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#Cable10Years: three campaigns the Cable fought and won

For our 10th birthday we’re collecting some of our best work. Here we highlight some campaigns the Cable has run to improve people’s lives in the city, and how you can help us continue by supporting our work.

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The Cable turns 10 years old in July! To celebrate, and demonstrate what we’ve managed to achieve with the support of our members, we’re publishing a series about milestones across our work in the last 10 years. Here’s to another decade, with your support.

One of the best things about being a membership organisation is the direct connection we’ve created with the people who support us. We can ask members, and the wider public, via our in-house membership system to respond to our callouts about what you’d like to see the Cable focus on.

We’ve often launched our campaigns this way. People in Bristol have told us what’s important to them – justice, housing, the climate crisis – and we’ve responded by campaigning on those issues. Here are a few examples of campaigns we’ve worked on, and managed to come out the other side with a tangible impact or success. (Plus, what’s up next in the Cable’s campaigning plans!)

Boot Out Bailiffs

The Cable’s ‘Boot Out Bailiffs’ campaign in 2018 came after we asked our members at that year’s AGM whether they wanted us to push for political and policy changes that would benefit large numbers of people across the city. Overwhelmingly, members voted that we should and the Boot Out Bailiffs campaign was the first to launch.

Bristol City Council had been using a private company to send heavies to people’s doors if they fell behind on council tax. After the campaign, the council announced plans to pilot a new model of ‘ethical’ debt collection that emphasises early intervention, affordable repayment plans, and advice. They committed to only using agencies where people wouldn’t, rather than couldn’t, pay.

Bailiffs were used 36% less in 2018 than in 2017, meaning 2,000 fewer Bristolians were visited by the heavies, saving thousands of low income residents from distress and hundreds in enforcement fees.

We also followed up on the story in 2023, to see how the situation had developed, five years on – and again, when we discovered the council had referred more than 2,000 outstanding council tax debts to enforcement agencies over a six-month period.

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In Disrepair: Bristol’s Broken Renting System

The housing crisis is one of our city’s most pressing issues, affecting almost everyone, whether you have a mortgage or you’re renting. But in the last decade, the private rental system has seen a sharp rise in prices and a worsening of conditions, with bidding wars for substandard homes becoming the norm.

Over the decade we’ve been reporting, renters in the city increasingly contacted the Cable about how unfeasible it was becoming to live here, and thus our series ‘In Disrepair’, on Bristol’s private renting landscape was born.

Last year, after we shared our many years of reporting with the council’s Living Rent Commission, we were cited in a council motion as informing some of their resulting commitments. In particular, Green councillor Tom Hathway pointed out:

“The Cable highlighted the success of a rogue landlord database in London, and actions in the motion now include reviewing enforcement policy and maintaining a public database of enforcement against rogue landlords in Bristol if the government’s proposed landlord portal doesn’t materialise.”

Kill the Bill: Correcting the record

In 2021, Bristol made national headlines again after several protests about the Police and Crime Bill, known as ‘Kill the Bill’ protests.

There was a fair amount of misinformation at the time: both the police and protesters accused each other of starting the violence, and a spokesperson for the police claimed several officers were seriously hurt, with broken bones and a punctured lung. After several local outlets in Bristol, and protesters, contested this, Avon & Somerset Police retracted the claim.

Our reporter Matty Edwards, who was there for several Kill the Bill protests, wrote an editorial for the Guardian outlining the order of events, and setting the record straight in full. Since 2021, we have continued to report on and uncover the aftermath, which has seen many young people, usually first offenders, jailed for a number of years on the most serious riot charges it was possible for the police to bring.

This included a Bristol Unpacked episode in which Neil Maggs interviewed Jasmine York, a who was jailed for arson:

We’re continuing to cover the aftermath of the Police and Crime Bill sentences. You can read all our coverage here.

What’s next?

Even in our reporting, outside of a dedicated campaign, we’re able to make impact. For example, we’ve exposed the name of a local cowboy builder who was fleecing Bristolians, scaring him into returning some victims’ money. A year later, he was in court for fraud, and was fined.

This year, we’re working on a new campaign: Together for Change.

Knife crime has a devastating effect on the communities it impacts. Never has this been more clear than what’s happened so far in Bristol this year. Over just a few weeks at the end of January and the start of February, four teenagers in the city lost their lives.

Alongside three other Bristol media outlets, the Cable launched the ‘Together For Change’ campaign, to better understand the social deprivation that leads to knife crime, scrutinise the actions of those in power working on mitigating the problem, and lobbying for long-lasting change not only to lessen the instances of knife crime, but also to develop better social provision for young people.

This work is ongoing, and you can support it by becoming a member or a Patron. The Bristol Cable is free to read in print and online, but quality journalism is expensive, and it’s only made free by members.

Join today to support another 10 years of campaigning journalism for Bristol. #JoinTheCable

Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

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