Photo: Andrew Jay
Photo: Andrew Jay

By Carmen Rusu

Bristol’s newly elected Mayor, George Ferguson, began 2013 by listing seven wishes he has for the city. His wishes cover public transport, job opportunities, policing, a diverse Cabinet along with making Bristol an internationally recognised welcoming city.

Public transport has been an issue for many students at UWE. Even with the help of the Wessex Red buses, the congestion on the roads at rush hour has meant that most of us have been late to lectures through no fault of our own. The Mayor hopes to reach an agreement with the bus companies in order to achieve a better and more affordable bus service.

Students spend approximately £3.80 per day for bus travel which includes a 20 pence reduction against the adult rate. In London, students are subsidised by 30 percent off the adult rate making a day bus pass cost £3.08. First travel have announced that the bus tickets have increased in price since December 30th, 2012, with between five to 25 pence per single/return journeys.

George Ferguson would like universities and students to work closely with industries in order to create a high skill economy. He has vowed to bring new opportunities, connecting investors and businesses of all sizes to Bristol.

Unemployment in Bristol, according to the City Council, has increased from 4.6 percent in 2007 to 7.9 percent in 2011. With weak prospects of growth for 2013, this is not set to decrease. This leaves the 24,700 students in Bristol competing for an ever decreasing number of jobs.

The Mayor would like Bristol to become a more caring, welcoming and healthy city. UWE student, Beatrice Ubani agrees with this wish and said: “I very much hope that it will come true”.

Providing affordable houses to rent (and buy) is also on the Mayor’s wish list. Prices for a room in a shared house on Gloucester Road costs approximately £400 per month. This is similar to the cost of student accommodation on Frenchay campus which is in the region of £1900 per term.

Sue Mountstevens was elected by the Bristol public to take the position as police and crime commissioner last year. The website provides information about local crime, policing and criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It

states that the level of crime in Bristol is at around 100/1000 citizens. This is higher in comparison to the average in similar cities. The Mayor will be working closely with Mountstevens to make Bristol a safer, more welcoming and cleaner city.

The Big Green Week in Bristol is a UK annual festival of environmental ideas, art and culture. Last year it attracted more than 40,000 people and 2013 is estimated to be the biggest to date. The Mayor has mentioned it in his wish list, saying: ‘The community fringe event attracts the largest audience during the Festival, we want to challenge event organisers to go that extra mile in putting on activities that are not just thought provoking, but which are also engaging and fun.’

George Ferguson wishes to make Sundays special days. In his wishes published in the Bristol post he said: “I would like to see the streets animated by children playing, pedestrians, considerate cyclists and rollerbladers, market stalls and all forms of artistic and family activity.”

Sarah Sandbrook, a UWE student, sees it as a great idea, she said: “There is already a great sense of community in Bristol, but this plan would bring people of all ages together and be more active.”

Another UWE student, Anna Sanders, said: “Well, George has got his work cut out! I like the no cars Sundays idea, not sure where he means though and it might be difficult to implement that without traffic chaos! I think he’s mainly going to get communication working between people to achieve his aims.”