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News from Bristol East

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- 04 January 2018
I’m in the Bristol Post warning that Government planned changes as to which children may receive free school meals risk leaving kids going hungry. Currently any child living in a household in receipt of a range of benefits gets a meal, but the Government is looking at restricting it only to households with incomes lower than £7,400, meaning over a million children will lose out nationally. There is a stack of evidence demonstrating the benefits that having a healthy lunch every day has on the development of young people, and this is also a crucial tool in fighting food poverty. Entitlement to free school meals should be extended to more children not restricted further, and allowing all primary school students to claim free school meals is Labour Party policy.
- 03 January 2018
Would you pay an extra £1 a month to support policing? Currently the Government grant for policing has been frozen, at a time of rising costs and new demands such as combatting terrorism. Avon and Somerset Police are considering a proposal to raise the policing portion of Council Tax by 6.6%, meaning a rise of around £12 a year for an average D Band property, so they can continue providing the current level of service and protection. PCC Sue Mountstevens is inviting you to send her your views on the proposal: On Wednesday, January 10, 2018 you can speak to the PCC in person at one of her public drop-in sessions across the area: 10-11.30am – Broadmead Shopping Centre, Bristol 1-2.30pm – Angel Place Shopping Centre, Bridgwater 3.15-4.30pm – Sovereign Shopping Centre, Weston-super-Mare You can also share your views by emailing pcc@avonandsomerset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 01275 816377. I’ve also been lobbying the Government to increase the funding they give to Avon and Some
- 02 January 2018
I’ve been at Temple Meads Station this morning talking to commuters who are facing yet another rail faire increase this year. The price of train tickets has risen by 32% since 2010, a steep rise which has vastly outstripped inflation. The state still puts billions of taxpayers money into improving our country’s rail network, but it’s the privately owned companies who make hundreds of millions of pounds in profit each year. Labour are campaigning for a cap on rail fare increases, and ultimately for the franchises to be brought back into public ownership. Please share this video if you agree.
- 26 December 2017
I hope everyone had a very pleasant Christmas! For Boxing Day and January sales, when stores are busy and tempers can become frayed, it’s important everyone remembers to treat retail staff with the respect they deserve. Findings from the trade union USDAW show that a worrying number of shop workers face violence, threats and abuse, and that this increases particularly during the post-Christmas sales. This is clearly unacceptable and I hope we all remember to treat staff with respect all year round.
- 20 December 2017
After several cat deaths in my constituency in recent years – as well as the current unusually cold weather – it’s important to highlight the danger of antifreeze to cats. Only one tablespoon of antifreeze – or just walking through an spillage - is enough to cause a cat irreversible kidney damage and ultimately kill them. I’m campaigning for the Government to make manufacturers add a bittering agents to their antifreeze so that cats are less likely to drink it, or ideally to switch to recipes that are non-toxic for animals. I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the topic in 2014 and wrote again to the Government last week. The Government has continually failed to act, and unfortunately the reply I received stated that they still have ‘no plans’ to resolve the problem. They argue that clear labelling is enough – however cats tend not to read labels, and nor does this protect against deliberate poisonings. Therefore, in the meantime please make sure to keep antifreeze securely st
- 20 December 2017
On Monday Labour’s amendment to review changes to the banking levy, which would save banks £4.7 billion, and instead allocate the money to children’s services was sadly defeated due to Tory and DUP opposition. In Bristol we’ve seen government funding for children’s centres fall by over 40% in 6 years. Children’s services provide a crucial lifeline to many families, and particularly for children from deprived backgrounds where all the evidence shows that they are really important in increasing life-chances and improving social mobility. Despite these cuts, I’m delighted that Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol has kept to his manifesto commitment of ensuring all children’s centres in Bristol remain open.
- 18 December 2017
Today the independent review into the tragic death of Bijan Ebrahimi was published by the Safer Bristol Partnership, which examined and responded to the ways in which the Council and other local organisations interacted with Mr Ebrahimi prior to his murder in July 2013. It follows a similar review into the police response by the IPCC, and the jailing of two police officers. It is clear his case was deeply mismanaged. Over a period of some years Bijan repeatedly told the police and the authorities that he felt at risk, but his complaints were disregarded, and they failed to give him the protection he needed. The finding of institutional racism on the part of the Council is one that the Mayor takes very seriously. I have also spoken to him about Council policy on rehousing vulnerable people, although I appreciate housing shortages make this difficult. I hope the lessons of this tragic case can be learned to ensure such serious failings are never repeated.
- 16 December 2017
Just had a productive meeting with Brislington Labour Councillors and library campaigners about the future of Wick Road Library. Discussed a lot of options, and much to take forward. #LoveMyLibrary
- 14 December 2017
Fantastic news that Bristol City Council is the first local authority in the country to introduce a levy on disposable coffee cups in all cafes in council buildings. The UK throws away 2.5 billion coffee cups a year, creating approximately 25,000 tonnes of waste which can’t be recycled through most collections. I’ve been calling for a levy on single-use plastic for some time – which includes coffee cups because it’s their plastic lining that makes them difficult to recycle - and I welcome the Government’s call for evidence on how this might be done. The Environmental Audit Committee (of which I’m Deputy Chair) has been conducting its own inquiry into disposable coffee cups, and will produce its report early in the New Year.
- 12 December 2017
This Sunday I spoke at the Dignity not Destitution march supported by City of Sanctuary. We should be really proud of how our city welcomes those fleeing persecution and conflict, who are just looking for somewhere safe to call home, but there is still so much more we can do to support them. Here’s a very nice clip from the Red Cross of refugees from across the world who have settled in Bristol and are really positive about the city - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tFDd2GWl8g
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