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This week in Bristol: Clean Air Zone date finally confirmed

Your weekly digest of Bristol news includes rule breaking at City Hall and updates on major housing developments in the city.

Photo: Aphra Evans

This Week in Bristol

In the news this week, it was confirmed Bristol’s Clean Air Zone will finally coming into force on 28 November. The multiple delays in recent years mean that Bristol’s dirty air has to reach legal levels by next year. 

This comes more than three years after the Cable launched a campaign calling on the council to speed up its action on air pollution, because it had already missed deadlines for submitting plans to the government. 

Older, polluting vehicles will be charged £9 a day to drive into the zone which includes the city centre, Redcliffe, Hotwells and parts of Southville. However, it is predicted this will only apply to roughly one in three vehicles.

There is £42 million of financial support to help people switch to cleaner vehicles and temporary exemptions for people living in the zone or those on lower incomes who work in it. These measures to soften the blow were one of the reasons used by the council to justify taking so long to plan the scheme and get it approved by the government. 

But now the council has asked for the government to extend these temporary exemptions, because as it stands, they will only last until the end of the year – just a month after the zone comes into effect. 

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?️ Council leaders are set to commit to no high-rise tower blocks in the Western Harbour redevelopment as they kickstart the master-planning stage. The latest ‘vision’, which still lacks lots of detail, says the bonded warehouses will remain the ‘dominant built structures’. If approved by Cabinet next week, master-planning will begin later this year with construction expected to not start until 2026. 

⚠️ Bristol City Council officers broke the rules on awarding contracts for goods and services more than 200 times to the value of £69m last year. That is nearly one in seven contracts and more than double the previous 12 months, prompting external auditors to tell the authority to address the issue “as a matter of urgency” because it could be a sign of “irregularities” and an increased risk of fraud.

? More than 24,000 ‘fuel poor’ households in Bristol, already struggling with the rising cost of living, are forking out an extra £250 a year on fuel bills because of leaky homes, according to new research by the Local Government Association. West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris has said this shows the need for an urgent ramping up of retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient. 

? Businesses in Bristol will be urged to scrap zero-hour contracts in a bid to tackle the cost of living crisis, as part of a package of support agreed by councillors this week. A scheme will be set up asking people who don’t need a £400 energy bill relief grant to donate it to charities, and extra training will be provided to help signpost people in need of advice on saving money on heating bills, employment and skills.

✈️ Bristol City Council staff have racked up enough air miles over the past three years to fly to the moon. Since 2019, council staff have flown almost 240,000 miles to destinations including Durban, Tokyo, Oman, Tallinn and New York. The international trips have cost taxpayers in Bristol an estimated £29,000, including flights, food and hotels. The massive scale of international travel has raised key questions about the environmental impact of flying so far so regularly.

?  A 19th person has been jailed in connection with a Kill the Bill protest in Bristol on 21 March last year that descended into violence. Charly Pitman, 24, was sentenced to three years in prison after jurors were shown footage of her striking officers’ shields and helmets outside Bridewell Police Station. Bristol Anti-Repression Campaign have condemned the jury’s decision, saying Charly was in the crowd as protesters defended themselves against police using ‘extreme violence’. 

? A new development next to Temple Meads station will offer the minimum amount of affordable housing – 20%. On the site that has been empty for years, developers Marick Real Estate have unveiled plans for two hotels, a new shop, cafe bar and restaurants alongside 100 flats, of which 20 will be affordable. The minimum threshold for affordable housing used to be 40% until the council lowered it to encourage faster housebuilding. 

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