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Darren visits St Monica Trust Retirement Home

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, recently met with residents from St Monica Trust Retirement Home on Cote Lane.

Darren said:

“It was great to meet residents of the St Monica Trust Retirement Home on Cote Lane recently. I was asked to give a talk about how I came into politics, getting elected and my first year in this rather unusual ‘Brexit Parliament’ which also happened to include becoming a dad.

We also chatted about my work to champion Bristol North West and how we can end the scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery in Bristol.

I also got to hear about the renovations being undertaken to the chapel from the Reverend Alan Cook and hear about resident’s concerns and hopes for the future”.

If your Bristol North West-based group would like Darren to give a talk or do a Q and A, please send the request to his office via: darren.jones.mp@parliament.uk. Darren’s diary is pretty busy but we’ll do our best to find a suitable date and time.

 

 

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MP calls on Chancellor to protect income under Universal Credit

Ahead of the forthcoming Autumn Budget, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones has called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise that no benefit claimant would suffer financial hardship, or receive less income, under Universal Credit.

This is not the first time Darren has spoken out – he also called on the Chancellor in last year’s budget to make changes to the scheme and ensure families were not facing debt because of Universal Credit. Darren also pushed for a delay to the roll-out of Universal Credit for new claimants in October last year – at that time Darren called for “the multiple flaws in the system to be sorted out or the roll-out must be put on hold”.

Whilst the government made a number of small improvements to Universal Credit for new claimants, the so-called ‘managed migration’ of hundreds of thousands of existing claimants of 6 benefit groups (including ESA, Child Tax Credit and Income Support) has continued to cause widespread concern.

Ahead of the budget, 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!

It seems from today’s (16th October 0218) leaked reports, the government are considering delaying movement of 6 groups of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit until at least next summer (rather than January) with most moving in 2020.

They are also considering supporting people on ESA, Job Seekers and Income support for 2 extra weeks whilst their Universal Credit claim is sorted along with better help for the self-employed, whose income fluctuates. It’s a disgrace that the same cover period won’t be considered for child tax credits – which are provided to low-income, often lone, working parents – because DWP and HMRC systems can’t be integrated! A similar ‘cover policy’ for those on Housing Benefit was only introduced last year after people started losing their homes because claims were often taking in excess of 6 weeks to assess.

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 over a year. The government must keep its initial pledge that no-one should be worse-off by moving to Universal Credit. I call upon the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to keep that promise.

On a more practical level, once that promise has been kept, until the DWP has enough trained staff and working IT systems to move people across quickly and correctly, migration should be delayed indefinitely”.

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Darren backs need for investment in complex police investigations

Darren Jones MP has backed calls from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, for the government to review the Police Allocation Formula (PAF) (which assesses the funding each police force receives from government) alongside the total funding set aside by central government for policing. Continued calls for the PAF to reconsidered come after the force has advised it faces an operational delivery gap of £15m by 2020/21 due to the rising levels of complex crime (which take more police time to investigate) including domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and child abuse. The gap equates to 300 police officers.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Avon and Somerset Constabulary are clear that to meet rising demand for complex criminal investigations they will incur an operational gap of £15m from 2020/2021. That’s the equivalent of 300 extra police officers needed to ensure complex crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and child abuse are investigated properly.

Investigating these crimes, and other complex cases, are not negotiable. Therefore, the way money is divided between police forces, and the total government funding available to all forces, must be urgently re-considered. We can’t keep propping up our vital public services by adding a few pounds to council tax whilst cuts are made elsewhere – a longer-term and sustainable solution is needed. I’ll be tabling a Parliamentary Question asking government what assessment they have made to ensure the current formula is fair and what date their long-awaited review will be published”.

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Darren slams government changes to electric car incentives

Darren Jones MP has slammed the government’s removal of financial incentives to purchase plug-in hybrids and electric cars.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Firstly, the government should be ploughing far more investment into public transport and cycle networks to get people out of their cars and reduce air pollution. But, if people are going to drive (and in some places it’s currently a necessity because of the lack of integrated public transport) there should be continued incentives to buy a electric or plug-in hybrid car.

The RAC and AA motoring groups have said removing these incentives is a backward step, and the SMMT trade body called it “astounding” – I agree!

I’m all for incentivising other types of environmentally-friendly vehicles but that should not come at the expense of electric and hybrid cars! If the government is serious about meeting its emission targets and getting diesel and petrol cars off our roads by 2050 (at the latest), it must continue to fund incentives that support that endeavour. I’ll be tabling a Parliamentary Question to ask what assessment the government made reference the impact of this policy change before announcing this decision”.

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Darren backs ban on fur imports

Darren Jones MP is proudly supporting the Open Cages and Humane Society International’s campaign to ban the importing of real fur to the UK.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Animal welfare is of real concern to me – especially where cruelty is so totally unnecessary. That’s the case with the use of real fur and it’s one reason why I back a #FurFreeBritain and a ban on the importing of real fur to the UK.

Whilst, thankfully, fur farms are banned in the UK, we know that most of the countries that supply the UK with fur products have low animal welfare standards.

It has also come to light that some of the products being marketed as fake fur actually contain real fur and people are being duped into buying something many would not knowingly purchase – that’s totally unacceptable and companies selling these products must be held to account”.

 

 

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Darren visits Southmead Hospital Charity

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, recently visited the team at Southmead Hospital Charity.

Darren got to try his hand at robotic surgery in a urology theatre and also spent some time on the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at Southmead Hospital.

He also found out more about Southmead Hospital Charity’s Prostate Cancer Care Appeal to purchase two surgical robots to treat prostate and other urological cancers. Darren met consultant urological surgeon Anthony Koupparis and used a demonstration version of the Intuitive Da Vinci robot to gain some insight into how the new technology is fighting prostate cancer.  The robot was recently purchased as part of the first wave of the Charity’s Prostate Cancer Care Appeal – with a further surgical robot to be fundraised for to extend robotic surgery to other urological cancers.

Darren then went to NICU where he met staff, parents and their babies being cared for on the unit to find out more about recent projects and equipment funded by Southmead Hospital Charity.  He visited the Charity’s family sensory room in NICU which is an important space for families to interact with their babies and which includes sensory equipment key to their development. He also found out about a new project to help parents prepare to take their babies home by enabling them to get used to administering medication themselves.

Elizabeth Bond, head of fundraising at Southmead Hospital Charity, said:

“It was a real pleasure to welcome Mr Jones to the hospital and talk to him about the work of the Charity and show him how we have made a real impact on patient care at North Bristol NHS Trust. As the MP that serves the constituency within which we are based, it’s so important for us to engage with our stakeholders and wider community to show the difference we are making thanks to our donors and fundraisers.”

Darren said:

” I would like to sincerely thank all the team and volunteers at Southmead Hospital Charity for hosting my visit and more importantly, the excellent work they do in supporting our local hospital. The funds they raise are helping to bring the very latest tech and innovation to patients at Southmead alongside the more traditional, but crucial items, such as their new ambulance. I’ll continue to back their life-saving and vital campaigns and encourage others to do the same”.

To find out more and donate to Southmead Hospital Charity please click here.

 

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Darren calls for an end to dog fighting

Darren Jones MP is proudly supporting the League Against Cruel Sports local campaign to end dog fighting.

The League is distributing 12,000 leaflets around Bristol in a bid to get more information on dog fighting in the city and to highlight the issue.

The appeal, backed by Darren, is being made by the League which held an event on the issue recently and received information that raised suspicions that dog fighting was taking place in the city.

The information came from a range of reputable sources including a vet who had noticed an increase in dogs visiting her surgery with injuries consistent with dog fighting, plus a report from a teacher in a Bristol school.

Dogs forced into fighting suffer terrible injuries both during the fights and at the hands of their vicious ‘owners’.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove recently announced plans to extend prison sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years.

The League has produced factsheets for vets and the police explaining how to spot the signs of dog fighting. Dog fights can take place behind closed doors but also in public areas such as in parks. Signs that dog fighting might be taking place include:

  • Dogs with multiple scars in various stages of healing
  • People subjecting their dogs to extreme exercise regimes to build muscle and stamina
  • The dogs are usually kept out of sight in poor quality housing such as sheds and outbuildings
  • You might see people behaving suspiciously as multiple dogs are brought into a single location
  • You may hear sounds from the fights; dogs barking, yelping, as well as people shouting and cheering

Members of the public can contact the confidential League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch reporting service by calling 01483 361108, email crimewatch@league.org.uk or visit the website.

Darren Jones MP said:

 

 

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Darren shares response from council on Iron Bridge closure

A number of constituents have contacted Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, about the continued closure of the Iron Bridge in Shirehampton following damage caused by a lorry hitting the historic bridge back in November 2015.

Following these concerns, Darren attended a ‘Save the Iron Bridge’ event in January to support the concerns of residents and since site inspections were undertaken in April 2018, has contacted Bristol City Council to ask for an update.

Darren said:

“I know many of you, like I am, are rightly concerned about the continued closure of the Iron Bridge. The bridge is an iconic and vital connection between Kingsweston and Blaise Castle Estates and I have been in touch with your local councillor, Don Alexander, who is continuing to champion this issue at the council.

We’ve been advised by cabinet lead, Councillor Mhairi Threlfall, that since the inspections undertaken earlier this year, the council has now drawn together the works information required for bridge dismantling and removal, as well as the information to support a Listed Consent Application to enable these works to take place. A Heritage Statement is now required as part of the Listed Consent Application and that’s expected in late September. Planning permission is then required alongside a tender process to select the company who’ll undertake the works.

Based on these steps, Councillor Threlfall has advised she would expect the council to be able to undertake the required site works early in the next financial year“. 

 

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Darren visits Great Western Air Ambulance Charity

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West recently visited the Filton base of the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC). Darren visited to find out more  about the work that GWAAC carry out, and their Buy our Base appeal; an appeal to the public to help them buy a new air base which is currently being constructed in Almondsbury.

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity provide the Critical Care and air ambulance service for 2.1 million people across the counties of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, North Somerset and surrounding areas. Their crew attend the most critical incidents across the region by helicopter or by one of their two Critical Care cars.

Their current air base in Filton is one of the oldest in the country, and unfortunately is no longer meeting the needs of the increasingly busy service. Added to this, the entire site is set to be re-developed, and will no longer be able to host the service. GWAAC now have the opportunity to buy the new base once it’s completed thus providing GWAAC with stability for the foreseeable future. The charity needs to raise £1.25million to buy the base.

The GWAAC Critical Care team consists of a highly trained and experienced Pilot, Critical Care Paramedic and Critical Care Doctor. From emergency blood transfusions to roadside amputations or treating cardiac arrests, our crew specialise in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine and Trauma Medicine, bringing the skills and expertise of an Accident and Emergency Department to the patient.

Darren said:

“I was shown around the Filton air base and introduced to the Critical Care Doctors and Specialist Paramedics and learned about how GWAAC supports the local community with their life-saving service.

I would like to thank all the team and volunteers at Great Western Air Ambulance Charity for hosting my visit and their consistent hard work and dedication. I wish the team’s ‘Buy our Base’ campaign every success – I have no doubt that there are constituents of mine alive today because of the hard work, skills and knowledge of the Air Ambulance Charity. But to continue this excellent and live-saving work, they need stability – I urge anyone who can to, to donate to their fantastic appeal”.

To find out more and donate to the ‘Buy our Base’ appeal visit: www.buyourbase.co.uk

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Survey: sale of energy drinks to young people

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has launched a survey on the sale of energy drinks to young people.

Darren said:

“I’m a member of the cross-party Science and Tech Committee and in recent months we have undertaken an inquiry on the impact on health, particularly in children and young people,  of energy drinks. During committee meetings, I have raised my concerns about the sale of energy drinks and how they are advertised to young people.

The government has now launched a consultation on the potential banning of the sale of energy drinks to those under 18. They have suggested a ban could focus on under 16’s or under 18’s. The ban would apply to drinks containing 150mg of caffeine or more per litre – this would include drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star.

Ahead of a visit to Oasis Brightstowe Academy in November – where I’ll discuss energy drink usage with pupils, teaching staff and parents – I am keen to hear your views and experiences on the sale, advertising and use of energy drinks.

I encourage young people, their parents/guardians, education and youth services providers to share their thoughts”.

Please complete the survey by clicking here.