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Darren comments on crisis in council funding

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has commented on the continued crisis facing local government after years of government cuts. This follows reports that funding has been cut by 21% since the last Labour government.

Darren said:

“It’s a fact that with sustained cuts of this size, our council’s are constantly being asked to do more with much less. Demand for support with adult social care, child safeguarding and SEN have increased hugely but with less funding to provide these complex and vital services.

We can’t escape the reality that these cuts (of roughly 21% from 09/10 to 17/18) will have an impact on the services councils can deliver and, despite best efforts, the speed and quality at which they do so. Our council has worked hard to keep libraries open but has had to make tough decisions.

Our City Council Mayor, Marvin Rees, signed a joint letter in December last year, warning that council’s have reached breaking point.

As the IFS said: Current plans for councils to rely on council tax and business rates for the vast bulk of their funding don’t look compatible with our expectations of what councils should provide. Yet the government continue to keep their head in the sand while councils up and down the country – including in Tory heartlands such as Somerset – face financial crisis.

I will continue to do all I can, along with my Labour Bristol colleagues, to highlight the demands upon local councils and the need for investment into the crucial community services they provide”.

 

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Darren comments on Stoke Lodge Planning Appeal

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has commented on the news Cotham School’s appeal to the Planning Inspectorate for a new pavilion building at Stoke Lodge has been rejected.

Darren said:

“I’ve been advised the Planning Inspectorate (PI) has now rejected Cotham School’s appeal for a new pavilion building at Stoke Lodge.

I recently wrote to the PI voicing my constituent’s views after being contacted by large numbers of residents who were concerned about additional vehicle movements, including coaches, and the impact more parked vehicles would have on residential roads and road safety if the application got the go-ahead. The community, and I, are however not against the need to invest and upgrade in the pavilion in principle, but this can’t be done at the expense of residents and road safety.

The school’s appeal has now been rejected with the school being made to pay the council’s legal costs. I take no joy in seeing local schools spending money on legal costs and that’s why I have tried time and again to get senior reps from the school round the table to find a compromise to the whole Stoke Lodge saga, sadly they weren’t willing to continue discussions and we find a school continuing to fight a tight-knit community. The school failed to evidence adequate transport planning for this application and it would appear the introduction of a fence has also had some bearing on the decision to reject the appeal.

I’ll continue to support residents who are clear they want to work with the school so students – and residents – can all enjoy the wonderful open space at Stoke Lodge”.

Background:

As well as meeting hundreds of concerned residents on 8th December 2018, Darren has  shared his concerns with Bristol City Council following news reports that a fence at Stoke Lodge would not require the council’s consent and that the school planned to progress these works imminently. The council responded to Darren, local councillors and the We Love Stoke Lodge community group concerns on Friday 7th December, maintaining their new position that a fence did not require planning consent as would be considered permitted development.

Darren has been working closely with key community leaders and local councillors on this matter for some time having 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 of 2018.

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 prior to the meeting in December 2018:

“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 am obviously concerned to hear the council have continued to advise (including in the most correspondence dated 7th December) that planning consent will not be required for the fence as it is within permitted development rights.

I’ll continue to support residents, and help work towards a compromise, at every opportunity“.

 

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Darren visits Shirehampton, Lawrence Weston and Sea Mills

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another busy Saturday (25th May 2019) hosting two Powered By You stalls in Lawrence Weston and Shirehampton followed by a visit to Sea Mills for a LinkAge event at the Methodist Church.

Darren said:

“Today was another busy constituency day, I started off talking about the issues that matter locally in Shirehampton and Lawrence Weston at my Powered By You Street Stalls and then joined the LinkAge Sea Mills community event.

I’ll be doing Street stalls most Saturday mornings in the coming months, to find out where I’ll be next, please visit my Powered By You page where you can also find out how to download my Powered By You app”.

 

 

 

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Darren backs End The Cage Age Campaign

Darren Jones MP is proudly supporting Compassion in World Farming’s End the Cage Age campaign.

The event was in support of a petition calling on the Government to ban the use of cages for all farmed animals. Over 95,000 British citizens have already signed the petition started by Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden. The petition is open until September 2019 and when it reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament. You can view and sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/243448

Darren said:

“Despite the obvious failings of this outdated technology, around 16 million farm animals are trapped in cages every year in the UK. Cages confine, restrict and thwart many of an animal’s natural instincts. They are inhumane, outdated and clearly detrimental to farm animal welfare. Several countries across the EU have already prohibited certain cages that are permitted in the UK; the UK must take a more ambitious approach to introducing higher welfare farming systems if it is not to be left behind.

I am delighted to support the End the Cage Age campaign, which already has such widespread public support and call on the Government to deliver a cage-free future for British farming”.

You can follow Darren’s work on animal welfare here.

 

 

 

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Darren visits Pieminister in Brentry

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, visited the Pieminister factory in Brentry.

Darren said:

“Today (17th May) I got to visit the Pieminister factory in Brentry and taste some of their fantastic vegan pies. We also talked about reducing plastic packaging, sustainable supply chains and important product testing”.

 

 

 

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Darren visits Southmead for Alzheimer’s fundraiser

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another busy Saturday (18th May 2019) hosting two Powered By You stalls in Henbury and Southmead followed by a visit to Southmead Fire Station to thank the Alzheimer’s Society fundraisers for their efforts which included a car wash and cake sale.

Darren said:

“Today was another fantastic constituency day. I started off talking local and national issues at my Powered By You Street Stalls in Southmead and Henbury and then hopped back over to Southmead for a fundraiser at the local Fire Station. As a Dementia Champion, it was particularly great to see the efforts the team had gone to to raise both awareness and money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

I’ll be doing Street stalls most Saturday mornings in the coming months, to find out where I’ll be next, please visit my Powered By You page where you can also find out how to download my Powered By You app”.

 

 

 

 

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Darren works with council to secure Lawrence Weston site

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones recently (16th May 2019) shared a number of constituent concerns about the former Rockwell Care Home on Corbet Close (due to be sold to Curo for housing) in Lawrence Weston. The site had become a target of vandalism, smashed windows and trespass. Following contacting the council, Darren was advised:

People have been systematically breaking into the building and trashing it. We have responded to this and boarded up windows and doors however they are continuing to break in. Local residents are of course concerned.

To combat this, we are getting the building and the adjacent bungalow hoarded and all internal windows boarded up. We are in the process of doing this and are making every effort for this to be done as quickly as possible. We are also in the process of getting an alarm installed.

Darren said:

“I would like to thank the community in Lawrence Weston for contacting me about this issue.  It is good to see the council acting swiftly to make the site safe and secure. I hope these actions are taken quickly so residents feel safe in the area they live.”

 

 

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Darren backs Lift The Ban

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, has spoken out in favour of allowing asylum seekers the right to work – and contribute to the UK by paying taxes – whilst their applications are assessed.

At present, the law prevents asylum seekers from working whilst their claims are assessed and that can take years. All the whilst, asylum seekers get just £37.75 per week loaded onto a card to live on as well as (often very basic and crowded) accommodation. In cities, where costs are high and £37 will just about feed a person, asylum seekers struggle to use public transport, buy toiletries and clothe themselves and have to rely on charities for the very basics. They are prevented from earning more money to improve their situation.

Darren said:

“Today, I’ve received an interesting report from ACH that ran a pilot project in Bristol focused on supporting asylum seekers with job-hunting skills such as writing CV’s, employment rights and linking them to variety of local employers. The project found:

1- Most asylum seekers have the levels of English that would be required in the workplace.
2- Asylum seekers often had high levels of education and skills from their home countries and have training and work experiences that would be of use to the UK.
3- Everyone in the project wanted to contribute to the UK instead of taking government money and being unemployed. There were high levels of attendance at all visits with employers and meetings.

By stopping asylum seekers from working, I sense we’re frankly cutting off our nose to spite our face and creating a group of people who feel powerless to change their situation or contribute to a country they wish to make their home. This has got to change – we must lift the ban”.

You can find out more about ACH by visiting: www.ach.org.uk/

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Darren declares A4018 victory

Following confirmation from Bristol City Council and local media reports on revised plans for the A4018 scheme, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, declared victory as large elements of the original proposals (presented in February and March 2019) have been dropped.

Darren had urged constituents to sign his petition calling on the Mayor to scrap the plans to the village, complete his A4018 survey and formally respond to the council’s consultation before it closed on 17th March. Darren also hosted three public meetings to gather feedback before submitting his formal consultation response (which you can see below).

Following the news, Darren said:

“It looks like we’ve won the debate on carving up Westbury-on-Trym and blocking access to Brentry from the Crow Lane roundabout in Henbury, as well as the vast majority of the turning restrictions proposed. Thanks to my colleague Mayor Marvin Rees for listening to feedback from local residents, and to so many of you for taking part in my petition, consultation meetings and contacting my office direct. I urge constituents to let me know what they think of these revised plans – they will go to a Council meeting on 18th June”.

Darren continues to call upon the Regional Mayor to review and support his North Bristol Transport Plan, published in January 2019.

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Darren backs automatic compensation for rail passengers

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has signed a cross-party letter calling on the new Rail Regulator to roll-out automatic compensation across the rail network.

Following the news, Darren said:

“The right to easy and fast compensation shouldn’t be a postcode-lottery based on which rail operator you have to travel with, that’s why I have signed this cross-party letter calling on the Rail regulator to act”.

You can follow Darren’s work on Transport here.