Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, took office in May 2016 wanting a city where everyone benefits from success and no-one is left behind; where life chances are not determined by wealth and background; where inequality is challenged and social mobility promoted; where the cultural offer reflects city diversity and enriches the lives of all people.
On 6 October 2016 he will deliver the first annual mayor’s lecture of his term of office when he puts forward his four-year vision for the city, reports on the progress to date and the work to come. The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion.
Audience members have been asked to submit their questions in advance so as many as possible can be answered on the night. Here are ones that had been received by 1 October, grouped by theme.
Working across the city and region
A city is built of a series of varied networks. In order that everyone benefits in Bristol – how can these networks be cross-pollinated to interact better and create the required opportunities?
Are you willing to work with outlying towns whose residents work in Bristol? And how will you do this?
Where do you suggest Bristolians should look for inspiration about collaborating better?
Inclusion and representation
What will you do to ensure all religions and faith groups are equally respected in Bristol?
Not everyone gets involved equally, so how can we make sure all views get taken into account when we encourage participation?
How can I be part of the four-year plans to improve opportunities for Individuals in the poorer areas of Bristol?
What consensus is there within Bristol City Council that operational changes to the running of equalities management need to be made beyond the forthcoming Bristol BME Voice & Influence model?
In your view what does reparatory justice look like at a City level for people of Afrikan heritage that would amount to real power sharing in the city?
In the most recent local elections in May 2016, the Labour Party got 37% of the votes (rounded up). However, due to the distortions of our outdated first past the post voting system, the Labour Party gained 53% of the seats in the council chamber. Is this fair? Do you support a change to our electoral system in Bristol and will you campaign for it? For reference: Conservatives: 22% of votes, 20% of seats; Greens: 20% of votes, 16% of seats; Lib Dems: 17% of votes, 11% of seats. All figures rounded up or down, for ease of understanding.
I live in a more affluent part of Bristol. I frequently receive flyers and papers from other major parties but rarely from Labour. You say you want everyone to benefit from the success. How can I trust that you are representing me and my family when your party doesn’t engage based on my postcode?
How can Bristol help older people to connect socially when transport is an issue?
What specific events are the Mayor’s Office and Bristol City Council engaged in to recognise the International Decade for people of African descent which commenced in 2015?
How will the council be increasing the promotion and organisation of Bristol being a City of Sanctuary?
Bristol was top of the list of the worst cities to grow up as a black person in the last census. What is your plan to come off this list in the coming census?
Exactly how are you going to address inequality in Bristol?
What key achievements do you hope to achieve relating to social equality by the time you leave office?
Marvin has stated that he wants a city where inequality is challenged. I would like to ask whether time and energy would be better spent promoting equality than challenging inequality. Also I would like to hear what he thinks equality would look like in a city as diverse as Bristol.
In the build up to the mayoral election you campaigned on inequality, and spoke of an establishment in Bristol. Who are the establishment locally and how will you challenge and win them around to your vision?
There is an increasing divide between the North and South of Bristol. The North has better housing, is higher educated, and healthier and wealthier. How will the Mayor address this issue, and ensure that the South receives the same level of investment and opportunities for learning and employment that the North enjoys.
How can the council promote social mobility in the context of the need to find savings in the budget?
Will your plans for equal opportunity for all be scuppered by the many vested interests?
Getting Bristol moving – Building a Better Bristol (May 2016). What progress has the Mayor made on setting up a Bristol-owned Bus Company? Marvin Rees said in his election statement that he would look into this and we should hold him to that. If the Government’s Bus Bill is passed his promise will be impossible.
Will you reduce the excessive length of 20mph sections around every school, and move to a more reasoned decision based on local knowledge of where children will actually be?
When will Bristol have a dedicated rail / metro service to the airport? Are we too poor, or just mean spirited? And don’t forget the appalling state of our urban trains.
How will you make the transport system in Bristol fairer for all?
What are you planning to do to improve public transport in the city, especially bus services?
What are your ideas on improving Bristol public transport?
There are many parts of the city where cycling is still dangerous. Many of us, particularly those who live in the centre, rely on walking or cycling to get about, as is also true of many students. Please reassure us that you will continue to increase the number of segregated cycle paths.
Will there be a cultural strategy across the city that addresses inclusion?
What will you do to encourage Bristol to grow its culturally and economically important Film and Television industries?
Given that many of the current challenges and stresses facing the cultural sector stem from financial constraints trickled down from central government; and given that successive PMs and governments continue to effectively sanction tax evasion and money laundering on an international scale; what is your plan as mayor and as a member of the Labour party to ensure that the culture, both locally and further, of those who have gaining more and those who have not being made to sacrifice is reversed, and that arts and culture are recognised as being a core part of our national identity?
How can the development of the city’s culture be supported despite the current cuts we face?
How will our Mayor protect Bristol’s world famous nighttime economy given the unprecedented closure of culturally significant venues in London, most notably and most recently Fabric?
Given the Brexit situation how do you see Bristol’s relationship developing with its twin cities and international partnerships?
In light of the EU referendum result in Bristol, what can the residents of Bristol and the Mayor do to ensure that the interests of Bristolians are heard in future Brexit negotiations?
My name is Catarina, I’m 9, I’m an EU migrant and Bristol resident. What will happen to me and my mum and how will you protect us?
What will you and the city be doing to ensure that our close cultural and economic links with Europe are not lost in light of Brexit?
Businesses and employment
How can we work with Bristol-based businesses to reduce the number of zero-hour contracts in the city?
Considering many of the city’s great challenges such as congestion, air quality and homelessness, how does the Mayor plan to motivate the private sector to participate in improving city outcomes, collaboratively building Bristol to be an even greater city? Will innovative funding mechanisms, such as social impact bonds, be on the table?
Do you feel that social mobility – and by extension encouraging the working class to move into the middle class – can result in the debasing of working class jobs, when it would be more productive to create working class jobs which pay well enough to sustain a family?
70% of Britain’s refugees are unemployed. Skilful refugees in the city: doctors, engineers and academics (who have been here for long years) end up working as security guards, taxi drivers and kitchen porters. You certainly don’t need a degree for these jobs. This is a real waste of valuable talents that Bristol could use in improving its productivity and eradicating social inequalities. These are facts and a quick survey in Stapleton Road can prove it. So: Is Bristol City Council aware of this? And what is it doing to analyse the issue and solve it?
How can we effectively challenge the workforce imbalance within the early year’s sector, both within the city and on a national scale?
How can we ensure our schools are up to the job of creating an equal start for our children?
Your campaign pledged to ‘work with schools to ensure the admission process is fair and transparent’. Can you tell us what is now different in relation to school admissions 6 months after your being elected?
What impact does the large number of privately educated children in Bristol have on the educational chances of the rest of the city’s young people, and what will you be doing to ensure there are equal opportunities for every child to reach their full potential?
How can we engage white working class families in the value of education in order to close the attainment gap in our city?
Housing and homelessness
How do you propose to build new homes in Bristol and protect the environment and preserve access to open space?
How do you tackle the affordability crisis in Bristol?
How is the Mayor going to ensure there is adequate housing for the people of Bristol? In particular how will he enforce the quota of “affordable” homes in new developments and address the disgrace of hundreds of homeless on the streets of Bristol?
What are your proposals to tackle rising homelessness in Bristol?
What is the Mayor going to do to find sustainable homes for people sleeping rough in Bristol?
Are there any plans to further support young homeless people and services in Bristol, and is there an awareness of the increased homeless refugee communities in Bristol?
Increasing the supply of houses is one of your priorities – what progress has been made so far and what will have been achieved by October 2017?
What are your plans for tackling crippling rental costs and a lack of affordable housing in the city? Do you agree that rents should be capped?
Environment and sustainability
It was great to have all the mayoral candidates in May commit to a low emission zone for the city centre. When are we likely to see this delivered?
Please comment on your vision for carbon reduction in the city region.
What are your ambitions for moving Bristol towards low carbon?
How will you ensure that in the light of Brexit and the ongoing lack of investment and funding, Bristol builds on its year as European Green Capital to become a truly sustainable and green city?
How will you put sustainability in terms of both environment and social justice at the heart of your programme for the next four years?
A year ago, as European Green Capital, Bristol was aspiring to be a healthier and cleaner city. Now I see motorists driving dangerously through the streets of Bristol breaking all speed limits, both old and new. The evidence that driving less and exercising more is good for us as individuals and the environment is incontrovertible. Could you please endorse and enforce the 20MPH speed limit that your predecessor worked so hard to implement?
The Council’s budget
As its budget is slashed yet further, the council has to be more strategic in what it commissions from whom. What is the Mayor doing to ensure this happens?
Given the pressure to cut costs being imposed upon the city by Central Government, how will you, as Mayor, protect the vulnerable, the financially excluded, the weak, the sick, from the burden of austerity? What commitments – such as preserving Council Tax Benefit, preserving Discretionary Housing Payment – can you give to the most vulnerable and financially excluded in the city, so that they will not continue to be the ones who pay the highest price, bear the heaviest burden, for the agenda of austerity being imposed upon the city by the unelected Conservative administration being led by Theresa May?
What are you doing about public sector workers and the vulnerable people they work with? You have to save £60 million, so services will have to be cut.
The role of the Mayor and the Council
How do you intend to improve council culture from difficult, obstructive and lazy, to positive, helpful and efficient, if your priority is to please, rather than lead?
The Mayor has championed ‘collective city leadership’ and has shared power by, for example, giving significant decision making powers to his assistant mayors. Professor Keith Grint of Warwick Business School – a leading and respected academic in the field of leadership – argued in a 2010 paper that this type of distributed leadership is only viable for short-term, small scale organizations. Is the Mayor championing a form of leadership that is not suitable for the Council or the City?
What are your plans now that you have the job?
What is more important to you: leading Bristolians or listening to them?
What are the biggest achievements and challenges of the new Labour cabinet, since May’s election?
When is the City Council going to cease wasting public money, and allowing senior officers to initiate and implement anti-social and dangerous policies?
What are the good legacies from the previous mayor’s time in office that you can build on and the bad ones you can reverse?
The previous mayor worked on raising the profile of Bristol both nationwide and internationally with projects such as the Green Capital. As the new mayor, are you looking to build on this and/or further it?
What does success look like?
What is being done about the prostitutes on Fishponds Road? Why haven’t the playgrounds in Eastville Park had any renovations in over 20 years?
How do you want the wider world to see Bristol? What positives and opportunities can Bristol share with confidence?
How will you invest and improve mental health provisions during your term considering the huge £60m worth of cuts that have been forced upon the council by central government?
Recommissioning of Youth Services: some clarity around the process, who’s eligible to apply and/or be recommissioned? Will commissioned organisations be more representative of the communities they will serve?
There appears to be an increase in theft/burglaries in East Bristol – what’s the strategy for tackling this rise?
Views on the long outstanding regeneration of Filwood Broadway please.
How can advice services in Bristol, working together in partnership with Bristol City Council, better meet the challenge of ever increasing demand, need and complexity?
What do you think are the barriers to sustainable economic growth in Bristol’s vital voluntary and community sectors and what can we do to overcome these?
What is being done to increase community space such as undercover locations for car boot sales so that we can develop a regular local street market held throughout the year?
What other alternatives apart from prison (which has a high reoffending rate) can he suggest for young people who are involved in anti-social behaviour?
What role can community enterprises play in revitalising the most marginalized and economically depressed neighbourhoods in the city?
Would voters be prepared to pay a means tested contribution specifically for the NHS – e.g. through NI? Or a voluntary option to contribute to the Bristol Hospital charity Above and Beyond as part of council tax?