Power to the People: What do Bristolians want?

Power to the People: What do Bristolians want?

Posted on: 23 May 2024

We’ve spoken to a lot of Bristolians over our time here at 365 – and we always want to know what they’d do if they were in charge of the city. With a general election now announced for the 4th July, it’s worth asking: what’s on Bristolians’ minds?

We’ve collected the responses to our signature question from our Getting to Know interview series to find out just that!


Delroy Hibbert, Director of Freestyle Bristol


“I would definitely like to introduce a more democratic system. One of the reasons why people are angrier is they feel disconnected with decisions made around their lives. I think one of the reasons people get angry is they don’t understand how the system works. So I think democracy could be improved by giving people a greater understanding and allowing people to have more control in their lives.”



Josh Dickinson, Owner of the Scrandit


“I’d probably throw a 24 hour party. I run events and club nights in Bristol & London, and the problems on the licencing and that on certain areas is a pain for nightlife and hospitality, so I’d just try and open it up to all sorts of food, live music and parties for 24 and just… let everyone go wild.”


Ed Morgan, Owner of Little Martha Brewing


“I would close all the roads, and turn the city into a cycling paradise.”


Lily & Ellen, Owners of At The Well (now closed)


“There are a number of small businesses in Bristol. I think it would be really interesting to approach those people and say “there’s something lacking in this area, and there’s something you’ve got that we want to reproduce – so we’re going to support you to create the conditions to do that.” That kind of replication of where things are actually working, and matching all the people up and saying “let’s replicate that, because it needs the something you’re doing well”.



Connor & Paige, Alpaca Events


Connor: “Put the bills down in venues. Waiting for all that to skyrocket at the moment, it’s not fair on venues. I think it’s about being more fair for hospitality venues as well – I just went to the Coronation, they’re having their outdoor seating taken away. It’s not just them, it’s loads of venues.


These people work day in, day out, it’s not very good for them...It’s about being more fair to the independent businesses Bristol has. If you’re taking that away...well, I don’t want to go work for a Spoons.”


Paige: “There’s a big homelessness crisis at the moment – it would be things like: if you see a tent on the street, don’t take it down. Just little jobs like street sweeping, little jobs you can give to people so they’re not just...waiting for their money to come through – there are plenty of jobs to be done that people with no experience in anything can do.”


Harry Allmark & Alex Stevens, owners of The Room Above


Harry: “I’d make Taka Taka free. I demand that no one has to pay for Taka Taka at three in the morning. It’s free.”

Alex: “I’m going to promote my flatmate who was getting ready for a mayoral candidate run – which is never going to happen now they’ve abolished the mayor’s position. Shoutout to my flatmate Tom Whitson who was going to run for mayor two years ago fully on the platform of trams in Bristol.


I mean it’s completely implausible but brilliant. Just imagine cable cars from Hotwells to Clifton – remove that hill. Park Street. Trams up Park Street. He was onto a winner there, he would’ve won.”



Colin Dawkins, Manager of the King’s Head


“I would ban cars. Without question. The situation with cars in the city is just ridiculous. It’s not safe for anyone.


I’d shut the city down for anyone who isn’t working, and on every street I’d have a cycle and scooter path, decent-sized pedestrian path – and then an access road for emergency services, delivery drivers, stuff like that, that’d be my main one.


Can I do anything? Yeah? Okay, I’d build a monorail. I’d have a monorail, high, for all foot passengers. It’s a really really scenic, beautiful city, and no matter where you are there are so many hills and vistas. So that’s the infrastructure.


I’d ban all student blocks in the city centre. I’d ban the new builds. I wouldn’t allow any more student highrises to be built in the city centre – and I’d propose to universities that they invest in villages in the outskirts of the city. Or they do what students used to do, which is live in terraced houses on the outskirts of the city.


I’d also reinstate every public swimming pool that’s been closed over the last 50 years – that’s a big thing for me. Including the old lido at Eastville Park...and I’d also like to build the world’s biggest lido in about a five mile radius of the city.”


Hana Nour-Elmi, Founder of Bristol Kino Club


“Arts and culture should be free for anyone under 16. There should be free cinemas, there should be – we do this one already – free museum entry, stuff like that. I think there’s so much education outside of the classroom, and so much growth available to young minds that doesn’t happen in traditional institutions.”


Dave Taylor, Owner of 20th Century Flicks


“This is a really easy one for me – I’d use all the power of that position to create segregated travel in the city. Get rid of shared space.


Living in the city, there’s obviously lots of things you could do – but the one thing I’d do that’s achievable I think is have blue cycle lanes, normal pedestrians, cars kept away from everyone. Instead of leading everyone in through these insanely dangerous routes in the city where they live and have come into work. Everyone wants to cycle or scoot or walk – there shouldn’t be this mad melee of chaos in the centre.”



Sara (aka saaaz) co-founder of Bristol Beat Social


“Really random one, okay, this is so random...There used to be a free issue that would go round Bristol, that was in a little brown envelope, called “Don’t Panic”. I haven’t seen it since, it might still be in another form elsewhere, but Don’t Panic was this amazing envelope that you’d find round Bristol for free in shops. It had a really cool design on it, you’d open it and it would have like one poster, lots of little issues of what’s happening in Bristol that month art-wise and music-wise. I’d love if Don’t Panic came back – it might still be around but I haven’t seen the envelope form of it in years.”

Paul Holbrook, co-founder of Bristol A.F


“I would put so much more money into youth clubs, and youth work. All my family work in youth work, and to see the cuts they’ve had to deal with – and the results of those cuts, of kids wandering round on the streets aimless, or causing trouble…so yeah, a lot more money into youth work.”


Paul Burrows, M.D at Bristol Beer Factory


“I would probably look at a gondola mass transit system, rather than trying to dig bloody tunnels under the earth, because there’s a lot of hills in Bristol, and gondolas like hills – and I don’t think that’s been looked at.”


Lee, Owner of Beercosm & The Brewer’s Droop


“Bristol has definitely outgrown its road network. This is a little bit of a fantastical thing, but rather than the underground system – actually, I guess blimps would be cool – but, assuming the technology is there, a whole fleet of AI-driven vehicles that are moving people and things around in an economical and efficient way.


Robot Road Network, is basically what I’m saying. If it was possible, I’d fast-track the robot roads.”



Michelle, Owner of Card Shack


“I would definitely make use of the space. There’s so much space outside, why not provide free – or low-cost – opportunities for independent businesses to have a stall like once a month, and have more fairs, spaces, opportunities for people to sell and just get out there. But without charging the bomb – just to give people more opportunity. And, it would give younger minds more incentive to get out there and make things, and sell it.”


Charlie Revelle-Smith, Owner of Weird Bristol


“This is an absurd little dream I’ve had, about solving Bristol’s transport woes, and at the same time having a little bit of a tourist attraction.


You know those little miniature trains you can ride on? Why don’t we have those going around everywhere – up Park Street, up all of our hills, just a nice whimsical, fun way of getting about. It’s the sort of thing where people might say ‘Oh, Bristol! That’s famous for the Suspension Bridge, and those mini trains that take everyone everywhere.’


So that’s my solution, we need to solve Bristol’s traffic problems with mini trains!”


Darren, Owner of Food Shop (now closed)


“I’ve been involved with something called BUF, which is the Bristol Urban Forum. That is about trying to set up a citizens’ assembly in Bristol; we’ve got the second event coming up of twelve, which is people from all over Bristol coming together to talk about different topics. At the end of that, the people that run BUF are going to write a report which they hope that the city council and local MPs will take heed of and take up parts of it.


So, if I was Mayor for the day I would be looking to get involved with something like BUF, because I think it’s really key that everybody has a voice in democracy – which is kind of lacking at the moment, particularly in Bristol.”



Jenny Simmons, creator of the 15ft Elf on the Shelf


“Oh, it would be really cool if you could swim in the harbour! That would be really cool, a nice summer thing. I definitely feel like there’s something else that’s on the tip of my brain but I can’t remember. So I think that’s a good one. Imagine it in the summer, you could just hang out on the little bits and swim around. That would be lovely.”


Rhodri Karim, volunteer at the Cube Microplex


“Public ownership for all arts organisations. As in, community ownership. That’s it, I think.


It’s weird, because there are more artists in Bristol than most other cities in the UK. I know there was a point where the Arts Council was refusing to fund any more things in Bristol because there was just too much in Bristol – and yet there are no gallery spaces, there are very few venues, almost no places for people to show off their work and do genuinely ambitious things.


Actually, yeah, that’s what I’d do as well. Rent controls. And...where could people live? I don’t know. Where it doesn’t have to justify itself, or pay for itself, or make a profit. They’re more and more scarce, these spaces that are collaborative and open, and facilitate weird things happening. So, something about making the city a cheaper, weirder place to live and not work.”



Emilia Melville, co-ordinator for Reclaim Our Buses


“I would put in a rapid transit system – which may or may not go underground for parts of it. That’s a very controversial, polarised thing but as the Bristol Rail Campaign people say: we already have some tunnels in our Severn Beach Railway line that goes underneath Clifton. But some kind of tram, or light rail, maybe it’s a train that goes on to the existing train line and comes off and becomes a tram on the streets.


I would make sure that the first route goes to serve communities that are currently really lacking in public transport – so, probably going to Hartcliffe, or somewhere that is outside the main attention of public transport, rather than another way of getting between Bristol and Bath.”


Laura Grainger, ceramicist


“The thing I would love to see more of in Bristol is support for the homeless. So, COVID: they managed to put everybody up in a hotel, but when there’s no COVID it’s: “oh, we couldn’t possibly provide support for the people that need it.”


So, I’d sort out accommodation, sort out therapy – sort out everything that’s going to help get people back into society.”


Sparky, co-owner of Cloak/The Livingrooms


“I’m biased, because I’m in the events sector, but I’d really look at the support I’m offering for community spaces. It’s not enough, and I would really listen to what the spaces say they need. They’re on the front line, they’re the ones dealing with the issues, and dealing with the community themselves, so they need to be setting the rules for what’s needed.


I would look at licencing for venues as well – I totally understand why there needs to be strict rules, and we should be checked up on, and it should be made sure that we’re doing what we should be. But also, there’s events like sex workers, and the sex scene, which would be at the forefront of my mind. We need to create safe spaces, and sometimes licencing can be, in my opinion, too strict on that, and it strips (for instance) sex workers of the opportunity to earn an income in an inclusive space that they get the autonomy over.”



Hannah Clark, volunteer for Street Goat


“Firstly, I would invest money back into the youth of Bristol. After school clubs, youth centres and sports activities to support mid to late teens in addition to their education. Being a child at that age is hard with many options open to them so having more positive things to look forward to may help their direction of travel.


Also, travel: I know this is a big issue for many across the city. One accident in the centre and the city comes to a standstill. Our roads aren’t built for this many cars or for this number of people. Better train services, more regular buses...I would attempt to fix Bristol’s public transport so it runs efficiently.”


Andre Seidel, co-owner of the Dame


“I think that question’s too large for me. But to bring it down a bit – what would I do for South Bristol? For Dean Lane, and the space around where the bar is?


My vision is that the Dame is a community hub – that the green space around us becomes more inclusive, and isn’t just a green space. I really have a vision for all this space to be used by the community. If I was in charge, I’d grant myself a licence to take over the space, put food carts down here from Thursday to Sunday, put a bark park in, relandscape the grass – have it become a really flourishing park and community resource.


Okay yes, we’re the bar, so we’ll make tons of money selling beer to everyone sat around here...but I look at this space and think that we have a golden opportunity here to make this really inclusive – not just for beer drinkers.”



Steven Hayles, director of Upfest


“What would I do? I would...I guess I would paint the city. Every inch.”


Timon Singh, director of Forbidden Worlds Film Festival


“As someone who lives in Bedminster, I would definitely get a cinema built in South Bristol. Since the Cineworld in Hengrove closed down, there is no cinema in South Bristol. Watershed, and Showcase in Avonmeads, you have to go across the river to get there. So, if I’m in charge of Bristol, I would invest in a little bit of South Bristol cultural institutions, because I think we need it. Everything is the centre, or above, or in Clifton. South Bristol, we have the Tobacco Factory – but I think we could do with more.”


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Patrick Bate

Patrick is a filmmaker with so much Bristol in his blood the white blood cells are graffiti'd. Educated at the Northern Film School in Leeds, he’s returned home to be a Videographer and Reviewer for 365Bristol and BARBI. When he’s not messing about with cameras, he enjoys playing guitar, spending far too much time on tabletop RPGs, and being an awful snob about cider. Have a look at his work here, or get in touch at patrickb@365bristol.com.