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Posted by Dawn Primarolo, MP for Bristol South, at 14:53, Fri 23 March 2012:

WELCOME!

Here’s the latest edition of my regular newsletter.

THIS WEEK'S BUDGET

The Budget announcement brought bad news for Bristol South. The Government should be seeking to provide real help for people in these difficult times. Instead, they’ve taken advice from the millionaires they have round to dinner. After 25 years as an MP, it takes a lot to shock me, but I am genuinely astounded that the Government’s top priority is to slash tax for the super rich. Around 14,000 people in the country earn over £1 million a year, and they will receive a tax break of at least £40,000 a year, more than many families live on. To pay for it, the Government are hitting pensioners, many of whom have saved prudently over the years. It is a cruel irony that while the few will be preparing to splash out on exotic holidays or new cars with their tax cut, part time workers are desperately trying to find extra hours. Many who can’t find extra work will lose their Working Tax Credit in April. The result will mean that couples could be £700 a year better off by going on the dole than if they stay in work to provide for their families.

BRISTOL SOUTH'S NEW HOSPITAL - OPENING NEXT WEEK

I know that many residents went to look round the brand new South Bristol Community Hospital at an open day earlier in the week. It really is a fantastic facility, and everyone who backed the campaign by signing my petitions can be proud of what has been achieved. The hospital will be opening in stages over the coming weeks and months, with the urgent care centre opening to the public at 8am on March 30. The centre will be able to treat sprains, cuts and bruises, fractures and minor head injuries and is open from 8am to 8pm. It will have all the facilities currently available at the walk-in centre at Knowle West, but will also be able to offer X-rays and diagnostic testing. While I hope that you don’t have reason to visit the centre, you can be sure that it will be there if you or your family need it. I’ll be bringing you much more information on the hospital in future newsletters.

LOCAL RAIL AND BUS ISSUES

Recently I met with the Regional Director of First to discuss bus services in Bristol. I was interested to hear about new initiatives such as the FirstNight ticket but was very disappointed to learn that some fares will be rising in April due to increased operating costs. At a time when we are all being encouraged to use our cars less we really need our bus journeys to be affordable and I expressed my continuing concern about the cost of bus travel in Bristol. You may be interested to know that First has a broadcast only twitter feed (@FirstBSA) which provides information about operational issues, and the company also has an email address for customer complaints: contactwestofengland@firstgroup.com

Staying on the issue of transport, I attended a meeting last week with a group of campaigners who had travelled up to Westminster to lobby Bristol area MPs in favour of the Greater Bristol Metro project which aims to extend our local rail network and provide more trains, more often across Bristol. I have expressed my support for this campaign which I hope will result in improved train services. More information is available on the following website: http://greaterbristolrail.com/

SUPPORT THE "BIG SWITCH"

I have been contacted by many local residents in support of the Big Switch campaign which aims to use the combined purchasing power of thousands of customers to secure a better deal on energy prices. The campaign is being run by consumer organisation Which? who are asking people to sign up so that Which? can then negotiate a lower priced deal with the energy companies. At this point people will be able to choose whether or not to switch – there is no obligation. I’m very happy to support this campaign which sets an exciting precedent. If you would like to take part, be sure to register by 31 March on the following website: https://www.whichbigswitch.co.uk/

RECEPTION FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

I have always been pleased to support Amnesty International’s work, so was delighted to host a reception for them at the Speaker’s House in Westminster this week. The reception was a chance to celebrate 50 years of Amnesty fighting to protect human rights all around the world, and was well attended by MPs of all political parties. Amnesty’s staff and volunteers do such an important job in promoting human rights, and I hope that this event helped to raise their profile amongst MPs.

ANY QUESTIONS?

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 dawn.primarolo.mp@parliament.uk, phone 0117 909 0063 or write to me at PO Box 1002, Bristol, BS99 1WH.

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