Bristol Central Library to stay in its present location
I was happy to learn that plans to move Bristol’s Central Library have been scrapped.
Many of you had written to me voicing opposition to this move. In my responses, I wrote about how much I love the Central Library. I use it regularly and I’m proud it is in my constituency, serving the people of Bristol.
The council is facing a giant hole in its budget. Plans to move the library were one of many ideas on the table to make cuts, but I am happy to see this specific recommendation has now been shelved.
We are lucky to have such fantastic libraries in Bristol, Central Library and smaller local branches such as Bishopston. If you’ve not been lately, do pay them a visit.
Anti-strike laws: a distraction from fixing underlying labour conditions
I was disappointed to see the government pushing ahead with anti-strike laws. This is an astonishing, desperate measure by the government. They have undermined our public services over thirteen years, leading to chronic labour shortages. This means that there isn’t an adequate level of service on many non-strike days – and it is one of the reasons why our key workers feel pushed to take industrial action, because they are working in intolerable and often unsafe or inadequate conditions.
I will always support people’s right to organise, withdraw labour and take other industrial action for better pay and conditions.
The childcare sector needs serious attention and not sticking plaster politics
Several people in Bristol tell me they cannot find a childcare place or are being asked to reduce their child’s hours.
I was pleased to hear the government commit to treat childcare as essential infrastructure for planning purposes. But it is not just childcare for new developments which needs attention. There is already a shortage of childcare provision in Bristol. I regularly visit local nurseries and I’ve heard first-hand how some are finding it extremely difficult to recruit and retain staff.
In December I wrote to the Children’s Minister asking what she will do to fix these problems which make life harder for working parents and entrench gender inequality. I’ll keep up the pressure.
Government mismanagement pushing our NHS to the brink
Over the last couple of years I have repeatedly sounded the alarm to government about long ambulance wait times and heard horror stories from constituents alongside tributes to the dedicated staff, struggling with a problem not of their making.
Whilst raising concerns with the local Ambulance Trust recently, senior managers informed me that “[the] whole health and social care system has been under sustained pressure for many months” and the “levels of delays are by far the highest levels seen in the Trust history”.
Years of governments ignoring these signs has led to a crisis now contributing to death and serious harm each week.
Clearly this needs a change of government – my Labour colleagues and I will agree a plan with the NHS to bring down waiting times and we will begin work on this straight away.