Darren Jones writes for the Voice
Summer has always been synonymous with music, as the sound of festivals, carnivals and the BBC Proms fills the air.
You mightn’t know this, but music has played an important role in shaping my life. When I was at Portway School (now Oasis Academy Brightstowe), I benefitted enormously from the musical education that I received, and I’m convinced that it had a positive impact on my education more broadly.
I was fortunate to be able to learn to play the saxophone, perform in an orchestra and take exams in music theory for free, thanks to public funding at the time. This all comes at a cost these days, which means many children, especially those from state schools, don’t have these opportunities.
It was therefore music to my ears to hear Keir Starmer announce plans in July for a future Labour government to change the curriculum so that all young people have access to music education.
In other music news, in June I was on stage at Glastonbury! That’s right, the festival isn’t just about muddy fields, great music and camping – there’s a growing demand from festivalgoers for informative talks and debates, too.
I was in The Green Fields area of the festival to lead a panel discussion about the climate crisis: “Why does it always rain on me? Is it because Big Oil lied in the 1970s?” (It seems particularly apt after such a wet and soggy July!)
The discussion delved into how big oil companies knew in the 1970s that their businesses would cause climate change, but they covered it up and shutdown early-stage innovation into solar and hydrogen power. We are now dealing with a world 1.1°C warmer – and it’s on track to hit 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels.
Our generation must get this right. If we fail, our children’s generation won’t be left to clean up our mess – they’ll be left to live in a world that is harsher, more insecure and ravaged by extreme weather.
Investing in renewables is the way forward to reach Net Zero, so I was more than happy to help launch a community-owned wind turbine in Avonmouth in June.
Against all the odds, the Ambition Lawrence Weston team not only financed and built a wind turbine that is producing green energy and generating profits to go back to the local community, but it’s the largest onshore wind turbine in England! They should feel incredibly proud of their achievement.
In another great example of community power, I would like to congratulate the ‘We Love Stoke Lodge’ team following the announcement that the Council has decided in their favour to designate Stoke Lodge as a village green.
The evidence was always clear, and it would have been much easier if Cotham School had worked with the community on shared access to and use of the field years ago. Regardless, many congratulations to the campaigners, not least Emma and Helen. There is still more work to be done, but I hope all the parties will now be able to move forward with a sense of cooperation, so that everyone can enjoy the use of this important green space.
Talking about making spaces more welcoming for all, in mid-June I joined Bristol Dementia Action Alliance as they visited local businesses in another part of the constituency to discuss simple changes that would help customers with dementia.
People with dementia experience changes in how they perceive things, so a black mat placed by a store entrance, for example, can be misinterpreted as a hole that should be avoided. If you want to find out more about changes your business can make, please call Bristol Dementia Action Alliance on 0117 968 1002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ending on some exciting personal news, my wife, Lucy, is due to give birth to our third baby girl very soon. So, while Westminster winds down for the summer recess, I’ll be taking some parental leave. My office will remain open to help constituents (please use the same email and phone contacts as usual), and I’ll still be reachable if there’s anything urgent to deal with.
This means I won’t be running any events until autumn, which made it especially wonderful to have such a great turnout for my Summer Coffee Morning at Henleaze Bowling Club. Thank you to everyone who came, and to the bowling club for hosting the event – and for giving me a few pointers on how to play lawn bowls!
If you need my help or have a question over the summer, you can get in touch with my office on email at email@example.com, by calling 0117 959 6545 or by writing to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.