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Darren hosts school debate on energy drinks and social media use for Parliament Week

To celebrate Parliament Week 2018, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, chaired a debate with students, parents and teaching staff at Oasis Brightstowe in Shirehampton on Friday 15th November.

As both the local MP and a member of the Science and Technology Committee, Darren Jones MP met students, parents and teaching staff at the Shirehampton school to discuss the government’s consultation on energy drinks which includes options to ban the sale of said drinks to either those under 18 or all under 16’s. The debate also included discussion on the impact of screen time and social media use on young people – a subject the committee has also investigated.

Darren has previously shared his concerns about the advertisement and marketing of energy drinks and health impacts on young people and urged for tighter restrictions on their sale.

Following the committee’s inquiry into energy drinks, Darren launched a constituency-wide survey to gather feedback on the government’s proposals. The survey showed 89% of respondents agreed with banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16’s, 80% believed only those over 18 should be allowed to purchase energy drinks. There was also overwhelming support (93%) for tighter regulation on the advertisement of energy drinks with 90% of constituents undertaking the survey feeling cigarette-style health warnings should be prominently displayed on packaging.

One anonymous constituent who works with children with SEN said “Children often miss meals, lose out on sleep (due to social media and gaming) and make poor dietary choices. Energy drinks have a massive impact on all children, but for those who are medicated for conditions such as ADHD it has a hugely detrimental effect. Although these drinks are banned in school, many children drink them on their way to school as they believe it will help them focus. This is especially true during exams.”

Darren said:

“  I would like to thank everyone who completed my survey on energy drinks and attended today’s debate at Oasis Brightstowe. Whilst I have my own views and experiences of energy drinks and social media use, it is vital I hear from a wide range of people, so I can best represent their views – especially those of young people themselves.

Prior to the government’s consultation, I called for a detailed investigation on the health impact of these sugary, caffeine-filled drinks and urged for closer regulation of their sale and advertising. It’s clear people in Bristol North West share my concerns as did the young people I spoke with today – I continue to urge the government to bring a bill before parliament that restricts the sale of these drinks to those under 16”.

Darren added

“We also discussed social media use and the impact of screen time – with some of the students saying they spend around three hours a day on their phone and with all of the students having a phone by aged 12 clearly impact of ‘prolonged phone time’ needs more investigation. Interestingly, all the students and parents were supportive of the school’s ban on phones throughout the day to help support learning and ensure the school was a cyber-bullying free space.

At committee meetings, I’ve asked experts what affect social media and screen use have on young people’s health and it’s clear whilst most experts agree there is an impact on concentration, body image and self-confidence, we don’t know enough and technology is continuing to outpace the government’s regulation of the sector. I will continue to seek greater funding for cyber-policing, research and enforcement of online regulation to ensure our young people and all our data is safe”.

 

 

 

 

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Darren updates The Mead on Southmead news and Twenty Acres walk around.

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, recently took part in a litter pick and estate inspection with local councillors Helen Godwin and Brenda Massey in the Twenty Acres area of Southmead.

Darren said:

“I recently joined local councillors Helen Godwin and Brenda Massey on a walk around and litter pick on Twenty Acres. Residents are facing several issues including poor quality pavements, blocked drains, broken fencing, high levels of fly tipping and a real sense their concerns are not being heard. Repairs undertaken have not been to the standard residents and I would hope for. Amazingly, it seems that lots of the paths in that area are still owned by the builder who built them in the 1970s (but we don’t know where he is or even if he’s still alive!).

So since that meeting Brenda, Helen and I have each followed up with the relevant council departments and asked for action to be taken. I’m hoping we can sort out the ownership of the paths as our first priority, but there has also been talk of setting up a ‘Twenty Acres Action Team’. If you live in the area I’d encourage you to get involved”.

Following that walk around, and news of progress regarding new homes on the former Dunmail site, Darren updated local residents with a letter to The Mead.

 

 

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Darren signs Bristol’s Equality Charter

Prior to launch on 12th November 2018, Member of Parliament for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed Bristol’s inaugural Equality Charter as one of the first signatories. The Bristol Equality Charter is a city-wide initiative co-designed by private, public and voluntary sector organisations, committed to improving equality of opportunity for everyone in Bristol and to eliminating discrimination in all its forms.

BRISTOL EQUALITY CHARTER

Bristol is a vibrant city with a growing diverse population. We share an ambition to create a fairer, safer, accessible and inclusive city where everyone feels they belong, has a voice and an equal opportunity to succeed and thrive.

Darren Jones MP is committed to making a real difference by:

1. Making Bristol a welcoming city where everyone feels they belong.

2. Inspiring trust and confidence in all the city has to offer.

3. Recognising, valuing and celebrating diversity.

4. Building good relations and understanding between people.

5. Promoting inclusion, participation and equal access.

6. Challenging discrimination, harassment, bullying, hate crime and victimisation.

As an organisation the office of Darren Jones MP will:

1. Recognise, support and empower those responsible for promoting equality in our organisation.

2. Listen to and understand the diverse needs of all people to make our information, services and products more accessible and inclusive.

3. Review the diversity of our workforce in order to identify areas for improvement and set ourselves equality goals.

4. Ensure that equal opportunities are integral to how we recruit and treat our workforce.

5. Address all allegations of discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation in an effective and timely manner.

6. Play our part in promoting good relations between people from different backgrounds.

7. Share good equality practice and improve outcomes for all those living, working, studying in or visiting Bristol.

8. Measure and share our progress and success.

Darren said:

“ I couldn’t be at today’s (12th November) launch event as I am back in Westminster but I’m proud to be supporting the city’s inaugural Equality Charter.

I am wholly committed to the charter’s values of equality, diversity and inclusion and I will ensure they are reflected in both my parliamentary work and the work I do to champion my constituent’s voices here in Bristol.

Bristol is a diverse, vibrant city and one in which everyone should be safe, included and heard. We know there is still much more to do to ensure we have an equal society nationally and locally – that’s why this charter, led by Bristol City Council‘s Deputy Mayor Councillor Asher Craig, is a step in the right direction.

I’ll continue to promote democratic inclusion, participation and equal access at every opportunity”.

 

 

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MP comments on WASPI pension poverty

Following concerns that women affected by the government’s acceleration of pension changes are facing rising poverty, Darren Jones MP shared his views on the so-called WASPI campaign.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Many women had just 18 months notice of the extension of their pension age, whilst some were given inaccurate information by government departments when the government chose to accelerate pension equality. Others won’t ever get full pension because of career breaks decades ago when they were raising children or working part time.

Nobody in the WASPI campaign disputes pension age equality but how this has been handled and the hardship it has caused many is totally unacceptable. I continue to support the WASPI campaign and the women in my constituency affected by this shambolic decision”.

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Darren congratulates National Express on Living Wage Accreditation

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, met with National Express last week (2nd November) following their accreditation by the Living Wage Foundation as part of Living Wage Week (5th to 9th November).

National Express will be rolling out the real Living Wage rates across all of their UK businesses, including staff based at Bristol Coach Station in Marlborough Street. It makes National Express the largest private sector employer in UK public transport to be officially recognised by the Foundation. The move will benefit more than 240 employees, most of whom work in the UK Coach business. The voluntary rise was put in place in January 2018 and has increased pay for roles including customer service advisors, drivers, apprentice engineers and cleaners to at least £8.75 an hour (£10.20 in London), higher than the statutory Living Wage of £7.38 for under 25s and £7.83 for over 25s.

As well as pledging to pay its UK staff the real Living Wage, National Express has ensured all agency and contracted staff are included in this increase and is working with its partner operators to ensure their employees are also paid the real Living Wage by 2020.

Darren said:

” This is a huge step in the right direction and one which National Express should be rightly proud of. Since being elected as MP for Bristol North West in June last year, I have made it a top priority to campaign for fair terms and conditions for employees and that employees are paid a wage they can live on. It is therefore fantastic to see National Express becoming the largest private sector employer to offer all staff the higher real living wage.

I also welcome their commitment to ensuring this is adopted by other companies it works with – too many companies don’t properly investigate unethical working practises within their supply chain so National Express are throwing down a challenge to other businesses to up their game. I hope to see an end to unethical working practises in Bristol, and beyond – this accreditation supports those endeavours”.

 

 

 

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MP welcomes news of Channel 4 Creative Hub

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has welcomed news that Channel 4 will be locating a Creative Hub in Bristol.

Darren Jones MP said:

“It is fantastic to hear Bristol will be the home of Channel 4’s Creative Hub! This is testament to the hard work of the bid team led by Mayor Marvin Rees at Bristol City Council and the city’s ability to lead the way in innovation, tech and creative industries.

Channel 4 will help to build on the city’s thriving television production sector, which has world-renowned factual producers and also has strengths in areas such as animation and digital production.

Locating in Bristol will also enable Channel 4 to work closely in partnership with Cardiff and its production sector – with the opportunity to further accelerate the growth of the creative cluster around South West England and South Wales – and also connect with indies across the West of England.

Bristol also impressed by putting forward exciting proposals to establish new social mobility initiatives to work with diverse communities across the city and bring through new talent into the industry. I can’t wait to help welcome Channel 4 to this great city of ours“.

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MP comments on YardArts Planning Application.

Following the constituent survey and public meeting held earlier this year, MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has submitted his comments on YardArts’ Planning Application for the Fairways site off Penpole Lane, Shirehampton.

 

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Darren asks Minister about ‘sex for rent’ scandal

Darren Jones MP has received a response to his Written Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Justice following the BBC Inside Out West’s undercover investigation into ‘sex for rent’ in Bristol.

Darren Jones MP said:

” I was disgusted by the findings of BBC Inside Out West‘s excellent undercover investigation and followed up with a Written Question to the Secretary of State for Justice. I asked how many convictions there have been under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, in relation to arrangements where sex has been requested in return for accommodation in the City of Bristol.

I was advised: ‘It is not possible to identify from centrally held data the number of offenders convicted for arrangements where sex had been requested in return for accommodation in Bristol under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, as this particular offence cannot be disaggregated from the broader offence of ‘sexual offences’. Additionally, any data held at a court level refers to where the defendant was dealt with rather than where the offence was committed’.

We know this is an emerging and growing problem as rents continue to rise, there is lack of housing, wages stagnate and people have to wait weeks for Universal Credit claims to be processed. It is therefore wholly inadequate that there is no centrally held data about this specific form of abuse and the government don’t know what scale it is being committed“.

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Darren joins Unison’s call for boost in council funding

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has signed a cross-party letter,  coordinated by trade union Unison calling on the Chancellor to boost funding for councils in England.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Our council are facing unprecedented cuts during a time of rapidly rising demand for adult social care services, child safeguarding referrals and support for children with Special Educational Needs. We all know people feel upset when they see local services closing but in reality councils can only do so much with the shrinking money and staff they have available. Since 2010, 220,000 local government staff have been made redundant and more posts have been removed or left unfilled and there’s been a 49% drop in funding. We are fortunate thanks to our Labour council’s efforts that libraries were saved from closure and they have protected as many services for the vulnerable as possible but with adequate funding they could achieve far more.

We now have even loyal Conservative council leaders calling for the broken funding system to be urgently reviewed before people suffer  – change is urgently needed and can be delayed no longer. I hope to see a significant boost to council funding in the Chancellor’s Budget on Monday (29th October) anything else will only lead to greater suffering in our communities”.