Regular readers will know that energy and climate policy is an area of work that is close to my heart. It’s therefore with an air of sadness that I no longer lead Parliament’s oversight of energy and climate policy, following the name and remit of my Committee changing. I am now Chair of the House of Commons Business and Trade Committee.
Why did this happen? The Government recently restructured its Departments, which includes creating a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero Committee. Since the role of the committees is to scrutinise the work of Government Departments, they needed to change in tow.
Rest assured I remain committed to the cause for a greener future. As I said in a farewell speech at Ofgem, I will continue to do all I can to deliver our Net Zero mission. (You can watch the speech in full on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/@darrenjonesmp)
Locally, there are innovative companies that could help us to reach our Net Zero goals. In May, it was great to visit Vertical Aerospace in Hallen, which is pioneering electric aviation – a cutting-edge company choosing to invest in Bristol and one that will help to build on our proud aerospace history. The following week, I was in Avonmouth to open Herschel Infrared’s new UK Production Facility. Infrared heating will play an important part in the technology mix for decarbonising heating, so it’s great that we’re designing, making and selling these heaters in Bristol.
The Government scrapping its industrial strategy has made it harder for innovative start-ups like these to scale up. We need to do more to keep investment here in the UK.
Even long-established UK industries, such as car manufacturing, are in trouble. You may have seen the recent news about the car manufacturer Stellantis, which owns Vauxhall, considering leaving the UK. It is the first, but sadly won’t be the last unless the Government renegotiates the Brexit trade deal.
Compounding the problem, the Government has failed to secure the production of electric car batteries, which we’re going to need if we’re going to keep making cars in the UK, as the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030.
I suppose the warning signs for achieving this electric car future have been flashing for some time. Back in 2017, I raised during a House of Commons debate that we need the Government to put the charging infrastructure in place for this to be a reality. At the time, there were only three public electric car charging points across Bristol North West. We now have five, clustered in Avonmouth and Horfield – not a great improvement.
My Committee has launched an inquiry into the future of car production in the UK, so please follow my social media channels for updates. My Committee work has also reignited my determination to make Bristol North West electric car friendly, with charging points easily accessible across the constituency. Watch this space!
In other local transport updates, I’m pleased to see our pothole-ridden roads are starting to be fixed. And, following several constituents contacting me about the removal of timetables from bus stops – with posters instead displaying QR codes to view them online, if they have data and a smartphone – I’m pleased to see new timetables are starting to appear in our bus stops.
Of course, having access to a bus timetable is only helpful if services turn up as scheduled, and my Better Buses or Bust! campaign has revealed the scale of the problem of ‘ghost buses’ in Bristol North West. At the time of writing, the campaign is in its final couple of weeks of data collection, so I won’t go into too much detail. But I did take the opportunity to raise the problem of ghost buses in Parliament recently, in response the Government announcing the extension of the £2 cap on bus fares. What good is a cheap ticket if the bus doesn’t show up? (See the clip on my Facebook page.)
Finally, if you haven’t yet booked your ticket for my Summer Coffee Morning at Henleaze Bowling Club on Saturday 1st July, don’t delay. At the time of writing, spaces are still available, but we expect it to fill-up quickly now that event promotion is revving up.
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 have a go at lawn bowls, please pay the £1 fee for 30 minutes of instruction and play 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.)
As always, if you need my help or have a question, you can get in touch with me on e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling my office on 0117 959 6545 or by writing to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.