Your say / Politics

Marvin Rees swearing-in speech in full

By marvin rees, Monday May 9, 2016

It is with humility and gratitude that I stand before you today as the Mayor of our great city

Humility for the mandate that I have received to serve and gratitude to the people of Bristol, for putting their trust in me to lead

I was reminded today of the need for a big vision. What story do we want the City to live. For my part.

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I believe that story should be one in which

·         Bristol becomes a city that has no areas that rank among the top 10 per cent deprived in the UK

·         Children get off to the best possible start in life, we break the link between economic background and educational attainment and we are known as a city that produces leaders.

·         We break the link between wealth and health, and have the healthiest population and workforce in Europe.  

·         We meet the challenge of doing development in a way that reduces inequality and makes the city more not less affordable.

I wanted this ceremony to illustrate the approach to city leadership I believe is needed to make these aspirations real.

It’s a city leadership that is broader and wiser than the city council alone.

A leadership that recognises that our city is made up of many interdependent parts – communities, businesses, public services, the voluntary sector, colleges and universities, trade unions and many more. This means there are two important understandings we must hold:

First: Success or failure in one area creates success or failure in another.

Second: What people experience and receive from Bristol is never simply at the end of the decision made by any single institution.

This means that city leadership must be understood as a collective endeavour. Both in the name of our own self interest and the city’s common good, we must build the culture and structure through we collectively identify and deliver the city’s priorities. Desmond Tutu talks about Ubuntu – the African concept that I am because you are. I suggest this is as true for city institutions and sectors as it is for individuals and communities.

This is not command and control leadership. It is convene, ask and serve. And we are all going to have to give up a little sovereignty and be very intentional about working with the interests of others in mind.

And so I ask you to tell me what you need from me as an individual, as a mayor and what do you need from the city council. What do you need from us that will enable you to flourish? If I can support all of you to flourish, Bristol wins. 

That’s why, under my leadership I want to set up a City Office in which I hope you will all play a full part 

·         It’s here that your expertise, and priorities can come together to deliver the city we all want and need

·         It’s here we will ensure that all the major elements that make up civil society will not just be consulted, they will be empowered to lead

·         And it’s here we will build our city voice for the national and international stage

This is the only way we will be able to exploit the opportunities and tackle the challenges we must tackle on route to making our vision for a better Bristol real ;

o   building the new homes the city desperately needs;

o   making our urban spaces cleaner, greener and congestion free;

o   tackling the inequalities that exist between different parts of the city;

o   rolling back the child poverty that is blighting so many young lives.

o   creating decently paid jobs and meaningful careers for our young people.

Only together can we build a better Bristol.

It’s in that spirit of collective city leadership, I have asked Deborah Evans, Jon Reilly and Steve West to stand here with me today and, shortly, just for a couple of minutes say something of the kind of leadership they believe will help us build a better Bristol and what is needed from us.

So thank you for so willingly agreeing. I really appreciate it.

We all know that the climate within which we are working is not a helpful one. 

We have to be united and innovative in Bristol in the face of ongoing and severe cuts in the budgets we receive from Central Government.

Maintaining and improving vital public services won’t be an easy task.  But our determination to make Bristol a fairer and more prosperous city will drive us to overcome the challenges we face.

A key task is to ensure that the people of Bristol can trust us in managing the finances of the city. That means not only do we have to do the right things, we must do them in the right way and make them visible and open.

Firstly, and most importantly, my first ask of the city council leadership team will be to prepare a brief for me on the current financial state and performance of our city. This will contain their assessment of the size of the challenge facing us in the next four years. And I will ask them to suggest the likely consequences for our key partners across health, the voluntary sector, business, education, criminal justice and the communities they serve.

I will share this with you and the city. This is our challenge. It is also our opportunity to develop the new ways of working I have been talking about.

Secondly, as part of our commitment to open and transparent leadership I will commission a report on the European Green Capital. I will appoint an independent chair and the report will be made public. We must be frank and open with Bristol about what went well and what could have been done better. That is how we will grow and develop as a city.

I say to the people of Bristol, as your Mayor, I am now the custodian of our city. I.  will be open in all I do.

Together, we will prioritise the public services that help the most vulnerable in our city lead lives of dignity and respect.

Together, we will be ambitious in driving our city forward in its task of becoming a leading European city.

Together, we will strive to be a prosperous and sustainable city.

A city where every child receives the best education, and the opportunities in life they deserve.

A city where every family gets access to good quality and affordable housing and tenants are protected from rogue landlords.

Together, we will put the building blocks in place right across our city that ensure that everyone has the chance to do well and flourish.


I have also committed to sharing power, and sharing it widely.

I will in the coming weeks announce my cabinet of Assistant Mayors.

It will be an expanded cabinet, with family friendly job shares, and a gender balance and diversity that reflects our city.

It will be a cross party cabinet reflecting the electoral wishes of the people of Bristol.

Now we do not have elections every year, we can settle down to work together, across party boundaries to build a better Bristol. That is our job.

I will work with the cabinet and yourselves to develop the plan for Plan for Bristol that delivers my manifesto commitments, reflects all our interests and draws on all our resources.

Lastly, let me once again say thank you to the people of Bristol.

You have given me your trust and I accept the task willingly. I will serve all of the people of Bristol, without fear or favour. All of our people are entitled to expect this great city to be a place where they can live lives as fulfilled and happy as possible.

Together we have the capacity for success, and together we will create that success for our City and for all of its proud citizens.

Thank you.

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