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- 01 December 2017
The humanitarian situation in Yemen is nothing short of dreadful. It has been widely recognised as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, made only worse by Saudi Arabia’s blockade of all rebel-held areas in Yemen. In yesterday’s debate in the Commons, Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, asked how can the Saudi blockade be compatible with international humanitarian law, which states that starvation of civilian populations cannot be used as a weapon of war. The Saudi regime’s blockade must be lifted as soon as possible and a peace process must be given the chance to prosper. However, on Wednesday, Theresa May visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. Then yesterday, Conservative Members of the European Parliament – alongside the likes of UKIP and the Front National – voted against calls for an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. Labour has repeatedly called for the suspension of our arms sales to Saudi Arabia, pending a comprehensive and independent investigation int
- 01 December 2017
Last night I went to see a new play called “Goats” at the Royal Court Theatre. It’s a really powerful piece, set notionally in Syria, but it could equally apply to other conflict-ridden countries, past and present. It’s much better explained here than I could manage. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance. And yes, there are real goats too.
- 30 November 2017
Yesterday in Parliament I supported the UN #DrawALine Campaign working to stop violence against women. Currently two women die from violence every week in the UK, and one more is too many.
- 29 November 2017
I am saddened to hear that yet another music venue, The Surrey Vaults, has been forced to close following noise complaints from people in newly built luxury apartments nearby. This follows the #SaveThekla campaign, and earlier concerns about the impact of development near the Fleece and the Exchange. Bristol has the highest rate of office to residential conversions outside London, meaning many buildings near to music venues now have people living in them. I am sponsoring a Bill proposed by my colleague John Spellar, the ‘Agents of Change’ law, which will require property developers to take into account pre-existing businesses, like music venues, when planning new residential developments. This will place the burden on the developer, not the venue, to make sure that the venues and residents can co-exist in the same area. It will have its First Reading in Parliament on the 10th of January, and I hope we can get it into legislation soon.
- 29 November 2017
This morning Jim McMahon MP and I accompanied meningitis campaigners and bereaved families to the Department of Health for a meeting with Jeremy Hunt. After hearing from the families, the Health Secretary began by apologising to them for the NHS failures which led to the deaths of former St Brendan’s pupils Izzy Gentry and George Zographou, and Layla Rose from Oldham. We discussed vaccinations, awareness-raising, sharing of best practice within the NHS and better diagnosis. As a result of the meeting, the Health Secretary is to set up a working party to consider all these issues. The group, which will include representatives of bereaved families and meningitis charities, will meet in January and report to him by March. We have welcomed this move, but have made clear that we want to see action, and not just words, so that no other families will have to go through such a devastating experience.
- 29 November 2017
Last night in the Chamber I gave my response to the Government’s Budget, before it was sadly voted through by Conservative and DUP MPs. With growth projections down and the deficit forecast not to be eliminated until 2031, it is clear that austerity is not working. I spoke about what impact the cuts are having on our NHS, Bristol City Council, our police service and education system, and on the need to lift the public sector pay cap.The Budget was a failure, and my Labour colleagues and I will continue making the case in Parliament for a genuine alternative to this Government.
- 28 November 2017
I am still working with the Council to try to find a way to protect library services in east Bristol. The swingeing Government cuts are putting immense pressure on Council finances, and unfortunately we cannot continue exactly as we are, so we need to explore imaginative solutions. This could include community groups running them as shared community spaces, volunteers staffing the library, or extended access via swipe-cards which has been trialled successfully elsewhere. We also need to explore other sources of funding, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy – this is money that developers have to pay into the Council’s coffers, for example, for the new development at Paintworks. I am pulling together information on what money is available, and what we need to do to get our hands on it! I had a very useful meeting with Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, whose cabinet portfolio includes libraries, the week before last. She was due to present proposals to the Cabinet this week but this has no
- 28 November 2017
There will be an Urgent Question in Parliament today to try to make sense of what exactly is going on regarding the Brexit impact assessments. The Government tried to withhold them until forced by a vote in Parliament to release them. The EU Exit Secretary claimed that many of them had never been carried out. Now it seems that the Government will only release redacted copies. Parliament and the public have a right to know what is in these assessments; the Government needs to come clean.
- 26 November 2017
Busy morning yesterday speaking to residents of Fishponds and Eastville about local issues and getting people to sign my police cuts petition. Campaigning all year round, not just at election time!
- 25 November 2017
I’m deeply disappointed that the Budget contained no new funding for the police service. Avon and Somerset Police has already lost over 600 officers since 2010. Being able to keep us all safe and tackle crime depends on them having the resources to do so, and the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable were in Parliament this week to warn MPs that the cuts they are being forced to make are simply unsustainable. I am seriously concerned at the impact these cuts will have on policing in Bristol. Please sign my Petition calling for more money for Avon and Somerset Police here – https://www.change.org/p/the-house-of-commons-increased-fun…
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