compounds social injustice, it is also true that social injustice and poverty can rob people of the financial space they need to be able to think beyond the crisis of today to think about the crisis of tomorrow. As a result the environmental movement lacks the class and racial diversity it desperately needs to legitimise its democratic energy and evidence that it truly represents a way of doing politics that is truly different to the hierarchical and exploitative systems that have brought us to this point.

What’s more, if we do not hear the voice of the poorest, if they are not with us on the journey, we run the risk of further distancing people from political and economic hope. And that creates conditions ripe for the kind of populist reactionary politics offered by Trump, Farage and Johnson. And we will set environmental and social justice back by decades. 

My plea, my warning is this: we need this to be an inclusive movement. The tactics and approach of some people who claim to offer political leadership on environmental causes, alienates some people. There can be a tendency to use the poorest as items of evidence in any debate rather than colleagues to be respected and worked with.

I recently invited Professor Richard Pancost, the Head of School for Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol to write a guest blog for me.

He said: “to protect our civilisation, we must drive our society towards sustainability, circularity and carbon neutrality, but most of all minimise climate change”.

But he also issued clear warnings to the environmental movement. 

“Climate change is an affront to our putative ideals of fairness and equality.  It is classist and racist.”

“If climate action is a question of social justice then those marginalised groups must be part of the movement.  They must set the agenda of the movement and lead the movement.  And if they are not, those of us who claim the title ‘environmentalist’ cannot ask why they are not engaged but instead must ask how we have failed.  We must challenge ourselves, our privilege and our institutions and understand how we have excluded them”. 

“Have we honestly created an open space for multiple agendas?”

I wholeheartedly agree with Rich…

He concluded

“It is vital to recognise that your own privilege includes your institution, whether that’s a university, a small green business or cash starved charity.  And especially our movement, a movement perceived as being by and for the white middle class” 

A key line from his blog sums up the challenge facing the city, the environmental movement and the need to recognise environmental justice and social justice have to come hand in hand.

 His words:

“It is time to concede that a thousand ripples have yet to become a wave”. 

He is right.  Every time I get the line thrown at me – “there are no jobs on a dead planet”, – I know the person isn’t listening, isn’t building a movement.  To dismiss the importance of decent employment with a glib phrase, shows no understanding, respect or empathy for those who most need economic hope.

The environmental movement must become the movement that draws people together for the environmental, social and economic struggle.  It must be a movement that listens and respects the diversity of experiences and worldviews of the new groups it would have join rather than a pulpit from which to lecture and signal superior values.


Real leadership attempts to deliver on many issues at the same time – some shape the whole world and others the whole of a single person or family’s world. It grapples with the fact that sometimes, the many issues on which we have to deliver conflict, with each other, growing the economy for jobs and reducing our energy footprint on the planet for example. It’s that very reason that real leadership is also about taking responsibility for both your decisions but the consequences of that decision both intended and unintended. 

This is why single issue politics so severely underserves us.

If you take a position that will cost people jobs, and you ignore the consequence and have no solutions, then you are failing the people no matter how noble your reason for taking that position.

In the west Wing, President Bartlet exposed an opponent for talking in “10 word” slogans but having nothing to follow it up with. Yes it is just tv but it is true that campaigns are too often about leaflets and soundbites that can be delivered in under 10 words.  There are Mayoral campaigns gearing up all over the city looking for their 10 words. Take it from me, when you’re in power, you need the next 10 words and the 10 words after that.  If you don’t have them you don’t have enough.

The airport expansion is a perfect example of a complex issue being given the 10 word treatment..  There are mayoral candidates who simply want to oppose it – that’s their 10 words. Easy to understand.  But if the airport doesn’t expand, we will miss an opportunity for thousands of new jobs in the next decade, in particular for Bristol South. So your next 10 words must be on what you will do to replace those jobs. 

The environmental impact of airport expansion is not a binary option. In 2018 alone, 7.8 million travellers from the South West and South Wales bypassed Bristol to fly from Heathrow, Gatwick and other airports, generating an additional 157 thousand tonnes of carbon to add to their flights. So the next 10 words need to address how we will minimise the road miles that come with the growing number of flights that will come irrespective of whether or not Bristol Airport expands.

We will also use the growth of Bristol Airport to strengthen the financial case for Bristol’s mass transit system which we hope will be the means by which we takes millions of car journeys off of Bristol’s roads and the carbon and nitrogen dioxide they bring.  The weaker the airport, the weaker the business case for the underground. So you will need 10 words to explain how you will secure the investment the underground will need and avoid us being trapped in the current, inadequate arrangements.

A Lebanese friend once shared with me “A problem well defined is a problem well solved.” A new paper, due to be published by US researchers later this month, will forecast that information and communications technology will create up to 3.5% of global emissions by 2020.  Carbon output from data centres will surpass the emissions of aviation and shipping combined. It is incumbent on responsible leaders to communicate the complexity of the challenge we face accurately, rather than looking for the easy symbol like the airport, over the substance of a challenge like data centres. 


This week, we have announced the launch of the required consultation on options for us to reach Nitrogen Dioxide compliance. 

Improving air quality is another perfect example of how we need to be inclusive.  We cannot slide into categorizing people who drive cars or anyone who doesn’t experience the world as we do, as the enemy. 

Of course cars are a contributor. But they are also the inevitable consequence of decades of failure resulting in a limited public transport offer.  We will eliminate the worst polluting vehicles and we will improve the worst polluted areas.  But, we will do it by acknowledging the potential impacts on the lowest income households and we will do it by ensuring we protect and drive a sustainable, inclusive economy. 

We will only achieve modal shift by offering better alternatives.  Any change to arrangements for people coming into the city centre to work, will be protected with mitigations for the lowest paid and a scrappage scheme or car replacement scheme for the oldest cars, for those who need support to buy a newer, cleaner car. 

We are continuing the modelling because we are pursuing the quickest path to compliance and we will listen to all citizens while we do so. 

I will leave you with a series of announcements that my administration is working on and will introduce in the next year and beyond.  A lot of our work is being done in partnership with UK 100, a national network of local government leaders focussed on climate action. They will be seconding a person into my office to help deliver on the environment, going far beyond NO2 compliance.


We will improve monitoring of nitrogen dioxide pollution levels throughout the city.  And we will openly publish all that data. 

We will raise awareness and enforce the existing Smoke Control Legislation in licenced premises to reduce the illegal burning of wood and solid fuels.  This will include domestic wood burners and bonfire nuisance. 

We are working with schools, parents and pupils to close roads to cars, outside of schools during drop off and pick up, everywhere it’s possible. 

In the Construction industry, we will review the new powers planned by government to reduce emissions from non-road mobile machinery, like cement mixers, and gather evidence to further consider tightening mobile machinery standards used in Bristol, in line with low emission zone standards.  We will adopt the 2018 Institute of Air Quality Management best practice guidance on monitoring construction and demolition sites to ensure effective management of emissions of dust and particulates. 

Working with our city partners on the city centre revitalisation group and our preparation for the Western Harbour, we are putting active travel at the heart of the plans. This will include planning that brings homes together with retail and entertainment in the name of minimizing the need to travel.

We have submitted a bid to the future High Streets Fund and are focussed on re-designing Nelson Street.  This will include re-modelling the old city and removing traffic from parts of it. 

We are taking a fresh look at the possibility of a workplace parking levy in part as a means to raise revenue for a mass transit system.  This needs to be done responsibly and with our business partners.

We want to introduce green walls and roofs to Bristol.  At a recent Big Offer, Big Ask session, my team met with LiveGraft, who are one organisation who have plans for urban vertical gardening.  We will be structurally reviewing car parks, large buildings and walls and where possible, bring them alive. 

And with UK100 and others, we will continue our campaign to get government to devolve the powers and money we need to move at the pace we need. If government simply rolls down responsibility to cities without resources or powers, we will fail.

We are calling on the government to:

ban diesel generators for domestic energy supply.  We recently saw our planning committee take the strong step of refusing diesel generators positioned next to a nursery in St Phillips but we know the appeal has a strong chance of success. The government must give us the powers to say no to pollutants, especially in heavily populated areas.

Grant increased powers to ban particulates, particularly in industrial and domestic use. And we need the power to ban private wood burners. 

As part of our proposal towards a clean air zone, we have insisted on a city wide scrappage or vehicle replacement scheme. But we are calling on the government to install a national scheme giving everyone who needs it, financial support to update their vehicle to a cleaner one.

Near the very top of the list of actions government must take is to introduce legislation and funding for all new houses and their supporting infrastructure, to be carbon neutral.  Our city region alone has plans to build in excess of 100 000 new houses by 2036 and it would be criminal to set out on that path without the foresight to reduce carbon output. And we need the funding and resources to retrofit older homes and buildings. 

We will be working with UK100 to call for more powers and to strengthen legislation in the Comprehensive Spending review and through the next legislative year. 


From UK 100 to the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute, we are fortunate to have world leading expertise available to us in Bristol.

I am pleased that we are able to work with the Green Capital Partnership and they are working with us to establish the One City environment board and achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. It is through the Bristol One City Plan, that we will ensure we are able to extend the influence of this expertise beyond the narrow confines of the committed and to the whole city.

If we get this wrong, not only will we miss the opportunity to roll back the climate catastrophe many people in the poorest countries already face, but it will extend to many millions more. If we get it right, we can be a source of hope for our planet.

Big Offer Big Ask

Have you got a big idea for improving Bristol? If so, I’ve asked my team to meet with you.

We are relaunching the ‘Big Offer Big Ask’ initiative to ensure that everyone with a good idea for this city has a chance to be heard.  The programme provides an opportunity for individuals and organisations to pitch their ideas to my team, who will then see if Bristol City Council or other city partners can assist in their delivery.

We are looking for ideas that are deliverable, focused on things my office can influence and are positive for the city. It’s about creating an opportunity for us to work together in building a city where nobody is left behind, and everybody can contribute. We hope that the discussions will be professional and constructive – they’re about sharing ideas and solutions, rather than specific complaints or cases.

Last year, we received more than seventy submissions on a diverse range of topics and were able to offer our support to some fantastic ideas. For instance, Bristol Women’s Voice was given the opportunity to host a Hot Coffee Hot Topic session at City Hall to introduce the Women of Lawrence Hill and network to expand the project across the city. Meanwhile, the Bristol Global Goals Centre project lead was connected with the City Office to support the promotion of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in Bristol.

How to get involved

If you have an ‘offer’ for the city and want to explore it with my team, write to summarising your idea in fewer than 300 words by Friday 5 July. My team will then review your submissions and invite a shortlist of individuals to discuss their ideas in more detail on Thursday 18 July.

YellowDog – Fetching opportunities for Bristol

Today’s blog comes from James Stevens, Chief Commercial Officer of YellowDog.

Most business travel advice goes something like this: look for Wi-Fi like it’s water, stick to your itinerary, stay in a safe hotel, and take care of yourself as best you can until it’s over. However YellowDog’s invitation to join a trade and investment delegation to Boston and Chicago promised to be different. The invitation stated three clear goals, develop new business opportunities for YellowDog in two of the US’s most significant cities, market the Bristol and Bath region under the umbrella of Business West and finally create closer ties between the region and the US at a civic, investment, transportation and social policy level.

All sounded pretty lofty and perhaps just aspirational aims. And so to the reality… within minutes of checking in for the flight at Bristol airport we were introduced to a handful of other leading technology companies also on the delegation, next was a very convivial intro to Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees and West of England Mayor Tim Bowles, who impressively already knew who we all were, followed by a team from Bristol University, and finally the International Department of Trade people.

From thereon, the whirlwind week only accelerated as we shot across the leafy cities from one new business meeting to another, interspersed with receptions put on by the host consulate generals where we exchanged ideas with the movers and shakers from industry, commerce, education, health and local government. Pockets bulging with new business cards and promises of further collaboration and conversation, each day ended with thoughts of ‘everything is possible’.

On returning to Bristol I tried to summarise to my family the value and significance of this very unique trip and it wasn’t easy. The words that came out were, “an enormous privilege to accompany civic leaders that have such passion for their city and region, have such clear vision for the future and who understand the virtuous relationship between business success, social equality, education and the importance of collaboration”. Oh and we got some deals done, too!

Before I went on this delegation, I could see how it is quite hard for people to make a tangible link to benefits for everyday citizens in Bristol. However the current political climate of uncertainty can be really difficult for businesses and we must do more to encourage new trade and investment. It is really encouraging our local leaders are looking beyond the city boundaries for opportunities to bring home. To put it simply, more business means more jobs, and that can only be a good thing for everyone.