Campaigners fighting for an elected mayor for Bristol have backed criticism of the city’s business community for not doing more to support their battle.
In response to comments made to Bristol24-7 yesterday by the organiser of a debate on College Green on the issue, they said firms now needed to back their words with action.
Stephen Perry said yesterday that Bristol was “sleepwalking” to a democratic “catastrophe”. He added that the city’s businesses had failed to support the campaign, despite saying publicly they wanted the change to a directly elected mayor.
In advance of the Bristol Speakers’ Corner event this lunchtime, campaigner Jaya Chakrabarti said: There’s been real overconfidence from the business community that we are going to get a ‘Yes’ vote, when there is still everything at stake and the ‘No’ vote could win.
“If those really committed to change in our city want it to happen then they’ve got to do something about it. The ‘Yes’ campaign was originally built by people running small businesses and now we want to know where the bigger companies are. They’ve got to get out there and help. The fight is on.”
In a recent poll of its members, the Bristol branch of the Institute of Directors (IoD) found 88% would like an elected mayor.
Meanwhile, last week, economists from Colliers International in Bristol said an elected mayor was vital in order to tell the world that Bristol was “open for business”.
“Business chiefs are upbeat about the city’s prospects and agree Bristol is doing everything right – apart from telling the rest of the world it is doing everything right,” said Mike Bull from Colliers.
“Although Bristol is well placed to take advantage of any [economic] upturn, we need one voice to drive the city forward.”
A debate on the issue takes place at Bristol Speakers’ Corner, College Green, at 1pm today.