Green Capital reshuffle after ‘summer of tension’

A reshuffle of the key organisations charged with delivering Bristol’s year as European Green Capital has taken place after a “summer of tension” in which communications broke down between groups involved in showcasing the city’s green credentials.

The Bristol 2015 company headed by £100,000-a-year chief executive officer Kris Donaldson has had a number of roles removed from its remit, with two of George Ferguson’s closest team members at City Hall becoming directly responsible for delivering parts of the green capital year.

The mayor’s key adviser Zoe Sear and the council’s chief executive Nicola Yates are expected to take on the role of delivering the events programme for 2015 – leaving Mr Donaldson to concentrate on fundraising.

Mr Donaldson, who worked for Liverpool City Council on its European Capital of Culture events in 2008, was appointed in December 2013 charged with leading the city’s programme of events and, eventually, securing thousands of new jobs and millions of pounds in new investment.

The salary was defended as an example where the city had to “spend money to make money”.

But a source at City Hall said that over the last six months the roles of the Bristol 2015 group, the city council and the Bristol Green Capital Partnership have become so blurred, as communications between them broke down, that there has been a degree of “organisational chaos”.

“This has come at the end of a summer of tension,” the source told me. “The Bristol 2015 group was set up to ensure funding comes in to the city to pay for the year of green capital and they have done that very successfully.

“But there has been organisational chaos, with a very blurred relationship between the council, Bristol 2015 and the green capital partnership. There has been a communications breakdown with all three groups taking on some of each other’s roles.

“The problems were recognised six months ago, over who was responsible for what and how each body could help each other. Mistakes have been made and they have been admitted.

“There is no reprimands and no one has been sidelined, the changes are simply allowing people to focus on what they should be doing.”

The changes to the roles of the top 2015 team members are understood to have taken place after concerns were presented to Mr Ferguson in the summer. Key figures at the Bristol Green Capital Partnership said that at times it felt like “the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing”.

The source said that while lots of work had been done in the last six months, the last month had been lost unnecessarily as the reorganisation took place.

But he added that following on from a £7million grant from the government, and sponsorship from FirstGroup and KPMG announced in August, the £10m fundraising target was on track to be reached.

A third sponsor, said to be an “international organisation with good sustainability credentials”, is due to be announced soon.

Andrew Garrad, Chairman of Bristol 2015 Ltd, said: “We are now only three months away from 2015 and everyone is working together enthusiastically on our ambitious programme.

“That is why we have begun a closer working relationship with Bristol City Council, as well as other key stakeholders in the city, to make sure our year as European Green Capital is as successful as it can be and its legacy can be taken forward beyond 2015.”

Part of the money already raised has been released this week to community organisations, in the form of a £250,000 Bristol 2015 Small Grants Fund.

Grants of up to £10,000 for eligible organisations in and around Bristol, follows on from the Bristol 2015 Neighbourhood Partnerships Fund launched earlier this year.

Some £1.5million of additional funding in October will be released for larger strategic grants of £25,000 to £50,000.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol and Bristol 2015 Ltd Board member, said: “This funding provides a great opportunity for organisations to play their part in making Bristol an even better place to live and work as the city prepares to take on its title of European Green Capital on January 1st. We particularly want to encourage applications from local voluntary and community organisations where a small amount of money can make a significant difference.”

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