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Darren warns against dangers of no deal

The Government have been forced by Parliament to publish their central planning assumptions document for a n0-deal Brexit — it includes “lorries facing waits of between 1.5 days and 2.5 days to cross the border,” disruption to medical supplies and shortages of certain kinds of food, and isn’t even the worst-case scenario. The human cost of no deal is enormous, and no responsible government would be pushing ahead with this kind of reckless strategy. We know the dangers, and I’m determined to stop them taking Britain over the precipice.

You can read the original ‘Yellowhammer’ document at the link here

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Video: Darren comments on threat of no deal

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, commented on the government’s continued move towards a no deal Brexit following concerns from the former Chancellor Phillip Hammond.

Darren said:

” I agree with the former Chancellor when he says Boris (and Dominic!) are sabotaging any negotiations with the EU to further a hardline ideology. Crucially, this reckless ‘do or die’ ideology doesn’t have the support of Parliament and wasn’t on the ballot in 2016. As recently as March this year, Gove admitted that most leave voters hadn’t backed Brexit with a no deal in mind. Raab repeatedly said at the time no deal wasn’t an option.

No deal is a disaster for the country and for my constituency – with circa 1400 jobs predicted to be lost. As I said again on Sunday Politics back in July, the only way to resolve this is to go back to the British people and ask – now there is detail of what’s realistically on offer and the consequences – how they want to proceed, and then get on with it.

Boris has made several spending pledges since becoming PM, I’m keen to understand where all this ‘new’ money is coming from. Quite rightly, Labour has been asked these questions when they’ve made pledges – yet time and again there’s no detail from Boris (and much of the money seems to be recycled from existing budgets).

At some point, whoever is in government will need to face the reality that any form of Brexit will make the UK poorer and a no deal will be catastrophic for our country’s prosperity – false promises and empty spending pledges won’t be enough to save this country from job losses and an increasingly-likely recession.

Boris needs to stop channeling his time in the playground at Eton and remember he has the country’s future in his hands”.

 

 

 

 

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Darren comments on drop in GDP

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, comments on the drop in UK GDP announced on 9th August 2019.

Darren said:

“Boris has no mandate from Parliament or the British public to crash out with a chaotic no deal Brexit, but if he does, we’ll be seeing a whole lot more headlines about economic contraction as we slide closer to recession.

Let’s not pretend otherwise – stats like this ultimately equal job losses and a drop in our prosperity. If we leave with no deal, food prices will rise sharply, the pound will slump (even further that it has) and we will see formerly strong businesses go bust – sadly some of them will be here in Bristol. There will be significant knock-on impacts in whole supply chains and the service and retail industry.

No deal means playing Russian roulette with the UK – any MP who is happy to do that, is clearly putting ideology before their constituents, the very future of our United Kingdom and the country’s economic prosperity”.

 

 

 

 

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Darren visits GKN and Airbus

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, visited GKN and Airbus on Friday 26th July.

Darren said:

“I held an important meeting, and tour of the A400M site, with Unite the Union, GKN and Airbus today.

I will not put my constituent’s jobs and prosperity at risk – I remain fully committed to backing our aerospace industry, its supply chain and fighting a no-deal Brexit which would be disastrous for the sector, and its employees”.

 

 

 

 

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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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Watch: Darren presses Government over Avlon redundancies

Staff at the Avlon pharmaceuticals plant, which was recently put into administration by its American owners, were promised that should the facility fail, they would be entitled to a full redundancy package – but are now being forced to leave on statutory pay only. This unjust situation can still be avoided if the plant’s former owners AstraZeneca choose to enforce the previously negotiated guarantee, but it may take some pressure from Government. That’s why Darren’s been writing to Business Ministers and trying for weeks to secure a debate in Parliament — and this morning raised the issue directly with the Leader of the House of Commons, Mel Stride.

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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 backs Lift The Ban

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, has spoken out in favour of allowing asylum seekers the right to work – and contribute to the UK by paying taxes – whilst their applications are assessed.

At present, the law prevents asylum seekers from working whilst their claims are assessed and that can take years. All the whilst, asylum seekers get just £37.75 per week loaded onto a card to live on as well as (often very basic and crowded) accommodation. In cities, where costs are high and £37 will just about feed a person, asylum seekers struggle to use public transport, buy toiletries and clothe themselves and have to rely on charities for the very basics. They are prevented from earning more money to improve their situation.

Darren said:

“Today, I’ve received an interesting report from ACH that ran a pilot project in Bristol focused on supporting asylum seekers with job-hunting skills such as writing CV’s, employment rights and linking them to variety of local employers. The project found:

1- Most asylum seekers have the levels of English that would be required in the workplace.
2- Asylum seekers often had high levels of education and skills from their home countries and have training and work experiences that would be of use to the UK.
3- Everyone in the project wanted to contribute to the UK instead of taking government money and being unemployed. There were high levels of attendance at all visits with employers and meetings.

By stopping asylum seekers from working, I sense we’re frankly cutting off our nose to spite our face and creating a group of people who feel powerless to change their situation or contribute to a country they wish to make their home. This has got to change – we must lift the ban”.

You can find out more about ACH by visiting: www.ach.org.uk/

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Darren contacts Government on Avara

Darren wrote to the Government on his concerns around the future of the Avara site near Bristol. This is what he said:

Dear Secretary of State,

A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the insolvency of Avara Avlon Pharmaceutical Services Ltd, a pharmaceutical company that employs 270 people in Bristol.

The constituents who have contacted me are concerned about the cost of the clean out and clean-up of the site they use, and the fact that taxpayers may have to foot the bill for doing this. I am told that Avara Avlon is classed under the Control of Major Accident Incident (COMAH) Regulations as upper tier due to the inventory of toxic materials. In order to close the site in a safe manner all flammable and toxic material will have to be removed from site, the chemical plant and storage tanks cleaned and the effluent waste safely disposed of, and then the site can either be mothballed or demolished. The demolition option will require skilled personnel as there is a significant amount of asbestos in the older plant and buildings to be dealt with. The land will then need to be returned to as near original condition which may involve the removal of contaminated soil.

The constituents who have contacted me request that there is a change to the law to make it illegal to transfer ownership of a high hazard site to a third party without firstly posting a bond with either a Government department or agency, to cover all costs associated with closing down, cleaning out and remediating a site.  That would then stop the bill being picked up by the Government in the future – is this something that the Government will consider introducing?

Thanks for taking the time to read my email and I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Darren Jones MP

Member of Parliament for Bristol North West”

And here’s the Government response: