In the news this week, Marvin Rees reflected on what the city council has achieved this year, as he delivered his first State of the City Address since Bristol voted to scrap the mayoral model.
In his address on Wednesday, Rees laid out a challenge for the city’s politicians to work together and “continue the momentum” he says his administration has built in recent years.
Rees also listed recent achievements, such as securing £95 million from the government for a major regeneration project around Temple Meads station, as well as building hundreds of new homes across Bristol, improving parks and installing new district heat networks.
He said the city still faces huge challenges, from the climate to inflation, but that a lot of action had been “delivered” over the past 12 months. Mr Rees spoke about the cost of living crisis, how inflation is impacting council budgets, and the work Bristol has already done to help those hit the hardest by rising costs.
A packed hall at the Wills Memorial Building also heard a new poem read by city poet Kat Lyons, and two speeches from Bristol’s youth mayors about their work. After the mayor’s address, a question-and-answer panel with two politicians from Nigeria and Toronto saw him discuss the challenges Bristol faces.
In other news this week, we published the first report in our Future of Cities series: ‘Rethinking regeneration: Could co-design help transform the city’s estates?’
It tells the story of Toni, a single mum in Knowle West who was able to co-design her new council house – built in her parents’ back garden – as part of a radical, community-led housing project in Knowle West. Could Bristol City Council use the same approach for larger projects, as it considers rebuilding its housing estates?
Your Bristol news round-up ?️
? Wildstone, the company that owns the triangular spit of land central to Stokes Croft known as Turbo Island, has begun paving over the site. Residents have reportedly expressed mixed feelings about the paving of the iconic hotspot: on one hand, it is one of the few pre-gentrification remainders of the cultural hub of Stokes Croft, and on the other it’s long served as a hub of street drinking and fly tipping. Wildstone have said bike racks will be installed, while ‘tackling ongoing problems’ and ‘revamping’ the site.
? The CEO of Raised in Bristol, which runs 4 nurseries across the city, has said there are not enough spaces in Bristol’s childcare services to meet demand. Childcare is in crisis due to underfunding and the sector being undervalued, says Anne Malindine, while the TUC reported that the average family in the region now spends £1,147 on childcare each month.
⚠️ A mother has described being too traumatised to return to her home in Twinnell House after a fatal fire at the Easton high rise last month. Selma Muuse, 28, and her 6-year-old son fled her top floor flat after the blaze broke out in the early hours of 25 September. They have been living in hotels ever since and she says they have nowhere else to go: “All I want to do is live in a place where I feel safe with my son,” she told ITV. “We lost our neighbour, we had to get ourselves out of that situation. It’s been scary for me and my son. He calls it the fire house.”
?️ The council has approved a bid to turn the old Bristol paper factory site on Dove Lane into 358 flats. The construction work in the vacant plot, which sits next to the M32, will be based on plans by developers Places for People, but some councillors expressed concern that only 20% of the units would be classed as ‘affordable’, though this number is currently in compliance with council rules.
⚖️ A social worker employed by Bristol City Council has been barred from the profession, after she falsified records to hide serious misconduct. A council panel found that Elaine Lillian McDowell was found to have repeatedly, and seriously, breached professional standards by moving a vulnerable woman to a full-time nursing home, attempting to get her bank PIN, and hiring her own relatives to undertake odd jobs related to her work.
? People from black and ethnic minority backgrounds have reported inequality and discrimination at the Bristol HQ of NHS Blood and Transplant. A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said their inspection turned up “safe and effective care” given by “competent and skilled staff”, but “a mixed view” on the organisational culture, which “did not always encourage openness and honesty at all levels and learning or action was not always taken as a result of concerns raised”.
? A woman in her 20s has sustained a “life threatening” head injury after colliding with a car while riding a Voi e-scooter. There have been long-held safety concerns around e-scooter use in the city. The collision happened at Temple Gate around 8:20pm on Thursday, after which the woman was taken to Southmead Hospital for treatment.
? Luckwell Primary School in Bedminster has had its Ofsted rating upgraded from “inadequate” to “needs improvement”. The latest inspection last month followed its rating as inadequate back in 2017 prior to joining the academy trust Gatehouse Green Learning Trust, and rated the school ‘good’ in early years provision, personal development, and behaviours and attitudes, while acknowledging that more needed to be done in areas such as ensuring students understood the benchmarks expected of them.
Solutions and Successes ?
? Longwell Green’s Phoenix Allstars Cheerleaders, a disability-inclusive cheerleading team, has been chosen to represent England in the world championships. The team, comprising both disabled and non-disabled members, will be heading to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Advanced Adaptive Abilities category in April 2023.
?️ The council’s committee model working group has begun inviting Bristol residents to give their thoughts on how the committee system should work following the mayor’s departure. The callout is part of an ongoing attempt to increase engagement in local democracy – while the referendum result on whether or not to keep the mayoral system was decisive, the turnout was only 29%. Ideas or views about the new model can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
? A community-led project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council has allowed local people to act as ‘community historians’, with the first set of research being conducted at the SS Great Britain. Three women – Shani Whyte, Iwona Salamon, and Soumia Seradj – had access to the museum archives to bring a fresh perspective to the role Brunel’s pioneering ocean liner played in history, exploring the ship’s involvement in migration and the story of the British empire, and producing learning materials on these subjects for schools.
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