Architect George Ferguson is first candidate to emerge ahead of referendum

Former RIBA president George Ferguson has emerged as the first runner in the potential race to become Bristol’s first city mayor.

Bristol citizens will vote on 3 May to decide whether or not the city should have an elected mayor.

But Ferguson – co-founder of Bristol-based architects Ferguson Mann – told the Bristol Evening Post he was announcing his candidacy early to kickstart an “urgent” debate on the mayor issue.

He said: “I feel passionate about Bristol. It’s a great city and I feel privileged to have learned, lived and worked here for over 45 years.

“I believe strongly in leaving it a better place than I found it – a place that our children and our grandchildren can be proud of.

“However this is not about me but about the urgent need for Bristol to wake up to the opportunities and the threats.

“I want to encourage strong competition for this vitally important role and I challenge others, some of whom I know are waiting in the wings or fear a backlash from their political leaders, to have the moral courage to declare now.”

Ferguson was the first Liberal councillor to be elected to Bristol City Council in the 1970s and unsuccessfully fought in two general elections as a Liberal during the 1980s. He will stand as an independent in the mayoral election if Bristol voters back the position in May.