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Darren visits St Monica Trust Retirement Home

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, recently met with residents from St Monica Trust Retirement Home on Cote Lane.

Darren said:

“It was great to meet residents of the St Monica Trust Retirement Home on Cote Lane recently. I was asked to give a talk about how I came into politics, getting elected and my first year in this rather unusual ‘Brexit Parliament’ which also happened to include becoming a dad.

We also chatted about my work to champion Bristol North West and how we can end the scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery in Bristol.

I also got to hear about the renovations being undertaken to the chapel from the Reverend Alan Cook and hear about resident’s concerns and hopes for the future”.

If your Bristol North West-based group would like Darren to give a talk or do a Q and A, please send the request to his office via: darren.jones.mp@parliament.uk. Darren’s diary is pretty busy but we’ll do our best to find a suitable date and time.

 

 

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MP calls on Chancellor to protect income under Universal Credit

Ahead of the forthcoming Autumn Budget, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones has called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise that no benefit claimant would suffer financial hardship, or receive less income, under Universal Credit.

This is not the first time Darren has spoken out – he also called on the Chancellor in last year’s budget to make changes to the scheme and ensure families were not facing debt because of Universal Credit. Darren also pushed for a delay to the roll-out of Universal Credit for new claimants in October last year – at that time Darren called for “the multiple flaws in the system to be sorted out or the roll-out must be put on hold”.

Whilst the government made a number of small improvements to Universal Credit for new claimants, the so-called ‘managed migration’ of hundreds of thousands of existing claimants of 6 benefit groups (including ESA, Child Tax Credit and Income Support) has continued to cause widespread concern.

Ahead of the budget, 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!

It seems from today’s (16th October 0218) leaked reports, the government are considering delaying movement of 6 groups of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit until at least next summer (rather than January) with most moving in 2020.

They are also considering supporting people on ESA, Job Seekers and Income support for 2 extra weeks whilst their Universal Credit claim is sorted along with better help for the self-employed, whose income fluctuates. It’s a disgrace that the same cover period won’t be considered for child tax credits – which are provided to low-income, often lone, working parents – because DWP and HMRC systems can’t be integrated! A similar ‘cover policy’ for those on Housing Benefit was only introduced last year after people started losing their homes because claims were often taking in excess of 6 weeks to assess.

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 over a year. The government must keep its initial pledge that no-one should be worse-off by moving to Universal Credit. I call upon the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to keep that promise.

On a more practical level, once that promise has been kept, until the DWP has enough trained staff and working IT systems to move people across quickly and correctly, migration should be delayed indefinitely”.

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Darren backs need for investment in complex police investigations

Darren Jones MP has backed calls from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, for the government to review the Police Allocation Formula (PAF) (which assesses the funding each police force receives from government) alongside the total funding set aside by central government for policing. Continued calls for the PAF to reconsidered come after the force has advised it faces an operational delivery gap of £15m by 2020/21 due to the rising levels of complex crime (which take more police time to investigate) including domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and child abuse. The gap equates to 300 police officers.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Avon and Somerset Constabulary are clear that to meet rising demand for complex criminal investigations they will incur an operational gap of £15m from 2020/2021. That’s the equivalent of 300 extra police officers needed to ensure complex crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and child abuse are investigated properly.

Investigating these crimes, and other complex cases, are not negotiable. Therefore, the way money is divided between police forces, and the total government funding available to all forces, must be urgently re-considered. We can’t keep propping up our vital public services by adding a few pounds to council tax whilst cuts are made elsewhere – a longer-term and sustainable solution is needed. I’ll be tabling a Parliamentary Question asking government what assessment they have made to ensure the current formula is fair and what date their long-awaited review will be published”.

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Darren slams government changes to electric car incentives

Darren Jones MP has slammed the government’s removal of financial incentives to purchase plug-in hybrids and electric cars.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Firstly, the government should be ploughing far more investment into public transport and cycle networks to get people out of their cars and reduce air pollution. But, if people are going to drive (and in some places it’s currently a necessity because of the lack of integrated public transport) there should be continued incentives to buy a electric or plug-in hybrid car.

The RAC and AA motoring groups have said removing these incentives is a backward step, and the SMMT trade body called it “astounding” – I agree!

I’m all for incentivising other types of environmentally-friendly vehicles but that should not come at the expense of electric and hybrid cars! If the government is serious about meeting its emission targets and getting diesel and petrol cars off our roads by 2050 (at the latest), it must continue to fund incentives that support that endeavour. I’ll be tabling a Parliamentary Question to ask what assessment the government made reference the impact of this policy change before announcing this decision”.

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Darren becomes Honorary President of Westbury Squadron

Bristol North West MP Darren Jones recently accepted the honour of becoming the Honorary President of the 2442 Air Cadet Squadron based in Westbury-on-Trym.

Darren said:

” I really enjoyed attending a drill night in late August to see and meet the cadets and the team who support them. I was also able to join the Squadron for their annual Awards Evening held in September – it was inspiring to hear about the achievements and aspirations of young people from across Bristol North West”.

You can find out more about the squadron here.

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Darren supports World Mental Health Day – Ask Twice

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has backed calls to ‘ask twice’ this World Mental Health Day (10th October).

Time to Change, a growing social movement run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness are working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. Despite some progress, many people still don’t consider mental health relevant to them.

This World Mental Health Day, Time to Change is urging people to ‘Ask Twice’ if a friend or family member says they are ‘fine’ but it is suspected they may be experiencing a mental health problem. The simple act of asking again, with interest, shows a genuine willingness to talk and listen.

Darren said:

“This World Mental Health Day, I am supporting Time to Change’s ‘Ask Twice’ campaign – all we need to do is ask again if a friend or family member says they are ‘fine’ but you suspect they may be experiencing a mental health problem. This simple act can show you’re actually interested and willing to hear the response – whether that’s now or when someone’s ready. I will also continue to call upon the government to ensure the NHS and local authorities have the funding they need to provide local, consistent and good quality mental health services and support”.

More information on the campaign and how you can get involved is available from time to change.

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Darren visits new housing in Lawrence Weston

Bristol North West MP Darren Jones visited Curo’s site at Corbet Close in Lawrence Weston last week to find out more about the organisation’s plans to build 57 much-needed new affordable homes in the area.

The local MP was accompanied on the site visit by Curo Managing Director, Gerraint Oakley, and the project team. The development will provide one, two and three bedroom homes for social and affordable rent, as well as a number of homes for shared ownership.

Curo submitted its planning application in August and is anticipating the new homes could be completed by the end of 2021 if granted consent by Bristol City Council. Corbet Close along with Curo’s other proposed development in Lawrence Weston – for 128 homes at Henacre Road – could see the addition of 185 new homes in total for the area, of which 95 will be affordable housing.

Darren said:

” These developments will help more families from Lawrence Weston to stay in or return to the community they love and where they grew up. I am pleased that more than half of the new homes proposed by Curo will be available as affordable housing – these homes will benefit people who are on the council’s housing list. I grew up in Lawrence Weston and I’m delighted to see investment in housing in this area – these developments and others like it will not only create new housing that is urgently needed in Bristol, they’ll also deliver growth in the local economy. Housing Associations are key partners in delivering our city’s target of 2,000 new homes per year by 2020″.

Gerraint Oakley said: “We’re keen to work with the council and other partners to create even more new housing in Bristol and look forward to be able to start building both at Henacre Road and Corbet Close. We’d like to thank Darren Jones MP for taking the time to visit our site and find out more about our developments which will benefit the whole area – including our existing tenants at Corbet Close, who will enjoy better external communal areas, improved security and amenities.”

©Barbara Evripidou/FirstAvenuePhotography.com

 

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Darren backs ban on fur imports

Darren Jones MP is proudly supporting the Open Cages and Humane Society International’s campaign to ban the importing of real fur to the UK.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Animal welfare is of real concern to me – especially where cruelty is so totally unnecessary. That’s the case with the use of real fur and it’s one reason why I back a #FurFreeBritain and a ban on the importing of real fur to the UK.

Whilst, thankfully, fur farms are banned in the UK, we know that most of the countries that supply the UK with fur products have low animal welfare standards.

It has also come to light that some of the products being marketed as fake fur actually contain real fur and people are being duped into buying something many would not knowingly purchase – that’s totally unacceptable and companies selling these products must be held to account”.

 

 

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Darren visits Southmead Hospital Charity

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, recently visited the team at Southmead Hospital Charity.

Darren got to try his hand at robotic surgery in a urology theatre and also spent some time on the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at Southmead Hospital.

He also found out more about Southmead Hospital Charity’s Prostate Cancer Care Appeal to purchase two surgical robots to treat prostate and other urological cancers. Darren met consultant urological surgeon Anthony Koupparis and used a demonstration version of the Intuitive Da Vinci robot to gain some insight into how the new technology is fighting prostate cancer.  The robot was recently purchased as part of the first wave of the Charity’s Prostate Cancer Care Appeal – with a further surgical robot to be fundraised for to extend robotic surgery to other urological cancers.

Darren then went to NICU where he met staff, parents and their babies being cared for on the unit to find out more about recent projects and equipment funded by Southmead Hospital Charity.  He visited the Charity’s family sensory room in NICU which is an important space for families to interact with their babies and which includes sensory equipment key to their development. He also found out about a new project to help parents prepare to take their babies home by enabling them to get used to administering medication themselves.

Elizabeth Bond, head of fundraising at Southmead Hospital Charity, said:

“It was a real pleasure to welcome Mr Jones to the hospital and talk to him about the work of the Charity and show him how we have made a real impact on patient care at North Bristol NHS Trust. As the MP that serves the constituency within which we are based, it’s so important for us to engage with our stakeholders and wider community to show the difference we are making thanks to our donors and fundraisers.”

Darren said:

” I would like to sincerely thank all the team and volunteers at Southmead Hospital Charity for hosting my visit and more importantly, the excellent work they do in supporting our local hospital. The funds they raise are helping to bring the very latest tech and innovation to patients at Southmead alongside the more traditional, but crucial items, such as their new ambulance. I’ll continue to back their life-saving and vital campaigns and encourage others to do the same”.

To find out more and donate to Southmead Hospital Charity please click here.

 

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Darren calls for an end to dog fighting

Darren Jones MP is proudly supporting the League Against Cruel Sports local campaign to end dog fighting.

The League is distributing 12,000 leaflets around Bristol in a bid to get more information on dog fighting in the city and to highlight the issue.

The appeal, backed by Darren, is being made by the League which held an event on the issue recently and received information that raised suspicions that dog fighting was taking place in the city.

The information came from a range of reputable sources including a vet who had noticed an increase in dogs visiting her surgery with injuries consistent with dog fighting, plus a report from a teacher in a Bristol school.

Dogs forced into fighting suffer terrible injuries both during the fights and at the hands of their vicious ‘owners’.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove recently announced plans to extend prison sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years.

The League has produced factsheets for vets and the police explaining how to spot the signs of dog fighting. Dog fights can take place behind closed doors but also in public areas such as in parks. Signs that dog fighting might be taking place include:

  • Dogs with multiple scars in various stages of healing
  • People subjecting their dogs to extreme exercise regimes to build muscle and stamina
  • The dogs are usually kept out of sight in poor quality housing such as sheds and outbuildings
  • You might see people behaving suspiciously as multiple dogs are brought into a single location
  • You may hear sounds from the fights; dogs barking, yelping, as well as people shouting and cheering

Members of the public can contact the confidential League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch reporting service by calling 01483 361108, email crimewatch@league.org.uk or visit the website.

Darren Jones MP said: