‘A Bristol George not a Bristol Boris’

21 02 2013

Mayor Ferguson has told the Guardian that he does not want to be a Bristol Boris but a Bristol George. In the week before the city council vote on his first budget in which he aims to save £35m over the next two years, Ferguson spoke about his plans for some 320 job cuts, as well as proposals to close residential care places for elderly people.

Newcastle is just one council across the country which has decimated funding to the arts. This is not likely to happen in Bristol. “Ferguson makes no bones about his first love being cultural regeneration, and he also prioritises the happiness of residents,” writes Kate McCann.

Ferguson said: “Cultural regeneration is really important. Without it a city is much less attractive as an economic prospect and people are less happy.

“Is local government just to feed the body in terms of delivering essential services, or is it to feed the soul through culture and sports too?”

“I’ll shamelessly sell the city and be forceful about it,” Ferguson adds.

On the issue of an arena, he says: “We are the only serious city without an arena – that is something I’m going to bite the bullet about and we’re going to build one. I’ve got a £35m funding gap – but I’ll bloody well find the money.”

On the question of whether he wants to be like London Mayor Boris Johnson, Ferguson says: “Someone asked if I was going to be like Boris and I said: ‘Boris is a toff and a buffoon, and he never apologises,’ and they said ‘Exactly!’

“I want to be the George of Bristol. I think the important thing is I learn from everybody, but I want Bristol to be different and I want to do it differently. I think difference is a very important thing, that Bristol is different and it reinforces everything that is different rather than trying to be like anywhere else.”