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Darren demands cessation of visa fees for commonwealth armed forces personnel

In April 2019, MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed a cross party letter, along with 130 other MPs, calling on the Home Secretary to cease charging visa fees for commonwealth servicemen and women.

At that time (April 2019) Darren said:

“I am pleased to have signed this letter – all visa fees, alongside the Home Office’s assessment process, need a total re-think, but making money out of those who have risked their lives for this country (as the cost to the tax payer to process these applications is very low) is totally unacceptable and must stop”.

In July 2019, Darren updated that:

“Charging high visa fees to those who have sacrificed, and put their life on the line, to serve this country is no way to thank them. The fees for Leave to Remain are over £3000, so this is not a small amount were asking brace service personnel to find! The Royal British Legion are now running a campaign to help raise awareness of this injustice and are asking for people to write to their MP. Whilst I welcome any contact from my constituents, I have already pledged my support to this campaign and will proudly continue to do so”.

 

 

 

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Success at getting fair redundancy payments for Avlon staff

Back in March 2019, Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, first wrote to the Government sharing his concerns about Avara’s Avlon site, and their 270 staff. The Avlon site is situated just outside Darren’s constituency. A number of constituents and their family members were employed at the site.

Avara Avlon Pharmaceutical Services Ltd, the company who now own the site, had become insolvent. Since that time it become clear, despite assurances when the company was sold 3 years ago by AstraZeneca, that staff would get above-statutory redundancy payments, which they had been contractually entitled to with AstraZeneca, only statutory redundancy payments were offered by Avara.

Darren has since written to the relevant government department (BEIS) and AstraZeneca, met with Unite union reps and former employees and raised this matter in Parliament on 11th July. Darren also applied for an Adjournment Debate with the Minister of 4 occasions (each attempt was unsuccessful) and worked with The Times to raise awareness of this gross unfairness. The Times have since ran several pieces on this matter this week.

Following these efforts, and those of former employees and Unite, Darren received for following statement from former owner, AstraZeneca:

Statement from AstraZeneca (17th July 2019):

We have decided to set aside funding of up to £12m, to be administered independently, to make sure our former employees at the Avlon site receive full severance should the ongoing administration of the site not generate enough funds to cover redundancy costs.

AstraZeneca remained closely involved in helping secure a future for the Avlon site following the sale to Avara, which was made in good faith in 2016. We have been engaged with the receivers since the company fell into administration. Last week, the deadline for bids for the site was reached and, since then, it has become apparent that there may not be sufficient funds to meet the redundancy costs of our former employees. 

Our success relies on the commitment and talent of our employees and our many partners in the UK and around the world who share our passion for science and for making a difference to the lives of patients.

Darren said:

“I’m delighted that after months of hard work from workers and unions, and my interventions with Astra Zeneca and the government, that workers are being paid the redundancy packages they deserve.

Whilst it should not have taken this level of intervention before employees got what they had been promised, I thank Astra Zeneca for listening, responding and making the right call.”

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Darren visits Horfield school and Bristol Pride.

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another packed constituency diary.

On Friday 12th July, Darren visited Horfield Primary School to meet with current years 6 students to talk about how Parliament works, Darren’s experiences of representing the area he was born, and grew up, in followed by a Q and A. Darren then held a constituency surgery in Southmead.

On Saturday, Darren joined the annual Bristol Pride march from Castle Park.

Darren said:

“It was lovely to lead the Bristol Pride march through Bristol today with the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Deputy Mayor Cllr Craig Cheney, Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, Kerry McCarthy MP and Thangam Debbonaire MP. There was a huge turn out with Avon Fire & Rescue Service leading the way and Avon and Sometset Police’s LGBT+ group helping us along. Well done to the team and volunteers at Bristol Pride for organising such a positive march and event to honour the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, which were seen as the birthplace of LGBT+ pride and activism”.

 

 

 

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Southmead NHS staff win national Parliamentary award

In 2019, MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones once again submitted a number of nominations to the annual NHS Awards. All nominees work for North Bristol NHS Trust and are based at Southmead Hospital, the hospital in Darren’s constituency, and were nominated by peers or managers. Darren was delighted to hear one of these nominations was selected as the regional award winner and would be invited to attend the Parliamentary Awards held this week (10th July 2019). It is with great pride that the team went on to win the national award for wellbeing at work. Darren was able to join the team attending and thank them for their efforts.

The purpose of the awards is to celebrate the NHS, identify and highlight innovative and high-quality care across every constituency in England, and thank staff for their dedication, hard work and commitment by recognising and honouring their achievements.

Darren said of the win:

“I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Southmead Hospital on many occasions, so I am delighted to hear my nomination in the Wellbeing at Work category has won the Trust this prestigious NHS Award. The staff and volunteers at North Bristol NHS Trust work hard, and often in very challenging circumstances. Whilst the team’s focus is on caring and supporting their patients, it is right that staff and volunteers have opportunity to focus on their own needs too. The Wellbeing at Work programme ensures staff and volunteers can access support and activities related to a whole range of health and wellbeing topics.  I made this nomination as I was really inspired when I heard the Chief Executive’s strap line to staff was ‘your health is as important as our patients’. That’s right, as ultimately staff who are absent due to illness, feel unsupported or are struggling, aren’t going to be able to provide the best care for their patients and may end up needing NHS care themselves.

I was genuinely impressed with the broad range of needs that had been considered in the programme from caring responsibilities, menopause to flu clinics, setting up health walks and training Mental Health First Aiders. It is accurate to say, the team at North Bristol NHS Trust are leading the way when it comes to Wellbeing at Work. I could not be prouder that the Hospital in my constituency has received this national award – well done to everyone involved”.

You can also follow Darren’s work on Health here.

 

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Watch: Darren presses Government over Avlon redundancies

Staff at the Avlon pharmaceuticals plant, which was recently put into administration by its American owners, were promised that should the facility fail, they would be entitled to a full redundancy package – but are now being forced to leave on statutory pay only. This unjust situation can still be avoided if the plant’s former owners AstraZeneca choose to enforce the previously negotiated guarantee, but it may take some pressure from Government. That’s why Darren’s been writing to Business Ministers and trying for weeks to secure a debate in Parliament — and this morning raised the issue directly with the Leader of the House of Commons, Mel Stride.

Watch: Darren expresses grave concern over Darroch resignation

We should all be deeply troubled by Sir Kim Darroch’s resignation as Ambassador to Washington, and by the shameful leak of his private correspondence which preceded it. Sir Kim’s decision came on the back of characteristic childishness from Donald Trump ⁠— and thereby marked the first time in modern history that a British ambassador has been forced out at the behest of a third country. Our Government must make it very clear that once appointed, Her Majesty’s ambassadors have their full backing (and so too should our likely next Prime Minister Boris Johnson).

 

 

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Darren updates on arena application

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones, has shared details of progress on the Bristol arena project.

Darren said:

“YTL will soon will applying for planning consent for their proposed arena in the former airport hangars in Filton (this sits just on the edge of my constituency). I’ll be contacting YTL to arrange a personal briefing for me and my constituents in August – I’ll share details of that event soon.

I’ve always said, I can only support the arena if it comes with proper transport investment and public transport upgrades. YTL also need to ensure residential streets in Henbury, Brentry, Lockleaze and Southmead are not linked to the arena site so they don’t become rat runs. I formally called for these restrictions  back in January as part of my North Bristol Transport Plan. I also met with the new leader of South Gloucestershire Council last week (5th July) and pressed for improved planning and joined-up thinking on transport.

The planning application for the arena will be available in the usual way on Bristol City Council’s website – I’ll share details once they’re available”.

YTL Arena operations team, who are responsible for the plans to create an arena in the Brabazon hangars, will be holding a series of public consultation open days. The three sessions at the Site Operations Centre, Filton Airfield, are on:

– Thursday 18 July from 4pm to 8pm, with the last tour of the hangars at 7pm
– Friday 19 July from 10am to 4pm, with last tour of the hangars at 3pm
– Saturday 20 July 10am to 4pm, with last tour of the hangars at 3pm

Click here for: Address and directions for YTL Site Op Centre

The arena team is also planning a number of roadshows. The first of these are:- Wednesday 10 July at Yate Shopping Centre, North Walk, Bristol BS37 4AP
– Thursday 11 July at Kings Chase Shopping Centre, Regent Street, Kingswood BS15 8LP
– Thursday 25 July at Southmead Greenway Centre, Doncaster Road, Bristol BS10 5PY
– Friday 26 July at St Nicholas’ Market, Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1JQ

You can find out more by visiting: www.brabazon.co.uk

Darren expects to see significant transport upgrades using major routes to move people into and out of developments across the North Bristol Arc and hopes his Transport Plan will focus national, regional and local government on where funding should be spent. You can follow Darren’s work on transport here.

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Darren visits Southmead, Sea Mills, Eastville and Horfield.

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another packed constituency diary.

On Friday 5th July, Darren visited the final event for the 100th birthday celebrations of Sea Mills with an afternoon tea party at Sea Mills Primary School. Darren also met the new leader of South Gloucestershire Council and talked about the need for joined-up cross border transport investment. This will become especially important as thousands of new homes and large-scale developments (including a potential arena) are progressed in the North Bristol Arc. Darren then met with SARSAS (Somerset Rape and Sexual Advice Service) to find out more about their work and how he can help make vulnerable people aware of their services.

On Saturday, Darren held a café politics at The Old Library in Eastville followed by Powered by You stalls in Horfield and at Southmead Festival.

Darren said:

“Friday was a wonderful summer afternoon for the Sea Mills Primary School afternoon tea party – the last event as part of the 100th birthday of the Sea Mills estate. It was  a privilege to chat to WWII vet Stan, who has lived in the area for 97 of the 100 years!

Saturday was another lovely day for café politics, followed by Powered by You street stalls in Horfield and at the Southmead Festival. I also got to see the new development plans for Arnside and Glencoyne Square in VR”.

                             

 

 

 

 

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Darren comments on Henleaze bank closure

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has expressed his concern about Lloyds’ decision to close the Henleaze branch from 1st October 2019.

Darren Jones MP said:

“I’ve just been made aware that the Lloyds Bank branch in Henleaze will be closing on 1st October. Whilst I understand the nearest Post Office is a short walk away, I know it’s a small branch and often very busy. Equally, the nearest Lloyds Bank branch will be at least a 15/20 minute walk or 10 minute walk and bus ride away.

This is far from ideal and will make offline banking very challenging for the customers, many of whom are elderly or have mobility issues, who rely on their local bank.

Lloyds have told me that the counters at Henleaze are 5% quieter than they were a year ago and roughly 308 customers use the branch on a regular monthly basis. Whilst it is inevitable, that as people move online, less people use their local bank, we need to ensure those that can’t bank online or don’t feel able to are supported and have access to local services.

I will be meeting with the team from Lloyds to discuss their decision asap.”

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Darren visits Southmead, Avonmouth business, Westbury, Henleaze and Horfield.

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another packed weekend. On Friday 22nd June, Darren visited a pop-up Great Get Together community event in Southmead, he then toured DS Smith in Avonmouth and hosted a pub politics at the Crafty Cow. On Saturday 23rd June, Darren hosted Powered by You stalls in Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze and then hosted his own Great Get Together Picnic in Horfield at the Ardagh Trust’s Café.

Darren said:

“It has been a busy 48 hours! On Friday, I visited an event in Southmead and toured DS Smith in Avonmouth to hear about their plans for improving recycling processes and re-using cardboard boxes within 14 days. I then hosted a Pub Politics at the Crafty Cow in Horfield and we chatted about 5g, buses, the proposed arena and local transport.

Then on Saturday, I held “Powered by You” street stalls in Westbury and Henleaze and then got to enjoy a couple of hours in the sunshine at the Ardagh Trust’s Café for my Great Get Together Picnic in honour of my colleague Jo Cox. Thanks to everyone who came along to any of these events and chatted about local or nationals issues”.