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Darren demands proper funding of Bristol schools

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones said:

“Today (30th Nov) is #FundingFriday – where members of the National Education Union (NEU) will be calling on the government to fund education and our young people’s futures properly. Not those ‘little extras’ that the chancellor patronisingly referred to in the Autumn Budget but the must-haves like staff, safe and warm buildings and learning equipment!

I’ll be visiting Oasis Academy Long Cross today to meet with students, staff and governors to talk about how cuts are affecting them and see first-hand how hard staff are working to compensate for the lack of government support. I regularly visit schools across Bristol North West so I understand the huge pressure leaders are under to make cuts and how many teaching staff are considering leaving the profession as the stress is unbearable.

Members of the NEU – the leaders, teachers and support staff in our local schools – are saying enough is enough – I agree! I am proud to show my support today – and every day – for the campaign to end short-sighted and cruel school cuts“.

You can support the NEU’s campaign here: https://neu.org.uk/handsupsupporters

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.

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Darren opens The Hive at Claremont School

As part of his mission to visit every school in Bristol North West, Darren Jones MP recently visited Claremont School in Henleaze to open their new post-16 centre ‘The Hive’.

Darren said after the visit:

” A couple of weeks ago, I had the honour of opening the new post-16 centre ‘The Hive’ at Claremont School in Henleaze.

The building work at the Special Educational Needs School started back in May and included extending and converting pre-existing structures, with the final work finished in September 2018.

The benefit of moving post-16 students to this site is extensive. It’s of vital importance, older students have access to community learning with activities such as visiting the shops on the High Street, visiting supermarkets and cafes in Henleaze, getting the bus to the Mall and city centre, as well as trips to the community café and allotments at Golden Hill.

I was told it was difficult for young people and school staff to access community learning from the Redland site. However, with local amenities just minutes away from the site in Henleaze this was felt to be an ideal position for The Hive.

I wish the new centre, its students and school staff every success. It is absolutely vital every young person has first class support and education and can learn in a safe and supported environment”.

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.

(Photo Credit: Sue Thomas – Henleaze and Westbury Voice)

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Darren questions Government over arms sales to Saudi Arabia

In light of the concern over the use of UK made weapons by Saudi Arabia in the Yemen, Darren raised a question with the Department for International Trade. The Department is responsible for making risk assessments for the purpose of handing out licences to UK businesses to export weapons.

Darren asked:

 To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will publish the risk assessments made by his Department on the granting of export licences for arms sales to Saudi Arabia since 25 May 2010.

A representative of the Department, Graham Stuart MP (Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) replied:

The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework for considering all applications to export military goods to Saudi Arabia. The policy remains as announced to Parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement on 25 March 2014:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140325/wmstext/140325m0001.htm#14032566000018 and updated with an additional policy, as announced in a Written Ministerial Statement on 13 September 2018:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-09-13/HCWS957/.

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Darren shares council and government response on HGVs and trucks using minor local roads

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, shared his concerns about the on-going problems of lorries and trucks getting stuck under/damaging the iron bridge in Shirehampton (see below picture of incident on 25 10 18) and causing traffic chaos on minor roads whilst they find their way back to the main roads with the council. Darren has now received a reply from the council and news on repairs to the Iron Bridge.

The council said:

“There is already a 7.5 tonne weight limit in place along Kings Weston Lane both on the section from Long Cross to Kings Weston Road (where one of the photographs has been taken) and from Long Cross to Campbell Farm Drive.  Therefore, heavy vehicles above 7.5 tonnes should not be using Kings Weston Lane to gain access to Avonmouth.  There is also a height restriction on the Iron Bridge in the other photograph.  These restrictions do not apply to Long Cross so vehicles could legitimately use Long Cross and Kings Weston Avenue to travel from Henbury to Avonmouth. 

The main difficulty is that these restrictions require enforcement from Avon and Somerset Police, and as these restrictions have to allow for access (the weight limits are for environmental purposes and not because of any weak structures) then they would have to prove that a vehicle has deliberately driven straight through them from one end to the other without stopping and with no intention of accessing any property contained within the restriction.  The Police find it extremely difficult to enforce any such restriction because they need to see it take place, follow the vehicle through and prove that they were not trying to access somewhere along route. So whilst we have the legal orders in place to be able to stop heavy vehicles from using this road, in practice it is very difficult for the Police to stop this from happening”.

In response to the above incident, and concerns about large vehicles being told to use the wrong roads by Sat-Navs, Darren asked the Government the following Parliamentary Question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department holds discussions with Satnav companies on the suitability of roads for certain vehicles due weight and height restrictions?

The Secretary of State replied:

The Department has had no such recent discussions.

The Department is aware that manufacturers produce special satnav devices for lorries, in order to provide them with routing information appropriate to their vehicle.

The Government has invested £3 million to help create a digital road map, with one aim being to ensure traffic keeps moving efficiently and safely on suitable routes. It includes information such as road widths, which could be used in satnavs to improve the quality and accuracy of routing advice. The map is available online at: www.os.uk/highways.

Routing guidance provided by satnavs should only ever be considered as advisory. It is for individual device owners to ensure that they use their satnavs responsibly and with a proper understanding of their limitations. It is for individuals to determine the best route for their journey.

Darren also commented on news regarding the Iron Bridge:
“A process and timetable for re-opening the Iron Bridge has now been shared by local councillor, Don Alexander, who has been working hard to push this up the council’s agenda. I am pleased to see plans set-out that will ensure the bridge re-opens for pedestrian use. Whilst I know some constituents have expressed concerns about the possible raising of the bridge, these plans will be independently scrutinised by Historic England and via the council’s usual planning process. I strongly encourage anyone with concerns or comments about the proposed bridge reinstatement to submit these at the appropriate time”.

To follow Darren’s work on Transport click here.

 

 

Darren looks in Government Digital Services on Science and Tech Committee

The Science and Technology Committee, which Darren sits on, is currently holding an inquiry into the progress of Government Digital Services. Government Digital Services is aimed at developing the use of digital services across Government.

Darren asked two witnesses to the inquiry, Tom Loosemore, Partner at Public Digital, former Deputy Director of the Government Digital Service (2011-2015), and Dafydd Vaughan, Director, Cedryrn Ltd, about a variety of issues including the concrete changes needed to improve Government Digital Services.

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Darren updates on L-Dub Community Bike Project

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West has been following up on concerns about the future of the L-Dub Community Bike Project following local press reports and enquiries from constituents.

Darren said:

“Following my meeting with Scotty on Saturday 24th, as promised, I have written to the Mayor about the L-Dub Community Bike Project. I’ve asked for urgent reconsideration so that Mr Scott can continue with this much-loved community project. I’ll share the response as soon as I have it”.

 

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Darren gets response on Migrant Impact Fund

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, wrote to the Chancellor in advance of the Autumn Budget calling for the  Migrant Impact Fund to be restored.

Darren has now received a response:

Darren Jones MP said:

“The £50m Migrant Impact Fund (although it now appears only £35million was awarded) was set-up several years ago in response to legitimate concerns that public services needed central funding to help support any unexpected pressure on local services such as housing, schools and hospitals. This was – and still is – common sense and the fund should have never been replaced with the much less effective Controlling Migration Fund which does not fund things such as additional pressures on healthcare. This change was ill-thought out so I am disappointed this response has repeated the same old explanations without actually considering the points my letter raised – namely, that this backwards step applies pressure to healthcare services who can ill afford it, only helps to fans the flames of prejudice. I continue to call for the Migrant Impact Fund to be restored”.

 

Darren interviewed on Radio 4 about People’s Vote

Darren was interviewed on Radio 4’s PM show in order to get his views on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. He stated his opposition to the deal and his support for a People’s Vote. Listen below:

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Darren calls for parity for children’s mental health funding

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has commented on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services following release of a major new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England.

The report includes a detailed break-down of spending, waiting times and the number of children turned away for each area of England. This has enabled Darren to take a detailed look at provision in Bristol. Bristol CCG’s results show that between April 2017 and March 2018:

• 41% of children who are referred to NHS CAMHS services are not accepted for treatment. The Commissioner does not know what, if any, alternative support is available to these children.

• Of those who are accepted, 47% are seen within 4 weeks – this compares to 80% across England. 19% have to wait more than 6 weeks.

• Children’s mental health accounts for less than 1% of local NHS spending (0.99% locally). Per capita, adult mental health services are funded at three times the rate of children’s services. Bringing about parity of spending (per head) requires an additional £1.7bn to be invested in children’s mental health services nationally.

In response the Children’s Commissioner calls for the three commitments from NHS England to be included within the forthcoming NHS 10-yr Plan, I support:

1) A spending benchmark that brings parity between child and adult mental health, achieved within five years.

2) A large expansion of community mental health treatment to ensure that by 2023 the NHS is in a position to ensure no child who needs help is turned away. This should be combined with a clear four-week waiting times target.

3) A comprehensive plan for the NHS and local partners to provide lower-level children’s mental health services, to ensure easy access before conditions deteriorate. This should include an NHS-funded counsellor in every school.

Darren said:

“I will be meeting the CCG in the New Year and plan to raise these mattes for further discussion. I believe we can – and must – do better to ensure our young people get the support they need and deserve – the first step would be giving parity of funding per person to children and adolescent services as they do to adult mental health service. 41% of those referred for treatment do not receive it – that is genuinely concerning and must be fully investigated”.