Rebels on the roof: still waiting for the Council’s response

Photo credit: Simon Holliday

Last Thursday, five rebels climbed to the roof of Bristol City Hall and refused to come down until the Council can be transparent about their targets and progress on tackling Bristol’s illegal air pollution. We are still waiting for a response…

The rebels are roped to the dome of the City Hall tower, four storeys above street level under windy and rainy conditions. Last night, Irish Paralympic cyclist and activist James Brown joined the group. He’s lending his voice to our calls for Bristol City Council to make a concrete commitment to combating air pollution in the city.

James is registered blind and runs a charity supporting disabled people across the UK. He was driven to become a climate activist after Bristol’s air quality impacted his daughter so badly that she suffered asthma and panic attacks. The five climbers already on the roof are wearing masks and gloves and respecting careful social distancing whilst James is with them.

Roof rebel and XR Bristol Regional Coordinator, Pete Hughes says:

“Bristol City Council were the first in the UK to declare a Climate Emergency, but I’ve barely seen any action since. In no other area of life does someone declare an emergency and then behave in such a relaxed manner towards it.

“296 people die prematurely every year in Bristol due to our toxic air. If 296 people were dying in traffic collisions in Bristol each year there would be public outcry. No one is treating this with the same respect. It’s horrifying.”

Residents from all over Bristol have been sending video messages of support, and on Sunday evening they were projected onto the front of City Hall in a video montage 10m-high.

The moving messages calling on the Council to take action on local air pollution came from children, parents and public figures such as MEP Molly Scott Cato and City-to-Sea campaigner Natalie Fee.

Projection on Bristol City Hall to demand clean air for Bristol and support the rebels on the roof
Photo credit: Jennifer Stevenson

XR Bristol has delivered a letter to Mayor Marvin Rees, Bristol councillors and senior Council officers, urgently asking that the Mayor, or a senior council representative, answer the following questions:

  1. What have you achieved in relation to delivering clean air – specifically what infrastructure has been put in place?
  2. What are your plans for reaching and maintaining legal air for Bristol by April 2021?
  3. What support do you need in order to hit and sustain legal air quality for Bristol by April 2021?

The rebels on the roof are offering to come down when they hear a satisfactory answer to these questions.

Until then, please lend your support!

Here’s how you can help:

Head to College Green! The rebels on the roof have found it a huge morale booster seeing all your lovely faces over the last few days, and we need to keep up the pressure on the Council. Take a placard, create a display, make some noise, bake a cake, whatever feels right for you.

Write a letter to Marvin Rees or your councillor to demand clean air. Download our letter template to help you get started, and send either directly to Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees or your local councillor. View and download the template >

Donate to XR Bristol. Your donations will go towards our campaign for clean air in Bristol. This includes creative actions like those we’ve seen this week, as well as many more currently in planning. Donate here.

Have your say 📢 What would you say to Bristol City Council and the Mayor about air pollution if you were up on City Hall? Take a one minute video of your message to the Council and email it to us at [email protected] for us to share widely.
– No more than one minute or we can’t use!
– Must be landscape
– Please don’t go for personal attacks


Clean Air For Life, not just for lockdown