Marvin re-selected - the verdict so far

Last week, Marvin Rees, the current Mayor of Bristol, was re-selected as Labour’s candidate for the 2020 Bristol Mayoral Election.

In what many expected to be a much closer race, Marvin overwhelmingly won the backing of Labour Party branches and affiliated trade unions.

With Marvin having been in post almost three years, now seems as good a time as any to review the key issues that have defined his premiership.

House-building

Marvin put house-building at the forefront of his election campaign in 2016, where he pledged to deliver 2,000 homes a year of which 800 would be affordable by 2020. According to recent announcements by the Labour administration, this target is likely to be exceeded with over 2,800 homes set to be delivered by end of the 2019/2020 year.  Much of this success has been credited to his appointment of Cllr Paul Smith as Cabinet Member for Housing, however Marvin has overseen one of the largest increases in house-building in the city for a generation.

Bristol Arena

The location of Bristol’s proposed arena has plagued Marvin’s premiership with many Labour councillors and MPs openly criticising his decision to scrap public funding for an arena near Temple Meads. Marvin outlined that a mixed-use development would bring more economic benefits to the city centre and it now looks like an arena will be funded privately and located in Filton on the border with South Gloucestershire. Despite the challenges that a publicly financed arena would bring, it seems that Marvin has been unable to bring the public with him as a recent Bristol Post poll showed that 75% of people think the arena should be located in the city centre.

Public Spending

Marvin Rees has faced a large amount of opposition for the £100m worth of cuts to council spending he has had to oversee. While in office, Marvin has seen protests against the cutting of library services as well as the introduction of advertising into parks (both of which forced u-turns) and has faced opposition from other political parties for the large pay-offs that senior managers have received. With the vast majority of Bristol City Council’s budget going on adult social care and children’s services, his administration has conceded that in order to protect frontline services, there have been cut backs to professional services such as planning and legal. Investment in sustainability measures has also been prioritised with the aim to make the city carbon-neutral by 2050.

To conclude, Marvin has undoubtedly overseen a step-change in housing delivery over his time in office and is likely to continue to put this at the forefront of his administration. The effects of cuts to public spending and the scrapping of the city centre arena are likely to have alienated some voters. However given the Labour Party’s dominance in Bristol (holding a majority on the council and all four parliamentary constituencies) it seems likely that Marvin Rees will continue as Mayor beyond the 2020 election.

Tom Phipps - Account Manager

The YIMBYMPC