The Bristol city region and economic area covers the four local authorities of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Each has its own political structure and leadership, often with different party affiliations, who have come together to form partnerships across the area to deliver on strategic issues. It could be argued that the successes from these partnerships have been limited and hard fought, with local priorities and party politics sometimes getting in the way of more strategic progress.
It is clear to us as a business community that, for our area to succeed and progress strong civic leadership is needed. That is why we are supporting the government’s proposals for an elected city mayor for Bristol with executive powers to lead on strategic planning, transport and economic development. Indeed we would go one step further and recommend that government consider the establishment of a city regional mayor, covering all four council areas across the Bristol city region, with a directly elected cabinet, all with a degree of democratic accountability for the city region.
The need for a clear master plan for the city region should be a given, an obvious requirement, but it doesn’t exist and it does not even appear to be in local government minds to produce such a plan. The success of the Bristol city region depends on being able to make the most of the opportunities on offer, responding to inward investment potential, addressing social inequality and creating the right conditions for growth. This requires an agreed plan and vision for the sustainable growth of the city region, identifying and confirming the need for homes and jobs, planning how and where they will be delivered and establishing the infrastructure needed to support that growth.
Alongside this master plan there needs to be an investment plan, a plan to bring in funding from government and private sector investors to deliver the infrastructure and connectivity demanded by a successful 21st century city region. We need to use existing powers, and lobby for new ones, to pool resources across the city region, to make the most of public sector land banks, to draw down government funds and convince the private sector this is a place worth investing in. Business needs to have a say in how these funds are invested and where, so that we can generate the private sectors jobs so needed by our economy.
- Agree and adopt a unified vision for sustainable growth for the city region confirming the need to generate 300,000 new jobs and as a result develop a further 200,000 new homes across the city region by 2050
- Support the concept of an elected mayor for the Bristol city region, covering the 4 Unitary Authority areas, with the powers and responsibility to deliver on key strategic issues
- Provide the ability to maximise business rate retention and pooling across the city region, with greater ability to levy local taxes and greater control over use of funds
- Support the setting up of Transport for Greater Bristol as a planning and coordinating body for transport with ownership and responsibility for services