Peter Hargreaves calls Bristol council 'anti-business'

Peter Hargreaves
Image caption Peter Hargreaves started what has become one of the UK's largest financial services businesses with Stephen Lansdown in 1981

One of Bristol's leading businessmen, billionaire Peter Hargreaves, has slammed the city council for being "almost anti-business".

Mr Hargreaves, co-founder of investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, described Bristol as a "sleepy city" with "crazy parking schemes" that drive people out of the centre.

He said high commercial rates were destroying many small businesses.

The city council has not yet responded to a BBC request for comment.

'Sleepy city'

Mr Hargreaves made the comments during a debate on BBC Radio Bristol on whether the city's boundaries should be re-drawn.

Mr Hargreaves said: "When I moved to Bristol 30-odd years ago there were lots of businesses coming to Bristol.

"It's very rare you hear a big company move to Bristol [now]. I think there's a feeling Bristol's a sleepy city and that the local authority is almost anti-business. All these crazy parking schemes are mad."

He said the city was "very difficult to get around".

"I don't know why the roads should be so bad, but certainly there isn't any desire to help business here," he said.

"Of course the best way you can help business is to reduce the commercial rates which are destroying most of the small businesses in Bristol."

'Great new thing'

The Bristol Democracy Project's Gez Smith, who also took part in the debate, said he had conducted research into "what the shape of Bristol would be" after a mayor was elected for the city in 2012.

"It's meant to be this great new thing that's going to bring people together and drive the city forward," he said.

"[But] how would that affect the people living in what is technically the city of Bristol really, but not within the mayor's authority?"

Deborah White, of Avon Local Councils Association (ALCA), which represents town and parish councils in the unitary authorities around Bristol, also joined the debate.

Ms White said Bristol did not have any local councils and ALCA's members would "find the idea of a 'Greater Bristol' preposterous".

She said: "What Bristol needs to do is think about creating town and parish councils, so that local people can have a better voice.

"Until Bristol addresses its very local governance and looks at how local communities contribute to the debate then we should stay as three unitaries, as we are at the moment."

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