Bristol Mayor Referendum results 2022: how will Bristol City Council be run - as votes counted

The future of the political system in Bristol has been decided, with Bristol City Council declaring the final results of the Bristol Mayor Referendum.

Bristolians headed to polling stations on election day on Thursday, 5 May, faced with the all-important decision that will shape the future of Bristol City Council.

Coinciding with the other local elections taking place across the rest of the UK, the Bristol Mayor Referendum saw a higher than expected turnout.

Residents were faced with the following question: “How should Bristol City Council be run?”.

They were left with the following options:

  • Continue with the mayor system currently headed by Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees
  • Change to a committee model of governance

So what is the future of Bristol City Council? What is the final result? Here is everything you need to know.

What was the final result of the Bristol Mayor Referendum?

Ex-mayor George Ferguson and current mayor Marvin Rees are on opposite sides of the referendum debate

The final results of the Bristol Mayor Referendum was declared early on Friday morning (6 May).

Bristol has decided to abandon the mayoral system of governance, voting in favour of a committee model.

The result was announced after ballots were counted at the Oasis Academy in Brislington.

A total of 94,937 votes were cast during the referendum, out of an electorate of 332,028 - which totals at a higher than expected turnout of 28.59%.

The results of the Bristol Mayor Referendum 2022 is as follows:

  • In favour of a mayoral system - 38,439 (40%)
  • In favour of a committee model - 56,113 (60%)

What is a committee model of governance?

The results mean that the city will abandon the system of an elected mayor in favour of a committee model of governance.

This system involves a Full Council of 70 elected councillors.

The main features of the Committee model for governance of Bristol are:

  • A Full Council that will act as a strategic decision making body of Bristol City Council - required by law to make certain decisions itself but will mainly delegate powers to committees of councillors or officers
  • Establishing a number of committees  with responsibilities for major policy and service areas - i.e Finance and Performance, Adult Social Care, Education
  • The Authority will also establish regulatory committees such as planning, licensing and human resources

The committee model of governance will come into effect in 2024.

What does this mean for the future of Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees?

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees at full council meeting on Tuesday, February 15.

With the city abandoning the mayoral system, this will bring an end to Marvin Rees’ second reign as Bristol Mayor.

Rees was first elected as Mayor in May 2016 as Bristol became the first major European city to elect a mayor of a black African heritage.

After an extended five-year first term due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 50-year-old was re-elected in May 2021.

The results of the Bristol Mayor Referendum means that Marvin Rees will step down from his role in 2024.

Reacting to the decision, Rees looks forward to his last two-years in office despite hesitancy over the committee model of governance: “As it is the city will go back to a committee system and have to work itself out from there”.

“I really hope that my fears over the committee system are not warranted and that it proves to be successful.

“If the committee system can provide that city leadership and can drive delivery and decision making, then the city will be able to take on those challenges and the opportunities that are in front of it” he said.

“We will work hard over the next two years, deliver for Bristol and try to make sure we get a really good cohort of Labour councillors elected so we really can protect Bristol’s progressive political culture.

“Our job now over the next two years is to continue to deliver, to get as much in place as we can to build momentum.”