Mayors Column November: Conversation's coming to your doorstep

November 01 2016

You may have already heard about the financial challenges being faced by the council over the coming years and the launch of our five-year plan for the city, including possible solutions to close a budget gap of at least £92m between April 2017 and March 2022.

You may have already heard about the financial challenges being faced by the council over the coming years and the launch of our five-year plan for the city, including possible solutions to close a budget gap of at least £92m between April 2017 and March 2022. 

I’m asking everyone to join me in a city-wide conversation about our future. We don’t just need your views – we need your solutions and we need to know if you can get actively involved in your community and services people might traditionally associate with the council.

We’re bringing the conversation out of City Hall and nearer to your doorstep in November, with a series of events across the city to discuss your feedback and ideas. 

You can join us from 7pm on the following dates, but make sure to book your place in advance by visiting www.bristol.gov.uk/corpstrategy, where you can also find our draft plan, proposed savings and questionnaire:


Thursday 10 November – The Station, Silver Street, BS1 2AG;


Tuesday 15 November – Henbury School , Station Road, Avon, BS10 7QH;


 Wednesday 16 November – Bristol Brunel Academy, Speedwell Road, BS15 1NU;


Thursday 17 November – Oasis Academy John Williams, Petherton Road, BS14 9BU.

The conversation may have only just started, but one of the most common questions people have been asking is how we can afford to build an arena when we need to save so much money.

It’s a valid question, of course, with the answer being that if the money came from our normal budget, we couldn’t. However, the facts are more complex and mean we cannot use the vast majority of the arena funding in other ways.

 The council is borrowing the money to build the venue, with the funding coming from two main sources. 

The first is retained business rates from the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone through the West of England Partnership. The second is borrowing against the future rental income from the operator of the arena. 

If we do not build an arena the offer of £53m from the West of England Partnership would be withdrawn and the £38m income from the operator would never exist.

Moreover, in difficult financial times, it is important to continue to invest in these kinds of projects, which will deliver future growth, investment and job opportunities.

Not everything is so simple. The conversation we need to have is about new ways of providing services, including more roles for our partners, community groups and volunteers. This can be challenging, but it can also give more power to local people and provide health and social benefits. This isn’t just about ‘cuts’, it’s about redefining what we all do as part of normal city life.

Together we can make the best of a really challenging situation, and now is the time to get involved in defining our future.