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News Release


Bristol must invest in facilities and infrastructure to support large-scale events

Jeremy Richards discusses what Bristol must do to support large scale events in the city.

"I was probably the only person trying to remain grounded at last weekend’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, where I was speaking as President of the Bristol Property Agents’ Association.

"The topic was smart cities – and despite the Bristolian tendency for self-deprecation, we’re actually doing pretty well on the road to smart success. With our role as European Green Capital 2015 just around the corner, Bristol’s place on the map is being cemented.

"According to a much quoted document on the subject , the definition of a smart city is about more than connectivity and technology – although they play a key part. It’s about having a smart economy. That’s innovation, enterprise, productivity and a flexible labour market – attributes that Bristol is becoming increasingly known for. It’s also about smart people. This is where Bristol really shines in terms of a highly skilled workforce, the provision of excellent universities with growing international recognition and a commitment to creativity – something that can be seen at every level from Bristol’s worldwide reputation for street art to our thriving creative economy.

"The definition goes on to include smart governance, the need for transparency and clear decision making. Mayor George Ferguson has undoubtedly ruffled feathers, but few can deny his decisiveness and commitment to public participation. Also on the hit list for a smart city is smart environment. As one would expect of an upcoming Green Capital, we are someway ahead here - in pollution control, environmental protection, recycling and green energy production.

"However there are a couple of areas where this Balloon Fiesta presentation rapidly bumped down to Earth. A key criterion of a smart city is smart mobility. This includes local, national and international accessibility, the availability of ICT infrastructure and the provision of sustainable innovative safe transport systems. Even I can’t claim we’re competing with the likes of Copenhagen or even Manchester on this score - yet. However there are steps in the right direction, with rail electrification, public transport modernisation and substantial investment in superfast broadband.

"It’s also about smart living, which includes social, sporting and cultural life. An arena, now happily back in prospect, is just a stepping stone. Arguably the only truly international event Bristol currently hosts is the Balloon Fiesta. In order to meet our stated goal of becoming a top European city by 2020 – and ‘smart’ by definition - we must invest in the facilities and infrastructure to support large-scale events. We only need to look at the effect of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a comparable city in economic and certainly in property market terms, to see how a city can really fly."