Who should be our next mayor? Here’s an event to help you decide

With a little over a month to go until Bristol’s mayoral elections, we are pleased to announce details of our mayoral debate taking place at the Arnolfini on 20 April. Bristol Mayoral Election 2016 ballot box When: 20 April 2016 from 7pm to 8.45pm
Where: Arnolfini Auditorium, 6 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA

* Tickets have already sold out. Click the booking button below to add yourself to the waiting list. We’re hoping to live stream the event – more details soon*

Click here to book:

Book your free hustings ticket

Organised with our friends at Bristol Green Capital, Bristol Cycling Campaign, Friends of the Earth Bristol and Sustrans, the hustings event will be an opportunity to put the main candidates for the job of Bristol Mayor in the hot seat.

People from across the city will be coming together to ask the candidates what they would do to improve our city’s local economy, carbon footprint and quality of life for all if they win the upcoming election.

This is a great chance to get beyond the usual rhetoric. There will be sections focused on key issues for the city including the environment, local economy and transport – and audience participation is very much encouraged.

Places are limited so book your free place now.

Follow #BrisFuturesMayor for updates and live tweeting during the event on 20th April.You can also share what you want candidates to do to make Bristol a low carbon city with a high quality of life for all.

Picture credit: Philip Halling

Telling the story of the Bristol Pound

It was in some ways the cafe at the Watershed in Bristol that gave birth to the Bristol Pound. That was where the four people, who became friends, met every few weeks in the very long gestation period for a very big idea.

Prosperity Parade by David Boyle featuring the Bristol Pound

The full story is in my new book Prosperity Parade. The initial idea for a Bristol Pound had actually came from Chris Sunderland, a social activist, a former priest and founder of the citizen engagement charity Agora, where he’d been busy campaigning for people to leave cars at home on Tuesdays.

Transition Bristol had organised an event after the financial crisis which asked the question: how can we make the Bristol economy more resilient? One of the organisers was Ciaran Mundy, a trained ecologist who had been selling mobile phones, while launching a charity called One World Wildlife (the Bristol pound was launched by people juggling multiple roles).

At the event, Chris suggested to Ciaran that Bristol should have its own currency – a Bristol Pound. Ciaran agreed and they contacted Josh Ryan-Collins from the New Economics Foundation, who had been involved in launching the Brixton Pound in London. He passed the query onto Mark Burton, who was studying new kinds of money and was looking for somewhere to help launch a regional currency.

The pieces began to come together. Mark, Chris and Ciaran finally met in the first of many meetings at the café in the Watershed in Bristol, on the waterfront. Neither Chris nor Ciaran had experience of local currencies and they were keen to find out: as a result, Mark spent the summer writing a series of papers on different currency models.

The fourth original member from the Watershed days was Stephen Clarke, a solicitor who’d had a similar idea. “We met every couple of weeks to talk about what we needed to do next and who we needed to talk to,” Mark told me.

Anyone who thinks launching new kinds of money is a simple business should read the story – there were exhilarating moments and also frustrating encounters with regulators, strange meetings at the Bank of England, unexpected allies like the Bristol Credit Union and the city council. There were ups with artists and food businesses and down with the inevitable frustrations of starting something new.

Does all this matter now that the Bristol Pound is up and running?

I think it does. Human stories and anecdotes are the stock in trade of politicians, the currency they use in their everyday lives as parliamentarians and public speakers. There is some evidence that they tend to take decisions based partly on the personal stories they hear.

So to make progress, any new idea or practical approach has to produce a cascade of stories that demonstrate their purpose and success. Perhaps more than most, the emerging movement of resilient economies is held back by the lack of stories circulating around central and local government or policy-making circles.

Prosperity Parade, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, includes eight tales about the new entrepreneurial spirit, where people are finding ways of kickstarting their local economic engines, often in very poor areas, and by doing so increasing their independence from central and local government.

These are all about individuals or groups of individuals, wrestling with new ideas in practice – in food, money, banking, energy – and bringing them to life, and the story of the Bristol Pound is the first.

These stories also demonstrate that local economic regeneration is not about some kind of local protectionism, but about bringing entrepreneurial skills to bear to make things happen, to increase local activity, using the raw materials that are to hand: people, their ideas and their needs.

It is about enterprise, seen sometimes through a slightly different lens. It is about dreaming of what is possible and making it so. And the Bristol Pound is among those showing the way.

David Boyle is co-director of New Weather Institute. Prosperity Parade is available on Amazon and as a downloadable PDF.

Meet the Cash Point: The Tube Diner

We met up with Charlie from Arnos Vale’s Tube Diner to find out what makes them tick and why they love being a Bristol Pound Cash Point.

Charlie from the Tube Diner, Bristol

The Tube Diner is a retro Airstream café based in the vibrant Paintworks creative quarter. They serve up delicious Buttermilk Pancakes, Breakfasts, Burgers, Chilli Dogs and scrumptious daily specials to hungry artists and families.

“Being a Bristol Pound Cash Point helps bring in new customers” explains Charlie, the friendly face behind Tube Diner. “It has increased footfall, especially on weekends.” They’re seeing more families and tourists through the door and enjoy the bustle of a busy weekend.

“Local families who frequent our Diner seem to be the most active users of the Bristol Pound. We feel that it’s important to support the Bristol Pound and it’s nice to be able to offer them to our customers.”

Anyone can exchange sterling for paper Bristol Pounds at the Tube Diner on the Bath Road – and Charlie’s a big fan of Bristol’s local currency.

“Bristol is a quirky, eccentric city and the Bristol Pound fits in nicely with that. We feel that Bristol Pounds work well with Bristol and its forward thinking approach.”

Paper £B1 Bristol Pound

“We love the design of the paper £B1. The older generations refer back to the bygone era when £1 sterling notes were commonly used. It’s a great novelty!”

The Tube Diner spends Bristol Pounds by buying stock from other local business. They also reward themselves with a well-earned pint at a local bar who accepts them too!

Find your nearest Bristol Pound Cash Point. Then head to one of over 850 businesses who accept Bristol Pounds.

 

Did you know you can pay your council tax and business rates in Bristol Pounds?

Council tax and business rates letters are dropping through Bristol’s front doors over the next few weeks and it’s easy to pay in Bristol Pounds every month.

Pay your council tax and business rates with Bristol Pounds.

When you pay your council tax or business rates in Bristol Pounds you’re supporting small, local businesses as Bristol City Council will spend your Bristol Pounds with local suppliers. This keeps more money in Bristol – making our local economy even stronger.

Lots of Bristol residents are already making monthly (or one-off) council tax and business rate payments through their Bristol Pound online accounts. They tell us it’s a great way to increase the amount of Bristol Pounds they spend and they feel good about the positive impact it has on the city.

Paying your council tax or business rates with Bristol Pounds is easy and free – you can do it online each month or set up a regular payment. Find out how by clicking these buttons:

How to pay your council tax in Bristol Pounds
How to pay your business rates in Bristol Pounds

Our user guides for paying council tax in Bristol Pounds and paying your business rates in Bristol Pounds take you through the process of setting up payments step-by-step, including how to make sure you’ve always got enough money in your Bristol Pound account. If you need any help, you can always contact the office on info@bristolpound.org or by calling 0117 929 8642.