August 2021: News from your local MP Darren Jones
More must be done to help 'pingdemic' families
Your champion in Bristol
I KNOW for many, especially those families with children at school, these past months of juggling school, work and self-isolation have been particularly hard. I too have recently been ‘pinged’ and had to work from home here in Bristol, at the same time as my wife (who works from home), my three-year-old (who was pinged via her nursery bubble) and my two-year-old (who wasn’t pinged but had a temperature)!
My big concern continues to be about the amount of time children have been away from school, and my anger at the Government for failing to pay for the amount of catch up that was recommended by the independent ‘catch up’ advisor. I will continue to do all that I can to push the Government to recognise that more help is needed.
On the topic of schools, following our survey of parents about school drop off and pick up, I’m pleased to report that after many months of hard work I’ve now secured agreement from Bristol City Council to install double yellow lines around the corner at the bend of Passage Road in Westbury-on-Trym, making it much safer for pupils coming to and from Westbury-on-Trym CofE Academy. I’ve also secured a commitment to a zebra crossing, but this will come as part of other changes to the local road network later. We’ll be reporting on our wider school drop-off survey in a couple of months' time.
Many constituents have been asking me what I think we should be doing now that the legal restrictions of mask wearing, and social distance have been lifted. I’m conscious that whilst the legal restrictions have been lifted, our responsibility to be cautious has not. Infection rates are still very high in Bristol and whilst many of us are now privileged to be double-vaccinated, it’s crucial that we continue to think about others as we go about our day-to-day lives. To that end, I will continue to wear my face mask inside and maintain social distance where at all possible.
As always, the best thing we can do is get vaccinated. I understand that uptake from 18- to 23-year-olds is not as quick as we would like so, if that’s you, or someone in your household, please encourage them to get vaccinated. You can find out where your nearest vaccine centre is and book for a jab at grabajab.co.uk.
Your voice in Parliament
Parliament has now risen for the Summer recess, returning in early September. Whilst this August is sadly not what it might normally be, I continue to encourage my staff to take off a good chunk of time over August and so you will see a little less output from us for the next couple of weeks. The office is still open and staffed, so do get in touch if you need something, but we’ll be back up to full speed in September.
I know that many of you are worried about the Government’s planning reforms, which removes much of the rights for local people to be consulted and engaged on developments. It also risks turning high street shops into unsuitable housing, instead of really tackling the issue of business rates reform. I spoke to these concerns with lots of local examples during second reading in the Commons, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the bill as it goes through the Parliament.
A similarly important and very complicated bill put forward by the Government is the Health and Care Bill, which will (once again...) re-organise our National Health Service. Unfortunately, the Government gave such little time for debate that it passed second reading in a blink and will now go to committee in the autumn.
I also engaged on several other issues from community energy and net zero, to climate change education, (the failure of) the levelling up agenda and much more. If you’d like to find out more about my wider work, you can visit my Facebook page at www.fb.com/darrenjonesmp and/or sign up to my monthly newsletter via my website.
We have also recently revamped my website, which is still at www.darren-jones.co.uk, where you can get in touch to ask for help, ask a question or register for an event. As always, my team and I are here to serve you.