Asher Craig, Labour Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Bristol; Peter Malpass, former Professor of Housing Policy at the University of the West of England (UWE); Mike Mills, Advice Service Manager at CHAS Housing Services; and Tom Renhard, an activist from the tenants’ union ACORN, made up our expert panel, and the event was broadcast live on Ujima Radio.
The debate was held to mark the 40th Anniversary of Citizens Advice in Bristol, after it first opened in 1977.
Over the years, housing problems have been one of the main issues with which people have come to Citizens Advice Bristol for help. A significant number of our 30,000 enquiries a year involve issues such as rent increases, poor quality accommodation, and eviction.
Although Bristol was named ‘Best Place to Live in Britain’ in March by the Sunday Times, the booming employment market and low crime rate mask deeper social issues. As businesses and people flock to the city, developers are targeting them by erecting expensive, luxury homes, most of which are entirely unaffordable to local residents. Low-cost, affordable housing is in short supply; vulnerable people seeking accommodation through Homechoice are often left waiting for months on end, if they succeed at all.
This event highlighted just one aspect of the work Citizens Advice do on the issues facing Bristol citizens.
“I’m very proud of the great work we’ve done over the last forty years, providing the people of Bristol with the advice they need and campaigning on issues to try and make lasting change”, commented Sue Evans, Citizens Advice Bristol Director. “This event marks a milestone in Citizen’s Advice Bristol’s history – and long may it continue!”