Local government

How do we recover from COVID-19 and create a better future for all?

Bristol Citizens' Assembly
Bristol City Council; Bristol City Office; Sortition Foundation
January to March 2021

The Bristol Citizens’ Assembly brought together 60 residents from Bristol in order to help shape the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The citizens' assembly members were selected by a civic lottery to be reflective of Bristol’s diversity in terms of age, sex, disability, ethnicity, geography, deprivation, and employment. They were asked to make recommendations in response to the question:

“How do we recover from COVID-19 and create a better future for all in Bristol?”

The citizens’ assembly met over four weekends from January to March 2021, with a total of 30 hours of meetings. In order to help answer the above question, they were asked to conduct deep dives into three topics that had been identified through engagement with residents as particularly important to the future of Bristol:

  1. Climate change: How do we rapidly reduce the impact of our homes on climate change?
  2. Transport: What changes should we make to our neighbourhoods to make how we travel easier, healthier and better for the environment?
  3. Health: How should we tackle health inequalities in Bristol?

For each topic, assembly members heard evidence from speakers, discussed their own views and experiences, and developed recommendations for the council and its partners.

The assembly developed 17 recommendations across the topics, which will be presented to: 

  • The One City Economy Board, to help inform the city’s recovery strategy; and,
  • Bristol City Council’s Cabinet, as a key input in shaping future strategy and actions.


An interim report containing the citizens' assembly recommendations was launched at the Bristol City Gathering on 12 March 2021. This report outlines the recommendations that the assembly members arrived at under each of the assembly's deepdive topics. The full report was published in May 2021 with final ballot results, further information about the process and assembly members’ experiences.


The report was received by the City's Cabinet in June 2021, and the recommendations will be reviewed by the council’s Cabinet, Corporate Leadership Board and the relevant services to look at legal, resourcing and other considerations. One City Thematic Boards will also review them.

Read about the handover

Upon completion of the initial review, Bristol City Council and the City Office will share a response to each recommendation and information on what happens next. Bristol City Council and the City Office have committed to providing an update on progress every six months.

All recommendations received support from a significant majority (>80%) of assembly members. Each assembly recommendation includes:

  • A statement of what the recommendation is;
  • A list of actions for how the recommendation should be implemented;
  • A justification for why the recommendation is important.

The following table summarises the recommendations and level of support they received from assembly members.

How do we rapidly reduce the impact of our homes on climate change?
Recommendation 1: Council is to lead on training and upskilling the workforce by securing investment, ensuring high standards, harnessing innovation and making the most of local creativity and entrepreneurship such that the green industry is measurably prepared to carry out required improvements within 5 years.100%0%0%
Recommendation 2: Council to take leadership and responsibility for meeting its emissions targets in the housing stock by working in partnership with the business, education and community sectors, creating a programme of implementation to drive community changes.96%4%0%
Recommendation 3: Create innovative financing options including grants, and/or loans to support home owners and landlords to improve the energy efficiency of every home in Bristol.94%0%6%
Recommendation 4: Reduce the fragmentation of all the different sustainability schemes and initiatives by creating and promoting an independent One Stop Shop that contains objective, trustworthy information, in order to provide support right through the process.93%2%6%
Recommendation 5: The Council should introduce a set of tiered Bristol standards (tiers from minimum requirements to best practice aspiration standards) relating to energy consumption and efficiency for all retrofits, building improvements, developments and new builds (domestic and commercial) that are clear and well communicated, and linked to planning regulations.89%4%7%
Recommendation 6: Develop a pilot programme for a street or neighbourhood to showcase what could be achieved if a citywide approach to reaching net zero was taken, with control, coordination and cooperation at a local level.92%2%6%
What changes should we make to our neighbourhoods to make how we travel easier, healthier and better for the environment?
Recommendation 7: Create an inclusive, transparent and accountable process where the council engages together with citizens, businesses and stakeholders to better communicate our climate commitments through a sustainable transport system.93%4%4%
Recommendation 8: Urgently reduce air pollution levels caused by vehicle use to safe and legal levels95%0%6%
Recommendation 9: By 2030, make Bristol the best city internationally to travel around, by prioritising sustainable, safe, healthy, accessible alternatives to the car for all.89%4%7%
Recommendation 10: Fundamentally reimagine the places we live so that they are people centred (i.e. create liveable neighbourhoods).90%4%6%
Recommendation 11: Get people involved and engaged in the planning and implementation of transport initiatives. Make the process accessible, responsive and fun!89%4%7%
How should we tackle health inequalities in Bristol?
Recommendation 12: Prioritise a healthy and inclusive environment for all Bristol citizens and require businesses to act with corporate social responsibility 96%0%4%
Recommendation 13: Empower local communities in the decision making process to deliver the services and activities that they want in order to promote healthy lifestyle choices95%0%6%
Recommendation 14: Increase access to diverse and high quality employment opportunities to close the gaps within health inequalities.95%0%6%
Recommendation 15: Increase awareness and access to health information, education and services targeted according to local need95%0%6%
Recommendation 16: All departments of the Council must take on the mandate to reduce health inequalities and improve the health of all citizens in the city with a focus on accountability, partnership and transparency when measuring and using public health data91%0%9%
Recommendation 17: Invest in an equitable start to life from pre-birth to young adults (up to 25)93%2%6%