A document designed to ensure Bristol does not “return to its old ways” in the wake of the pandemic has been published by One City partners.
The “statement of intent”, which is said to be a precursor to the city’s full economic recovery strategy, sets out a collective aim to rebuild in a way that is fairer, more inclusive and sustainable.
The 22-page document highlights disparities in Bristol, which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis as health inequalities have been inextricably tied to economic and educational ones.
It says: “With 42 areas in the ten per cent most deprived in the UK and six in the most deprived one per cent, the city’s previous success has not reached everyone and has left some communities behind for many years.”
The statement of intent, created by the One City Economy Board with input from other organisations, also says the recovery plan must be informed by the climate strategy and goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2030.
The One City Economy Board includes representatives from Bristol City Council and Business West, as well as a number of companies, institutions and organisations, including Bristol24/7, Black South West Network and the University of Bristol.
Speaking about the new document, James Durie, chief executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the economy board, said: “We are stronger together and this statement helps all partners to start to reimagine Bristol for the better.
“Whether it’s rebuilding a prosperous and inclusive economy; increasing skills and education; creating safe and healthy communities or delivering effective transport and environmental solutions this statement of intent sets out Bristol’s commitment to shake up the status quo and rebuild our economy to be commercially successful but in a much fairer way than ever before.”
He added that the power of a multi-partner approach and its potential to put Bristol ahead of the game should not be underestimated, describing it as “gold dust in city planning terms”.
Those behind the publication say it follows three months of engagement with the wider city about the challenges and opportunities of the recovery from Covid-19. This will feed into the city’s long term economic recovery plan.
Projects, including Bristol University’s £300m enterprise campus and major upgrade of Temple Meads are highlighted as important to the city’s recovery. It is otherwise light on detail, with the authors stressing it is designed as a statement of intent rather than a comprehensive plan.
The One City partners say they are committed to a recovery aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are also working with partners to ensure evolving plans complement work being done on a regional and national basis.
They say: “With shrewd government and private investment, partners believe that Bristol has an opportunity to be Europe’s exemplar city for economic inclusion and sustainability.
“To do this requires rethinking how it addresses the systemic injustices that exist in our city systems and rethink how we can meet the ambitious targets needed to respond to climate change.”
Mayor Marvin Rees added: “We are drawing together expertise from our communities, the private sector, academics, the voluntary and social enterprise sectors, the public sector and wider-reaching national and international networks too: together making a full economic renewal plan for Bristol.
“After the pandemic, we face an enormous challenge but together we can reimagine Bristol as a fairer, healthier and even more inclusive and sustainable place than it was before.”
Main photo: Lowie Trevena