Posts Tagged ‘Marvin Rees’

Making Bristol a world class city

13/08/2012, 01:20:54 PM

by Amanda Ramsay

What makes a world-class city? That’s the question on Marvin Rees’ mind right now. Labour’s candidate to be Bristol’s first directly elected mayor, set out his vision to a group of business people and local experts from across Bristol last Thursday, at an event on the Bristol economy chaired by shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.

Rees wants to see Bristol become “a world-class city”, he told the roundtable last week, the culmination of an illuminating set of events as part of the City Conversation – the Bristol-wide policy consultation being held by Rees.

With the national economy officially flat-lining, after the Bank of England revised down its growth forecast to 0% and the latest trade figures last week show the worst trade deficit since records began in 1997, how to kick-start the local economy was a key topic for discussion.

Umunna pledged that an incoming Labour government would set up a British Investment Bank (BIB) to widen the availability of credit to small firms.

It would be an extension of the recently-launched Green Investment Bank and fill the gap left by the main UK banks. Local branches, with managers in tune with the needs of local businesses, would strengthen local economies.


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Crime and communities in the spotlight in Bristol’s “City Conversation”

04/08/2012, 08:00:12 AM

by Amanda Ramsay

Thursday night was the crime and communities’ roundtable, the fifth in a series of Marvin Rees’ “City Conversations” which will inform his mayoral manifesto.

Past events have been chaired by shadow ministers such as Stephen Twigg and Hilary Benn with Thursday night’s event featuring Bob Ashford, Labour’s candidate to be the first police and crime commissioner for Avon and Somerset, as co-host.

The focus on Thursday was on how Bristol can build stronger communities to prevent and tackle crime and reoffending.

Attended by youth workers, councillors, crime enforcement representatives and people from victim support groups, community and pressure groups, Rees was clear about his intentions to the audience:

“It’s critical that we get people from across the city working better together.

We must always remember, it’s the most vulnerable who will pay the heaviest price if we don’t get this right. It costs us all of course, but it’s the most vulnerable who pay the most.”

Like or loathe the idea of elected police and crime commissioners they are coming soon, with the poll due on 15th November. Labour need to secure these pivotal roles to protect policing and the public from the type of populist button-pressing right wingers that have emerged in similar US elections. Who knows where that may take British policing?


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Stephen Twigg and Marvin Rees talk schools and childcare on the Bristol campaign trail

24/07/2012, 03:24:49 PM

by Amanda Ramsay

The UK is facing a schools places crisis, particularly in cities such as Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, London, Reading and Southampton. Areas such as Barking in east London are facing the prospect of a ‘shift system’, splitting the school day in two with some children attending the morning and others the afternoon shift.

Visiting Bristol yesterday as part of Labour’s city conversation, to help elect Marvin Rees as city mayor, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg highlighted the government’s swingeing cuts with  new build funding for schools slashed by a massive 57%, against a general 30% cut in most other spending areas.

Rees and Twigg met with parents and representatives of a variety of community groups, to discuss children and families as part of Labour’s childcare commission consultation. Main concerns included current government changes to working tax credits and how little help parents felt was on offer, especially to help single mothers or fathers to be able to work.

Twigg has hinted that better and more childcare will be a key focus for the party’s 2015 manifesto. This will be music to the ears of parents and employers alike, given the intrinsic link between jobs and childcare. More flexibility from employers around part-time working arrangements and more workplace childcare were among ideas put forward in Bristol yesterday.

Speaking as chair of Labour’s childcare commission, Twigg has talked about “switch spending”. That is, reducing spending in one area to fund more in another. Substantial spending cuts would be needed to fund a big improvement in childcare.


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Labour gears up for the Bristol mayoral election

20/07/2012, 02:24:19 PM

by Amanda Ramsay

Bristol’s city governance will look very different from November onwards. This week Labour launched the “City Conversation” around what should be the priorities for the first directly elected mayor for the city. Despite big Labour gains in both 2010 and 2011 local elections, at the moment the city council has a Lib Dem leader running a minority administration.

Marvin Rees is Labour’s hopeful to be Bristol mayor. He launched a series of roundtable discussions this week, kicking-off the process with an all member meeting on Wednesday of Bristol Labour Party. Transport was the topic of last night’s roundtable meeting chaired by Lord Andrew Adonis, with experts from across the city. Next week is the health and well-being forum.

Members of Labour’s shadow cabinet including Stephen Twigg, Chuka Umunna and Hilary Benn will be chairing roundtables over the coming weeks on key policy areas such as children and young people, families and communities, the Bristol economy and housing.

Developing a stronger city identity is the name of the game for Labour and Marvin is very much in listening mode with high aspirations for taking Bristol forward: “From higher education to green technology to the creative industries to finance, Bristol is home to world class activity. It is a creative hotbed and an economic powerhouse, but we punch below our weight in too many ways for too many people living here.”

One of the challenges facing campaigners though is the background to all of this. Many Bristolians had reservations, at best, about moving to a system of governance by an elected mayor in the first place. Turn-out in the mayoral referendum was very low, as indeed it was in the other nine English cities with referenda last May.


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Profiles of Labour’s candidates for the Bristol mayoralty: Marvin Rees

18/05/2012, 03:14:51 PM

In the first of a series of profiles of the mayoral candidates, Amanda Ramsay talks to Marvin Rees

With an election on 15 November for Bristol to have an elected mayor, Labour South West announced a short-list of candidates yesterday for the Bristol mayoral selection: former city councillor Kelvin Blake, current Labour group leader Cllr Peter Hammond, former council leader Cllr Helen Holland, former Bristol City Councillor and MP for Wansdyke in Somerset Dan Norris and party activist Marvin Rees.

First off the blocks for Labour, the weekend after Bristol voted yes, was Marvin Rees, who had actively campaigned for a yes vote in the 3 May referendum. He appeared on the BBC Sunday Politics show and cuts an impressive figure.

Rees is a manager for race equality in mental health with NHS Bristol and a former journalist and BBC Radio presenter. Hailing from the Yale Global Leaders Programme, he has an intriguing CV and was apparently once the executive assistant to President Clinton’s Spiritual Advisor. Rees stood unsuccessfully for the Bristol West selection in 2010.

Rees speaks with authority about life in Bristol’s inner city, coming from a poor background and says: “I was one of two brown-skinned children of a single white woman.”

Despite the poverty in some parts, during the referendum campaign the prime minister pointed to Bristol being the second richest UK city outside London, but local people feel the city could do much more.

“Bristol is a premiership city performing at championship level,” explains Rees, who blames poor leadership at a council level.

“Core to that underperformance has been a vacuum of leadership, the lack of an aspirational long term vision for where Bristol wants to be and how it will get there and the absence of a coherent city narrative, that genuinely results from and reflects the lives of all Bristol residents.

“There is an on-going challenge in making best use of the council officer-elected member relationship particularly around the charge that it is officers not politicians who lead or manage the city.”


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