News from Your Local MP
Posted by Dawn Primarolo, MP for Bristol South, at 14:16, Fri 16 September 2011:
Here’s the latest edition of my regular newsletter.
NHS & SOCIAL CARE BILL
As you would expect I have received a large number of e-mails and letters about the Government’s proposals for the NHS. I share the concerns of very many constituents that the changes will permanently damage the NHS and therefore I completely oppose the Bill. I have made my profound opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill very clear to the Secretary of State for Health.
Years of increased investment under the last Government improved the NHS dramatically following the neglect of the 1980s and 1990s. As a Health Minister in that Government I saw at first hand the improvements both here in Bristol South and elsewhere. But the high-cost and high-risk reorganisation proposed will destroy the NHS as a national public service and could see hospitals go bankrupt.
By voting for the changes the coalition ignored the advice of healthcare professionals, independent experts and the views of thousands of NHS patients. Once again this Government has failed to listen.
PALESTINIAN MEMBERSHIP OF THE UNITED NATIONS
I have written to the Foreign Secretary in connection with President Obama’s target of welcoming ‘a new member of the United Nations – an independent sovereign state of Palestine’ by September 2011.
I have always been a supporter of a two-state solution in the Middle East and I believe it is very important for an independent Palestinian state to be recognised by the UN in line with the recognition of Israel. This will help to protect the rights of Palestinians and to aid a resumption of negotiations with Israel, although I believe Palestinian recognition at the UN does not preclude negotiations between Israel and Palestine. I know that a number of other MPs have been in touch with William Hague, and I hope that the British Government will support the recognition of Palestine by the UN.
CUTS TO CONCESSIONARY COACH TRAVEL
I have been contacted by a number of local residents in connection with the Government’s decision to withdraw its coach travel subsidy for the over 60s and disabled people. For many people, the existing half price fares make it possible to travel to see family and friends and without the discount these journeys may become unaffordable, leaving many people socially isolated. This may have the knock on effect of coach operators withdrawing some routes due to lower passenger numbers. I recently wrote to the Transport Secretary to raise concerns about this cut to transport funding but the Government appears unwilling to reconsider or negotiate on this issue.
The leader of the City Council apologised this week after I raised concerns that a letter sent to Education Secretary Michael Gove about the school places shortage completely ignored the problem in south Bristol. As many readers will be aware, ‘bulge’ classes had to be created in Southville and Bedminster this year to meet the growing number of children in our area, and the pressure only looks set to increase. One of the keys to ensuring every child has a local primary school place is to make sure that Bristol receives a significant allocation of Government capital funding. Working with councillors, I have been delivering letters to homes in BS3 asking residents to support our campaign for extra funding. I also believe it’s important that the Government have the full facts from the Council, so I have asked the leader of the Council to join me in meeting Michael Gove. I will keep you posted.
CUTS STARTING TO BITE
It is likely to be some time before most people feel the full force of Government cuts. At the moment, those cuts are hitting the most vulnerable in our society. Unfortunately, Bristol is doing a much worse job than other local authorities in protecting vulnerable people. I was horrified to learn that an influential think-tank has ranked Bristol 147th out of 152 local authorities in a report on cuts to disabled people. I have written urgently to the Council to ask them how they intend to respond. As well as reports like these, I have also noted a sharp increase in the number of people getting in touch with me and asking for assistance. In the first six months of this year I received more than 2500 individual requests for help from Bristol South residents. This is a dramatic rise on the same period last year and is no doubt the result of the cuts and other policies of the Government. My number one priority will always be the people of Bristol South and I will always do my best to respond promptly to constituents’ letters, phone calls and emails.
MEETING YOUNG PEOPLE IN WESTMINSTER
On Tuesday this week a group of young people from Knowle West Media Centre came to visit me in Westminster as part of the their “Truth about Youth” project which aims to challenge perceptions about young people while giving the participants an opportunity to learn new skills such as photography. I was very happy to answer their questions and help to support their work which will culminate in an exhibition. I wish them all the best and look forward to seeing the final product!
On a related note, Knowle West Media Centre is currently working with two other local organisations, Re:Work and the Tree of Life, to secure funding for a community energy saving project, “Future Fit Bristol”. To support their bid please visit the following website and add your name to the list of supporters: http://www.energyshare.com/future-fit-bristol
ROGUE LANDLORDS CAMPAIGN
I have been contacted by the housing charity, Shelter, in connection with their campaign to prevent people becoming victims of rogue landlords. If you are renting a new home or one of your children is leaving home, the following website will to help you to avoid scams:
If you have any queries about these issues, or have a question you would like to ask about anything else, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Just email me at email@example.com, phone 0117 909 0063 or write to me at PO Box 1002, Bristol, BS99 1WH.