The Food Policy Council met again in November with a major theme to the meeting looking at current work underway that contributes to safeguarding the diversity of food retailing in the city. The meeting took place in the @Symes Community Centre in Hartcliffe. This venue was specifically chosen being part of the redevelopment of the centre of Hartcliffe.

This development is a classic example of mainstream regeneration practice with area development being catalysed and underpinned by investment from one of the big four supermarkets – in the case of Hartcliffe, Morrison’s. The Food Policy Council received a presentation from Stephen Hewitt, the former Chief Executive of the Hartcliffe and Withywood Community Partnership. This group was instrumental in bringing together statutory bodies to draw up plans to meet community aspirations for the area. The principal reason for this presentation was to demonstrate the complexity of the current debate about the role of supermarkets, in particular the ‘big four’; Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and to help ensure members are fully acquainted with all the issues about the future of food retail in the city.

Steven Marriott and Jason Thorne of Bristol City Council then gave a joint presentation on the current work by the City Council to understand and develop support mechanisms for the remaining traditional shopping streets/centres in the city.

Recent activity has included consultation on the draft Market Strategy and Action Plan, and the High Street Inquiry Day held by the Sustainable Development and Transport Scrutiny Committee of the Council which will lead to the development of the Retail Action Plan next year. A discussion followed about whether further work was necessary to understand if independent food retailers in the city required any further support other than the suggestions arising out of the High Street Inquiry Day. The principle conclusion was that a dialogue with independent food retailers was required. The officers were tasked to develop this. Details of the Council work can be found on the website.

Further reports on the development of a city-wide food charter, the 2012 Bristol Food Conference and the Soil Association’s Sustainable Food City Conference and Network were received and discussed. The reports and presentations are available from Steve Marriott · 0117 922 4462