It was a big week for Bristol last week – a flying visit from PM David Cameron to rally the ‘Say Yes to Mayors’ camapaign and the launch of the new Enterprise Zone with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the latter complete with circus acts and the added PR frisson of avoiding an embarrassing headline or photo.
Coupled with that, the city is gearing up for its bid to become European Green Capital 2014, the only UK city to be shortlisted alongside Frankfurt and Copenhagen. We’ve also just picked up the prize for the city’s most business friendly city of its size for future investors, according the FDI magazine, putting us ahead of places such as Manchester, Zurich and Liverpool. The Bloodhound project continues to gain momentum and Science Park goes from strength to strength.
Add to this list our winning bid to be one of the UK’s “super connected cities” – giving us digital connections of speeds so far only seen in the Far East. Bristol, it seems, has suddenly caught fire.
Not least in part, I would say, due to the success of our West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which has taken the bit between the teeth and heeded Vince Cable’s advice to “just get on with it”. Where other LEPs are still paddling around the shallows deciding what to do next – or first in some cases – we’ve jumped straight in feet first.
The Enterprise Zone appears to have sprung out of nowhere but behind the scenes there had been a lot of hard work getting traction to transform an eyesore gateway into the city where no-one else has yet succeeded.
It aims to create almost 17,000 new jobs over the next 25 years, particularly in Bristol’s burgeoning creative sector. It means Bristol really is walking the talk as a centre for creative industry excellence, with neighbouring Bath sitting deservedly alongside. The global creative and technology conference X-Media has just been staged in Bath, the first time ever outside of London, and the city is pumping money and support into generating new bespoke creative workspace in the city centre.
While the Mayoral debate trundles on, just take some time to look at what we’ve already recently achieved in the city. It’s about good leadership in whatever form that best takes.
I believe the LEP, working closely and successfully with local authorities, has demonstrated that we do have the ability to put Bristol on the world stage if we take others along with us. It would be nice to see more of the ‘working together, not against’ principle because this is what’s really going to spearhead growth and spread the success.