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MP visits annual Foodbank collection in Horfield

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones dropped-in to support volunteers and those donating at last weekend’s (2nd December) annual Foodbank #everycancounts collection.

Darren said:

“I stopped by North Bristol Foodbank’s annual collection in Tesco on Golden Hill in Horfield and it was heart-warming to see the generosity of shoppers and volunteers – over 2522kgs of donations were collected in three days. Whilst at the store, I met some of the Foodbank management and trustee team as well as new and experienced volunteers to find out more about the Foodbank’s work. Whilst I would prefer we lived in a country that did not require foodbanks, sadly more and more people are reliant upon them each year so it is good to see so many people supporting those in need”.

To find out more about North Bristol Foodbank please visit: https://northbristol.foodbank.org.uk/

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MP backs Small Business Saturday and visits Shirehampton Post Office

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones backed small businesses this weekend by taking part in the annual celebration of small, independent businesses by visiting Pickles and Poppets in Westbury-on- Trym.

Darren also visited Shirehampton Post Office in the run-up to the busy Christmas period. Darren met the team who have worked hard to ensure the Post Office  was back up and running as soon as possible after the previous office was significantly damaged following an attack on the building’s ATM machine.

As the post office team were making final preparations to make Christmas 2017 as easy as possible for their customers, Darren Jones MP was shown first-hand the wide range of services available for customers designed to take the stress out of the demanding festive season.

Darren said:

“I supported Small Business Saturday this weekend as these businesses, as well as our Post Offices, are the lifeblood of our communities. We need to support our family-run, independent and high street businesses, especially in the run-up to Christmas where there’s a temptation to shop online. To help you locate small businesses, the Small Business Saturday team have launched a new Apple and Android mobile app which has close to 30,000 small businesses listed all over the country. It is really easy to put in your location and find lots of small businesses near you to visit all year round”.

Following the visit to the Post Office Darren said:

“It was fantastic to meet the team and customers at Shirehampton Post Office, they provide such a valuable service to the local community. I am so impressed by their dedication and hard work and wish them every success during this busy period.”

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Darren calls on the government to support the Henbury Loop

Darren Jones has spoken in today’s (29th November) House of Commons Ministerial Rail Update to call for proper investment in the local rail network, specifically the Henbury Loop line. He called for funding to be secured for an independent study to ensure the longer-term delivery of the Loop.

Darren has also written to the West of England Combined Authority Mayor, Tim Bowles, to request that funding is allocated to progress an independent business study into the Henbury Loop.

The Henbury Loop line would join the existing Severn Beach line that runs from the Temple Meads through Clifton, Seamills, Shirehampton and Avonmouth to Severn Beach. The new loop would see new rail stations created in Henbury and the Horfield/Ashley Down area.

 

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MP backs Meningitis Now Campaign

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has signed up to promote meningitis awareness and vaccination take-up with GPs, following a Parliamentary reception organised last week by charity Meningitis Now.

The charity is campaigning to increase the take-up of the lifesaving Men ACWY vaccine, which is available free to school leavers aged 17 to 18 and first-time university students up to the age of 25. Take-up is currently around 33% and 1.5million young people are at risk.

Darren said:

“ The low uptake of the Men ACWY vaccine is very worrying, especially as we move towards the peak season for bacterial meningitis. I’ll be writing to local GP practices to urge them to do more to promote awareness and encourage young people to have the vaccination.

It is vitally important that students protect themselves with the Men ACWY vaccine and learn the signs and symptoms of the disease. It only takes a few minutes and it could save theirs or their friend’s life.

You can find out more about the symptoms and signs to look out for here“.

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MP responds to Council’s Library Consultation News

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has responded to the news that Bristol City Council has delayed a decision on library closures across Bristol until further research has been undertaken.

Darren said:

“I am pleased the council will be taking more time to review the best way forward for Bristol’s libraries.

Following the Libraries Conference I hosted in September, I wrote to the Mayor with feedback from groups representing Bristol North West libraries. We advocated for further time and research before any irreversible decisions were made. I am delighted further time has now been given to support a longer-term strategy.

The council are under enormous financial pressure to make savings however, libraries play such a vital role in our communities we must look to safeguard them for future generations”.

 

 

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Darren shares views on protection of bees

Following constituent enquiries in relation to the use of neonicotinoids and bees, Darren has shared his thoughts:

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West said:

“The importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and economy is clear and I share my constituent’s concern about declining bee numbers.

I support the current European-wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators because I believe that it is a proportionate response to the mounting scientific evidence which demonstrates the risk of neonicotinoids to bees.

The UK Government has said that current environmental regulations – including the ban on neonicotinoids – will remain in place until we leave the EU. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reviewing the scientific evidence and there are draft proposals for a full EU ban on the three most commonly used neonicotinoids. I support this ban and at the last General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so.

It is vital that we take a science-led approach to pesticide use and consider how best to support farmers, protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators. I would like to see further research into identifying suitable substitutes to neonicotinoids and support for integrated pest management measures which would benefit the farming community without posing risks to the environment, and human or animal life.

I can assure my constituents that I will be urging the UK Government to show leadership within the EU by following evidence-based policy and pressing for a ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids. The UK Government must set out how it intends to ensure that existing environmental protections are maintained and enhanced once the UK has left the EU.”

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MP Responds to Minister’s visit to Southmead

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West shared his thoughts following a visit by Jeremy Hunt to his constituency:

“I welcome yesterday’s (23rd November) visit by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. I hope his visit has given him a true picture of the critical issues facing the NHS – we were promised £350m a week for the NHS if we voted for Brexit. Instead we get £350m for the whole of winter whilst the cost of Brexit spirals by another £3bn. Jeremy Hunt and this Conservative government need to start putting patients before Brexit party politics.

The staff at Southmead Hospital, and across the NHS, are working in increasingly difficult conditions – facing rising demand, complex medical needs alongside reducing real terms funding and resources. This is of course, in addition, to a pay cap that is undermining the value we place in these staff, an under-funded mental health system and social care services in crisis. Yesterday’s budget announced a £2.8 billion injection into the NHS over the next 2.5 years, this falls far short of the Chief Executive’s view that £4 billion was needed to stop rising wait lists and significant impact on patients. Of this funding, only £350 million will be available to help hospitals cope with the inevitable pressures over winter, a situation that last year was deemed a humanitarian crisis by the British Red Cross.

There is also the uncertainty of Brexit and its impact on the sense of job security that the NHS’ EU staff have. At least 615 of Southmead’s staff are from the EU, with 40% of these working as nurses. Evidence shows many EU nursing staff are weighing up their employment options and the number of EU nationals seeking nursing bursaries has plummeted by 2700 since last year. It is also only days since the BMA reported that one in 5 EU doctors have solid plans to leave the NHS. This situation is ludicrous and the Government can’t idly sit back waiting for the fall-out – the NHS needs strong management from Government and a funding package that matches the demand and real terms costs – if there is money for Brexit there must be money for our most treasured public service.

Each winter demand at A and E’s across the country rises and Southmead will be no different, given the minimal funding boost awarded yesterday by Government, I am very concerned we will once again see some of the most vulnerable in society waiting for hours and/or laid out on beds in corridors. This is of real concern to my constituency as the closest alternative hospital’s A and E department (in Weston-Super- Mare) is still closed due to unsafe staffing levels and will undoubtedly have some impact on Southmead.

I would also urge Mr Hunt to consider whether some of our most dedicated and hardworking public servants are being paid adequately for their work and if the 1% public sector pay cap can be morally justified any longer – I am quite clear it cannot be and government should not be waiting for an independent pay body to have to tell it so”.

 

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Darren backs Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week, coordinated by the road safety charity Brake, is the UK’s leading event to promote safer road use. This year Road Safety Week focuses calls on all road users to “Speed Down” to help stop the five deaths that still happen every day on UK roads – and particularly to protect people cycling and walking.

Darren Jones, MP for bristol North West said:

“After the tragic loss of a pedestrian’s life on a Henbury road last weekend this year’s Road Safety Week feels very close to home. After years of consistent progress by Labour governments in reducing deaths and serious injuries, sharp increases in recent years have alarmed road safety experts and campaigners. Latest government figures show that in 2016 there was a 4% increase in the numbers of people killed on our roads, the highest level since 2011, and an 8.5% increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured. I am calling on the Government to end complacency on road safety and restore targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

The seemingly never-ending reduction in local authority funding has also severely impacted the council’s ability to introduce new road safety schemes or traffic calming measures on minor roads and estates. This is yet another knock-on effect of austerity politics.

With the announcement of £80million additional transport funding for the West of England region in yesterday’s budget, I will be continuing to push for a fully- integrated transport system across Bristol North West – one that makes public transport accessible and affordable and mitigates the gridlock we can expect from the thousands of new homes on the ‘northern fringe’ if proper action is not taken. “

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Sims Metal consultation with Avonmouth community

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging residents of Avonmouth to contribute to a consultation by Sims Metal Management in relation to plans for changes at their site.

Darren said:

“Sims Metal have advised me they are undertaking a public consultation on their operations prior to submitting planning applications for the site. I would urge residents to share their views by visiting the consultation event on Tuesday 28th November 3 to 8pm at Avonmouth Community Centre or by returning the feedback card local residents have been sent. If you can’t attend the event or have not received a feedback card, you can also email feedback@consultation-online.co.uk or call 0800 298 7040.

You can find out more about the consultation and Sim’s proposals online.

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MP backs Universal Credit Reform Ahead of Budget

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, to make changes to Universal Credit in advance of tomorrow’s budget (22nd November).

Darren said:

“Universal Credit, as it stands, is a cruel and shambolic system forcing many into debt – it is coming to Bristol North West next year. The Child Poverty Action Group have advised in their new report ‘The Austerity Generation’ that working families stand to lose £930 a year on average from cuts in the tax credit system and £420 a year from cuts to Universal Credit – these are losses across the population, so the losses for tax credit and UC recipients would be much higher.

Families containing someone with a disability will be £300 a year worse off due to Universal Credit cuts; families containing someone with a severe disability will be £530 a year worse off.

I fully support the changes my colleague Debbie Abrahams has urged the Chancellor to adopt ahead of tomorrow’s budget. Austerity politics needs to get real before the country is unable to recover from the sustained impact on our most vulnerable”.

Amongst the changes backed by Darren include a significant reduction in the waiting period before claimants are awarded benefit, reconsideration of the payment of fortnightly benefits (rather than monthly), easier housing payments direct to landlords and  income level measurement for the self-employed.