March 2019: News from your local MP
Air pollution rightly concerns many of you. Pollution in Bristol regularly exceeds legal limits, leading to an estimated 300 premature deaths a year.
I have written a lot about Brexit in this column over recent months. So I thought I would give you all a break, and write about some other things, which are still important.
Proper funding for schools
I recently presented the government with petitions from several state-maintained nursery schools across Bristol West, signed by hundreds of parents, teachers and carers.
The nurseries are worried because government has failed to give them any clarity on whether they will lose a third of their budgets from April 2020. This is something I will continue to raise with the government. Nurseries are extremely important, throwing their funding into doubt is the last thing hard-working staff need.
This is just one story of many in the government’s chronic underfunding of education at every level. Meanwhile, ministers continue to repeat the misleading claim of ‘record levels of funding’, a distortion of statistics which I also confronted the Prime Minister about in November.
Clean air in Bristol
I recently met with Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey to find out how the government can help Bristol reduce air pollution. There is much more that national government can and should do to support Bristol.
I will also continue to work with Bristol City Council on this. I strongly believe that an effective Clean Air Zone is essential for making Bristol cleaner, greener city.
The Immigration Bill
People in Bristol often contact me about immigration. I am proud to say that almost all of you emailing me on this topic ask for more openness, not less. You want an ethical system based on respect for human rights. You also want the UK to provide a warm welcome to those who come to this country, whether they come to escape persecution or contribute their skills.
These ideas formed the basis of a recent speech I gave on the Immigration Bill. This draft law aims to create an immigration system after we leave the EU.
I was shocked to see this landmark document made no mention of refugees or asylum seekers. However, I am working with a cross-party group of MPs to change this. We plan to table amendments when the Bill comes back for a second reading, for example ending indefinite detention of immigrants. But this will not be easy – a recent meeting I had with Home Secretary Sajid Javid showed that we will face a lot of resistance to such changes.
I am running the London Marathon in April. Help!
I want to make the most of this opportunity to shine a light on some of Bristol’s fantastic charities, encouraging more giving and fundraising. So I am asking my constituents which charities, organisations or campaigns I should support.
Please help me choose from a shortlist on www.debbonaire.co.uk.
If you have missed the Brexit news this month, there is plenty on my website and Facebook, where I’ll post regular updates.