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Darren plants tree saplings at Oasis Academy Long Cross

As part of his mission to visit every school in Bristol North West, Darren Jones MP has visited Oasis Academy Long Cross in Lawrence Weston to meet staff and students and take part in a tree sapling planting for Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

Five trees were donated to Darren Jones MP thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s and ITV.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable,

ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life,

iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

Darren said after the visit:

“I have planted 5 tree saplings – two silver birch, two rowan, and a hazel today (30th November) alongside students from Oasis Academy Long Cross in Lawrence Weston. I grew up in Lawrence Weston, and attended the former guise of this school so it is particularly special for me to visit as the local MP. I have chosen to plant my saplings at a local school as I think it’s vital that children and young people get to experience planting and nurturing trees and plants first-hand.

It’s great all four Bristol MPs took part and there will be 20 new hazel, silver birch and rowan trees across the city thanks to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project. As part of my visit, I also got to speak to students, school leaders and teaching staff which is always really inspirational but also worrying as I hear first-hand the impact austerity politics and cuts have had on staff and the services they can deliver. I will continue to call for proper and fair school funding – education can not be done ‘on the cheap'”.

Woodland Trust Chief Executive, Beccy Speight said:

“We are delighted so many MPs have decided to join us in our bid to plant trees as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. We all need trees. They are a cornerstone of our landscape and countryside, forming an essential and cherished part of our cultural identity. They are crucial in improving soil health and water quality, reducing carbon, trapping pollutants, slowing the flow of flood water, sheltering livestock, providing a home for wildlife or a space for us to breathe. I hope the residents of Bristol North West will enjoy watching them flourish as part of this wonderful legacy initiative.”

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.

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Darren updates on Stoke Lodge Fence

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his concerns with Bristol City Council following recent news reports that a fence at Stoke Lodge will not require the council’s consent and that the school plans to progress these works imminently.

Darren has been working closely with key community leaders and local councillors and has previously written to residents, the council and Cotham School about Stoke Lodge alongside chairing several meetings (designed to broker a compromise so both the community and the school can use the site) over the summer.

Darren also met local residents, and separately with staff from Cotham School, to discuss the school’s use of Stoke Lodge green space which (the school propose) would include the erection of a fence, alongside a new changing room/ pavilion building.

Darren said:

“Alongside members of the local community and councillors, I have shared my concerns with the council regards the article published in the Bristol Post on Friday 30th November 2018.

This information came as a total surprise to members of the community (as well as myself and local councillors) who had met with council staff that day to discuss their on-going concerns about the site.

I have just been advised by the council’s Director – Legal and Democratic Services this situation has been escalated to the council’s planning team with a response expected this week – I will update on this matter as soon as possible.

I would like to take the opportunity to advise, I will continue to do what I can to support the community. Equally, I would like to thank those residents who attended my Mince Pie Politics coffee morning in Stoke Bishop on Saturday morning to discuss their concerns with me”.

 

 

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Darren shares concerns about Portway Park and Ride

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has shared updates on the First Bus service that runs from the Portway Park and Ride to the city centre following complaints from constituents.

Darren said:

“Buses are fast becoming one of the key issues in my inbox. The West of England Combined Authority Mayor, Tim Bowles, (who is responsible for regional transport strategy and funding) has pledged to review the region’s bus services in the New Year, so I recommend constituents share their concerns and experiences with him, as well as First, so they can be fed-in to the consultation. I say this because, I don’t want any of the issues my constituents are facing on a daily basis to be forgot or drop down the agenda.

In the meantime, I shared some feedback on behalf so users of the Portway (902) Park and Ride Service, here is First’s reply:
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As the Manager responsible for the operation of service 902 may I firstly offer my sincerest apologies for the poor customer service that the constituent refers to within your email. It is essential that we receive feedback from our customers whether this be of a positive or negative nature so that we can make continued improvements to not just our service but into how we train our driving staff.

There is no doubt that there a some area of improvements that are required to the punctuality of service 902 with the month of September showing punctuality performing below the 95% expected journey levels at 88% with the remaining journeys 12% operating behind schedule.

Although we always aim to be 100% on time, some of the journeys mentioned within the email fall within the Traffic commissioners guidelines of no more than 5 minutes behind schedule.

As you will be able to appreciate the delayed works at Temple Meads is having a negative impact on not just the 902 service but a wider number of service throughout the Bristol area.

The journey that is mentioned where by the an empty bus returning to depot had passed was as a result of a defect with the vehicle on route to the P&Ride site which needed a mechanics attention, although it was safe to return to depot it would not have been suitable to use in service at the time.

We have a member of staff who is employed to regulate all the Park&Ride service and we have made the 902 his priority at the moment due to the impact of the Severn Beach line closure and the impact this is having on additional traffic and customers.

As a customer service provider we expect our staff to put the customer at the heart of everything that they do and clearly those standards on this occasion fell short of expectation.
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I know I said this about the 3 and 4 services last week, but I do hope bus riders start to see some improvements soon – especially as the price of day rider ticket purchased on the bus has now jumped again to £5. If constituents don’t see improvements- I strongly encourage them to send complaints to First and the Regional Mayor and be sure to copy me in so I can keep a track of what’s going on locally”.

To follow Darren’s work on Transport click here.

 

 

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Darren demands stop to Universal Credit roll-out

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed a letter, alongside all South West Labour MPs, calling on Amber Rudd the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to stop the roll-out of Universal Credit and for immediate measure to be put in place to reverse the hardships it has caused.

This follow’s Darren’s extensive work on Universal Credit:

Darren first called for a delay to the roll out to new benefit claimants in October 2017. Universal Credit was, at that time, due to be rolled-out from Horfield and Shirehampton Job Centres in May 2018 (this was delayed until September 2018 with some additional funding in place).

Darren also backed large-scale changes to the full migration of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit in advance of the 2017 Autumn Budget and in advance of the 2018 Autumn Budget, he called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise to ensure no benefit claimant would suffer hardship, or less income, under Universal Credit.

Darren also wrote to then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, calling for an end to the ‘two-child policy’ on benefits in October 2018 and – ahead of the 2018 Spring Budget – for free schools to be protected under the Universal Credit roll-out.

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! 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 well over a year. I call upon the Secretary of State to listen to concerns and stop the roll-out of Universal Credit”.

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Darren demands proper funding of Bristol schools

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones said:

“Today (30th Nov) is #FundingFriday – where members of the National Education Union (NEU) will be calling on the government to fund education and our young people’s futures properly. Not those ‘little extras’ that the chancellor patronisingly referred to in the Autumn Budget but the must-haves like staff, safe and warm buildings and learning equipment!

I’ll be visiting Oasis Academy Long Cross today to meet with students, staff and governors to talk about how cuts are affecting them and see first-hand how hard staff are working to compensate for the lack of government support. I regularly visit schools across Bristol North West so I understand the huge pressure leaders are under to make cuts and how many teaching staff are considering leaving the profession as the stress is unbearable.

Members of the NEU – the leaders, teachers and support staff in our local schools – are saying enough is enough – I agree! I am proud to show my support today – and every day – for the campaign to end short-sighted and cruel school cuts“.

You can support the NEU’s campaign here: https://neu.org.uk/handsupsupporters

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.

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Darren opens The Hive at Claremont School

As part of his mission to visit every school in Bristol North West, Darren Jones MP recently visited Claremont School in Henleaze to open their new post-16 centre ‘The Hive’.

Darren said after the visit:

” A couple of weeks ago, I had the honour of opening the new post-16 centre ‘The Hive’ at Claremont School in Henleaze.

The building work at the Special Educational Needs School started back in May and included extending and converting pre-existing structures, with the final work finished in September 2018.

The benefit of moving post-16 students to this site is extensive. It’s of vital importance, older students have access to community learning with activities such as visiting the shops on the High Street, visiting supermarkets and cafes in Henleaze, getting the bus to the Mall and city centre, as well as trips to the community café and allotments at Golden Hill.

I was told it was difficult for young people and school staff to access community learning from the Redland site. However, with local amenities just minutes away from the site in Henleaze this was felt to be an ideal position for The Hive.

I wish the new centre, its students and school staff every success. It is absolutely vital every young person has first class support and education and can learn in a safe and supported environment”.

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.

(Photo Credit: Sue Thomas – Henleaze and Westbury Voice)

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Darren shares council and government response on HGVs and trucks using minor local roads

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, shared his concerns about the on-going problems of lorries and trucks getting stuck under/damaging the iron bridge in Shirehampton (see below picture of incident on 25 10 18) and causing traffic chaos on minor roads whilst they find their way back to the main roads with the council. Darren has now received a reply from the council and news on repairs to the Iron Bridge.

The council said:

“There is already a 7.5 tonne weight limit in place along Kings Weston Lane both on the section from Long Cross to Kings Weston Road (where one of the photographs has been taken) and from Long Cross to Campbell Farm Drive.  Therefore, heavy vehicles above 7.5 tonnes should not be using Kings Weston Lane to gain access to Avonmouth.  There is also a height restriction on the Iron Bridge in the other photograph.  These restrictions do not apply to Long Cross so vehicles could legitimately use Long Cross and Kings Weston Avenue to travel from Henbury to Avonmouth. 

The main difficulty is that these restrictions require enforcement from Avon and Somerset Police, and as these restrictions have to allow for access (the weight limits are for environmental purposes and not because of any weak structures) then they would have to prove that a vehicle has deliberately driven straight through them from one end to the other without stopping and with no intention of accessing any property contained within the restriction.  The Police find it extremely difficult to enforce any such restriction because they need to see it take place, follow the vehicle through and prove that they were not trying to access somewhere along route. So whilst we have the legal orders in place to be able to stop heavy vehicles from using this road, in practice it is very difficult for the Police to stop this from happening”.

In response to the above incident, and concerns about large vehicles being told to use the wrong roads by Sat-Navs, Darren asked the Government the following Parliamentary Question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department holds discussions with Satnav companies on the suitability of roads for certain vehicles due weight and height restrictions?

The Secretary of State replied:

The Department has had no such recent discussions.

The Department is aware that manufacturers produce special satnav devices for lorries, in order to provide them with routing information appropriate to their vehicle.

The Government has invested £3 million to help create a digital road map, with one aim being to ensure traffic keeps moving efficiently and safely on suitable routes. It includes information such as road widths, which could be used in satnavs to improve the quality and accuracy of routing advice. The map is available online at: www.os.uk/highways.

Routing guidance provided by satnavs should only ever be considered as advisory. It is for individual device owners to ensure that they use their satnavs responsibly and with a proper understanding of their limitations. It is for individuals to determine the best route for their journey.

Darren also commented on news regarding the Iron Bridge:
“A process and timetable for re-opening the Iron Bridge has now been shared by local councillor, Don Alexander, who has been working hard to push this up the council’s agenda. I am pleased to see plans set-out that will ensure the bridge re-opens for pedestrian use. Whilst I know some constituents have expressed concerns about the possible raising of the bridge, these plans will be independently scrutinised by Historic England and via the council’s usual planning process. I strongly encourage anyone with concerns or comments about the proposed bridge reinstatement to submit these at the appropriate time”.

To follow Darren’s work on Transport click here.

 

 

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Darren updates on L-Dub Community Bike Project

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West has been following up on concerns about the future of the L-Dub Community Bike Project following local press reports and enquiries from constituents.

Darren said:

“Following my meeting with Scotty on Saturday 24th, as promised, I have written to the Mayor about the L-Dub Community Bike Project. I’ve asked for urgent reconsideration so that Mr Scott can continue with this much-loved community project. I’ll share the response as soon as I have it”.

 

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Darren gets response on Migrant Impact Fund

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, wrote to the Chancellor in advance of the Autumn Budget calling for the  Migrant Impact Fund to be restored.

Darren has now received a response:

Darren Jones MP said:

“The £50m Migrant Impact Fund (although it now appears only £35million was awarded) was set-up several years ago in response to legitimate concerns that public services needed central funding to help support any unexpected pressure on local services such as housing, schools and hospitals. This was – and still is – common sense and the fund should have never been replaced with the much less effective Controlling Migration Fund which does not fund things such as additional pressures on healthcare. This change was ill-thought out so I am disappointed this response has repeated the same old explanations without actually considering the points my letter raised – namely, that this backwards step applies pressure to healthcare services who can ill afford it, only helps to fans the flames of prejudice. I continue to call for the Migrant Impact Fund to be restored”.

 

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Darren calls for parity for children’s mental health funding

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has commented on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services following release of a major new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England.

The report includes a detailed break-down of spending, waiting times and the number of children turned away for each area of England. This has enabled Darren to take a detailed look at provision in Bristol. Bristol CCG’s results show that between April 2017 and March 2018:

• 41% of children who are referred to NHS CAMHS services are not accepted for treatment. The Commissioner does not know what, if any, alternative support is available to these children.

• Of those who are accepted, 47% are seen within 4 weeks – this compares to 80% across England. 19% have to wait more than 6 weeks.

• Children’s mental health accounts for less than 1% of local NHS spending (0.99% locally). Per capita, adult mental health services are funded at three times the rate of children’s services. Bringing about parity of spending (per head) requires an additional £1.7bn to be invested in children’s mental health services nationally.

In response the Children’s Commissioner calls for the three commitments from NHS England to be included within the forthcoming NHS 10-yr Plan, I support:

1) A spending benchmark that brings parity between child and adult mental health, achieved within five years.

2) A large expansion of community mental health treatment to ensure that by 2023 the NHS is in a position to ensure no child who needs help is turned away. This should be combined with a clear four-week waiting times target.

3) A comprehensive plan for the NHS and local partners to provide lower-level children’s mental health services, to ensure easy access before conditions deteriorate. This should include an NHS-funded counsellor in every school.

Darren said:

“I will be meeting the CCG in the New Year and plan to raise these mattes for further discussion. I believe we can – and must – do better to ensure our young people get the support they need and deserve – the first step would be giving parity of funding per person to children and adolescent services as they do to adult mental health service. 41% of those referred for treatment do not receive it – that is genuinely concerning and must be fully investigated”.