My views on Bristol's future


I think abolishing Avon and replacing it with four new councils was a major error. Over the last two decades other city regions have seen huge progress in their transport provision and cultural facilities while Bristol has lagged behind. 

Our economy is strong but could have grown more if our transport constraints had been sorted and we had the cultural venues to match Birmingham, Leeds or Cardiff.

The creation of the Local Enterprise Partnership by the Coalition Government has provided more strategic focus but it is an unelected body that can't speak for everyone in the area across all issues.

The major problem is that about a third of the urban area that is so obviously the city of Bristol lies outside the political boundary of the local authority. The Mayor's remit does not run to Filton, Kingswood, Patchway, Downend or Long Ashton. The council's planners have no say over the development of Bristol Airport and couldn't stop Filton airfield from closing.

I have long believed that the city's boundary should be stretched to include the whole of the urban built up area plus some of the semi rural hinterland. Bath and Weston-super-Mare should remain in separate councils. Such a change would bring greater clarity over who speaks for Bristol.

Finally, I want to see a major shift in power away from Westminster to city regions and counties. More control over taxes, economic development and welfare policy would only work with sensibly sized strategic authorities. Bristol as currently structured does not fit the bill. We're not alone on that front but we are the most glaringly obvious example in England where local government needs dramatic change.


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