July 2023: News from MP Darren Jones

IN Rishi Sunak’s first speech after being appointed Prime Minister, he pledged we would see a Government with “integrity, professionalism and accountability”.

Fast-forward seven-and-a-half months, and Boris Johnson has resigned as an MP rather than face the findings of the Partygate investigation. Where’s the accountability?

Then you have Nadine Dorries, who appears to have announced she is resigning as an MP simply because she didn’t get a peerage in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours. Where’s the integrity?

These two former Conservative MPs, along with Nigel Adams, who also announced his resignation as an MP on the same eventful Friday in June, have let down their constituents who had elected them for a full Parliamentary term. Where’s the professionalism?

What troubles me is how the behaviour of a few politicians can tarnish the public’s perception of politics more broadly. This was evident at a recent Constituency Assembly that I organised, with 50 constituents selected to reflect the constituency as a whole, based on area, age, gender, race and other demographics.

At the event, the participants’ perception of politics was generally depressing, with dissatisfaction in the direction that the country is going in and of the quality of our public services. I’ll be sharing full findings from the Constituency Assembly and how I plan to act on them in the coming weeks.

In other news, while some former MPs may be putting their feet up, I’ll continue to put my best foot forward to represent my constituents. I mean that both figuratively and literally this month, as I’m joining some constituents who are members of Bristol Nordic Walking group for a walk around the Blaise Estate.

If you’re thinking ‘What’s Nordic Walking?’, you’re not alone! I’m a newbie going on my first walk, but it seemed like a novel way to spend some time chatting with constituents. Akin to cross-country skiing, in Nordic Walking you use specially designed poles to help propel you forwards and upwards, giving you a full-body workout. If you fancy giving it a go, the group regularly hold walks on The Downs, at Blaise Castle and Stoke Park. (See the club’s website for details: bristolnordicwalking.co.uk.)

I’m doing my Nordic Walk during Men’s Health Week, which is an annual event that encourages men to take charge of their well-being. The theme for this year’s Men’s Health Week is the impact that technology has on our physical and mental well-being. As someone who spends many hours sitting in front of a computer, it’s useful to have a reminder to step away and take care of myself, too.

Women’s health has also been at the forefront of my mind this month, as I joined business leaders in London for the Women in Work Summit. There was an incredibly interesting panel discussion on how implementing women’s health policies could help to keep more women in the workforce. There are key stages in a woman’s life, including – but not exclusively – the menopause, where we need to adapt our workplaces to make them work better for women. The issues highlighted warrant further exploration, so I plan to hold an event here in Bristol in the autumn.

Finally, the Partygate investigation isn’t the only report that’s hotly anticipated this month: my team has been crunching the data you submitted about your bus journeys, and the key findings should be published on the campaign page (www.darren-jones.co.uk/bus) by the time you read this.

We received more bus journeys logged from Westbury-on-Trym than anywhere else in the constituency. Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign! 

Regular readers may remember that Doug Claringbold, the Managing Director of First Bus in the West of England, had assured me that bus reliability would improve from April. Sadly, that isn’t what your data is showing me: in March, about one in four journeys logged across the constituency were ghost buses – services that were scheduled, but never materialise – and this increased to about one in three for April/May.

There were more ghost buses reported on the 2/2a, which serves Henleaze residents, than any other bus route: just shy of 50 ghost buses were reported from 1st March to 31st May. This isn’t good enough.

While the findings paint a pessimistic picture of the state of our bus services, I now have solid data to hold First Bus to account. (The vast majority of journeys logged were for First Bus services.)

Data collection has ended, but the campaign marches forwards!

As always, if you need my help or have a question, you can get in touch with me on e-mail at darren.jones.mp@parliament.uk, by calling my office on 0117 959 6545 or by writing to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.