Liberal Democrats

Kay Barnard

Working For You


Bristol - "A Tale of Two Cities"

Bristol – “A tale of two cities”

At the end of 2015 Bristol was praised as the greatest contributor to wealth outside London. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that by the end of 2014, Bristol was the most productive city outside London. Unemployment is low and the city seems to be thriving. This success hasn’t magically appeared in the last two or three years but has been built over time by successive local business and community leaders.

And yet, in 2015, the government body Public Health England published shocking figures for child poverty in Bristol. The figures make uncomfortable reading. Their report says “Deprivation is higher than average and about 23.6% (18,700) children live in poverty”. Yes, that’s right - 18,700 children or about 600 school classes.

And that isn’t all. Life expectancy for both men and women in Bristol is lower than the England average. The difference between the life span of people in the richer parts of the city such as Stoke Bishop and those in the poorer areas is a massive nine years for men and six and a half years for women.
So what can a Mayor do about this? Being Mayor is about more than bike paths and entertainment facilities, important as those are. It’s also about making sure that new job opportunities are spread fairly across the city. Local councillors and Neighbourhood Partnerships have valuable knowledge about their areas. A single person in the form of Mayor cannot keep a close eye on all the wide roles that the council manages; a huge spectrum from social care to libraries and road maintenance. The local skills and knowledge are there and should be used, not ignored as is currently the case.

In reducing the inequalities, large employers have a role to play. During my time on the governing body of the University of Bristol, simple research by the Personnel Department showed that employment by the University was not spread across the city, with few employees at any grade coming from the far south or east of the city. The University responded by trying to recruit a wider range of people to its staff.

By far the best opportunities to improve the situation come from the many small businesses across the city. Support and encouragement for small businesses has to be a major priority. After all, small businesses account for nearly 50% of the entire UK economy and yet they are overlooked in legislation and support by government. Many of those small businesses are sole traders who lack the skills and finance to recruit junior staff. Nationally, three quarters of small businesses do not employ anyone aside from the owner. Just think of the electricians, the plumbers and the start-up web designers or consultants scattered around the city. Those businesses need support from Bristol City Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership, Business West, and the Mayor to thrive and expand.

The mayoral election is an open field. Bristolians will have two votes on the day, a first preference and a second choice. Make your first choice a woman like me who cares about all the people in the city, someone with the experience of working in a co-operative way in large organisations and with the proven skills to make a difference.

Let’s build on our city’s success and make it a thriving Bristol for everyone. And that will be one of my aims as the Liberal Democrat Mayor of Bristol.

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Published and promoted by and on behalf of Promoted by Clive Parkinson, on behalf of Kay Barnard (Liberal Democrats) all at 7 Fenton Court, Fenton Road, Bristol BS7 8ND.
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