Bishopston Medical Practice closure leaves residents with unanswered questions

Bishopston Medical Practice has announced its closure on September 30th, encouraging patients to re-register at other GP practices. 

A letter delivered to users of the practice confirmed the news, stating that the contract was coming up for renewal and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had decided to move patients elsewhere. 

The CCG had considered renewing the contract, but due to "several factors" decided to support re-registering patients at other local general practices, including Montpelier - a 25-minute walk away.

A consultation went out to patients in May 2019, with over 300 respondents engaging. Whilst a summary has been published, it is unknown how many patients support the decision to close the practice. The practice currently enjoys a 4-star rating on NHS Choices, with one patient declaring it "the best GP practice I have experienced". 

James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:

"It is clear that the primary motivator behind this move is not patients but finances. 

"Our GP services are already struggling with having to do more with less, and this move is only going to make services worse for local people.  

"Whilst I'm glad that the CCG opened up a consultation to patients, we're not being told the results of the consultation, we're not being told how many patients - if any - support this move. Local residents I've spoken to are disappointed by the decision and are being left with too many unanswered questions.

"Access to a good local GP is absolutely essential. Tory funding cuts to our local health services are putting a strain on the system and putting patients at risk. Liberal Democrats demand better.


Snap election could see Bristol gain 2 Lib Dem MPs, polls suggest

A YouGov poll which hypothesises an early general election puts the Lib Dems on course for Downing Street, with Bristol West and Bristol North West gaining Lib Dem MPs.

The poll asks respondents if in the event of an early general election, with Jeremy Corbyn leading the Labour Party with its current commitment to deliver a Brexit deal, how they would vote. The scenario sees the Lib Dems on 30%, Conservatives on 24%, the Brexit Party on 19% and Corbyn's Labour on a record low 17%. 

Poll modelling agency Flavible has suggested that this would lead to Liberal Democrats gaining the Bristol West and Bristol North West constituencies and coming second in Bristol East. 

James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:

"This is a pretty clear message to Jeremy Corbyn. It's time to get off the fence and back Remain or face a wipe-out at the next election.

"What this poll shows is that the Lib Dems will be the home for remain voters at the next election and I'm excited to give the people of Bristol West the unambiguously anti-Brexit, pro-European MP they're crying out for."

"The Lib Dems are being rewarded for our long-standing and principled position of opposing Brexit, supporting a People's Vote and fighting for our place in the European Union. The choice is becoming clear - Brexit with Boris & Corbyn or Remain with the Lib Dems."


Mary Page: Clean Air delays "a matter of life and death"

Responding to the Bristol Cabinet Clean Air plan proposals, Mary Page, Bristol Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, said:

“The Mayor’s inaction on a clean air zone is killing 300 Bristolians every year, so it is to be welcomed that, finally, two Clean Air Zone options will be going out for public consultation. Neither option, however, is due to have much impact for at least 5 years which is 1500 more Bristolians could die from the very air they breathe. That could be you, me or someone you know. The sad truth is it is likely to be the most vulnerable the very young, the sick or elderly so this has to be a priority action for any Mayor of Bristol."

"We have the National Clean Air Action Day coming up on 20th June and I hope everyone in Bristol will study the Cabinet papers closely as it really is a matter of life and death. The plans include nearly 50 pages so I'm sure the Bristol Clean Air Alliance campaigners will be analysing the details."

“As a personal commitment to being part of the solution, I’ve just got an electric bike, and when I worked out how much I’ve been spending on car-parking, fuel and wear and tear, it will pay for itself over a relatively short time. The whole Liberal Democrat team is also committing to reducing our emissions and supporting sustainable transport.”

“But a bigger challenge is the air quality that we are now breathing in. That is definitely not an incentive to using bikes or walking in the city centre so there may be some quick win actions that can make a big difference to help with that. We should also look at greening the city in the true sense, by using modern plant walls in public spaces, new buildings and office spaces to soak up and clean the air we breathe. It is a well-established policy of using trees, mosses, and other plant curtains to give both a pleasant and attractive look and act to filter the particulates and toxins. It worked to help get rid of pea-souper smogs in the past and whilst we figure out how to tackle the actions of the worst polluters elsewhere, there’s no harm in recycling a great idea to use again. There are also modern technology filter screens that can be fitted in high-risk areas such as windows of primary schools and hospitals.”

"Once I've analysed the detailed plan I'm sure there may be opportunities to look at bike, electric bike and car hire options to expand on the existing commercial networks. We should also be looking at enabling pay-as-you-go matched funding finance options, with every hire counting to a part-payment of owning your own sustainable transport. As well as using West of England Transport funds to pay for vehicle exchange, refurbishment or in worst case scrappage options."

“Ultimately, Liberal Democrats believe that it’s right the polluter pays. So it is to be welcomed that the plan looks at banning the worst vehicle emissions but it is also right that that has to be done in a way that doesn’t allow the rich to just pay to pollute the air we breathe. It's also no excuse to do nothing because the poorest continue to be the most affected by breathing the toxic fumes where they live. Financial measures to support the less well off need to be considered as I realise that changing habits is really tough for individuals but we shouldn't be allowing our citizens to die by being too scared to take action."


Lib Dem MP calls for end of Vagrancy Act use in Bristol

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has called for an end of the use of the Vagrancy Act in Bristol, following a freedom of information request by the Bristol Post which found that 10 people had been apprehended in Bristol over the last two years under the law.

Layla Moran has introduced a private members' bill to the House of Commons calling for the almost 200 year old law to be repealed. In Bristol, Liberal Democrats have also tabled a motion calling on the council to stop its usage in the city.

 

Responding to the continued use in Bristol, Layla Moran MP said: 

“The Liberal Democrats demand better than a law that is so outdated it was even opposed by William Wilberforce.  

“In places like Bristol we should protect people who are ending up on the streets. Many of them are struggling with mental or physical health issues - they aren't criminals. Where's the logic in large fines for people who can barely afford to eat?

“Moving people on, issuing fines and putting them in prison cells should be a national source of shame. That’s why I am so passionate about repealing this Dickensian Act.”

 

James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, added:

"Being homeless should not be a crime. Yet against all common sense and decency we are seeing rough sleepers targeted using this age-old legislation.

"Over the last few years we have seen folk moved on, fined, and even put in prison simply for sleeping rough on our streets. It should be a source of shame for the city, but the council seems unconcerned by its continued use.

"We need to be caring for our homeless, not criminalising them. Bristol deserves better."


Lib Dems demand Bristol schools are given the resources to teach

Following a meeting with Cotham School, James Cox has called for school funding to be reinstated and has called for a fundamental change in the culture around schools and teachers. 

Cotham School has seen a projected £1.5 million cut in real terms from 2015-2019, equating to a £409 cut in yearly per-pupil funding. This cut to funding is broadly in line with what is being seen across the city of Bristol, which has received a £71.2 million cut in real terms funding since the Conservative government was formed in 2015. 

Liberal Democrats protected per-pupil funding in real terms during the coalition government, including introducing the pupil premium boosting protected funding for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The real terms cuts to schools, however, has put incredible pressure on local school budgets, with Cotham School worried that they will need to follow others schools and reach out to parents and others for fund basic provisions. 

The Liberal Democrats have proposed not only a return to 2015 real terms levels of per-pupil funding but also a radical change in the culture of teaching. Proposals include replacing Ofsted with a new HM Inspector of Schools which focuses as much on the culture of the school and on teacher and student wellbeing as well as academic attainment. They have also proposed banning league tables, publishing instead a broader range of data so parents get a better feel for the school, like survey feedback or comments from other school leaders on the quality of pastoral care or the breadth of subjects they offer. 

James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:

"It was great to meet with staff at the school and see the brilliant work they are doing in spite of continued budgetary pressures from this Conservative government. Since Liberal Democrats left government, we have seen year on year cuts to per-pupil spending with the government expecting more from teachers whilst providing them with less.

"Our schools should be teaching and inspiring the next generation of Bristolians. They should not be worrying about having to set up Amazon wish-lists or another fundraising idea so they can afford the very basic learning supplies. They should not need to worry about a toxic culture which is decimating the teaching industry and harming student experiences.

"Liberal Democrats demand better for schools in Bristol. We are fighting for a schools system that is fully funded and gives teachers the freedom and power to do what’s best for students.


'Remain voters must unite' as Change UK launch Euro Campaign in Bristol

'Remain voters must unite' as Change UK launch Euro Campaign in Bristol

Change UK - The Independent Group is today launching its campaign for the European Parliamentary elections at We the Curious in Bristol. 

It follows the surprise announcement of South West MEP Julie Girling, who very recently joined the Independent Group, who said she would not be standing for Change UK and has urged Bristol voters to back parties with "a clear pro second referendum pledge."

Responding to the launch, Stephen Williams, the former Bristol West MP and Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Candidate for South West England, said:

"Change UK should follow the lead of Julie Girling and not stand candidates in the Euro elections to maximise the chances of existing hard Remain parties winning MEPs. If they stand, the beneficiaries will be the Tories and Labour, both of whom want Brexit, albeit in different versions. 

"Remain voters must unite in order to defeat Brexit parties at this election. The Liberal Democrats have more members, the strongest infrastructure and most elected representatives of any pro-Remain party. We are proudly the party of Remain and we urge voters in Bristol and across the South West to back us to defeat Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party."


39% of jobs in Bristol at risk to automation

A report released today by the Office for National Statistics has revealed that 39% of jobs in Bristol are at risk of having some or all of their tasks automated.

The report shows that almost 1 in 20 jobs are at high risk of being automated, around 8,959 jobs in the city. The figures show a huge disparity in risk depending on gender and age. The ONS analysis shows that 70.2% of the roles at high risk of automation are currently held by women. In addition, people aged 20 to 24 years are most likely to be at risk of having their job automated, when compared with other age groups.

Jobs most at risk from automation include elementary jobs (waiters and waitresses, shelf fillers and bar staff), processing jobs (sewing machinists, tyre and exhaust fitters, weighers, graders and sorters), retail staff, and even skilled trade occupations like florists face an almost two thirds of roles being automated.

James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:

"It is deeply worrying that whilst the Conservative Party plunges the country into a Brexit crisis, millions of jobs across the country and thousands of jobs in Bristol are at risk of being replaced by automation.

"Young people are once again the biggest victims of the generational divide as the jobs they've worked hard to get today may disappear tomorrow. Women are also disproportionately placed to be negatively impacted. Technological progress cannot and should not be stopped, but the government has got to confront the issue now so that every generation, gender and part of the country can feel the benefit of that progress.

"Liberal Democrats are calling for all businesses employing over 250 people to start developing plans to support those staff who are most vulnerable to automation. I will be inviting companies in Bristol West to meet with me so we can ensure that this planning takes place. We are also demanding that the government grant £9,000 to every adult over their lifetime to fund lifelong learning and reeducation."


Mary Page Selected as Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate

Mary Page selected as Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate

The Liberal Democrats have selected Mary Page as their candidate for the Bristol Mayoral elections in 2020.

Mary Page is a Public Relations & Brand Communications specialist with extensive experience in driving effective multi-sector corporate partnership engagement strategies. Mary has lived in Bristol for twelve years, currently living in Stoke Bishop.

Mary has been a strong critic of the Mayor and the Mayoral system and has committed to holding a public vote on whether or not to abolish the Mayoral system. Also key to her platform is tackling air pollution in Bristol, to address the rising numbers of homeless people in our city and to introduce London-style bus franchising to Bristol.

Responding to her selection, Mary Page said:

"We have seen the current Mayor preside over the local non-delivery of things like the Bristol Arena, a clean air zone, and his own promise to cut the cost of senior management in the Council.

"I'm standing for Mayor because I believe we can do things differently. The Liberal Democrats offer hope, creativity and innovation to Bristol. Our campaign to rid us of the Mayor does that, our fight against dodgy payoffs in the council and to cut the spiralling cost of the Mayor’s staff reinforces that.

"The people of Bristol deserve a Mayor who hasn't forgotten how to be one of them. Someone who knows that £95,000 for the Mayor's chief of staff is nearly four years wages to the average person.

"The Mayor has had three years to tackle the problems in our city and he has failed to act. Air pollution still at illegal levels and causing hundreds of deaths every year, a public transport system the public has lost faith in with no plan to fix it, and the human tragedy of growing numbers of rough sleepers dying on the streets of Bristol. We need a Mayor whose number one priority is fixing those problems.

"Liberal Democrats demand better for Bristol. I believe this is a city of entrepreneurs, innovators and creatives who are being let down time and time again. My campaign will focus on healing the divisions in this city, offering real change and delivering opportunity for every Bristolian. If you get frustrated or angry with the Mayor, remember it doesn't have to be this way. We can change Bristol together."


Bristol Rovers showing the way on mental health issues

Following a meeting with Bristol Rovers Community Trust, James Cox has praised the organisation's community work on mental health issues and urged more people suffering from mental ill health to engage with their programmes.

Bristol Rovers Community Trust, who won the 2018 Bristol Life charity award, have been working with the NHS over the last eighteen months to encourage people suffering from mental ill health with their 'recovery through sports' programme.

The Trust put on a talk by former coaches and players which was attended by over 200 people. Every Thursday, the Trust hosts around 30 young people in an open football session with an emphasis in talking about and understanding how to deal with their mental health.

James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:

"It was an honour to meet with Bristol Rovers Community Trust today to learn more about the incredible work they're doing in the community, particularly in engaging and promoting mental health issues.

"There is such scope with football and sports to engage people who otherwise wouldn't normally talk about their mental health. I'm thrilled the Trust are taking such a lead on mental health issues, reaching audiences that politicians, charities and health professionals are just simply unable to reach. 

"I would urge every young person whether they feel they suffer from mental ill health or not to engage with these programmes. Not only can it help to break the stigma around mental health, but it is a great way to deal with some of the issues around it. Football encourages social inclusion, physical health and improving mental health. I'm excited to see where it can go next and in being a part of it."


Hydrogen on the move in Bristol

Lib Dem councillors today welcomed a prototype hydrogen fuelled car on display in Bristol. Hydrogen was one small component of the Lib Dem fundamental changes to all services in Bristol while the Lib Dems were achieving the city’s status as European green capital.

While pressing for the introduction of clean energy transport generally in the city, the Lib Dem administration pioneered hydrogen as a fuel and built a hydrogen fuelled ferry boat to show its merit.

Cllr Anthony Negus, Bristol Lib Dem Group leader, said:

"The Lib Dems trialled renewably generated hydrogen by hydrolysis from our Avonmouth wind turbines during their low night-time demand periods. This almost free power would otherwise have gone to much less efficient battery storage. Though improving, batteries are not so efficient or convenient with much of their rare components and technology being controlled abroad.

"The economical hydrogen fuel can be easily transported, stored in fuel stations and pumped like petrol. We were in the process of making applications for grants to the EU for rolling out a hydrogen infrastructure, against discouragement from transport officers. This was not pursued under Mayor Ferguson despite Lib Dem entreaties.

"The technology of the demonstration vehicle is interesting but it is the cleanliness, cost and sustainability of hydrogen as a fuel which continues to attract the Lib Dems. It is particularly suitable for goods vehicles where adequate batteries are still too expensive and under-developed. Hydrogen technology has greatly developed but needs to be taken seriously as a component of overcoming our energy, carbon and clean air issues in Bristol. Lib Dems are proud of our efforts in highlighting this opportunity and continue our interest and vigilance in seeking new solutions.


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