By Steve Marriot
On 5 September the Food Policy Council held their second ever meeting at the Mansion House in Ashton Court. This venue was chosen to highlight one of the sites owned and managed by Bristol City Council using grazing animals to help manage the landscape, in this case using deer to maintain an historic landscape.
This was an important meeting for the Food Policy Council members. The aim was to seek their endorsement for three work projects already underway:
1. To develop a joint public agency food buying initiative to help develop markets for local producers.
2. To bring together council support for growing with community-growing interests in the city.
3. To communicate key messages, starting with promotion of the Who Feeds Bristol report – the foundation report launched at the Bristol Food Conference in March of this year.
Christine Storry, Market Development Manager, Bristol City Council, presented the outline of the joint public agency food buying initiative that was started earlier in the year with an offer to the Universities, Health Trusts, and Police and Fire Brigade, to work together to help create an increasing demand for food produced/ grown close to the city.
Stephen Clampin, Allotments Manager, Bristol City Council, presented work on how the Allotments Service is having to respond to increasing community demand for growing space and ideas for how this need can be met in future.
Who Feeds Bristol and a campaign which has grown out of the report – Bristol Independents (see p.1)– were presented by Angela Raffle, NHS representative on the FPC, together with Jane Stevenson and Kristin Sponsler of the Bristol Food Network.
The members also considered the idea of developing a food charter for the city that people, businesses and other organisations can commit to, make a public statement about their approach to food and to support the Food Policy Council in making food and Bristol’s food system more sustainable. Tom Andrews of the Soil Association made the case based on experience in developing a similar charter for Plymouth, which was launched earlier this year.
Members were highly supportive of the projects and happy to adopt the development of the food charter, the public food buying initiative, Who Feeds Bristol promotion and the Bristol Independents campaign as the first elements of the work programme. It was recognised that the food growing support programme was in early stages of development but when better defined needed to be a key strand of the work programme.
Two further reports were presented. Tom Andrews introduced the Soil Association’s invitation to cities to join their proposed Sustainable Food Cities Network. The idea is to develop a supportive network allowing sharing of ideas and experiences, to work together on common themes, and to help mentor other cities and towns in developing sustainable food programmes.
The FPC accepted the invitation to the event to explore this proposal. The second report, presented by Stephen Hewitt, was a review of control powers, principally planning, to ensure that the City Council is as effective as possible in deciding the suitability of supermarket and convenience store planning applications.
The Food Policy Council members expressed great interest in Stephen’s work, and agreed to discuss this further at their next meeting.
Sustainability Manager, Bristol City Council