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Austerity and Public Services

I have been encouraged by how many constituents are actively engaged in the Bristol City Council Your Neighbourhood Consultation . Local events have been well attended with passionate views shared on the need to provide services that support residents across the city. The council needs to save £4.7million over the next three years, due to severe and ongoing cuts from central Government and the council’s legal requirement to set a balanced budget. The current proposals, which asked for views on libraries, school crossings, public toilets, Community Links and Neighbourhood Partnerships is of real concern to all of us. We all know the huge benefits that community facilities have, libraries in particular, in giving children and families access to learning and providing safe and free spaces for people of all ages to use and enjoy. I am also aware of the rising threat of social isolation and the role libraries have in supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. At the time of writing, I’m organising a libraries conference for representatives from each library in the area, alongside local campaign groups, to contribute to my own submission to the consultation. I am keen that as a group we work together to get the best deal for communities right across Bristol North West.

But it’s not just council services under threat. Southmead hospital, GP surgeries, children’s centres, schools, community and advice centres and so many more are crippling under the stress of Government cuts to public services. I’m busy meeting as many people and organisations as I can to see first-hand what this means to local people, and I’ll be raising this loudly in Parliament after Recess.

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Labour MP calls for local views on Childcare

With the imminent introduction of a major new government-funded childcare scheme, many parents have struggled to register on the Childcare Choices website. Darren Jones MP is launching a survey for Bristol North West’s parents and childcare providers to share their views and experiences on the scheme, and more generally on local childcare provision. With council children’s service budgets also facing unprecedented pressure, due to government funding cuts, Darren is also keen to hear from those working in this sector.

The new childcare schemes include tax-free childcare, launched in July, as well as 30 hours’ free term time childcare for all three- and four-year-olds, which launches in September.

Alongside the online technical issues, concerns have been raised about the need for parents to earn (on average) £120 per week, that free childcare is term time only and that childcare must be blocked booked. The policy has been criticised as being difficult to navigate for the many parents employed full time, year-round and especially for parents on flexible or zero hours contracts.

Childcare providers have also highlighted their concerns that the funding received from government does not realistically cover the costs of childcare and they are having to recoup costs in other ways or face closure.

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Darren Jones MP Meets New Regional Mayor

The newest of Bristol’s Members of Parliament, Darren Jones, has yesterday (7th August) met with the first West of England Combined Authority Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles.

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New Labour MP opens office in Westbury-on-Trym

The newest of Bristol’s Members of Parliament has opened his new constituency office in Westbury-on-Trym this week, with a new team of staff to help serve his constituents in Bristol North West.

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Darren calls on Housing Secretary to build more Council Houses in Bristol

Darren has called on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to build more council houses in Bristol. Read more

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Darren joins Super Saturday of Summer fairs across Bristol North West

Darren started his Super Saturday at Bristol Pride with Mayor Marvin Rees and MPs Thangam Debbonaire and Kerry McCarthy, before visiting summer fairs in Lockleaze, Horfield, Westbury Park and Lawrence Weston. Read more

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Darren Jones MP asks the government about improving libraries

Darren has written to the government about improving libraries. Turning them into Digital Community Hubs, which give users access to new technology for both research and enjoyment, could improve them for everyone.

Darren wrote:

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government plans to increase funding for public libraries to enable more libraries to become digital community hubs.

John Glen MP, a minister in that department, replied:

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has provided support for library authorities throughout England to deliver library services that are accessible, modern and meets local needs. This included funding a £2.6 million programme to support the installation or upgrade of wifi in public libraries in England; benefitting around 1,000 libraries, and enabling over 99% of public libraries to offer free wifi. In addition, DCMS financed the £3.9m Libraries: Opportunities for Everyone fund to support innovative library service activity to benefit disadvantaged people and places in England. Around 60% of the successful local authority applicants are using digital means to support delivery of their projects. The Government will continue to encourage local authorities to invest in libraries to ensure that they remain relevant and meet the needs of the community.

Agree with Darren? Follow everything he’s up to by clicking https://www.facebook.com/darrenjonesmp/?fref=ts.



Darren makes his Maiden Speech in Parliament

All new Members of Parliament make a “Maiden Speech” before they can fully start their work as an MP. Darren made his during the Queen’s Speech debate on Brexit. Read more

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Darren asks the Government to fund local libraries in Bristol

Darren has written to the Department of Culture, Media and Sports using his first written question as an MP to ask for support to keep libraries open in Bristol. Read more