June 24 2022

Taking action over anti-social behaviour on our high streets

Since the Jubilee bank holiday weekend most of the focus in Westminster has been on the political problems in the Government, culminating in the vote of confidence in the Prime Minister. As a Labour MP I didn’t get a vote, although I suspect you know how I would have voted if I had. Conservative MPs, however, on the whole, decided they still have confidence in Boris Johnson as the leader of the Conservative Party and, therefore, as our Prime Minister, and so nothing changed.

 Boris Johnson now has a clear 12 months before his backbenchers can have another go at getting rid of him, if that’s what the Conservative Party in parliament decides to do. In the meantime, we have two by-elections (which will have concluded by the time you read this) and the parliamentary committee investigation into whether Boris Johnson knowingly misled the House of Commons over parties at No10 during the lock down. Neither of these events will, I suspect, result in a change of Prime Minister either.

 My frustration is that this ongoing political drama takes the Government’s focus away from dealing with our economic challenges. Inflation is raging ahead – meaning the cost of things keep going up at speed. This is going to get worse, not better, later this year. As we enter the autumn / winter of 2022 we will see energy prices go up again, alongside the cost of food and, especially in Bristol, the cost of housing. At the same time, our economy is either flatlining or entering recession and our exports have fallen through the floor. Tax is at a record high and our national debt is huge and getting more expensive to pay off. To make matters worse, a decade of public sector funding cuts has thinned out the support available to those who need it the most. We are not in a good place.

 My job is to keep pressuring the Government to deal with these issues. I’m thrilled the Chancellor finally agreed to a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to help fund support for energy bill payers. This is something I called for last October, and which became official Labour Party policy at the start of the year. Other than the inclusion of an unwelcome new tax cut for oil and gas companies to drill for more fossil fuels and including community owned generators, I’m pleased the Government took on the policy.

 Our focus now must be helping the bottom third of families with the harsh economic headwinds, which come for a whole host of reasons, some we can’t control, and putting the economy in the strongest possible position to bounce back. Resolving the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute and enhancing our trade with the European Union is central to that. We might not be able to get to a position where the UK accepts free movement of EU workers anytime soon, but we can find ways of enhancing our trade and allowing managed migration of EU workers into the UK who we desperately need to help us do all the jobs we need to do.

 I’ve also been holding airline bosses to account via my committee, trying to understand the root causes of so many flight cancellations. The good news is that all of the airlines told me they are issuing refunds quickly and paying compensation to families. If that isn’t the case, feel free to get in touch with me and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Lastly, I know that many of you share my shame that the Government is pushing ahead with the Rwanda policy. Whilst it’s right that we try and tackle illegal migration and organised crime, I can’t for the life of me understand how the Rwanda policy is the answer. Bristol it a city of sanctuary and we do all that we can to welcome and support refugees – be they from Afghanistan, Ukraine or elsewhere.

More locally, I recently met with our Police and Crime Commissioner about an increase in anti-social behaviour, including some very unacceptable behaviour in shops on our high streets. I understand this has been a particular problem in Henleaze and Westbury. The police have put together a new scheme for local businesses to make it easier to report anti-social behaviour and share information to speed up prosecutions. I’ve asked the police to produce some ‘neighbourhood watch’ style stickers for shops to put in their windows and for information on how to access the new scheme to be distributed to all local shops.

As always, if you need help or have a question you can get in touch with me on e-mail at darren.jones.mp@parliament.uk on telephone at 0117 959 6545 or in writing at Darren Jones MP House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. I have appointments for fortnightly 1-2-1s in my constituency surgery, continue to host Q&A on my Facebook page at www.fb.com/darrenjonesmp and longer discussions in my monthly coffee mornings. We’re also looking at bringing back our monthly pub politics and my constituency podcast – watch this space!