How could Bristol better support health & health equity through a spatial planning approach to food governance?

healthycities1Food and planning developmental review – 20-page report based on interviews with Bristol City Council staff about their work on food published in May 2014.

A peer review team visited Bristol City Council on 17 March 2014 and interviewed 14 staff and one elected member about their roles in improving the health, sustainability and resilience of the food system that serves Bristol.   We hope this report will further ignite the enthusiasm that was evident in the interviews.

Recommendations on what needs to happen next:

  • The City Council as catalyst and enabler; the overall recommendation that flows from analysis of the interviews is for the Council to adopt a radically ‘non-council-like’ stance to this initiative. The food system can be influenced but not controlled. The Council needs to act as a catalyst and enabler, creating an environment that supports small innovators (whether embedded in a community or independent entrepreneurs) in a wide variety of ways.
    The Council can strengthen its influence though a number of supportive actions including permissions, co-ordination, shaping projects and providing access to data, land or knowledge for third party projects.
  • Clearer leadership is required; the Council has some internal work to do. It needs to clarify and strengthen the corporate leadership on good food. It needs to review at senior level its relationship with Bristol’s Food Policy Council. It needs to clarify its support for the Bristol Good Food Plan and for the commitments to food in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
    For success the emphasis must be on harnessing existing internal structures, policies and resources.
  • Connecting the work on food ; the Council needs to create internal mechanisms for coordinating and communicating its work on food. It needs to build capacity through consolidation of policy and by joining-up work across different directorates. The Council has newly acquired public health responsibilities and workforce including for example the Healthy Schools programme, health improvement in deprived communities, and policy development around obesity. These need to be joined up with other aspects of Council work for example neighbourhoods, planning, economic regeneration, allotments, and procurement. There is plenty of room still for innovation to optimise influence.
  • External partnerships; the Council should not seek to act alone, but instead should make progress through partnership.
    It needs to act as an advocate and build alliances on a national and international scale for example through the UK Healthy Cities Network, the Sustainable Cities Network, the Rockefeller Foundation and URBACT.

See also:

Good Food Plan (Nov 2013 – 32-page booklet)

Who Feeds Bristol? Towards a resilient food plan  (March 2011 – 130 page report)