Mayor Marvin: We're delivering

October 26 2018

Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, delivered his third annual State of the City address to a packed audience at the Wills Memorial Building, as part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas on October 17.

He stated that Bristol has transformed from the city where nothing gets done to a city that is delivering on its promises. 

Noting collaboration as key to achieving the city's ambitions, Mayor Rees said: “It’s been our aim to work with the city not against it, around it, despite it or irrespective of it. We are working with city partners towards a one City Plan driving toward a jointly shaped vision for 2050.”

Mayor Rees summarised progress against his 2016 election pledges, chiefly that the council is on track to build an average of 2,000 homes a year by 2020 including 800 affordable and the delivery of his manifesto pledge to keep all of the city's children's centres open. The initiatives of the Congestion Task Group are being implemented, including the creation of a Transport Board that will bring together key city transport partners, to work more closely with the city council for future planning. He announced an aim to double bus usage to 20% of all journeys along with plans for a single flat fare bus zone, covering the whole city.

Details of the whole speech are here: https://news.bristol.gov.uk/news/state-of-the-city-2018 

Councillors working for our local area gave their reactions to the speech. Anthony Negus, councillor for Cotham said: “This State of the City event is when we expect to be presented with an upbeat list of what might be done and to celebrate what has. But we should put this in context and reflect on the mayor’s many poor choices about what has been choked off.  

“The whole city was rapidly stripped of its community voices. No-one is listening to real concerns about loss and weakening of essential services in care provision, waste, toilets, parks and more. It took a judicial review to restore £5 million funding taken from children with special needs, despite huge costly borrowing. 

“If the mayor says he doesn’t play political football it is only because that is a team game. It needs you to be part of one team and then be prepared to engage with others. These happen less within any mayoral system and have all but disappeared under this regime.“

Redland councillor, Martin Fodor, praised the achievements but raised some concerns as he said: “I think we’ll all be pleased when the results of these headlines are felt across the city, when projects and improvements actually get put in place. The continuation of energy projects and carbon saving initiatives which the city is known for are a vindication of the status we earned as one time European Green Capital - a city seeking to develop more sustainably. 

“The Mayor acknowledged that not everyone supports his plan to encourage tall buildings (over 10 storeys). In fact with 85% of responses from across the city rejecting the idea I hope he’d be open to listening on this issue, but the current local plan proposals suggest he’s pressing on.

“In this neighbourhood residents are in contact every week due to the halt in support for parking solutions. We’re still waiting for the professional input to deal with issues raised. Every controlled scheme in the city is now supported by the majority of residents (and some want more hours or days). The zones are not a panacea, but putting high barriers to doing anything to tackle the parking chaos is frustrating.

“It’s also worrying he still seems likely to favour faster speeds over safety on several roads in this area. Residents are understandably very worried when they are seeking a safe crossing and might instead get faster vehicles imposed on a route to school.”

“No one is questioning the financial challenges local government faces, but on top of that we’re still getting over the almost complete change over of the senior management team and several restructures that have been undertaken. This has made delivering even small day to day local projects incredibly frustrating for ward councillors and communities. It’s still very hard to find who’s responsible for what in the council due to the wholesale departure of the experienced managers, and top staff. Of course the scandal of the discretionary pay off for one time Chief Executive does not get a mention.”

See The Mayor's View, p37 for more on the State of the City address.