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1) What is the Bristol referendum?

The Bristol governance referendum is a chance for voters to change the way Bristol City Council makes decisions. So that all 70 councillors can do the job voters elected them to do. At the moment, they are ignored and the mayor makes nearly all decisions!

2) Why are we having a referendum?

Under the Localism Act 2011, Bristol City Councillors passed a legally-binding motion to give voters a chance to review whether the mayoral model is working.

3) Could the Council have changed without spending money on a referendum? 

Yes, some councils change without holding a governance referendum, and national experts recommend that Councils should do so if a petition is started. There were two petitions started on the Bristol City Council website but they hadn't reached the 5% threshold.

4) When is the referendum and how do I vote?

The referendum will happen on 5th May 2022. You need to register to vote, see point 5.


5) Do I need to register to vote in the referendum?

Yes, unless you are already registered to vote in elections. If you are not registered to vote, the deadline for registering is 23:59h on the 14th April 2022. You can do it at


6) What are the 2 real choices in the referendum?

The 2 choices on how the council is run are:

Keep the current system, where the mayor makes nearly all decisions, and where most of our 70 community councillors are ignored.

Change to a modern committee system. We think this means better diversity of representation, and all councillors will have the power to do the job voters elected them to do. Councillors will work in small committees to make decisions, and communities will have a bigger voice. All councillors and therefore all our communities will have the power to make and influence decisions.


If more than 50% Vote for Change with option 2, then the Council will legally have to change to a modern committee system.

7) What will the question be on the referendum voting paper?

The wording of the question for governance referendums is set in law:

How would you like Bristol City Council to be run?

By a Mayor who is elected by voters. This is how the Council is run now.

By one or more Committees made up of elected Councillors. This would be a change from how the Council is run now.

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