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Success at getting fair redundancy payments for Avlon staff

Back in March 2019, Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, first wrote to the Government sharing his concerns about Avara’s Avlon site, and their 270 staff. The Avlon site is situated just outside Darren’s constituency. A number of constituents and their family members were employed at the site.

Avara Avlon Pharmaceutical Services Ltd, the company who now own the site, had become insolvent. Since that time it become clear, despite assurances when the company was sold 3 years ago by AstraZeneca, that staff would get above-statutory redundancy payments, which they had been contractually entitled to with AstraZeneca, only statutory redundancy payments were offered by Avara.

Darren has since written to the relevant government department (BEIS) and AstraZeneca, met with Unite union reps and former employees and raised this matter in Parliament on 11th July. Darren also applied for an Adjournment Debate with the Minister of 4 occasions (each attempt was unsuccessful) and worked with The Times to raise awareness of this gross unfairness. The Times have since ran several pieces on this matter this week.

Following these efforts, and those of former employees and Unite, Darren received for following statement from former owner, AstraZeneca:

Statement from AstraZeneca (17th July 2019):

We have decided to set aside funding of up to £12m, to be administered independently, to make sure our former employees at the Avlon site receive full severance should the ongoing administration of the site not generate enough funds to cover redundancy costs.

AstraZeneca remained closely involved in helping secure a future for the Avlon site following the sale to Avara, which was made in good faith in 2016. We have been engaged with the receivers since the company fell into administration. Last week, the deadline for bids for the site was reached and, since then, it has become apparent that there may not be sufficient funds to meet the redundancy costs of our former employees. 

Our success relies on the commitment and talent of our employees and our many partners in the UK and around the world who share our passion for science and for making a difference to the lives of patients.

Darren said:

“I’m delighted that after months of hard work from workers and unions, and my interventions with Astra Zeneca and the government, that workers are being paid the redundancy packages they deserve.

Whilst it should not have taken this level of intervention before employees got what they had been promised, I thank Astra Zeneca for listening, responding and making the right call.”

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Darren visits Horfield school and Bristol Pride.

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another packed constituency diary.

On Friday 12th July, Darren visited Horfield Primary School to meet with current years 6 students to talk about how Parliament works, Darren’s experiences of representing the area he was born, and grew up, in followed by a Q and A. Darren then held a constituency surgery in Southmead.

On Saturday, Darren joined the annual Bristol Pride march from Castle Park.

Darren said:

“It was lovely to lead the Bristol Pride march through Bristol today with the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Deputy Mayor Cllr Craig Cheney, Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, Kerry McCarthy MP and Thangam Debbonaire MP. There was a huge turn out with Avon Fire & Rescue Service leading the way and Avon and Sometset Police’s LGBT+ group helping us along. Well done to the team and volunteers at Bristol Pride for organising such a positive march and event to honour the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, which were seen as the birthplace of LGBT+ pride and activism”.

 

 

 

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Darren visits Southmead, Sea Mills, Eastville and Horfield.

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another packed constituency diary.

On Friday 5th July, Darren visited the final event for the 100th birthday celebrations of Sea Mills with an afternoon tea party at Sea Mills Primary School. Darren also met the new leader of South Gloucestershire Council and talked about the need for joined-up cross border transport investment. This will become especially important as thousands of new homes and large-scale developments (including a potential arena) are progressed in the North Bristol Arc. Darren then met with SARSAS (Somerset Rape and Sexual Advice Service) to find out more about their work and how he can help make vulnerable people aware of their services.

On Saturday, Darren held a café politics at The Old Library in Eastville followed by Powered by You stalls in Horfield and at Southmead Festival.

Darren said:

“Friday was a wonderful summer afternoon for the Sea Mills Primary School afternoon tea party – the last event as part of the 100th birthday of the Sea Mills estate. It was  a privilege to chat to WWII vet Stan, who has lived in the area for 97 of the 100 years!

Saturday was another lovely day for café politics, followed by Powered by You street stalls in Horfield and at the Southmead Festival. I also got to see the new development plans for Arnside and Glencoyne Square in VR”.

                             

 

 

 

 

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Darren comments on Henleaze bank closure

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has expressed his concern about Lloyds’ decision to close the Henleaze branch from 1st October 2019.

Darren Jones MP said:

“I’ve just been made aware that the Lloyds Bank branch in Henleaze will be closing on 1st October. Whilst I understand the nearest Post Office is a short walk away, I know it’s a small branch and often very busy. Equally, the nearest Lloyds Bank branch will be at least a 15/20 minute walk or 10 minute walk and bus ride away.

This is far from ideal and will make offline banking very challenging for the customers, many of whom are elderly or have mobility issues, who rely on their local bank.

Lloyds have told me that the counters at Henleaze are 5% quieter than they were a year ago and roughly 308 customers use the branch on a regular monthly basis. Whilst it is inevitable, that as people move online, less people use their local bank, we need to ensure those that can’t bank online or don’t feel able to are supported and have access to local services.

I will be meeting with the team from Lloyds to discuss their decision asap.”

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Darren visits Southmead, Avonmouth business, Westbury, Henleaze and Horfield.

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another packed weekend. On Friday 22nd June, Darren visited a pop-up Great Get Together community event in Southmead, he then toured DS Smith in Avonmouth and hosted a pub politics at the Crafty Cow. On Saturday 23rd June, Darren hosted Powered by You stalls in Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze and then hosted his own Great Get Together Picnic in Horfield at the Ardagh Trust’s Café.

Darren said:

“It has been a busy 48 hours! On Friday, I visited an event in Southmead and toured DS Smith in Avonmouth to hear about their plans for improving recycling processes and re-using cardboard boxes within 14 days. I then hosted a Pub Politics at the Crafty Cow in Horfield and we chatted about 5g, buses, the proposed arena and local transport.

Then on Saturday, I held “Powered by You” street stalls in Westbury and Henleaze and then got to enjoy a couple of hours in the sunshine at the Ardagh Trust’s Café for my Great Get Together Picnic in honour of my colleague Jo Cox. Thanks to everyone who came along to any of these events and chatted about local or nationals issues”.

                        

 

 

 

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Watch: Darren calls for new powers to tackle fly epidemic

It’s simply unacceptable that people living near industry in Avonmouth have to put up with a huge increase in flies whenever it warms up. In spite of attempts to tackle the problem at source, for instance by eliminating open-air waste facilities, it’s manifestly not enough. We have to give regulators like the Environment Agency real powers to take decisive action, as Darren argued on Points West this afternoon.

 

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Watch: Darren demands greater accountability in NHS procurement

For patients, NHS staff and other stakeholders, the arcane procurement process can be completely mystifying. In practice, this means less accountability and not enough certainty about the future of service provision locally and their livelihoods. As Darren argued in a Westminster Hall debate secured by Bristol South MP Karin Smyth this afternoon, the process needs to be made much simpler and more transparent.

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Darren calls for better support for young asylum seekers

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has signed a cross-party letter supporting calls young asylum seekers to get the same framework of care offered to young care leavers.

Darren said:

“I’ve signed a joint letter to the Home Secretary asking that he urgently review the health and well-being support available for young asylum seekers. I believe young asylum seekers, aged 18-25, should have the same framework of support we offer to care leavers of that age.

Aged 18, young people, who are likely to have no family in the country and may speak little English, may have witnessed or experienced trauma should not find they have no age-appropriate support. The government’s own Care Leavers Strategy acknowledges the difficulties faced by young adults leaving care, the struggle of independent living and the need for guidance, help and support that young people would usually receive from a parent or guardian. Young asylum seekers are no different.

That’s why, I’ve called for Youth Welfare Officers to be based in adult accommodation provided to young asylum seekers”.

                                                   

 

 

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Darren calls for support: Henbury Loop and new Lockleaze railway station

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has continued to call for wider investment into North Bristol’s infrastructure by writing to the Cabinet Lead for Transport at Bristol City Council. The letter came in advance of an important cabinet meeting (on 18th June) to discuss multiple transport projects across Bristol.

Darren said:

” I’ve written to the council’s Cabinet Lead for Transport, ahead of tonight’s cabinet meeting. It is vital we see support for the full Henbury Loop line (not just a spur), revisit the business case for a new station in Lockleaze and back wider transport investment in North Bristol. If we want to see improvement in congestion and air pollution, we must back a multi-function, hub-based approach as I have called for in my North Bristol Transport Plan“.

To follow Darren’s work on Transport and review his North Bristol Transport Plan click here.

 

 

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Darren visits Home for Veterans, opens Nursery in Lawrence Weston and The Old Library in Eastville

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, had another packed weekend. Darren joined the team from Alabare Christian Care and Support to tour their new Bristol Home for Veterans. Darren also opened the new nursery in Lawrence Weston and visited the community café at the Old Library in Eastville.

Darren said:

“It was wonderful to visit the Old Library in Eastville – the centre has a fantastic café, kids area and awesome outdoor space. Hats-off to the volunteers from Lockleaze, Eastville and the surrounding area for creating such a great community space. I hope all our libraries can become hubs for community activities and provide a wide variety of services alongside the traditional book-lending schemes.

 I was also delighted to officially open the Long Cross Nursery in Lawrence Weston, which is linked to Oasis Academy Long Cross. I have long campaigned for fully state-funded childcare  – funded nursery places for two year olds should be available for all. I’ll continue to call for that.

I was also pleased to meet the manager at the new Bristol Home for Veterans that will open in Bristol North West in a few weeks. It is vital, after their hard work and service, our veterans get the support and care they need. Alabare are working to support veterans, vulnerable and homeless people and I applaud their efforts. I do however feel the government could do much more to vulnerable support people – and a start would be by providing a proper welfare safety net, ceasing the damaging system of Universal Credit and funding our councils so they can provide effective and well-resourced services”.