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Darren speaks in Parliament about new business rates measures for West of England

Today, legislation went through parliament allowing the Conservative-controlled West of England Combined Authority to add a supplement to business rates which will go direct to the Authority. Darren questioned how accountability over spending of the rates would be guaranteed and what spending would take place.

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Darren backs local shops – nominate your high street now!

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones MP has backed local high streets and urged the government to do more to protect local jobs and the heart of our local communities.

Darren said:

” We know our high streets and shopping parades are struggling – shops are closing across the country and I see the impact of vacant stores here in Bristol North West. Almost 70,000 retail jobs, including shop-floor roles, are set to be axed this year in Britain – according to a new report released by retail magnate Bill Grimsey. His review suggests high streets are facing “their greatest challenge in history”.

Just yesterday, a resident of Westbury-on-Trym shared their concerns about a vacant premise becoming a target for petty vandalism and the number of stores now empty in the village. I’ll be meeting with a representative from Westbury Business Association next week to discuss what I can do to help champion all of our high streets.

The government must urgently re-assess the support they are giving to small, family run shops, as well as the medium and larger chains who are not immune to these pressures, and the rates they charge them – high streets are the lifeblood of our communities.

I’m also working hard to bring infrastructure investment to Bristol North West – we know congestion, and irregular or unreliable bus, rail and cycle routes can put people off visiting a high street and only encourages them to visit out-of-town retailers and shop online. Our transport network must support local high streets and encourage use of public transport.

I am also urging residents to do their bit – shop locally, support locally-run businesses and nominate their high street for the Visa Great British High Street competition“.

#MyHighStreet

 

 

 

 

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Darren questions Government about post-brexit trade

The UK will leave the EU in March 2019. But there are many unanswered questions about what will happen after this, to the extent that the EU and UK have agreed that there will be a transition period after Brexit during which arrangements can be made. However, even the details of this have not been fully planned out.

The EU and the Government has said that the UK will be able to benefit from EU-Third Country (i.e. non EU) trade deals during this transition period. Darren asked the Minister of State for Trade Policy what would happen if Third countries did not agree to this.

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Darren hosts first Business Forum on Modern Slavery

On 22nd June, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, hosted a Business Forum with local employers, the council, charities and the police and called upon them to work with him to end Modern Slavery in Bristol and beyond.

Darren said:

“There are an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 people in modern slavery in the UK, however many experts agree that’s a huge underestimate. I’ve been championing victim’s rights since becoming Bristol North West’s MP – we have seen cases of modern slavery in Southmead and across the city. I’ll continue to make this a priority by supporting Bills that come through the House of Commons and hosting events such as my Business Forum today – it is only by drawing these issues out into the open that we’ll bring an end to this abuse of vulnerable people. I also recently wrote to the Gangmaster’s and Labour Abuse Authority to ask them to licence nail bar and car wash businesses (as known hot spots for modern slavery) in Bristol, to make sure they treat workers properly.  I have met victims at my weekly surgery – so this is an issue I take extremely seriously”.

Darren continued:

“I’m also continuing to fight unethical working practises wherever I see them including tipping etiquette in restaurants, changes to Asda employee’s terms and conditions and the hostile takeover of GKN amongst others. As the event heard on Friday, Bristol is continuing to lead the way on exposing cases of modern slavery but this great work will only continue if we all join forces – as our Police and Crime Commissioner said businesses and members of the public need to be the police’s eyes and ears and report their concerns”.

Speakers at the Forum included CEO of Unseen Andrew Wallis OBE, Sue Mountstevens Police and Crime Commissioner and Jaya Chakrabarti MBE.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees and Deputy Mayor, Asher Craig also joined the event to support calls for partners to work together and ensure Bristol acts as a positive example to other cities on how to tackle and eradicate modern slavery.

 

 

 

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Darren speaks to BBC Bristol about GKN

GKN employ 59,800 people, including 1,900 at their Bristol sites. Their Aerospace division is vital to UK defences, and to other UK Aerospace businesses who rely on their supplies.

A week ago, GKN lost a shareholder vote on a Melrose hostile takeover. Melrose are a US firm who are know to buy and quickly liquidate businesses, meaning that thousands of GKN jobs could be at risk.

Darren spoke to BBC Bristol about what he was doing about this, in the face of a government not willing or able to intervene in the takeover despite economic and defence interests at risk.

 

 

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MP visits Shirehampton Nursery to discuss rising childcare costs

Darren Jones (MP for Bristol North West) visited Snap Dragons nursery in Shirehampton on Friday 23rd March to hear from parents and staff about concerns with the Government’s intention to close the Childcare Vouchers scheme, and to move parents to a new Tax Free Childcare scheme.

Today, parents can claim vouchers from their employers to contribute to the cost of childcare. However, in the next financial year the Government will close the Childcare Vouchers scheme and parents will have to use a new Tax Free Childcare system. This will require parents to register on an online system, register each child and then make an online payment for each child per month. The Government will then “top up” the balance by 20% and the system will then pay the childcare provider directly. This change was originally due to take place in April, but following pressure from across the House last week, the Government delayed the roll out to October 2018.

However, Darren wants parents to be aware of the changes now – namely because the system is harder to use, and because many parents will find they receive significantly less childcare support, in effect increasing childcare costs for parents across Bristol. Click here to read more about the changes.

Commenting, Darren said:

“I’ve already had a number of constituents in my surgery at their wits end due to the new tax free childcare system. It doesn’t work, requires parents to re-register every three months and has put my constituents in real difficulties in paying their childcare providers. To make it worse, most parents don’t realise they could lose thousands of pounds in childcare support each year.”

“Supporting families and creating a parent-friendly workplace is one of my top priorities as a local MP. This flawed change by the Government will make it harder for working parents, not easier. And it will make it harder for parents wanting to return to work too. I will continue to call on the Government to get it right. But I also call on parents to get informed as soon as possible, so they aren’t left in difficulty when the childcare voucher scheme closes in a few months’ time.”

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Watch Darren question Chancellor Philip Hammond

In European Scrutiny Committee, Darren questioned Philip Hammond on the subject of EU withdrawal and whether the Irish border could move to mainland Britain. Watch here:

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Darren visits GKN workers at Western Approach

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones visited GKN Aerospace and met with union reps and staff at the company’s Western Approach depot near Avonmouth on February 15th.

GKN is a UK engineering firm with 6,000 UK employees across 14 sites. Two of these locations are in North Bristol and employ upwards of 2,000 people. And as a major supply chain business to other advanced manufacturing companies in the aerospace industry (such as Airbus), GKN plays a vital role in one of our most important industries in the UK and, in the South West, as its number one sectoral employer. The Western Approach site is the home of the A350 and A400M Wing Spars.

Darren was especially keen to meet staff and union reps as Melrose has started a hostile takeover bid of GKN. Melrose has the stated aim of taking over, turning around and then selling off companies in a short amount of time. This hostile takeover bid has been unanimously rejected by the GKN board and by Unite the Union on behalf of the workforce. Darren has written to Business Secretary, Greg Clarke, to ask the government to intervene on ground of national interest and security.

You can find out more about the hostile takeover bid and how to show your support for workers here.

Pictured below, with Darren, is Western Approach Process Team Leader Jason Gabriel. Jason followed in his father’s footsteps by working at GKN. Jason started at the Filton site as a temp and obtained a permanent job whilst undertaking further training as a skilled fitter, he has since progressed to Team Leader.

Darren said:

“ I found the visit extremely useful and am proud to be backing the workforce at GKN. I was particularly pleased to meet Jason, and his colleagues, and see first-hand the development opportunities available to local people through employment at GKN. The staff and unions are fighting to protect a proud part of Bristol’s heritage, thousands of jobs and the potentially devastating impact on the local supply chain. I stand shoulder to shoulder with them and will continue to support and champion their cause”

 

 

 

 

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Darren visits Honda to discuss Brexit and Skills

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones visited Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd site in Swindon on Thursday 15 February 2018 as part of the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) Fellowship. This visit is part of an educational programme furthering his knowledge on technology, innovation and skills.

Darren Jones MP was able to gain insight the opportunities and challenges Honda faces in Europe given the current economic and political climate. The visit also enabled him to gain a better understanding of the employment and skills challenges with manufacturers both foreign based in the UK and UK based exporters, which supports his role as a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee.

The Swindon plant is Honda’s flagship production facility in Europe, currently employing a workforce of around 4,000 and in 2017 took on 600 new people as a result of a recent £200mn investment. The visit highlighted why Swindon was chosen as the location for their UK site as well as providing insight into Honda UK’s second apprenticeship programme; the Toolmaking Trailblazer Apprenticeship programme which develops Tool and Die Maintenance Technicians that are responsible for maintaining the specialist tooling that is in use throughout our site.

During the visit, Darren met with Patrick Keating, European Public Affairs Manager, who talked about the history of Honda and the day-to-day operations at the factory. Darren was also given a tour of the fully integrated car manufacturing facility – from casting and engine assembly through to welding and final assembly.

Darren said:

“I found the visit extremely useful. It really helped my understanding of the challenges and opportunities Honda face and I was very grateful for everyone giving up their time. The factory is an excellent site and you can really see how recent investment has boosted the operations here. I would like to thank the IPT for organising this visit and look forward to my other visits.”

Louise Hanson, Business Operations Division manager, Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd added:

Our Swindon factory is a key part of Honda’s highly integrated European regional operations. We were delighted to have the opportunity to discuss our business and the future of Honda of the UK Manufacturing with Darren Jones. It is also great to support the work the Industry and Parliament Trust does in order to bridge the gap between industry and Parliament.”

 

 

 

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Darren visits Foodbank

Darren Jones MP has visited the team at North Bristol Foodbank. After dropping-in to the Foodbank’s Christmas donation drive at Tesco in Horfield in December 2017, Darren wanted to meet the hard working volunteers, trustees and manager who welcome people to the service and package up the donations.

The Foodbank was set-up in 2012 and offered 3,740 emergency three-day food parcels in the last year.

Darren Jones MP said:

” I was really keen to meet the people who make the Foodbank possible, many are volunteers and they work extremely hard alongside the small number of paid staff and trustees. Childcare voucher changes and Universal Credit are likely to result in even more demand for their services. I urge anyone who can to donate and support their Foodbank.”

You can find out more about the Foodbank, including how to donate and access food parcels here.