THIS month, the country is celebrating the coronation of King Charles III. Royal events are grand affairs of national importance, but they are also wonderful occasions for bringing communities together to celebrate with street parties, village fairs – and, of course, lots of bunting! It’s quintessentially British.
Staying on that theme, I’m organising a Summer Coffee Morning at Henleaze Bowling Club on Saturday, 1st July, from 10:00am-12:30pm, where both adults and children can try the quintessentially British pastime of lawn bowls.
What can you expect at my Summer Coffee Morning? It’s basically a bigger version of my Café Politics before the summer recess, where you can chat to me about local or national issues over a free cup of tea or coffee. Let’s hope the weather isn’t typically British, though, so we can enjoy a few games on the club’s beautifully maintained bowling green after our discussion. For those who aren’t playing, we can continue to chat informally over another cuppa and take in the scenery.
If you’d like to attend, please head to www.darren-jones.co.uk/events for the Eventbrite booking link. If you don’t have internet access, or if you have accessibility needs, please call my office on 0117 959 6545 to book. If you’d like to bowl, there’s a £1 fee for 30 minutes of instruction and play that should be paid directly to the club on the day. (There’s no charge for children to have a go with lightweight bowls while the grown-ups talk politics.) Spaces are limited for adults’ bowling, so please book early to avoid disappointment, and select the ticket type on Eventbrite that includes bowling.
Rolling on to other news, a constituent raised concerns at a recent Café Politics that signage for the Clean Air Zone is inadequate, so people are sometimes unaware they are entering the fee-charging area. In addition to improving physical signage, it’ll make sense for companies like Apple Maps and Google Maps to update their warnings. I’m going to write to them to try and make that happen, and to see whether more can be done to redirect large lorries away from the small roads under the Iron Bridge.
I am also continuing my fight to improve access to NHS dentistry. Finding an NHS dentist is a problem across the country, but it seems to be a particularly painful experience for people in Bristol.
I have already written, repeatedly, to Ministers about the crisis in NHS dentistry, and I held a debate in Parliament last January to encourage the Government to take this issue more seriously. I raised this issue again in the Commons a few weeks ago, which you may have seen reported in the local media.
I’m now going to host a dental summit in Bristol with local commissioners and providers to see what more can be done locally whilst we wait for the Government in Westminster to finally get round to updating the NHS dental contract; the current contract is preventing many dentists from taking on the additional NHS work they would otherwise be happy to do.
In my last column, I mentioned that I had planned an urgent meeting with Stagecoach to speak up for my constituents about changes to routes 10 and 11. If you’re unaware, the 10 and 11 will no longer take you from Westbury-on-Trym or Henleaze to UWE, Bristol Parkway or Aztec West – the services now terminate at Southmead Hospital.
Stagecoach has told me the route changes are due to insufficient funding from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to support the routes, so I’ll be following up on this issue.
In better news, WECA has launched a new on-demand bus service, called WESTlink, in which a pick-up and drop-off point can be booked online (https://travelwest.info/westlink), via the app or by calling 0117 457 8561 when you need to travel or the day before. The service is available 7am-7pm, Monday to Saturday.
However, while it can be used for journeys to and from UWE, Bristol Parkway or Aztec West, WESTlink is not available everywhere. In this area, the service is available to book between the high street in Westbury-on-Trym and Horfield, and only north of Eastfield Road.
Finally, by the time you read this, my bus campaign will be entering its final month of data collection. This campaign is about our community coming together and standing up to the bus companies who, for too long, have been failing to deliver an adequate service. Thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign. Please continue to log your journeys at www.darren-jones.co.uk/bus.
As always, if you need my help or have a question, you can get in touch with me at email@example.com, by calling my office on 0117 959 6545 or by writing to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.