Delivering a City of Hope
Being the Change
THIS IS BRISTOL STORY
Recently, I spent the afternoon at one of the holiday hunger schemes. Feeding Bristol gave out over 60,000 meals this summer, serving many of the tens of thousands of children we know are likely to go without food.
The staff told us about a mother. The week before, she had quietly approached one of the volunteers asking if there was any left-over food. She stressed she was not going to eat the food herself. It was for her children. She had no food in the house and £2.50 to get through the weekend.
40 years ago my mum and I were facing the same challenges.
I’ll set the scene. When my mum fell pregnant with me she was an unmarried working-class white woman with a brown baby on the way. Health workers pressured her to have me aborted. When I was born she was told, if she was a good woman she would give me up for adoption.
Incidentally, when I was born my mum could hear ‘I was born under a wandering star’ playing in the background from Lee Marvin’s film Paint your Wagon. And in the film, he was a drunk with a red face. My face was really red… hence the name Marvin.
But the themes set in those first months continued through my childhood. We eventually moved to a refuge in Devon before moving back to Bristol on the Long Cross estate and then Easton. Throughout those years my mum went without food so I could eat. We struggled. And much of my childhood was clouded with a faint unhappiness.
I was blessed in that I had a loving family – my Nan, Grandad. My Aunty Glenys. My cousins Denys and Anthony. And we had a supportive church community. But it was tough.
THIS is Bristol.
It’s not the whole of Bristol. We ARE the city of culture, creativity, sustainability, rebellion, advanced manufacturing, world class universities and aerospace, the city that justifiably prides itself in doing things different and makes a net contribution to the treasury.
IN FACT we are a city of contrast, contradiction and inequality, where wealth lives alongside poverty and hope lives alongside hopelessness.
I deliberately put things in that order because too often the Bristol of the ‘left behind’ comes after the story of success.
As mayor it is my job to advance our city’s successes but it is the fullness of my role as a city leader to ensure we understand that our true greatness will be found in our collective commitment to making Bristol a city in which everyone can find hope in that success, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth.
I have long been committed to the idea of hope in part because it is so much more mature than optimism. Hope doesn’t refuse to see suffering and failure. It engages with them so that they become an opportunity to develop perseverance which produces character and character hope.
Our city can also be a source of hope in the world.
We are an international city, a global people of 92 languages and 180 countries. What happens in the world: be it an earthquake in Kashmir, a typhoon in Beira, the displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar, families drowning in the Mediterranean or Black Lives Matter movement – our people have emotional, cultural and blood connections.
Our influence must extend to leadership on the critical issues of our time: climate emergency, migration crisis and the rise of reactionary right-wing politics.
So, tinkering around the edges is not enough. Snatching small victories – a junction here, and a traffic light there is not enough. For too many years, we haven’t had the kind of change Bristol has needed.
The city has tinkered around with transport for decades and the result is a transport system that is failing the city.
We’ve tinkered around on housing for years – the result is our housing crisis with over 500 families in temporary accommodation, 12,000 on the waiting list and tens of thousands more wondering if they’ll ever have their own home.
Add to these challenges today:
* the Brexit threat to our economy and jobs;
* the fact that national government at its best, has gone missing and at its worst is making people poorer through policies such as universal credit;
* that Bristol will grow by nearly one hundred thousand people over the coming 25 years;
* we have unprecedented levels of inequality and a loss of faith in public institutions;
* and the climate emergency.
The scale of these challenges, present both the opportunity AND demand for change. At the C40 summit last week Vice President Al Gore said we need changes in policy and changes in the people who make policy.
* It will mean change in the way the city sets priorities, operates and looks, as we regenerate the city.
* It means greater diversity of the people who take up positions of leadership and an explicit commitment to ensure the economy works for people and planet rather than treating them as mere factors of production.
The Bristol of old just did not deliver. We can no longer afford to carry the old order – we need the next iteration of Bristol.
Doing nothing doesn’t mean things will stay the same. If we don’t proactively design the next iteration of Bristol, we will find ourselves increasingly on the back foot, responding to challenges that are out of our control, with a city that is ill equipped for the task.
But when I look around the city today, I see the start of the change. We have cranes on the horizon and the collaboration of the City Office and One City Plan. We have the declaration of the climate energy, City Leap and a city commitment to inclusive economic development.
DELIVERY / PLEDGES
Evidence of the change we are bringing is that my cabinet and I have actually delivered the commitments we made to you. In 2016:
We said we would build 2,000 new homes – 800 affordable – a year by 2020.
Many said this target was unachievable and we knew it was a stretch. But, we are on course to hit and exceed it.
Developments underway across the city right now include:
- The Ambulance Station
- Wapping Wharf
- The Paintworks
- Hartcliffe Campus
- The Launchpad housing scheme
- The Zedpods housing scheme, being built above a St George car park.
We have houses being built in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods.
- In Hengrove at Hengrove Park
- In Lockleaze, at Romney House, Shaldon Road and Bonnington Walk
- In Southmead at Dunmail
- In Henbury, we are building Council houses in Richardson Close, as we are in Aldermans Moore, in Ashton Vale.
At the recent Built Environment Networking conference, Kelly Hillman Head of Land Acquisitions at Homes England said:
‘Bristol is leading the way in the UK with planning, the environment and effecting positive change.’
She said this was ‘down to the city leadership’.
The cultural change we’ve brought to our leadership and our strong grip of council finances has enabled us to turn Bristol City Council a housing delivery organisation – focused on delivering sustainable and affordable homes.
We’ve committed 82% of our five-year capital programme, £857 million to infrastructure investment, including new homes and redevelopment schemes such as Temple Quarter and Temple Meads Station.
We committed £85 million to accelerate home building, and £61 million for Goram Homes, our new housing company.
And this year our housing revenue account has £15.7 million freed up, to invest in building council homes.
We said we would deliver work experience and apprenticeships .
When I came into power, 56% of young people were not getting meaningful work experience. We have changed that. Through The Works programme and the commitment of city employers, three and a half thousand meaningful experiences of work are being delivered this year alone.
This year is ‘Youth Options Year’, with a series of events, activities and workshops supporting young people to engage with employers and trainers and take up opportunities with confidence.
THIS IS HOPE IN ACTION: raising aspiration, opening doors of opportunity and supporting young people onto the right track.
We promised we would stop expansion of RPZs and review existing schemes.
And we did.
Working with local councillors in each area, RPZs were reviewed and revised and we are now engaging with residents in new areas about new schemes and will work with communities where there is overwhelming support.
We pledged to protect children’s centres.
And despite the devastating austerity programme, we kept them all open.
The national picture is of a £3.1 billion funding gap contributing to the closure of more than 1,000 children’s centres and a further 722 no longer offering the full range of services.
But in Bristol, children’s centres will remain at the heart of our offer to families.
We told the city we would increase school places, with a fair admission process.
We have committed £25 million to a new school in Lockleaze;
A new secondary school in Silverthorne Lane is in progress, that will serve children from the centre and east of the city;
AND there will be a new school in the South, in Knowle West.
It’s unheard of to be delivering three schools at once but we are doing it. We are delivering on our promise to parents and we will continue to build and expand yet more schools as our population grows.
We made a promise to put Bristol on course to be run entirely on clean energy by 2050, and introduce a safe, clean streets campaign.
And we have accelerated this promise, taking steps for Bristol to be run on clean energy and to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. We launched the City Leap project, a £1 billion investment package that will transform Bristol’s relationship with energy.
And we are extending Bristol Clean Streets, including fines for offenders, smart bins and have launched the big tidy which will deploy crews to deep clean city hot spots.
We committed to lead a European Capital of Culture bid and promised to make culture – and sport – accessible to all.
Brexit got in the way of this one but we still delivered on our commitment to make culture and sport accessible to all.
* We secured UNESCO City of Film status through a collaboration of the Bristol Film Office, the University of the West of England, University of Bristol, Screenology, Destination Bristol, and Bottle Yard Studios.
* We underwrote £48.8 million for the redevelopment of Colston Hall and £1.5 million to enable the modernisation of Bristol Old Vic and St Georges.
* And we overcame 30 other towns and cities to be chosen as a new home by Channel 4 – they are opening their offices this month.
And on sport:
* We protected pitches for grassroots sport and are working with Sports England and local sports clubs to increase sports hall provision.
* And our gatherings have brought together sports people like never before to find opportunities to improve participation, support talent to develop and bring world class events to the city.
THAT’S called keeping your promises. I am delighted to be able to demonstrate delivery for the city.
But of course, we didn’t stop there and have delivered so much more.
So, I will give you a brief rundown of some of our achievements. I want to start by expressing my gratitude to my hard working and dedicated cabinet, my office, the council leadership and workforce – and city partners. And, to my Labour colleagues who have delivered the budget year on year in the face of political opposition – to make all this possible. Bristol is a collective endeavour.
* We have the Parks Prospectus and the new funding for Tree planting as part of our city plan commitment to double the tree canopy by 2045.
* The Stepping Up Programme has delivered training for 104 participants from BME backgrounds and women and disabled people. 70% of the first cohort went on to get promotions – and so far 46% of the second cohort.
We also have a cohort of 35 Somali Women. 25% have now got new jobs.
THIS is economic inclusion being delivered.
* The Bristol Equality Charter successfully launched with 70 signatories to the Bristol Equality Network and the LGBTplus, Voice & Influence Partnership.
* And the Reading City project with an army of volunteers and ambassadors, targeting communities with the highest need.
* And of course, we kept all of our libraries open.
* We have led on Period Poverty and have been invited to be part of the government taskforce.
* We continue to develop the ‘Strengthening Families’ work as part of the ACES programme and Bristol THRIVE, with emphasis on early intervention, prevention, mental and physical health and resilience.
* Learning from Glasgow, we have taken a public health approach to street violence and knife crime, to prevent the worst of what we have seen elsewhere.
*Children with special educational needs have been neglected by government and served badly by the city. Going forward, we must stand with families and put it right for their children – and we will.
* We have delivered extra care housing, starting in Stockwood and Stoke Gifford.
* Our HomeFirst service is supporting people to return home quicker after a hospital stay, reducing readmission – and we are paying care workers the living wage and travel time.
* We are Using technology to support independent living for disabled and older people.
*Care leavers up to the age of 25 are now exempt from council tax and we are the only Core City to have retained a 100% council tax reduction scheme.
* We are creating the first project to provide housing for young homeless, care leavers and students in partnership with United Communities, 1625independent people and Bristol University.
* We have prioritised housing for women escaping domestic violence and abuse.
* We opened a 24-hour homeless shelter in St Annes which has just opened for its second year.
* We will pilot the closure of school streets during drop off and pick up times.
* AND we safeguarded the future of ‘Skemers boxing Gym’ in Knowle West.
* And YTL will continue to receive our support as they deliver a state of the art, 17,000-seater Bristol Arena, ready to come to planning in the next few months. And in doing so, we have saved public money and carbon compared to the original plans. Instead of producing and trucking thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete, it’s being built with the best carbon neutral solution, retro-fitting an existing building.
We have brought together key players as part of our commitment to Bristol’s nightlife, with clear proposals to safeguard music venues.
We established a city centre revitalisation group in the face of major challenges to city centres and retail across the country.
And, we are building a new household waste and re-use centre at Avonmouth and are on track to deliver the new Recycling and re-use Centre on Hartcliffe Way.
I could go on…
A vision for the city – city office/plan/funds
But, without any great fanfare, the single biggest change is the change in governance.
We have worked with the city to develop a city plan that sets out Bristol’s future to 2050, transcending the electoral cycle. We have set up the city office to oversee the plan. This is a move from local government – and a focus on the workings of the council – to city governance – working together with all the city’s decision makers.
We have shared city leadership with six thematic boards, made up of partners from across the city. Each is taking responsibility for shaping and updating their piece of the one city plan.
There is inclusive, cross-organisational work going on in a way it never has.
And we have the City Funds which will be investing in agreed city priorities with ethical investment and giving.
The significance of these changes should not be underestimated. These successes have been recognised around the world, from the EU’s I-capital awards, to the FT and Reuters.
All these achievements cannot be taken for granted. Delivery has not previously been the norm and Sustaining the city office and the one city plan needs the new form of political leadership. Let me share a few reflections…
It means being delivery-focused. You would be surprised how often we come into conflict with processes that prioritise the structures rather than outcomes for people.
We must go beyond the transactional relationship between candidate and voters where a candidate promises a couple of projects to purchase a vote. Our offer is – a working relationship built on a shared set of priorities and values and delivering against them.
Complexity is not a vice. This is a complicated city in a complicated world. Campaigns are already gearing up that are about are about 10-word soundbites on leaflets.
But cities cannot be run with approaches built on 10-word analyses. You need the next ten words and then the next. Bristol needs leadership that grapples with reality and acknowledges that good things can sometimes have negative consequences for some people. Donald Trump is demonstrating meaningful leadership and debate cannot be conducted through 280-character twitter posts.
On this last point, we urgently need an improvement in the quality of our civic discourse. The misinformation and attempts to reduce nuanced issues to binary options really under-serves us. The truth is there are positives, negatives, risks and uncertainties to most options. Despite what you might hear and read, the scale of collaboration in the city in the name of getting things done is of far greater relevance than ANY conflict that centres around the council chamber.
The city is in the business of getting stuff done while the chamber wants to stay focused on division and our media are stuck with the click-bait of pointless point-scoring and 30-second soundbites of opposition. WC Fields said, ‘I never voted for anyone, I just opposed’ but we are turning that joke into a city pattern.
So, Let me tell you what’s coming in the next few months.
I used to play rugby. If you’re up against a better team, you want rain, a muddy pitch, you want to make it a scrap. And you want them to stop playing rugby and get into that scrap. That is the leveller.
Some people will want to throw the mud in this election, to get us in a back alley and confuse the issues.
We will stay focused on the fact that we have delivered and built a new city leadership, restored the council’s financial credibility and will continue to focus on the issues that matter to people.
As Michelle Obama said, ‘when they go low, we will go high’. We will do positive politics!
Bristol is a collective endeavour. Good leadership is about not being afraid to have premier league people around you. It’s about finding great people who want to make things happen and give them the space and the backing to do it.
And so many people have been part of our city leadership.
The late Lorraine Bush at Hawkspring. She got things done. She touched lives. She liked to say ‘life is measured not by how much you love but by how much you are loved’. This spoke to Lorraine. She just got it done.
Like Paul Hassan does, with local communities.
And Jez Sweetland, leading the innovation of the Bristol Housing Festival.
Marti Burgess, who brings expertise and entrepeneuralism to so many things.
Dick Penny, who has done so much for our city’s cultural offer.
Sado Jirde, of Black South West Network.
Muhammad El-Sharif, who made Bristol his family home after fleeing Sudan.
Kass Majothi and his son Rashid, who fled Amin’s Uganda and founded SweetMart, at the heart of the regeneration of St Marks Rd.
Silas Crawley, supporting men leaving prison.
Jean Smith from Nilaari, doing so much on drugs and mental health.
And my old youth leader Dennis Stinchcombe, who played a huge role in mine and so many other lives.
And I want to thank our international ambassadors, Chris Sanigar, Caroline Hassan and Ivor Anderson – DJ Bunjy – who have championed our city on the world stage.
And tonight, we welcome our new international ambassadors:
Dr Mena Fombo, Founder of the Black Girl Convention, and Silas Adekunle, Co-founder of REACH Robotics.
LOOKING FORWARD – THE NEXT 4 YEARS
With a council fit for purpose, city partners fully engaged and a plan to deliver, these could be exciting times.
Delivery for people on homes, transport, jobs and the environment.
Our homes targets will be met. And we will meet the challenge of building them in a way and in places that minimise our carbon footprint.
The plans for the Western Harbour is central to our ambition.
How and where we build homes will be one of the biggest determinants of our climate impact over the coming years.
A recent report on climate change by Robert Muggah, for the World Economic Forum, tells cities they need to build centrally, more densely and higher to reduce demands on energy through more efficient buildings and reducing the need for cars.
Western Harbour represents :
- around 2,000 homes within a seven minute bike ride and 25-minute walk of the city centre.
- the opportunity to introduce flood defence at the same time and in sympathy with the development.
- life being brought into the city centre to support the retail offer and that of North Street.
- the opportunity to turn the waterfront into a city destination accessible to all.
And we will deliver on other major infrastructure and housing projects, from the Temple Quarter to St Phillips Marsh and climate resilient housing at Frome Gateway alongside the university campus and Temple Island.
And, we will redevelop the St James area of the city.
Also, within our grasp is a truly transformative transport solution.
We start with a Bus Deal that will double services on key routes as well as regular commuter services down main arterial routes. This is public investment in prioritisation and infrastructure that will trigger private investment in services as the first step towards making public transport the mode of choice.
This will bring greater reliability and connectivity with a loop service – a circle line that will connect the city central areas of Broadmead and Cabot Circus, to the Centre, Redcliffe, Temple Meads, and Old Market every few minutes.
Through traffic will bypass the city central areas completely. This will enable pedestrianisation of the old city and the city centre.
This will deliver cleaner air, safe space for walking and cycling while supporting our local economy, jobs and connectivity.
And then we will deliver Mass Transit. A promise to the city that is both deliverable and essential if we are to offer a real alternative to the car.
Developed within the next decade, this will bring four lines of mainly underground, low carbon, rapid and reliable mass transport.
The first line will connect Temple Meads to the airport, looping through the south of Bristol, connecting people to jobs and opportunity.
The next line will connect the northern fringe, from Cribbs Causeway to the centre and the south and east central areas of the city.
And then we will connect the rest to the east, going as far as Lyde Green and Hicks Gate.
And by also enhancing and growing our urban rail network, these plans will transform public transport.
We will work closely with our local authority neighbours and with the combined authority – but we must not and will not face away from the ambition and the transformative impact of these plans.
And to deliver jobs for everyone, we need investment and we must grow a diverse economy.
We are working with seven cities and surrounding regions to build an economic powerhouse for the West. This is supported by goverment departments, local economic partnerships, business and city leaders – and linked with the emerging national 2070 plan. This will bring the western region of England and Wales to the table, for government and international investment in the way the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine has for their areas.
And, with the support of unions and business, we will make Bristol a Living wage city, where well paid decent jobs are the benchmark, not the aspiration.
And by protecting employment land in key areas, we will promote business and diversify our economy. While our high tech sectors grow and prosper, so we have a fundamental need to protect and grow jobs in all sectors including food, care and retail.
Bristol has been a leading voice in the UK’s response to the Climate Emergency.
* The first council to declare a Climate Emergency;
* The first to embed leadership of the New Green Deal with a named cabinet lead;
* The first UK city to undertake a voluntary local review against the united nations sustainable development goals; and
* The driver of a motion to the Local Government Association which saw 435 councils declare a Climate Emergency and commit to the SDGs.
But declarations and motions are only the first step. the climate emergency requires action. We have the action plan, which has been published today on the council’s website.
From setting a ground-breaking ambition for a carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2030 to driving forward a £1bn programme of investment in cleaner, greener energy, to progressing the actions requested of councils by Friends of the Earth, we are telling the truth about the Climate Emergency and acting now to tackle it, in concert with the linked challenge of social justice.
We will finalise our Local Plan to ensure our planning policies match our ambition. New planning policy will drive zero carbon buildings, affordable housing, community self-build and appropriate student developments.
We will find a way to make Bristol a Plastic free city and we are Going for Gold on food sustainability and have plans with the Avon Wildlife Trust and food growing groups to establish local food growth in every ward in the city, tackling food poverty while protecting wildlife habitats.
CITY OF HOPE
City Hall is about to install a Blue Plaque declaring Bristol a city of hope.
It was presented to Bristol at the July city gathering in recognition of what we have all been trying to do and encouraging – and challenging – us to continue.
We have the opportunity to make Bristol a better place for all citizens, of all ages, throughout their life.
From childcare and children’s centres, to more and better schools, a diverse, inclusive and sustainable economy with jobs for all, a transport system that is fit for purpose, connecting people and jobs and cleaning our air – to keeping people in their own homes with better support.
To deliver that city we need change.
I started tonight by telling a story of a Bristol mum that was struggling to feed her children. I shared that 40 years ago, my mum was facing the same struggle.
We don’t want to be telling that story in another 40 years.
We have the opportunity now, to make Bristol a better place to live and work for all of our citizens.
Let’s continue the change – let’s do it together.