State of the City 2019 – Mayor focuses on immediate changes needed for Bristol

During his annual State of the City address, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, outlined the change needed to how the city plans and delivers housing, economic growth, transport and its climate change commitments, and shared progress and ambitions for these areas.

Mayor Rees explained:

“Doing nothing doesn’t mean things will stay the same. If we don’t design the next iteration, we will be over-run by the political, economic and social forces growing around us. Or we will find ourselves repeatedly responding to challenges that are out of our control, with a city that is ill-equipped for the task.”

Sharing his ambitions for the city, Mayor Rees said the council is fit for purpose and ready to deliver for the city today and for its future needs. He set priorities for the coming years which prioritise delivery for people on homes, transport, jobs and the environment.

Priority 1: Homes
Building homes that minimise the carbon footprint and create inclusive and mixed communities, for example the plans in development for Western Harbour.

Western Harbour represents:

  • around 2,000 homes within a seven minute bike ride and 25 minute walk of the city centre
  • people 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
  • the opportunity to introduce flood defence at the same time and in sympathy with the development.
  • Other major infrastructure and housing projects include Temple Quarter, St Phillips Marsh and climate resilient housing at Frome Gateway – alongside the university campus, Temple Island, and the redevelopment of the St James area of the city.

Priority 2: Transport
Transformation of transport in the city is needed and will include the following.

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
  • 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
  • Traffic will bypass the city central areas completely enabling pedestrianisation of the Old City and the City Centre.

Mass Transit that will:

  • offer a real alternative to the car
  • be developed within the next decade
  • 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
  • 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 finally it will connect the rest to the east, going as far as Lyde Green and Hicks Gate.
    growing the urban rail network.

Priority 3: Jobs
The council is working with seven cities and surrounding regions to build an economic powerhouse for the West.  This is supported by government departments, local economic partnerships, business and city leaders – and linked with the emerging national 2070 plan.

There is also a real aspiration to make Bristol a Living Wage city.

Priority 4: Environment
The council has today published a climate emergency action plan which says the council will:

  • call on government for increased powers and resources and to lead through national policies, taxation, etc.
  • develop and deliver a One City Climate Strategy, working with City Office Partners
  • deliver a climate change public engagement programme
  • call on government to review the societal impacts of achieving net-zero carbon
  • urge all public sector organisations in Bristol to commit to at least 30% of their fleet using non-fossil fuel by 2026
  • commit to the council being carbon neutral for our direct emissions by 2025
  • quantify the council’s indirect emissions
  • train city leaders, councillors and council staff in climate change to enable them to respond to the climate emergency in everything they do
  • deliver significant low carbon energy infrastructure in the city.

Mayor Rees finished his speech by announcing 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 Bristol has been doing.

Mayor Rees explained:

“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.

“Our true greatness will be found in our collective commitment to making Bristol a city in which everyone can find hope irrespective of the circumstances of their birth.”