Bristol’s decision to go for an elected mayor gives the city the perfect opportunity to reinvent itself and make up some ground on its great rival Cardiff, according to a planning expert.
Colliers International planning and heritage specialist James Edwards believes the city has lost its way over the past decades and fallen further than ever behind the booming Welsh capital.
Bristol was the only city to vote in favour of an elected mayor during the May referenda, and Mr Edwards believes the decision could bring major benefits for its citizens.
“The yes vote could help put Bristol back on the map,” he said. “The city is in serious need of an elected mayor – somebody it can count on to speak up for Bristol on a regional, national and even international level.
“Too many people stay on the M4 and head for Cardiff for their entertainment, whether sporting, shopping or leisure. Bristol has become something of a backwater on the national stage as Cardiff has prospered and changed beyond recognition.
“Bristol now has an opportunity to completely reinvent itself following decades of treading water. It has rested too much on its laurels, allowing cities like Cardiff to rise to prominence and redevelop as a regional retail and leisure power house.
“A strong dynamic leader will focus on driving Bristol forward and encourage the development of key big city staples such as a major arena venue.”
He said that although Bristol City Council had begun to rethink its offering with events like the Bristol Fashion pop-up food camp in Queen Square recently, it was still crying out for a nationally recognised event and an international standard venue.
“Back in the 19th century there used to be an annual horse race on the Downs. More recently we had powerboat racing in the city docks. We have the space and with a dynamic elected mayor at the helm hopefully the inclination to give Cardiff and other cities a run for their money.”
This week, the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green Party in the city have all agreed to put forward their own nominees for the elected mayor race – the vote for which will take place in November.