Bristol’s relationship with its nearest neighbours could play a major role in its future economic development, according to a key figure from the city’s property scene.
Philip Morton, Head of Agency & Development at the Bristol office of CBRE, believes that any partnership Bristol has with its neighbouring local authorities could have a significant impact on the economy of the area over the next decade.
Key ties were severed and powers devolved to the four existing local councils, Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, when Avon County Council was disbanded in 1996. However, Philip Morton believes that the time has come to make a decision on the best way to move forward in future years.
He said: “The fact that the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership takes in the Greater Bristol area points to a more joined up approach to economic policies. The unitary authorities are also working closer together than in previous years when it comes to public transport policies and schemes. However, there are still issues that need to be debated and resolved when it comes to important areas such as planning, transport and infrastructure schemes.”
Philip Morton added: “Major public schemes, particularly when it comes to transport, have sometimes failed to materialise in the past because the unitary authorities have not been able to find common ground. But it appears that the landscape is starting to change and there is greater consensus and joined up thinking across the sub-region.
“People are more prepared to work together to access funding from central government and there have been calls in certain quarters to a more unified system of local government. This would be difficult to implement because each area is quite distinct in terms of population, economy and employment patterns, but it would make sense to have a more joined-up approach designed to promote the economic needs of the region as a whole.”