April 2023: News from local MP Thangam Debbonaire

Fixing the problem with buses

MANY people have written to me about the state of buses in Bristol. Cancellations and delays are a regular occurrence, which has led to public distrust in buses and fewer people using them. If we want to meet our net zero goals, we need a functioning and viable public bus service.

While there is some funding available, current government policies mean there are many blocks in how this funding can be used.

The No. 47 (previously the No. 5) is set to be one of the number of routes to be axed from April. It is a perfect example of this vicious cycle.

I have been lobbying First Bus and West of England Mayor for better buses. I have stressed the importance of the No. 47 and many other bus routes across Bristol, particularly for vulnerable people but frankly for lots of us trying to make ends meet in a cost-of-living crisis.

The responses I received from my recent survey were shocking. People unable to get to work or their weekly shop. Others feeling that without a bus they would be a “prisoner in [their] own home” (their words).

All of this could be avoided by giving people power and public control of local bus services. The government could choose to make it simpler for communities to spend public money on what matters most to them. This is what a Labour will do through our ‘Take Back Control Act’ if we win the next General Election.

By the time you read this, there may no longer be a bus service in St Werburghs and St Pauls, which will be a huge shame. I promise to always hold those in power to account to ensure Bristol has an affordable and well-connected buses.

Illegal Migration Bill

Last month the government announced their ‘Illegal’ Migration Bill. It is an unworkable and shameful proposed law in response to the arrival of asylum seekers by small boats across the Channel. It tells a woman whose been trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation or an Afghan interpreter or a family from Syria that their cases won’t even be heard.

As your MP I strongly oppose this proposed new law and voted against it.

Ministers need to deal with the backlog of asylum applications, improve the safe and legal routes such as family reunion and resettlement schemes, crack down on criminal smuggler gangs and tackle humanitarian crises at source. This is what Labour would do and we spelled this out in our ‘reasoned amendment’. The government voted against this amendment, so I and my colleagues voted against the Bill.

The overwhelming majority of the millions of people worldwide fleeing war and persecution remain displaced in their own country or living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. The much smaller proportion who make their way to the UK often do so because they have a link to our country.

I have an ongoing petition on my website (www.debbonaire.co.uk). Please sign this petition if you oppose the Bill and circulate it amongst others in Bristol West.