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The Bristol Cable

This week in Bristol: How is Bristol doing on reducing carbon emissions and inequality?

This Week in Bristol

In the news this week, carbon emissions and unemployment in Bristol have fallen significantly in the last 10 years, but other measures of social inequality and poverty have got worse. 

These are the findings of a new report by the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council, looking at the city’s progress against UN sustainable development goals. Bristol was the first UK city to measure its progress against these goals back in 2019.  

Between 2015 and 2021, the report showed:

  • Carbon emissions fell by 29%, while our potential renewable energy capacity rose by 60%
  • Unemployment dropped from 5.3% to 4%
  • The number of children living in poverty, after housing costs are taken into account, rose from 30.1% to almost a third (32.6%)
  • More children in Bristol began receiving free school meals, especially in disadvantaged parts of the city, where the rate is as high as 43.3%. 

Report co-author Dr Sean Fox from University of Bristol said: “Given the unprecedented events of the past three years, it is not surprising progress has been mixed. 

“On the positive side, there has been growth in the share of renewable energy in our overall energy mix and a reduction in the carbon intensity of our economic output. But we have also seen an increase in poverty, which is exacerbated by a housing affordability crisis and now a wider cost of living crisis.” 

You can read the full report for more data, and information about what Bristol is doing to tackle its various challenges.

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Your Bristol news round-up

💰 Local Labour MPs have slammed the ‘mini-budget’ announced by new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday, which brings in the biggest tax cuts since the 1970s. MP for Bristol North West Darren Jones said the “reckless and dangerous” move would cause cuts to public services, higher debt and another fall in the value of the pound. Analysis shows that a cut to the basic income tax rate would leave people on lower incomes better off, but the biggest winners are people earning more than £150k a year. 

🚧 Major disruption on the Brunel Way, the traffic-heavy dual-carriageway across the Cumberland Basin, has been caused by a number of simultaneous works and road closures, leading to criticism of council planning. Councillor Richard Eddy said it was “appalling timing” to start roadworks now while two other bridges and two other key roads are closed, but the mayor’s office responded by asking “does he want to wait until it falls down?” 🚌 Changes to bus fares in Bristol have been announced, seeing a rise in all-day tickets and a fall in singles and returns. Prices change on Sunday to £6 for an all-day ticket, £2 for a single, and £3.50 for a return.

📉 An internal staff survey of Bristol council staff has revealed that only half believe bosses are “trustworthy and act with integrity”. The results of the survey also showed a disconnect between top bosses and workers and dissatisfaction about understanding of workloads and roles.

🚘 The council is seeking government permission for new powers to fine dangerous drivers, and may install new traffic cameras on six “problem roads” in Bristol. They have asked to be able to serve fines for offences such as driving the wrong way down a one-way route, that currently only police can enforce. A public consultation is planned for November.

  • Hockey’s Lane and Fishponds Road junction, Fishponds (signal-controlled junction)
  • King Georges Road and Queens Road junction, Withywood (signal-controlled junction)
  • Lower Redland Road between Elgin Park and Exeter Buildings, Redland (one way)
  • Furber Road between Raeburn Road and St Anne’s Road, St George (one-way)
  • Bath Bridge Roundabout and Cattle Market Road junction (signal-controlled junction)
  • Hareclive Road and Anton Bantock Way junction, Withywood (signal-controlled junction)

  💚 The SEE Monster, Weston-super-Mare’s giant new art installation, has opened to the public. The structure, one of the UK’s largest art installations at almost double the height of the Angel of the North, is a decommissioned gas rig from the North Sea and aims to inspire conversations about design-led sustainability.

🔍 A government planning inspector has intervened in and “lambasted” South Gloucestershire Council’s “history of policy failures” on securing enough land for travellers. The inspector overturned a decision to revoke several traveller pitches and a stable block near Yate, even though the areas are at high risk of flooding, because the council had not provided any alternative place for the residents to live.

🏊🏽‍♂️ The plan to save Knowle’s Jubilee Swimming Pool with a community buyout has been put on hold by the energy crisis. A rise in prices led, just weeks before it was due to reopen, to the new operators pulling out of the project. Existing operators Parkwood have agreed to stay on, but Friends of Jubilee Pool will now need to raise even more money to help cover the unforeseen deficit. 

⛪ Bristol based junior doctor and artist Ealish Swift has been named the winner of St Mary Redcliffe’s stained glass window competition, which will replace the church’s four stained glass panels dedicated to Edward Colston. Swift’s design for the brief ‘Who is my neighbour?’ shows intricately designed scenes in which Jesus is shown among his ‘neighbours’, including Bristol Bus Boycott protestors and refugees travelling by raft. The designs can be seen in a small temporary exhibition at the church until Oct 9.

💚 To celebrate World Car Free Day, climate charity Possible are organising a pop-up ‘parklet’ – an old parking space that has been transformed into a space for the community to enjoy. Their Bristol ‘parklet’ will pop-up today on Seymour Road in Easton, with a day of talks on co-designing streets and how traffic can be reduced in Bristol more broadly.

📣 Extinction Rebellion Bristol are holding an event for people to get involved in the climate movement today, as well as hosting a ‘Big Conversation’ to experiment with democratic decision making. The two events will take place from 11am at Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA and then from 3pm at Gloucestershire County Cricket Ground, BS7 9EJ.

🎥 Bristol’s Wildscreen Festival, which runs from 10th-14th Oct, has announced several leading figures as part of their first hybrid festival line-up including patron Sir David Attenborough, Hollywood directors James Cameron and Darren Aronofsky, and UN climate leader Christiana Figueres. This year, the festival’s 40th anniversary, sees their first online/in-person hybrid event, with a number of events at the intersection of screen media and environmentalism.

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