18,495 more West of England people are out of work since lockdown began according to new figures released today.

There are now 31,595 people in the city aged between 16 and 64 claiming unemployment related benefits.

The news came as national labour market stats showed the number of people reporting they had been made redundant rose to a record high of 370,000 in the three months to October.

Mr Norris, who has pledged to be a “jobs first” Metro Mayor, said “Not only are these worrying figures but we must remember that behind every number is a struggling family. Many families will be facing Christmas with worry and uncertainty.

I also believe that it is not a coincidence that redundancies escalated to record levels whilst the clock was ticking down to the end of the furlough first planned by the Chancellor before his last minute U-turn. I hope he has learnt from this and call on him to clarity right now ahead of the next furlough cliff edge in January.

The UK is now is the worst recession of any major economy and West of England people are counting the cost.”


Ministers must do more to help dementia sufferers and their families, Mayor Dan Norris has said.

The intervention comes after the West of England’s directly elected Mayor hailed ‘invaluable’ Royal West of England Academy (RWA) programmes for locals living with the disease in the city.

RWA have been running their ‘Teatime Tours’ since May of last year, with dementia patients and their carers getting to take a look at new exhibitions and some of the 600-plus artworks and sculptures they currently have on display, followed by tea and cake – all served with a warm welcome.

The idea is to help patients in the city keep their minds stimulated, which doctors say is important, and provide a welcoming space for patients and their families and carers at the same time.

They hosted their sixth tour this year for a group of about 15 patients plus their carers, including Pat and Gavin Davis who are regulars after Gavin was diagnosed with dementia in 2019, and who Mr Norris met during the special tour.

Mayor Norris also learnt how this is just one of many activities RWA hosts to help dementia patients, and the wider community including their Work Experience Weeks for young people with learning disabilities, and Happy Mondays for children with autism and other high needs.

But Mr Norris says he wants more done to help dementia patients live independently, as he singled out governments for failing to deliver on pledges to act on the disorder. He made the point that this is vital as around 4,500 people are living with dementia in Bristol, but that number is projected to rise, due in part to the UK’s ageing population.

Mayor Dan Norris said: “Bravo to the Royal West of England Academy for all that they do to support Bristol’s dementia patients, and, vitally, their families and carers as well.

“Teatime Tours and other like projects are absolutely vital in terms of helping the some 4,500 people with dementia in this city to still be able to enjoy life in as similar way as possible to before their diagnosis, and to live well with dementia. That’s really important.

“But we cannot rely on the goodwill of the brilliant firms and organisations we have in the West of England. We must do more to help patients and their families, and that means a redoubling of efforts from central government to deliver on their pledges, and deliver for patients.”

The Labour Mayor has also joined calls for more people to seek support in getting a diagnosis. It comes after a recent survey found a third of people who notice symptoms of dementia in themselves or a loved one stay silent and don’t follow it up for more than a month.

He is urging anyone worried about themselves or someone they love to take the first step and contact Alzheimer’s Society for support at enquiries@alzheimers.org.uk.


A new “one-stop shop” website for West of England residents who are looking for training to gain new skills has launched.

Skills Connect comes from Dan Norris’s West of England Mayoral Authority and is designed to make it easier for residents who want to find information about upskilling, reskilling, apprentices, and a wide range of other training and career support on offer.

As well as resources available online, there are Skills Connect team advisors available on the phone who cans provide tailored one-to-one support.

Speaking at the launch of Skills Connect at South Glos and Stroud College’s Horizon 38 Centre, Metro Mayor Dan Norris encouraged all West of England residents to take advantage of the opportunities available through Skills Connect: “Welcome to Skills Connect. This is a first step in making the jobs and skills training that’s available in our region easier to access.

“I hope this jobs and skills one-stop-shop for workers will make it easier than ever for locals to see what’s available.

“So whether it’s finding out about one of our hands-on training courses in retrofitting, bus driving or other vital West of England sectors, or if it’s a ‘gold-standard’ apprenticeship in construction or something else you’re after, I’d encourage all locals to get online, discover your options, and find the support you need to help shape a brighter future for your career.

“As a Jobs First Mayor, I’m delighted that the Mayoral Combined Authority that I’m so proud to lead has a real focus on helping talented local people get the training they need, and deserve, to access good-quality, well-paid secure jobs across our amazing West of England region.”

Discover skills, training and career support in the West of England today at www.skillsconnect.org.uk.


Bathonians and other West locals will get the chance to see what planet Earth “looks like from the moon” starting this week.

The illuminated planet Earth artwork called Gaia, named after the Greek Goddess of Earth, is by local artist Luke Jerram, and will be visiting the city for six weeks as part of a programme of events at Bath Abbey, with visitors encouraged to reflect on how humans treat the planet.

The seven-metre diameter (23ft) globe features detailed Nasa imagery of the Earth’s surface and will be suspended beneath the tower in the centre of the Abbey.

By standing 181m away, residents can see the Earth as it appears from the moon.

The detailed sculpture, which also revolves and has a specially-made sound composition by a BAFTA award-winning composer played alongside it, has toured the world, including via visits to Hong Kong, London and Taiwan.

A series of events at the Abbey focused on appreciating and caring for the world will run alongside the installation, including a concert with Bristol Ensemble playing music from Blue Planet, and stargazing events. Visit https://www.bathabbey.org/gaia/ for more information.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris, who is running the West of England Explore Local campaign, and who checked out the piece, said: “This is a super-important and inspiring artwork – Gaia encourages us all to gaze at the planet we call home, but also to reflect on what we all need to do to care for it as well during this climate crisis.“It just goes to show how many amazing things to do we have right here on our doorstep. So whether it’s eyes to the skies at Herschel Museum, celebrating Bath’s most famous resident at Jane Austen Museum, or taking the opportunity to see our planet floating in space at Bath Abbey, let’s get out there and rediscover all Bath, and our amazing region, has to offer”.

Mr Jerram’s work will be at Bath Abbey until Sunday 29 October.


Mayor Dan Norris has warned that the government’s U-turn on climate policies makes it “unlikely” the West of England can achieve its 2030 net zero ambitions.

Responding to reports the Prime Minister is planning to water down key net-zero policies the Mayor said, “this tips the balance for the region’s goals, from really challenging to unlikely”.

The Prime Minister is expected to row back on plans to phase out new petrol cars and oil boilers, shelve plans for taxes on flying, and measures to encourage car-pooling in a bonfire of environmental commitments.

It comes after weeks of calls from disgruntled Tory backbenchers – including Liz Truss – to delay key parts of the Government’s net-zero programme.

Dan Norris said:

“It’s a bit rich for the Tories to be warning about bankrupting the country – most people think they’ve already done that. What’s now clear is you’re also not going to save the planet with a Tory Government”

The Mayor went on to warn that “the Government’s plans to backtrack on climate put at risk the West of England’s net-zero ambitions.”

In light of this, he plans to update the West of England Climate Ecological Emergency Action plan. “As I’ve always said the climate isn’t something where you can go it alone – it needs local, regional, national and international action. Sadly the government aren’t playing their part. That matters for every West of England resident. We need climate action at all levels because we are in the midst of a climate emergency. Throwing red meat to his backbenchers while the planet is on red alert won’t impress anyone. This U-turn by the Government is deeply damaging, but unsurprising.

“We need a serious Labour government with a relentless focus on green investment and green jobs.”


The West of England is “still paying the price” of Liz Truss’s so-called ‘mini-budget’, the region’s directly elected Labour Mayor Dan Norris has warned.

A year on from the former PM’s budget, the housing market has hit its worst slump since the Credit Church thanks to soaring mortgage rates seen in the past 12 months.

Mortgage approvals are down by a third, house values are down 5% and the average monthly mortgage payment is up by £220 almost one year to the day since the disastrous Kamikaze Budget, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

But the situation is likely to get worse, according to Norris, with data from his West of England Mayoral Authority showing a quarter of all households in the West have fixed-term mortgages concluding in the next 12 months and so face a shocking repayment rise of nearly £2,600.

This means a further ‘mortgage bomb’ hitting the West of England region of around £67 million in the next year, according to the figures, because the Government crashed the economy.

Ahead of the anniversary of the mini-budget later this week, Mayor Norris, who has responsibility for regional economic development, argued that households across his patch are still dealing with the “hangover” of the Truss experiment.

He urged the current PM to stand up to his backbenchers and solve the country’s “growing list of problems” – including the mortgage price crisis. He wants ministers to step in to ensure that rising mortgage costs don’t result in a wave of repossessions, including considering proposals like reinstating mortgage payment holidays.

He said: “One year on, and households in the West of England, and across the country, are still dealing with the hangover of Truss and her so-called ‘mini-Budget’.

“Mortgage approvals down by a third since last year. 5% wiped off the value of houses in the region. Rents spiralling. Plus a mortgage bomb about to hit a quarter of all households in the West. All because the Government crashed the economy.

“This mortgage penalty has been a bitter blow for families, which is I’m calling on the PM to stand up to the factions in his party, choose the side of working people in the West of England and take the urgent steps necessary to solve this country’s growing list of problems, not least protecting homeowners through this crisis this year and next.”

Liz Truss’s premiership collapsed in the wake of her mini-budget on 23 September 2022, which included £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts, and which crashed the economy.