Bristol’s new mayor Marvin Rees has appointed the first member of his new Cabinet. Cllr Paul Smith will be the city’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, sharing responsibility with the mayor for making sure the city increases the availability and affordability of good quality homes.
The mayor has pledged to work with many city partners to try and achieve 2,000 new homes being built each year in Bristol by 2020. At least 800 of these would be affordable, offering a mix of council houses, social rents, part rent/part buy and homes costing no more than 80% of the market rate. In his role Cllr Smith will play a major part in bringing this pledge to life, whilst also overseeing Bristol City Council’s work on homelessness, its role as a landlord for 27,500 properties and its many other housing services.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “Housing is the city’s, and my, top priority issue. That’s why I have appointed Paul Smith as my Cabinet lead. While there is a lot of effort being made, we need to do much more as it is clear that people across the city are struggling to access decent affordable housing.
“Paul has the expertise I want and I am giving him the power he needs to unlock Bristol to get the homes and communities developed to meet people’s needs.”
Cllr Paul Smith, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing said: “Bristol has an acute housing crisis affecting a large number of people from a wide range of backgrounds. We are dedicated to getting more homes built, be they private, housing association or council homes. We will work together with other people to tackle this problem, including local communities, developers and other housing experts.
“We also intend to increase standards and security for tenants. As someone who grew up in council housing and worked in the housing sector for almost 30 years I relish the opportunity to improve Bristol's housing situation.”
As Cabinet Member, Cllr Smith will be a member of the Bristol Homes Board, a joint body involving many different housing experts such as housing associations and developers. The Board makes key decisions on housing issues and will be responsible for implementing the city’s new housing strategy, ‘More Than a Roof’, which was published in February.
The strategy sets out plans to address housing related issues over the next five years, and acknowledges that homes are more than just four walls and a roof. The Board is developing an action plan which will take forward actions from the Bristol Housing Strategy.
Among the issues which Cllr Smith will be overseeing in his role are:
- The potential to set up a council owned company to oversee housing projects across the city
- Working with local communities to identify areas for redevelopment; support the development of alternative housing initiatives and community building in line with local plans
- Establishing an Ethical Lettings Charter and giving tenants a greater voice
- Adopting a 'No Second Night Out' approach to reducing rough sleeping, strengthening the work of the Rough Sleeper Task Group and the Homeless Property Fund
- Speeding up Housing Benefit Claims