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Darren to meet Stoke Bishop residents regarding Stoke Lodge

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones will meet local residents at Stoke Lodge at 9am on Saturday 8th December.

Darren has already shared his concerns with Bristol City Council following recent news reports that a fence at Stoke Lodge will not require the council’s consent and that the school plans to progress these works imminently.

Darren has been working closely with key community leaders and local councillors and has previously written to residents, the council and Cotham School about Stoke Lodge alongside chairing several meetings (designed to broker a compromise so both the community and the school can use the site) over the summer.

Darren has also previously met local residents, and separately with staff from Cotham School, to discuss the school’s use of Stoke Lodge green space which (the school propose) would include the erection of a fence, alongside a new changing room/ pavilion building (this application was rejected by the local authority and as yet has not been appealed or a new submission submitted).

Darren said:

“I’ll be meeting residents at Stoke Lodge on Saturday morning to discuss any updates following last week’s surprise media reports planning consent may not be required for any perimeter fence. Clearly this news was hugely concerning to the many residents and visitors who enjoy this important green space – which includes Bristol’s Tree of the Year. This green space is the only one in walking distance to many local residents.

We’ll also be discussing next steps so we can work to ensure the site can once again be used by the local community and school.

Stoke Bishop has one of the lowest crime and ASB levels in the city, with a close-knit and supportive community and it does not appear the school encountered any reportable near misses or incidents when the school previously used this site unfenced – it is therefore imperative risks are not overstated and the community and school work together to ensure this space is used in harmony for decades to come. I know community reps remain keen to continue engaging with the school and have suggested multiple alternative options. The multiple meetings I have chaired – where all parties were invited – were designed to reach a compromise.

I’ll continue to support residents, and help work towards a compromise, at every opportunity. I look forward to seeing residents on Saturday“.

 

 

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Darren speaks in Meaningful Vote debate

Darren spoke in the House of Commons debate which is taking place before the Meaningful Vote. He spoke about how damaging Brexit would be and how the people deserve a final say on it. You can watch the full speech here:

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Darren to host surgery for local carers

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, will be hosting a Carers-themed surgery with Carers Support Centre Bristol and South Gloucestershire on Friday 18th January.

Do you care for a friend, relative, family member or neighbour with an illness or disability? Do you need Darren’s support or would like to share your experiences so they inform Darren’s work in the future?

To meet with Darren you must live in Bristol North West. The Bristol North West constituency covers Avonmouth, Shirehampton, Lawrence Weston, Henbury, Brentry, Horfield, Lockleaze, Aurora Springs in Cheswick Village, Southmead, Sea Mills, Coombe Dingle, Sneyd Park, Stoke Bishop, Westbury-on-Trym, Westbury Park and Henleaze.

If you’re not sure if Darren is your MP, you can check here – If Darren is your MP and you’re a carer, come and meet him!

The surgery will take place on 18th January in Southmead between 10.30 and 12.30 with 6 pre-bookable appointments available.

If you would like to find out more or book a 15 minute slot, contact Caroline McAleese, Carers Engagement & Involvement Lead, Carers Support Centre on 0117 958 9989 or carolinem@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

“In the course of my work as Bristol North West’s MP I have met many carers, including those at Henleaze-based Singing for the Brain and at my weekly constituency surgeries. I’m well aware of the challenges carers face and the dire need for more support for them , that’s why I backed the Carers Support Centre ‘carers need care too’ campaign and am hosting this themed surgery. I look forward to meeting more local carers and doing what I can to help and support them”.

 

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Darren asks Government about Bristol’s buses

Darren asked three Written Parliamentary Questions about Bristol’s buses, focused on finding how to improve them in light of several recent route changes and closures.

1.

Darren Jones, Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to replace the service on a bus route when an operator removes it; and if he will make a statement.

Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

The bus market in England, outside London, is deregulated and most services are provided on a commercial basis by private operators. Where there is not enough demand for a bus route to be commercially viable in its own right all local authorities have powers to subsidise bus services.

Local bus services have to be registered with the Traffic Commissioner. When an operator wants to vary or cancel a registered bus service it must provide relevant local authorities with a copy of the application at least 28 days before it makes the application to the Traffic Commissioner. Once the application has been submitted to the Traffic Commissioner the service can be varied or cancelled after 42 days, or less in certain prescribed circumstances if agreed by the Traffic Commissioner.

This system provides local authorities with time to consider the implications of a service variation or cancellation and in particular whether they wish to procure and subsidise a replacement service.

2.

Darren Jones, Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funds for the new powers to bring about change and unlock the potential for the bus industry to achieve more for passengers as set out in the Bus Services Act 2017.

Rishi Sunak, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Secretary of State meets with ministers, including HMT ministers, regularly to discuss a range of issues relating to local government. Local authorities in England outside London spend over £1 billion a year on bus services. Over the five year period from 2015-16 to 2019-20 councils will have access to more than £200 billion, after the Autumn 2018 budget.

3. 

Darren Jones, Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will provide sufficient funding to local authorities to enable bus subsidies to return to their 2010 levels in real terms

Elizabeth Truss, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Government support for bus services has averaged £2.2 billion a year since 2010/11, which is 23 per cent more than the average yearly spend between 1996/97 and 2009/10 in real terms.

Note: Darren is asking a follow up question to this one, because bus subsidies in 2009/10 (last year of Labour govt) was £2.47 bil (see DfT statistics here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/666804/bus0502.ods).

 

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Darren plants tree saplings at Oasis Academy Long Cross

As part of his mission to visit every school in Bristol North West, Darren Jones MP has visited Oasis Academy Long Cross in Lawrence Weston to meet staff and students and take part in a tree sapling planting for Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

Five trees were donated to Darren Jones MP thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s and ITV.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable,

ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life,

iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

Darren said after the visit:

“I have planted 5 tree saplings – two silver birch, two rowan, and a hazel today (30th November) alongside students from Oasis Academy Long Cross in Lawrence Weston. I grew up in Lawrence Weston, and attended the former guise of this school so it is particularly special for me to visit as the local MP. I have chosen to plant my saplings at a local school as I think it’s vital that children and young people get to experience planting and nurturing trees and plants first-hand.

It’s great all four Bristol MPs took part and there will be 20 new hazel, silver birch and rowan trees across the city thanks to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project. As part of my visit, I also got to speak to students, school leaders and teaching staff which is always really inspirational but also worrying as I hear first-hand the impact austerity politics and cuts have had on staff and the services they can deliver. I will continue to call for proper and fair school funding – education can not be done ‘on the cheap'”.

Woodland Trust Chief Executive, Beccy Speight said:

“We are delighted so many MPs have decided to join us in our bid to plant trees as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. We all need trees. They are a cornerstone of our landscape and countryside, forming an essential and cherished part of our cultural identity. They are crucial in improving soil health and water quality, reducing carbon, trapping pollutants, slowing the flow of flood water, sheltering livestock, providing a home for wildlife or a space for us to breathe. I hope the residents of Bristol North West will enjoy watching them flourish as part of this wonderful legacy initiative.”

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.

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Darren updates on Stoke Lodge Fence

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his concerns with Bristol City Council following recent news reports that a fence at Stoke Lodge will not require the council’s consent and that the school plans to progress these works imminently.

Darren has been working closely with key community leaders and local councillors and has previously written to residents, the council and Cotham School about Stoke Lodge alongside chairing several meetings (designed to broker a compromise so both the community and the school can use the site) over the summer.

Darren also met local residents, and separately with staff from Cotham School, to discuss the school’s use of Stoke Lodge green space which (the school propose) would include the erection of a fence, alongside a new changing room/ pavilion building.

Darren said:

“Alongside members of the local community and councillors, I have shared my concerns with the council regards the article published in the Bristol Post on Friday 30th November 2018.

This information came as a total surprise to members of the community (as well as myself and local councillors) who had met with council staff that day to discuss their on-going concerns about the site.

I have just been advised by the council’s Director – Legal and Democratic Services this situation has been escalated to the council’s planning team with a response expected this week – I will update on this matter as soon as possible.

I would like to take the opportunity to advise, I will continue to do what I can to support the community. Equally, I would like to thank those residents who attended my Mince Pie Politics coffee morning in Stoke Bishop on Saturday morning to discuss their concerns with me”.

 

 

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Darren shares concerns about Portway Park and Ride

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has shared updates on the First Bus service that runs from the Portway Park and Ride to the city centre following complaints from constituents.

Darren said:

“Buses are fast becoming one of the key issues in my inbox. The West of England Combined Authority Mayor, Tim Bowles, (who is responsible for regional transport strategy and funding) has pledged to review the region’s bus services in the New Year, so I recommend constituents share their concerns and experiences with him, as well as First, so they can be fed-in to the consultation. I say this because, I don’t want any of the issues my constituents are facing on a daily basis to be forgot or drop down the agenda.

In the meantime, I shared some feedback on behalf so users of the Portway (902) Park and Ride Service, here is First’s reply:
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As the Manager responsible for the operation of service 902 may I firstly offer my sincerest apologies for the poor customer service that the constituent refers to within your email. It is essential that we receive feedback from our customers whether this be of a positive or negative nature so that we can make continued improvements to not just our service but into how we train our driving staff.

There is no doubt that there a some area of improvements that are required to the punctuality of service 902 with the month of September showing punctuality performing below the 95% expected journey levels at 88% with the remaining journeys 12% operating behind schedule.

Although we always aim to be 100% on time, some of the journeys mentioned within the email fall within the Traffic commissioners guidelines of no more than 5 minutes behind schedule.

As you will be able to appreciate the delayed works at Temple Meads is having a negative impact on not just the 902 service but a wider number of service throughout the Bristol area.

The journey that is mentioned where by the an empty bus returning to depot had passed was as a result of a defect with the vehicle on route to the P&Ride site which needed a mechanics attention, although it was safe to return to depot it would not have been suitable to use in service at the time.

We have a member of staff who is employed to regulate all the Park&Ride service and we have made the 902 his priority at the moment due to the impact of the Severn Beach line closure and the impact this is having on additional traffic and customers.

As a customer service provider we expect our staff to put the customer at the heart of everything that they do and clearly those standards on this occasion fell short of expectation.
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I know I said this about the 3 and 4 services last week, but I do hope bus riders start to see some improvements soon – especially as the price of day rider ticket purchased on the bus has now jumped again to £5. If constituents don’t see improvements- I strongly encourage them to send complaints to First and the Regional Mayor and be sure to copy me in so I can keep a track of what’s going on locally”.

To follow Darren’s work on Transport click here.

 

 

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Darren demands stop to Universal Credit roll-out

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed a letter, alongside all South West Labour MPs, calling on Amber Rudd the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to stop the roll-out of Universal Credit and for immediate measure to be put in place to reverse the hardships it has caused.

This follow’s Darren’s extensive work on Universal Credit:

Darren first called for a delay to the roll out to new benefit claimants in October 2017. Universal Credit was, at that time, due to be rolled-out from Horfield and Shirehampton Job Centres in May 2018 (this was delayed until September 2018 with some additional funding in place).

Darren also backed large-scale changes to the full migration of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit in advance of the 2017 Autumn Budget and in advance of the 2018 Autumn Budget, he called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise to ensure no benefit claimant would suffer hardship, or less income, under Universal Credit.

Darren also wrote to then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, calling for an end to the ‘two-child policy’ on benefits in October 2018 and – ahead of the 2018 Spring Budget – for free schools to be protected under the Universal Credit roll-out.

Darren said:

“Universal Credit, as it stands, is a cruel and shambolic system forcing many into debt. Claims often take weeks and weeks to resolve! I am clear that it should not take people to lose their homes, resort to food banks or go to unscrupulous lenders to survive for the government to act – especially when charities, MPs and advice organisations have been shouting warnings about financial hardship and waiting times for well over a year. I call upon the Secretary of State to listen to concerns and stop the roll-out of Universal Credit”.

Darren writes to Government on future of funding for State Nursery Schools

On the 24th of October 2018, Darren wrote to express his concern at the lack of funding for maintained (i.e. state) nursery schools. Maintained nursery schools have to meet similar regulatory standards to schools for other age groups, but their funding does not reflect this. Their private sector counterparts do not have to meet this standard.

Budget 2018: funding of state nursery schools

Maintained nursery schools provide great benefit to the children of Bristol North West, especially for children from families on lower incomes.

 

Bristol is a city full of promise but it’s also an incredibly unequal place. In my constituency I represent some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country as well as some of the most affluent. This often means that your chances in life – be it due to education, training or health – can be significantly different depending on which postcode you’re born in, such postcodes often being only hundreds of yards apart.

 

Good Early Years education for everyone is key to levelling this playing field in Bristol. Outcomes are improving at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage: 69% of children achieved a good level of development in 2018, up 1.3% this year. The gap between those in the 30% most disadvantaged areas and their peers has narrowed by 5% in four years, to 13%. State nursery schools are a key part of this: 63% of them are graded outstanding by Ofsted.

 

Despite this, nursery schools in Bristol and across the country are on the brink of bankruptcy. In 2016-17, 18% of maintained nursery schools were in deficit. They form part of a childcare provider system missing £370 million in funding, yet with a promised 33% in additional cuts from 2020.

 

Furthermore, the current funding system places state nursery schools under additional unnecessary pressure. Despite state nursery schools having to meet higher regulatory standards as schools, instead of the less rigorous regulation required of private and voluntary sector equivalents, they are not given block funding or premises financing, which all other schools are.

 

Your colleague, Nadim Zahawi MP, has said that this will be reviewed. But I’m writing today to stress the urgency of this issue, with the hope that you might announce proper funding for nursery schools in your budget on Monday.

 

Treating nursery schools as other schools, with proper funding, will provide a sustainable future for nursery schools allowing them to continue to be able to transform the life chances of many of my constituents.

In late November a reply was received from the Government: