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- 30 January 2018
I’m pleased to see that the winning film in Bristol City Council’s Litter Superheroes competition was from West Town Lane Academy in my constituency. Their entry was filmed and produced by the pupils, and features a team of superheroes teaching people not to drop litter. It’s clear a lot of work went into this, and I hope it will make potential litter-droppers in Bristol think again! The entry can be seen here -
- 30 January 2018
During World War 1 and World War 2 over 80,000 Sikhs died and 100,000 were injured fighting for Britain. The campaign to start a war memorial to especially commemorate the military service of Sikhs will be the first of its kind, and the event had over 100 attendees. £375,000 was pledged to the cause on the night, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, promised to find a home for the memorial in Central London.
- 29 January 2018
I recently attended the launch of Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List, which highlighted the persecution suffered by Christian communities across the globe. In particular, Open Doors are concerned about the growing use of non-violent persecution, from the surveillance of Christians in North Korea to the demolition of churches in Sudan. This kind of persecution is especially worrying because of its insidiousness and pervasiveness – and because it can so easily facilitate and become actual violence. Of course, violence against Christians remains high, but non-violent persecution is a daily reality for Christians across the world. More than 200 million believers in the 50 countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian experience high levels of persecution because of their faith. To find out more about the work Open Doors is doing to address this, you can read the full World Watch List report below
- 26 January 2018
This week I’m in Strasbourg attending the Council of Europe, the pan-European body first set up in 1949 to promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Today I spoke in the session on Israel and Palestine. I criticised the detention of Palestinian children and highlighted the case of Ahed Tamimi. I emphasised that Israel has the right to protect itself, but this does not excuse the demolition of Palestinian homes and the construction of illegal Israeli settlements. This, and the consequent fragmentation of the West Bank, threatens hopes of ever achieving a two-state solution. President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem is a provocative and dangerous move, that risks further destabilising the situation. We need both Israel and Palestine to be part of a process to bring about peace and stability in the region.
- 25 January 2018
On Friday, I was in Parliament to support 2 important bills taken forward by backbench colleagues. One of them was Frank Field’s Holiday Hunger Bill, that would give local authorities the legal duty and resources to ensure children have access to free food and fun activities in the school holidays (as they do during term time). Although the Government opposed it, it did concede to a programme of pilot projects and research into how best to ensure more children from disadvantaged families benefit from meals and activities during the holidays. Feeding Bristol is gearing up to have schemes in place in every area of need for the summer holidays 2018. I very much hope we can apply for these funds and to be a pilot area, and will keep an eye out on the information the Government has promised on how areas will be selected. But this is very welcome news, and credit to everyone who has campaigned for the Bill.
- 25 January 2018
Today the Office for National Statistics has released annual crime statistics, which contains some shocking revelations. The total number of crimes being committed has risen by 14% in the past year with sharp rises in violent crime and sex offences, and the number of robberies has risen by 29%. Government cuts to the budget of police forces across the country are making this worse and limiting the police’s ability to keep us safe. Locally, Avon and Somerset Police had to make £65 million worth of cuts and there are now 655 fewer police officers than there were in 2010. I’ve been demanding that the Government increases the funding for our police. Please sign my online petition in support here - https://www.change.org/p/the-house-of-commons-increased-fun…
- 24 January 2018
A few constituents have contacted me regarding fines being issued to dog-walkers who had let their dog off the lead in a public park. Fortunately I’ve now been informed that these fines were issued in error, as they were in places where dogs are permitted to be off the lead, and the fines will be cancelled (and refunded to those who have already paid). Following a Public Space Protection Order the Council issued last October, dogs must now be kept on a lead at all times when on public land, save for some areas which are exempt from the order, which includes most parks. A full list can be seen here –
- 24 January 2018
It’s great news that Sky the Pitbull has been saved from being put down, after campaigners successfully fought to overturn a destruction order in court. Sky is legally registered and there has never had any concerns about her behaviour – her only crime was being considered as looking like an illegal breed by the flawed Breed Specific Legislation. In this way, the Dangerous Dogs Act has resulted in hundreds of friendly, family-owned dogs being put down since the legislation was introduced – regardless of whether the dog is well behaved or has a suitable owner. I have been fighting hard against Breed Specific Legislation – most recently writing a series of letters to Ministers both on behalf of Sky and highlighting the legislation’s deficiencies. This issue has strong cross-party support, and the fact that dog bites have increased since the legislation was introduced only shows that it is not fit for purpose.
- 23 January 2018
It’s deeply disappointing to see the Government giving the clearest indication yet that the Bath-Temple Meads section of the rail link to London won’t be electrified, meaning we will not benefit from modern electric trains which are quicker, more reliable and produce less air pollution than diesel trains. I suppose at least Grayling has come clean on what was clearly his intention all along, instead of continuing with the pretence that it has just been put on hold. Labour has pledged to complete these works in full if elected to Government. While it is welcome that the Government has said it is looking at opening additional suburban rail routes, this should be in addition to, and not instead of, electrification. I sincerely hope that they do open up new routes, as well as re-opening St Anne’s Station.
- 22 January 2018
This is good news, although it was forced on the Government which is why they released it on Friday; that people with mental health issues who have problems travelling alone will get more in Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for mobility. This brings them into compliance with a tribunal’s ruling in 2016 which said people who suffer "overwhelming psychological distress" when travelling alone should qualify more easily for PIP. It is welcome that the Government is abiding by the ruling, but it shouldn’t have taken them so long to do so.
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