Our biggest cities need excellent leadership and business believes that directly elected mayors, with the right powers and policies, are best at providing that. An elected mayor of Bristol could provide the drive and energy to help make Bristol a truly great European city.
Mike Bothamley, President of Bristol Chamber of Commerce (part of the Business West Group) said:
“Business isn’t interested in local authority boundaries or council areas, but in a thriving Bristol city region, where we can plan strategically for the jobs, skills, connectivity and housing that will meet business needs and fulfil the real potential we have. The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is beginning to deliver the sort of leadership in those areas that business needs. It also provides a framework within which the four West of England unitary authorities are cooperating successfully on everything from strategic transport improvements to education and training. As President of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, I do worry that an elected mayor for just Bristol would distract from this very effective joint effort. We must ensure that great care is taken to safeguard this thriving relationship and that a Bristol Mayor works closely with the LEP.
“However, we and our members do believe that the Bristol city region could benefit significantly in economic terms from the strong and effective leadership an elected mayor might bring. So while our preference would be for a directly elected ‘metro mayor’, if we can't have that yet, we will support the offer on the table at the moment, which is for a city mayor for Bristol, as we see that as a significant step in the right direction towards local power and leadership”.
Phil Smith, Managing Director, Business West said:
“The key role for the mayor is to take responsibility as the figurehead and ambassador for the city. Most importantly, this would involve leadership of Bristol's relationship with central government, to secure resources and investment in the city region. An elected mayor would therefore have to play a central role in the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, working closely with the LEP to create jobs and support business growth.
“In any event, how this might work will depend almost entirely on the powers vested in the elected mayor.”
Business is keen to see an elected mayor with responsibility for:
- Strategic planning– developing a strategic spatial plan that looks beyond immediate boundaries and to the future economic growth of the area, setting real targets for housing and jobs that meet the needs of business
- Transport –setting up and development of a Strategic Transport Authority to deliver the high quality, integrated transport system that the Bristol city region desperately needs
- Inward investment and economic development – bringing resources and investment to the city
- Control over local finance – responsibility for taking forward initiatives such as tax increment financing and the setting and distribution of business rates retained locally
- Local skills base – defining a business led policy that aligns local skills provision with demands in the local labour market
PRESS RELEASE - February 2012