March 2019: News from your local MP
In the wrong direction ...
Your Voice in Parliament
EACH month I seem to start this column by saying the Brexit saga continues – sadly that is still true and uncertainty for businesses, the economy and EU citizens here in Bristol North West remains. And with every week that passes I’m picking up more and more damage to local jobs and our economy.
We’ve had the devastating news from Honda that its factory in Swindon will close in 2021: making 3,500 direct employees redundant. Honda has a distribution centre in Avonmouth and ships cars out of the Bristol Port, so we will feel some of the knock-on effects on this news too. I was at Honda only a few months ago hearing about their apprenticeship programme, training electrical engineers for their electric vehicles. It’s heartbreaking to see that now coming to an end.
Airbus continues to make the news too, making it clear that a “managed no deal” isn’t a thing and helping to continue to apply pressure on the Prime Minister. We’ve also had the news that Avara pharmaceuticals in Avonmouth is closing, making hundreds of technical and good quality jobs redundant.
Companies in and around Bristol North West are also pulling their hair out at requests from their customers asking for confirmation as to how they will continue to supply their goods and services in the face of a no deal Brexit: confirmation that businesses can’t give if they rely on importing and exporting their products. Businesses are losing customers and hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of business.
I’m hopeful that Parliament will now pass the Cooper-Letwin Bill which will force the Prime Minister’s hand if she takes us closer to a no deal Brexit, and I’ll continue to work with the People’s Vote campaign and my Labour colleagues Phil Wilson MP and Peter Kyle MP on the “Wilson-Kyle” amendment which seems to gathering more support by the day for a public ratification of whatever the Prime Minister’s final deal is.
I say all of this with a massive disclaimer of course, given that politics is moving so quickly day-by-day at the moment that anything could happen!
I’ve also been spending a lot of time calling for fully funded childcare, proper funding for nurseries and local schools and working with colleagues at Southmead Hospital to call on the Government to properly meet the staffing crisis being faced in the NHS. I’ll write more on that in future columns!
Your Champion in Bristol
This month has rightly been another dominated by news of the proposed changes to the A4018.
Regular readers will know that I am in favour of improvements to public and sustainable transport, but any improvements should not come at the expense of our vibrant, yet struggling, retail centres such as Westbury village and nor should they cause whole estates in Westbury, Henbury and Brentry to be inaccessible, other than by large diversions, from main roads. I am also concerned the plans will only push more traffic through Southmead, and as residents know those roads already struggle with congestion at peak times.
That’s why I’m calling for the proposals to be scrapped and for the council to go back to the drawing board. You can support my call on our Mayor to scrap these proposals and to start again by signing my petition: www.darren-jones.co.uk/save-westbury
As I have set out in my North Bristol Transport Plan, I believe that a bus and cycle lane can be put along the main road from Cribbs Causeway to Bristol City Centre without reducing the current road capacity for drivers and without the need for so many restrictions on turning off the main road.
However, to be effective, these bus routes need to be attached to new Transport Hubs, bringing together park and ride, rail, car parking and electric vehicle charging, and cycle hire and lock up. I have called for three of these, near the Henbury rugby club, at the Portway Park and Ride in Shirehampton and North of Lockleaze.
Two of these locations were deliberately chosen on my part to avoid the thousands of cars from new estates in South Glos having to drive down the A4018 or Gloucester Road – and equally, to prevent more cars adding to the commuter parking crisis in Westbury, Henleaze, Sneyd Park and Stoke Bishop.
Over 300 residents joined my recent A4018 briefing - I will continue to consult you all on these proposals before submitting my official response to the council. To ensure everyone living along the most-affected parts of the route is aware of the proposals and has chance to tell me their views, I have supplied 10,000 leaflets to be delivered by volunteers.
I urge residents to submit their feedback directly to the council, complete my survey on transport, which includes the A4018 scheme, at www.surveymonkey.com/r/transport and get involved by joining my ‘Save Westbury-on-Trym and Brentry’ Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/northbristoltransport
I will be hosting a third A4018 residents meeting on March 9. You can reserve tickets here: www.darrenjonesmp.eventbrite.co.uk
If you would like to get in touch with me about any local or national issue, please email email@example.com, write to Darren Jones MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or sign up to my monthly newsletter via www.darren-jones.co.uk/sign-up.