April 2018: News From The Mayor
I vow to help the homeless - and not just when it snows
In last month’s column I mentioned that February would see the annual budget Full Council meeting. I was pleased our budget for 2018/19 was agreed. This takes the necessary steps to keep the council on a sound financial footing while ensuring we enable people to have as positive an experience as possible of life in Bristol.
However, I want to begin by thanking all those whose efforts during the recent severe weather meant critical services continued to operate, vulnerable people were cared for and major incidents were avoided. It’s often said that it is in times of crisis that you see the extraordinary qualities of people and I can confidently say that this has been the case.
Staff from across the council helped essential services operate throughout the snow and freezing temperatures. They worked alongside colleagues from the police, NHS, homeless charities, Highways England, private care companies, other voluntary agencies and many others. Social care staff walked miles to visit vulnerable people in their homes. Supported by the parks team in 4x4s and Bristol Community Links staff volunteering their time, they ensured that people received every expected meal. Some staff stayed in work overnight to ensure the residents of our specialist dementia residential home in Redfield Lodge were cared for.
This dedication was shared by our highways teams who worked 24 hours a day to plough the roads. In difficult conditions they travelled 6,000 miles and spread almost 600 tonnes of grit. Along with the invaluable effort of over 120 volunteer community snow wardens, they ensured that large parts of the city’s roads and footpaths remained passable.
Outside of the council, volunteers and charity workers tirelessly worked to encourage rough sleepers to take the extra beds provided by the city’s charities. Their efforts ensured that the vast majority of the city’s homeless population had a bed during the worst conditions.
Organisations across the city are joining forces to support our homeless population, school results are better than ever and improving and slowly, but surely, the city’s transport networks are being integrated for smoother and more timely journeys. In this year’s council budget, as well as minimising the impact of government cuts on front line services, we ensured funding in our capital budget for supporting these key city aims.
At the very top of our agenda is my key pledge to tackle the housing crisis. We are spending nearly £200m in our one of a kind house-building program. We are also well on our way to meeting our target of 2,000 new homes (of which 800 affordable) per year by 2020. Working in partnership with others is getting results and you will see real progress this year.