Bristol has transformed from the city where nothing gets done to a city that is delivering on its promises.

During his annual State of the City address delivered yesterday evening, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said he has turned the council around so he can deliver pledges made during his 2016 election.

He said that Bristol has transformed from the city where nothing gets done to a city that is delivering on its promises. Mayor Rees also said he has turned the council around so he can deliver pledges made during his 2016 election.


Noting collaboration as key to achieving the city’s ambitions, Mayor Rees said: “It’s been our aim to work with the city not against it, around it, despite it or irrespective of it. We are working with city partners towards a one City Plan driving toward a jointly shaped vision for 2050.” Mayor Rees summarised progress against his 2016 election pledges and announced innovative ways for enhancing delivery.

Mayor Marvin Rees delivering the 2018 State of the City address
Mayor Marvin Rees delivering the 2018 State of the City address

Pledge 1 – We will build 2,000 new homes – 800 affordable – a year by 2020.

Mayor Rees confirmed:

  • This year, 1886 homes, with 271 affordable are expected to be completed.
  • In 2019-20, 2308 market rate homes, with 499 affordable are projected to be completed.
  • By the target year of 2020, 1533 market rate homes and 916 affordable should be completed.

Mayor Rees also confirmed the launch of Bristol City Council’s own housing company which will build houses where the market doesn’t provide the right solutions and re-invest profits in affordable and social housing.

Pledge 2 – We will deliver work experience and apprenticeships for every young person.

Mayor Rees confirmed:

  • In 2017 the “Bristol works” initiative saw 51 employers offering work experience with 2477 young people benefitting
  • Bristol’s Learning City Partnership enables collaborative working between employers, universities, colleges and schools
  • Bristol is now one of five national Apprenticeship Diversity Hubs, working to create an increasingly diverse workforce
  • And there are three programmes to better improve the city’s diversity talent pipelines.

Pledge 3 – We will stop expansion of RPZs and review existing schemes.

Mayor Rees said that while the review has been completed, it became clear that prioritising transport was needed. He confirmed:

  • A review of RPZs was delivered and are open to further changes should ward councillors demonstrate overwhelming support in the community
  • A mass transit system is a better, cheaper and easier option than car travel
  • The Bristol Transport Strategy out to consultation, outlining our vision to 2036
  • The biggest single biogas bus order in the UK has been made, and the city is leading the way with smart ticketing and contactless payments. Seven out of 10 passengers now board the bus using these payment methods
  • The key outcomes of the Congestion Task Group are being implemented, including the creation of a Transport Board that will bring together key city transport partners, to work more closely with the city council for future planning
  • There is a flightpath for a phased growth of public transport. The first strand of that growth will be looking at a new deal for bus use. The aim of the agreement will be to double bus usage to 20% of all journeys through:
    1. Enhanced service frequencies on the core network, doubling the frequency on main routes
    2. Greater Service stability through increased enforcement of bus lanes and highway improvements
    3. Use of new technology to inform where services are most delayed
    4. Extension of quality and frequency services into less well served areas
    5. Extension of quality services into less well served areas
    6. And, a single flat fare zone, covering the whole city.  

Pledge 4 – We will protect children’s centres.

Mayor Rees confirmed:

  • £1.8m has been invested in remodelling children’s services to keep them open
  • The Children’s Charter has launched and is the city’s first set of aspirations for children clearly laid out with a delivery plan for each
  • Over 20 organisations, as well as families and children, from across the city have pledged support at the Bristol Play Day in August

Pledge 5We will increase the number of school places and introduce a fair admission process.

Mayor Rees confirmed:

  • A site in Temple Quarter has been secured for what will be Bristol’s biggest secondary school and plans are being developed for a new school in Lockleaze
  • Three years ago, Bristol was ranked the worst for school attendance in the whole of the UK and this is being tackled. Last week a summit was held at City Hall with over 100 education partners, sharing best practice and developing a strategy that includes robust guidance on mental health, support and a focus on vulnerable children.

Pledge 6 – We will put Bristol on course to be run entirely on clean energy by 2050, and introduce a safe, clean streets campaign.

Mayor Rees confirmed:

  • The launch of the City Leap, a £1 billion package of projects that will transform the way Bristol generates, stores and utilises energy. 180 investors across the UK and around the world from the Japanese national bank to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment vehicle submitted expressions of interest
  • District heating systems are being installed placing new insulation measures in 20,000 council properties and fuel poverty projects have launched across the city
  • 3000 volunteers have been mobilized as part of a clean street initiative and introduced fines with over 10,000 being issued to date.

Pledge 7 – We will lead a European Capital of Culture bid to make culture – and sport – accessible to all

Marvin Rees confirmed:

  • Post the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, it was clear that investing large amounts of money and time in bidding for the EU capital of Culture would be a fruitless venture
  • As part of the city’s culture strategy our bid was successful to become a UNESCO city of film
  • Bristol pitched to become Channel 4’s new home and we remain shortlisted in the final six
  • And we have contacted Netflix, which is looking for UK bases, so we can position Bristol as a hub for production studios
  • Funding has been committed to phase 2 of the Colston Hall redevelopment, saving this key cultural hub in the city as well as supporting successful developments of St Georges and the Old Vic
  • Collaboration between the council and professional clubs and the sporting sector will bring world class sporting events to the city, grow participation and develop elite athletes.

Mayor Rees said, “Huge work has been undertaken to get the council and partners ready and aligned for delivery. Bristol was very much seen as a city that didn’t get things done, but now this isn’t the case.”

Finishing his speech at the Wills Memorial Building on Wednesday night, Mayor Rees said: “No one person can change a city on their own. The council alone, cannot deliver change, inclusive growth, close the inequality gap, deliver services, volunteer, and make a difference.  We will only make that difference by pulling together.

“I have had enough of people talking down our city. With a positive attitude and collaboration to common goals, we will deliver. We are building a city where nobody gets left behind. Together, we are building a city of hope.”

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