December 2020: News from your local MP
Your Voice in Parliament
The run-up to Christmas is going to be very different for all of us this year. In Parliament, there are still major policy issues that need resolving before we get to whatever form of Christmas Day dinner we end up with. I’ve been listening to your concerns and aspirations when it comes to the Brexit transition; our relationship with Europe and America; the push for a fair and effective vaccine roll-out; real action and commitments to net-zero; and the continued necessity for a pro-active, cost-effective and inclusive coronavirus economic response. On these issues, we all want and need the Government to succeed. Make no mistake, I am using every opportunity to push for more transparent, ambitious and realistic leadership as we head into 2021.
At the time of writing, we are still in the second national lockdown. The recent vaccine breakthroughs are a source of real positivity in our response to coronavirus. As we become better able to protect those most vulnerable to this disease and our frontline health and social care workers, some form of normality, where we live with but manage coronavirus, draws nearer. Until that point, our rate of infection in Bristol is still high, and in the run-up to Christmas the best way to stop the spread will still be to socially distance, wear a mask, wash hands and self-isolate as requested.
I’ve been speaking with our health leaders in Bristol about their preparations for the vaccine roll-out, as well as the quick ‘lateral flow’ Covid tests, and I’m confident in our ability as a city to deliver when the time comes. In Parliament, I’m pushing for much greater transparency about how Covid contracts for PPE and vaccines are awarded by this Government. At a time when trust in our institutions has never been more important, we cannot afford a whiff of scandal. I’m also doing all that I can to ensure that we can visit loved ones in care homes and allow partners to join expectant mums in the delivery suites.
Later this month I’ll be asking the Prime Minister about our plans for the future, when he gives evidence to the Liaison Committee. Last time I had to run the Prime Minister over the coals about Dominic Cummings. I’m pleased that’s no longer the case.
I’ve also been continuing my work on climate change, making sure the Prime Minister is being bold enough on his 10-point plan for the green recovery. Some announcements, such as the Green Homes Grant, aren’t working as they should. These are important policy announcements which I support, but they must be effectively delivered.
And as we run out of time in our transition from being a member of the EU to not, I continue to make the case for a pragmatic and collaborative approach to our future relationship. At the time of writing, I have no idea whether we will have a deal to consider or not. I still think Brexit is a disaster but we now have to live with the reality that it will happen. I’ll do all that I can to try and make the best of what’s on offer.
Your Champion in Bristol
As we look to the end of this year, I’ve been reflecting on how much we've achieved in Bristol as we've made our way through this pandemic. I know the second national lockdown will have been hard for so many of you, and I’m thankful for the personal sacrifices you have all made to drive down the spread of this virus.
At the start of winter, I caught up with our North West Bristol Foodbank based in St Andrew’s Church Avonmouth, which runs alongside the North Bristol Foodbank, which many readers will be familiar with. The preparations fuelled by your donations show that in our community we’re never truly alone. Help and support is available, and we have enough to go around. I want to make sure that anyone having to pick between food and other expenses knows that getting help is the right thing to do. This is a time to look out for your neighbours, especially those that live alone, are now older, have lost work or have to pitch in to help family and loved ones. So please think, do you know someone that needs an extra hand this winter?
Our foodbanks are organising their Christmas appeal, so if you can donate some festive items, please do. You can view the Trussell Trust Christmas list at either www.bristolnorthwestfoodbank.org.uk or www.northbristol.foodbank.org.uk.
I also hosted Westbury-on-Tyrm’s first virtual town hall and would like to thank all those that attended to share their thoughts with me. We have another neighbourhood townhall for Henleaze and Westbury Park on January 14. I’m also hosting a Christmas Café Politics morning online on December 12 where we will be showing off Christmas card competition designs from children across Bristol North West. You can get tickets for both events at darren-jones.co.uk/events.
As ever, you can reach me at email@example.com or by phone on 0117 959 6545. Please know you can always contact me if you need support or have questions, but because of ongoing high demand for our support that we continue to have to prioritise urgent and/or Covid related enquiries. I’m continuing to hold phone surgeries, fortnightly Facebook FAQs and virtual town halls and café politics. I hope to see you in person soon. Until then, let me wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.