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Bristol MPs call for pension fund to go fossil free

On the eve of an international summit on climate finance, Darren Jones, Kerry McCarthy, Thangam Debbonaire  and Karin Smith join over 100 MPs to call on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to drop investments in oil, coal and gas companies.

The four Bristol Labour MPs are among a cross-party group of over 100 MPs (1) who demand that their £612 million MPs’ Pension Fund removes its substantial holdings from fossil fuel companies to reflect their concerns about climate change. The fund currently holds a £5.6 million stake in BP and £4.9 million in Shell.

 

This week, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell became the 99th and 100th MPs to sign the Divest Parliament pledge (2). This milestone comes as 50 heads of state, including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, arrive in Paris for an international summit on climate change and finance.

MPs are responding to a rising call for divestment, with over 800 organisations and investors worth over $5 trillion having already committed to divest from fossil fuels (3).

In a joint statement, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, and the other MPs said:

“Two years on from the Paris agreement, and with the devastating impacts of climate change already apparent, there is no room for continued investment in companies whose business is incompatible with our climate obligations. It is vital that MPs show leadership on positive solutions to tackle climate change which benefit society and our constituents. We are therefore proud to support the call for our pension fund to divest from fossil fuels.”

Patrick Killoran  from the Divest Parliament campaign said:

‘ I’m deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change here and around the world. It’s great to see MPs listening to their constituents and showing political leadership on climate action.

Investing in companies such as BP and Shell, who continue to dig for more fossil fuels and lobby against climate policy to line executives’ pockets, is dangerous and wrong.

I hope more MPs will join those committing to Divest Parliament today, and prioritise concrete action to build a clean, fair energy system for all.”

Two years ago this week, the UK government joined nearly 200 nations in signing the Paris Agreement on climate change. To meet the commitment to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C, with the aspirational target of 1.5°C, scientists have warned the vast majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.

Yet, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) continues to invest millions of pounds of MPs’ savings in fossil fuel companies. Both BP and Shell are among the fund’s top 20 holdings – along with mining firm Rio Tinto, British American Tobacco and Amazon -which were made available for the first time in March 2017. The pension fund has to date been unwilling to make public the full list of its investments.

With the value of fossil fuel companies’ stock based on their entire fossil fuel reserves–not just the small percentage that can safely be burned–these investments are not only environmentally destructive, but represent a significant financial risk. Meanwhile, the industry continues to funnel billions every year to find and develop yet more fossil fuel reserves. Both BP and Shell have been involved in lobbying against climate solutions, and BP was identified at the top of a list of firms obstructing climate action in Europe (4).

The 100 pledges follow the efforts of thousands of citizens across the UK, who have written to and met with MPs from the across the political spectrum, urging them to demonstrate their commitment to protecting our society and shared environment from the risks associated with burning and investing in fossil fuels.

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MP visits annual Foodbank collection in Horfield

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones dropped-in to support volunteers and those donating at last weekend’s (2nd December) annual Foodbank #everycancounts collection.

Darren said:

“I stopped by North Bristol Foodbank’s annual collection in Tesco on Golden Hill in Horfield and it was heart-warming to see the generosity of shoppers and volunteers – over 2522kgs of donations were collected in three days. Whilst at the store, I met some of the Foodbank management and trustee team as well as new and experienced volunteers to find out more about the Foodbank’s work. Whilst I would prefer we lived in a country that did not require foodbanks, sadly more and more people are reliant upon them each year so it is good to see so many people supporting those in need”.

To find out more about North Bristol Foodbank please visit: https://northbristol.foodbank.org.uk/

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MP backs Small Business Saturday and visits Shirehampton Post Office

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones backed small businesses this weekend by taking part in the annual celebration of small, independent businesses by visiting Pickles and Poppets in Westbury-on- Trym.

Darren also visited Shirehampton Post Office in the run-up to the busy Christmas period. Darren met the team who have worked hard to ensure the Post Office  was back up and running as soon as possible after the previous office was significantly damaged following an attack on the building’s ATM machine.

As the post office team were making final preparations to make Christmas 2017 as easy as possible for their customers, Darren Jones MP was shown first-hand the wide range of services available for customers designed to take the stress out of the demanding festive season.

Darren said:

“I supported Small Business Saturday this weekend as these businesses, as well as our Post Offices, are the lifeblood of our communities. We need to support our family-run, independent and high street businesses, especially in the run-up to Christmas where there’s a temptation to shop online. To help you locate small businesses, the Small Business Saturday team have launched a new Apple and Android mobile app which has close to 30,000 small businesses listed all over the country. It is really easy to put in your location and find lots of small businesses near you to visit all year round”.

Following the visit to the Post Office Darren said:

“It was fantastic to meet the team and customers at Shirehampton Post Office, they provide such a valuable service to the local community. I am so impressed by their dedication and hard work and wish them every success during this busy period.”

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Darren calls on the government to support the Henbury Loop

Darren Jones has spoken in today’s (29th November) House of Commons Ministerial Rail Update to call for proper investment in the local rail network, specifically the Henbury Loop line. He called for funding to be secured for an independent study to ensure the longer-term delivery of the Loop.

Darren has also written to the West of England Combined Authority Mayor, Tim Bowles, to request that funding is allocated to progress an independent business study into the Henbury Loop.

The Henbury Loop line would join the existing Severn Beach line that runs from the Temple Meads through Clifton, Seamills, Shirehampton and Avonmouth to Severn Beach. The new loop would see new rail stations created in Henbury and the Horfield/Ashley Down area.

 

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MP backs Meningitis Now Campaign

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has signed up to promote meningitis awareness and vaccination take-up with GPs, following a Parliamentary reception organised last week by charity Meningitis Now.

The charity is campaigning to increase the take-up of the lifesaving Men ACWY vaccine, which is available free to school leavers aged 17 to 18 and first-time university students up to the age of 25. Take-up is currently around 33% and 1.5million young people are at risk.

Darren said:

“ The low uptake of the Men ACWY vaccine is very worrying, especially as we move towards the peak season for bacterial meningitis. I’ll be writing to local GP practices to urge them to do more to promote awareness and encourage young people to have the vaccination.

It is vitally important that students protect themselves with the Men ACWY vaccine and learn the signs and symptoms of the disease. It only takes a few minutes and it could save theirs or their friend’s life.

You can find out more about the symptoms and signs to look out for here“.

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MP responds to Council’s Library Consultation News

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has responded to the news that Bristol City Council has delayed a decision on library closures across Bristol until further research has been undertaken.

Darren said:

“I am pleased the council will be taking more time to review the best way forward for Bristol’s libraries.

Following the Libraries Conference I hosted in September, I wrote to the Mayor with feedback from groups representing Bristol North West libraries. We advocated for further time and research before any irreversible decisions were made. I am delighted further time has now been given to support a longer-term strategy.

The council are under enormous financial pressure to make savings however, libraries play such a vital role in our communities we must look to safeguard them for future generations”.

 

 

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Darren backs Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week, coordinated by the road safety charity Brake, is the UK’s leading event to promote safer road use. This year Road Safety Week focuses calls on all road users to “Speed Down” to help stop the five deaths that still happen every day on UK roads – and particularly to protect people cycling and walking.

Darren Jones, MP for bristol North West said:

“After the tragic loss of a pedestrian’s life on a Henbury road last weekend this year’s Road Safety Week feels very close to home. After years of consistent progress by Labour governments in reducing deaths and serious injuries, sharp increases in recent years have alarmed road safety experts and campaigners. Latest government figures show that in 2016 there was a 4% increase in the numbers of people killed on our roads, the highest level since 2011, and an 8.5% increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured. I am calling on the Government to end complacency on road safety and restore targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

The seemingly never-ending reduction in local authority funding has also severely impacted the council’s ability to introduce new road safety schemes or traffic calming measures on minor roads and estates. This is yet another knock-on effect of austerity politics.

With the announcement of £80million additional transport funding for the West of England region in yesterday’s budget, I will be continuing to push for a fully- integrated transport system across Bristol North West – one that makes public transport accessible and affordable and mitigates the gridlock we can expect from the thousands of new homes on the ‘northern fringe’ if proper action is not taken. “

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MP backs Universal Credit Reform Ahead of Budget

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, to make changes to Universal Credit in advance of tomorrow’s budget (22nd November).

Darren said:

“Universal Credit, as it stands, is a cruel and shambolic system forcing many into debt – it is coming to Bristol North West next year. The Child Poverty Action Group have advised in their new report ‘The Austerity Generation’ that working families stand to lose £930 a year on average from cuts in the tax credit system and £420 a year from cuts to Universal Credit – these are losses across the population, so the losses for tax credit and UC recipients would be much higher.

Families containing someone with a disability will be £300 a year worse off due to Universal Credit cuts; families containing someone with a severe disability will be £530 a year worse off.

I fully support the changes my colleague Debbie Abrahams has urged the Chancellor to adopt ahead of tomorrow’s budget. Austerity politics needs to get real before the country is unable to recover from the sustained impact on our most vulnerable”.

Amongst the changes backed by Darren include a significant reduction in the waiting period before claimants are awarded benefit, reconsideration of the payment of fortnightly benefits (rather than monthly), easier housing payments direct to landlords and  income level measurement for the self-employed.

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MP encourages applications to Gigabit Broadband Scheme

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging Bristol’s small and medium-sized businesses (as well as local residents) to apply for funding available through a new Government broadband scheme.

Businesses may be able to get a grant of up to £3,000 to upgrade business broadband to a Gigabit-capable connection. This is through a Gigabit Voucher Scheme which will provide vouchers to support the capital costs of getting new gigabit-capable connections for businesses. There are also vouchers worth up to £500 available to connect homes in Bristol.

You can find out more by visiting Connecting Bristol. 

Darren said:

“Slow and patchy broadband is a real problem for many residents and businesses here in Bristol North West – it is holding back some local businesses as so much time is wasted on slow connections. This scheme won’t solve the wide-spread issues the UK has with broadband speeds but it is a step in the right direction and I welcome the DCMS’s investment. I urge businesses and residents interested in getting super-fast gigabit broadband to apply for the funding available to this area”.

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MP hosts Pub Politics in Westbury-on-Trym

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones hosted his second ‘Pub Politics’ at The White Lion in Westbury-on-Trym on Friday 10th November.

Darren heard from constituents who shared their views on policy issues including Brexit and more local issues such as concerns about crime and cuts to public services.

Darren said:

“It was fantastic to talk to a variety of constituents at my second pub politics, after the first was held in Horfield in September (picture below). This get-together was well attended and informal so people feel comfortable having a chat about both national and local issues. Due to Christmas and New Year festivities, the next Pub Politics will be held in mid-January. I also host Cafe Politics sessions for those who prefer to chat over a coffee in a more family-friendly environment, the next will be held on the morning of 2nd December in Avonmouth with venue information to follow soon.”

All of Darren’s events are promoted on this website and Darren’s Facebook page. Key events are also featured in the monthly e-newsletters which you can sign-up to here.