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Darren supports Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s campaign for Orkambi

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his views on access to Orkambi for constituents with Cystic Fibrosis.

Darren said:

“ I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and I appreciate the strength of support for making Orkambi available on the NHS, this is demonstrated by an online petition signed by  113,000 people.

In July 2016, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded in its final guidance that Orkambi “could not be considered a cost-effective use of NHS resources” and subsequently did not recommend the drug for use on the NHS. I share the disappointment that will have been felt by many at this decision.

I understand that access to the drug Orkambi can extend the lives of 50% of the 10,400 people in the UK who currently live with CF, with this drug already available in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Greece and the United States.

The Government has welcomed dialogue between the pharmaceutical company, Vertex, and NHS England to agree a deal that would make Orkambi available to NHS patients. I know that the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has been working hard in pushing Vertex to put forward a substantive proposal to NHS England.

Parliament will hold a debate on access to Orkambi for people with CF on 19 March 2018. I will follow the debate closely and keep in mind the points my constituents have raised. In the meantime, I believe it is the responsibility of Ministers to facilitate the end of the deadlock between Vertex and NHS England so that people can access this vital drug and see their lives transformed.

At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged to tackle the growing problem of rationing of services and medicines across England. The manifesto also committed to ensuring that all NHS patients get fast access to the most effective new drugs and treatments, and to insist on value-for-money agreements with pharmaceutical companies”.

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Darren meets First Bus and presses for changes to route 76

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones met the Managing Director of First bus, James Freeman, on 9th March 2018 and pressed for changes to the 76 bus route. The route no longer stops at Henbury School and has also affected residents travelling to Southmead Hospital and Henbury’s local vets.

Darren also shared his concerns about the impact of rising fares, the two-tiered fare system recently introduced and the poor service of route 2 through Henleaze.

Darren said:

“ James was aware of my concerns about the changes made to the 76 route. I wrote to him in advance of Friday’s meeting to push for at least some of the original route to be reinstated and drop-off and pick-ups at Henbury School. Along with local councillors, I also launched a petition which has been signed by over 545 local residents. I am delighted to hear First will be reassessing the changes they made.

I’m also aware from Henleaze constituents that route 2 is also a cause for concern with many services cancelled or erratic in arrival time. I made James aware of those issues and asked that he investigate.

I also shared my thoughts on the two-tiered payment policies First have recently introduced – these require customers to pay 50p extra for day passes if payment is not made via an app. Many people are not able to use app-based systems – these people are likely to be some of Bristol North West’s (and the cities) most vulnerable residents – the very people often least able to pay the extra charge.

I am clear that for people to be encouraged out of cars and onto public transport the service must be accessible, affordable and reliable”.


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Darren calls for increased schools funding and continued free school meals

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has backed calls – ahead of today’s spring budget – for the government to rethink schools funding and changes to free school meals under Universal Credit.

New research by the school cuts coalition of unions (NEU, NAHT, ASCL, UNISON, GMB Union and Unite the union) shows that class sizes are rising in most schools in Bristol North West as a result of the Government’s cuts to education.

There is a particular problem in secondary schools because of a shortfall of £500m a year to funding for 11 – 16-year olds between 2015/16 and 2019/20, plus the deep cuts to sixth form funding (over 17% per pupil since 2010).

62% of secondary schools in England have increased the size of their classes in the last two years (2014/15 to 2016/17). In Bristol North West, secondary schools have an average of 1.2 more students in every class. The average income per pupil in Bristol North West’s secondary schools has also dropped from £5995 in 2015/16 to a forecast of £5247 in 2019/20.

Bristol North West’s primary schools are also not immune with average class sizes having risen by 0.6 pupils per class, this comes alongside 46% of primary schools seeing the pupil to teacher ratio decreasing, leaving pupils with less support.

Darren said:

“ These figures show that the Government is failing in its stated aim to even out the differences in education – 100% of secondary schools in Bristol North West have seen a decrease in the Teaching Assistant to pupil ratio, with 50% also seeing a drop-in pupil to Teacher ratio. 31% of secondary school students also currently access Free Schools Meals, which are at risk because of changes to Universal Credit – we can’t stand back and let these cuts happen – the impact they will have on our children and their families will last a lifetime. Children and young people only get one chance at school and college and we know that education cuts never heal.

As a country we should be investing in this, and future, generations of young people. I am continuing to call on the Government to urgently address the funding crisis, protect free school meals and not continue to ignore these very real problems. I will be writing to each Bristol North West school to ask how the lack of funding will continue to impact their staff and pupils – the government must understand once and for all that good quality education is a price worth paying”.

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Darren tours HMP Bristol and shares funding concerns

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones met the Governor of HMP Bristol, Steve Cross and toured the prison formerly known as HMP Horfield. HMP Bristol is in the constituency of Bristol West but prisoners from across the area are sent here to serve their sentences and many staff live in Bristol North West.

Darren said:

“ I found the visit extremely useful and would like to thank Steve, his team and some of the prisoners for meeting me. Prison services are under an incredible amount of pressure and HMP Bristol have faced, and continues to face, many high profile challenges. The facility itself is ageing and suffering from a lack of investment. Staffing numbers have been low whilst remaining staff have faced record levels of violence and the rising use of former legal highs such as Spice as well as more traditional drugs. I was therefore really pleased to hear that staff numbers have risen, investment is being made to the oldest parts of the prison, there’s a focus on education and skills training and use of drugs is declining. Given my role on the Science and Tech Committee, I was particularly keen to hear about the use of experimental technology to block the use of drones (which drop drugs) over the prison.

Whilst there has been improvements in other areas,  I was concerned to hear about the lack of support available to prisoners with acute mental health needs.  As beds in secure mental health units are in such demand prisoners often find it very difficult to access the right level of care and therefore remain in prison for lengthy periods. This is especially worrying given the 5 self-inflicted deaths at HMP Bristol during 2016 – the highest number on records since 1978.

The situation in this, and other, prisons  needs more focus from government. HMP Bristol staff are doing what they can within the resources they have –  government funding is sorely needed to improve the whole facility, provide swift access to adequate mental health support and ensure those employed as Prison Officers are paid fairly for the increasingly challenging job that they do. The government must listen to HMP staff and governors as well, as the prisoners and their families, and act on their concerns”.









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Darren holds debate on waiters and waitresses’ tips

Darren has recently been campaigning on the issue of what happens to tips left at restaurants, following Bristol activists and the Bristol Post raising the issue in relation to Aqua Italia. There, as well as at Turtle Bay, workers were made to pay a percentage of their table orders to restaurants, in case they received tips. This sometimes meant workers were forced to got to a cash-point to pay their employer, as they hadn’t made enough in tips.

You can watch Darren’s full speech in the debate below:

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Darren seeks views on “regulated corridor” in Avonmouth

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has supported new laws in Westminster that will give local councils powers to take stronger actions against offending companies. Darren is seeking the views of Avonmouth residents on his work, with the council, to introduce a “regulated corridor” in Avonmouth.

Darren said:

“I’ve been working with council colleagues on a “regulated corridor” between residential and industrial areas of Avonmouth. This would mean stricter planning obligations and higher scrutiny for new businesses setting up in the corridor. I was hoping to start delivering a leaflet and survey to Avonmouth residents this weekend but the snow has got in the way. Leaflets will go out soon but you can view the letter below and complete the survey online now“.








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Darren supports Asda worker’s pension campaign

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has written to the CEO of Asda, Roger Burnley, highlighting his concerns about proposed changes to non-salaried employees death in service and pension benefits.

Darren was made aware of the changes following contact from GMB union reps in his constituency. Many constituents in Bristol North West, who work at the Avonmouth depot as well as the large Asda Walmart at Cribbs Causeway, could be affected if the plans are implemented.

Darren said:

“ Workers rights and their terms and conditions must be protected – watering them down over time is not acceptable. I’ve made Asda’s CEO aware of my concerns about the changes they are planning to make. I hope they will re-think, engage with unions and maintain above legal minimum pension contributions for their hard working employees”.







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Darren meets Environment Agency

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones met the Environment Agency on 19th February to talk about reducing flood risk, harbouring tidal energy and regulating industry in Bristol North West.

Darren met the team at Kings Weston House which offers a vantage point across the west of the constituency, an area which will benefit from the Avonmouth Severnside Enterprise Area Ecology Mitigation and Flood Defence project. This project will deliver new flood defences along 17 kilometres of coastline and new wetland habitat at Hallen Marsh and Northwick.

Darren said:

“ I found the visit extremely useful and would like to thank the EA for meeting me. It was useful to meet at Kings Weston to allow the EA to talk through the projects which will benefit the parts of the constituency visible from the viewpoint. I was also pleased to take a tour to an EA-maintained structure and hear how these structure are used”.








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Darren joins North Bristol Beat Team for Friday night ride-along

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones joined the North Bristol Beat Team for a ride-along on February 17th.

Darren joined the officers from Avon and Somerset Police to see their typical Friday night and discuss how funding cuts have impacted the local police force.

Darren said:

“ I found the visit extremely useful and would like to thank the beat team for taking me out. The police do a fantastic job in really difficult circumstances. The never-ending cuts to local police budgets have had an impact on the service the police can deliver on the ground and I know my constituents are concerned about crime and ASB levels – that’s why I’ve written to the minister explaining the force is at a tipping point and needs more funding. I’ll keep championing proper police funding and the scrapping of the public sector pay cap so we ensure we pay our public servants properly for the incredible work they do – and they stay in the job.”

You can complete Darren’s Crime and ASB survey here.