Today Jack Lopresti MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke asked the Leader of the House of Commons, the RT Hon Chris Grayling MP, for a debate on the power of local councils to continue to have the freedom to charge organisers who run sporting events in their parks during business questions. Jack has now also put in for an adjournment debate.
Jack has called for this debate following letters that Stoke Gifford Parish Council has received from the Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, in relation to the Council's decision request a contribution from Parkrun Ltd for organising running groups of up to 300 people every weekend.
The Parish Council have publicly explained that they have hosted Parkrun Ltd for over three years but the run has grown out of proportion meaning the running groups monopolise the paths around the park and the majority of the car park leaving other organisations using the Park to question why they should pay to do so.
Currently section 19 of the Local Government Act 1976 enables local authorities to provide and charge for recreational facilities.
Jack Lopresti MP says: "I believe it is important that Councils manage their recreational facilities for the benefit of the local communities and have the freedom to raise money and balance their books in order that these facilities are preserved for future generations.
"I think this is a matter for the local Councils to decide without interference from the Secretary of State. As I have said previously Stoke Gifford Parish Council are asking for is a contribution from Parkrun Ltd as they do other groups which organise regular sporting events in the Park. It is not reasonable to expect local tax payers to subsidise the use of the Park by up to 300 runners per day at the weekends on a regular basis when other organisations have to pay a contribution. Incidentally when my daughter played football at the park for a local team all the players had to pay £2.50 per game per week to contribute to the maintenance of the Park. Cllr Brown has told me that he is very happy to work with Parkrun to secure a grant offer that Parkrun have so far declined."
I believe that the EU referendum is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Britain to be a free and self-governing country again. We are the 5th largest economy in the world which trades globally, we are the biggest defence spender in Europe (and 4th in the world) with the world's best armed forces, we are one of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, we have one of the best diplomatic services across the globe with a unique relationship with the United States and the Commonwealth. Unshackled from the European Union we will thrive and prosper as a nation even more. We will be free to make trade deals all over the world without the increasingly restrictive practices of the European Union. I believe that the UK can flourish outside the EU while building a new relationship with our European partners based on free trade and friendly cooperation.
I do not believe that European Law and the EU Court should be supreme and have primacy over British law made in our Parliament by our Politicians whom the British People elect and then can throw out at every General Election if they choose. If our Government is to be truly accountable to the people it must regain the ability to make the decisions that affect us. All our law makers are then held properly to account. Within the EU, these decisions are made by politicians from other nations who we have never elected and cannot replace. Furthermore actually most of the rules are made by the large European civil service (often called Bureaucrats) based in Brussels and Strasbourg. Our civil servants in Whitehall are often accused of being remote from the people they serve and I can assure you that the civil servants in Europe are even further away from understanding the needs of our people and the actual effect the policy choices they make have.
Our membership of the European Union costs the UK over £350 million per week. I think we would be better off keeping this money and spending it on our Armed Forces, Infrastructure, schools and hospitals. EU regulations also cost UK businesses over £600 million per week.
In an increasingly unstable and dangerous world it is vital that we have control of our borders. The way to do this is to leave the EU. Whilst immigration has been, and will continue to be, of benefit to our country; our Country cannot accommodate the current rate of immigration which is comparable to a city the size of Coventry arriving to settle in our Country every year.
We are a great Country and could be better still if we take back control.
So for these reasons I am supporting the British people to do just that. I will be campaigning for all these reasons and many more for us to vote to leave the EU on June 23rd 2016 which will hopefully be 'Independence Day'.
Jack has written to the Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Matthew Riddle, following a meeting with Sue Lonsdale from Filton Library Users Group. The Council are currently consulting on the future of library provision across the area and the Users Group were very keen for their views to be shared with the Council.
At the meeting, Jack and Sue talked about the benefits that libraries bring to local communities and the possible negative effects their closure or reduced opening hours would bring. Sue was keen to stress the importance of keeping as much provision as possible across South Gloucestershire.
Jack said 'it is positive that the Council have stressed that they want to hear as many views as possible during the consultation. I hope that they are able to use some of the ideas that will be generated when they make future decisions on library provision in South Gloucestershire.'
In his letter, Jack highlighted the strength of feeling that has been generated in support of libraries following the announcement of the consultation, and said that he hopes that the Council will bear this in mind when making any decisions on future provision.
'I believe that the Council must do everything they can to maintain or enhance the level of service that South Gloucestershire's libraries provide at the moment,' Jack said. They are a vital resource and I want everyone to have the best possible access to them.'
Jack is pictured with Sue Lonsdale from the Filton Library Users Group.
Aviva are a major employer in the Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency, and Jack today paid them a visit to talk about their business and the work that they do in the local community.
Aviva moved into the site at Brierley Furlong last year when they took over Friends Provident. Their office is one of the most well known landmarks in South Gloucestershire and employ several hundred people at the site in Stoke Gifford. This office is the biggest site that Aviva now own and they specialise in life assurance, pensions and retirement cover.
Jack was told about the changes to the business arising from the takeover of Friends Life and key policy issues arising from it. He also heard about the work that the Aviva Community Fund do. In particular, he was told about the work that they do with Help for Heroes to support military veterans transfer into civilian life at the end of their service. He heard about the time that Aviva staff spend with personnel giving them help with writing CVs, how to carry out a job search and what thought they need to give to the type of carer that they want to find after their military service.
Aviva were also keen to show Jack the work that they do to improve their customer services as well as meeting a former apprentice who is now working on a permanent basis at Aviva.
'I was delighted to be taken around the Aviva office,' commented Jack. 'They are a major employer in the constituency and I was very pleased to hear about the community work that they do.'
Jack today met Kirsty Scullion, Fundraising Manager with the Christian charity Alabare to discuss the progress they are making with investing funds awarded to them by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP in the Autumn Statement.
Alabare are a charity that, among other activities, provide housing and practical support to ex-military personnel as they return to civilian life. They have two properties in the Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency that are reserved for military veterans to move into as they transition into civilian life. The charity works with them to tackle any difficulties they are having with their physical and mental health and help them develop skills and confidence to enable to adapt effectively to life after the military.
The charity had applied to the Government for a share of the money received from banks as part of the fines levied due to rigging of the Libor market. The Chancellor has stated that it is his intention to use this money to support good causes, including military charities, and he was pleased to be able to support Alabare's plan to upgrade the facilities they offer for veterans.
Jack was able to discuss the progress that Alabare are making with finding a property that would be suitable for conversion into a residence for ex-military personnel. He discussed with Kirsty the type of property they were looking for and the input of users of Alabare's current properties who are best placed to contribute to thinking on what the new properties need to have. He was able to suggest a couple of empty properties in Filton and Bradley Stoke that Alabare may be able to consider.
Jack said 'I was delighted to hear about the progress that Alabare are making looking for a new property for the veterans they are supporting. I have visited the properties that they have in my constituency and have seen at first hand the work they are doing to help service veterans back into civilian life. I was delighted that the Chancellor was able to help them out with Libor funds and I look forward to visiting the new property when it is open and occupied.'
Jack today visited the new offices of DCET Training at Eagles Wood in Bradley Stoke. DCET are a training company that specialises in training electricians for large and small companies. They have recently opened the office in Bristol after expanding from their Devon and Cornwall origins.
The company moved into the premises in January of this year, and are already training young electricians, Apprentices and more experienced electricians on continuing professional development courses. Jack heard about the work they do with employers to develop trainee programmes for employers and employees. DCETs trainee programme has been recognised by NIACE as an example of good practice.
'I was delighted to visit DCET and I am pleased that they felt that Bradley Stoke was an ideal location for them to set up,' said Jack after the visit. 'They are doing great work training up future generations of electricians and offering continuing professional development to existing electricians, and I wish them all the best for the future.'
DCET Training will host an Open Day on 12th April.
The consultation on the future of library services in South Gloucestershire is now open and the Council are inviting contributions from members of the public. They are very keen to hear the views of local residents as they look to save money on the annual libraries budget, and have suggested three main options that they would like to hear feedback on. Details of the proposals can be found at www.southglos.gov.uk/librarychanges
'It is extremely important that library users and all residents in South Gloucestershire give their view of these proposals,' commented Jack. 'I am pleased that they are welcoming comments and I hope that they take note of all the submissions that they receive when making any final decisions. They have stressed that they are looking for ideas that will allow libraries to stay open for as long as possible.'
Comments can be submitted by email via to email@example.com or by post to FREEPOST RTCT-JXLE-EET, South Gloucestershire Council, Corporate Research & Consultation Team, Accommodation Consultation, Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood, BRISTOL, BS15 9TR.
In addition, more details about the consultation can be found in libraries or one stop shops and there will be a series of events in libraries across the area where Council officials will be available. The dates for these can be found on the website.
'I hope that the Council receive as many opinions as possible. Any constituents who would like to make me aware of their thoughts can do so by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org, or in my constituency office at 29 The Courtyard, Woodlands, Bradley Stoke, Bristol, BS32 4NQ. I will send all the comments I receive on to the consultation team,' said Jack. 'I also hold regular surgeries to meet constituents, my office is on 01454 617783 to book a place.'
Jack Lopresti MP has expressed his delight at the announcement of £500,000 in the Budget to carry out a feasibility study into the possibility of creating a new Junction on the M4 at Emersons Green. Jack has worked with other local MPs to press the case for the investment and their efforts were rewarded with the announcement by the Chancellor. Economic studies have shown that a new junction could add several million pounds a year to the local economy by making it a much more attractive place to do business.
The Gateway to Growth campaign has highlighted the benefits to local businesses across Bristol and South Gloucestershire of quicker access to the motorway network and the reduction in congestion that will result if the junction is built. An increase in employment at locations such as the Bristol and Bath Science Park and the building of more houses has heightened the need for the junction, and the proximity of the Avon Ring Road to the motorway means that great benefit can be achieved for relatively little outlay. Jack met with Transport Ministers alongside other local MPs in January to press the case for the investment.
'I am delighted that the Chancellor was able to commit to providing these funds' commented Jack. 'Building a new junction would be a vital investment for the north Bristol and South Gloucestershire area, and these funds are a first step in bringing it into being.'
Jack is pictured with other local MPs after meeting the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP to lobby for the new junction.
Jack Lopresti MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, yesterday, hosted students at Westminster as part of International Women's Day to promote greater equality for women in politics and the wider world.
Lucy and Cat, from Downend School and Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy respectively, were able to watch and ask questions during a session of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, visit Downing Street and watch the remaining Stages of the Enterprise Bill debate in the House of Commons Chamber from the public gallery.
The group of 66 students from across the UK also took part in a workshop run by Frances Scott, founder of the 50:50 Parliament campaign, and her team which got everyone thinking about how more female representation in Parliament can be achieved.
MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party all took part in the day.
Jack Lopresti MP said: "International Women's day in Parliament is a great opportunity for Students to see Parliament and hopefully realise that gender is not a barrier to any career. It is great that Catherine and Lucy, from Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy and Downend School, could make it. I am very sorry to be missing the day this year as I am in Northern Ireland with the Select Committee."
Eastleigh MP Mims Davies, who led the debate in Parliament and organised the day for the MPs and students said: "This has been an important day for women across the world and it has shown here in Westminster to all the students who came and to MPs too just what can be achieved and must be achieved if we are to have equality, not just in the numbers of women MPs, but also across the whole of society."
Jack Lopresti MP is backing apprenticeships in Filton and Bradley Stoke and has joined a campaign to spread awareness of the opportunities that apprenticeships offer to both young people and businesses.
Jack is one of 100 MPs who have joined the fight, pledging to champion apprenticeships in their local area – and ensure that their constituents benefit from the increasing number of quality apprenticeships on offer as the Government heads toward its target of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020.
The campaign, the Parliamentary 100 in 100, led by Nadhim Zahawi MP as the Prime Minister's Adviser on Apprentices – will see an announcement by an MP every day for 100 days. These announcements can include pledges from local businesses, charities or schools to take on apprentices for the first time, or to grow their existing apprenticeship programmes.
Jack commented "I absolutely believe that apprenticeships offer a brilliant opportunity for local businesses to help develop the careers of talented young people here in Filton and Bradley Stoke and ensuring the workforce of the future has the skills it needs. 70% of employers report that apprenticeships have improved the quality of their products or services. They offer real jobs with a real wage and the opportunity to gain valuable skills, real work experience and recognised qualifications."
"I want local young people to be the rising stars of the future, and local employers to help grow that talent. I have written to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership encouraging them to do everything they can to help local business recruit more apprentices and setting out the significant benefits of doing so. If you are reading this and want to find out more – please do get in touch with me to discuss in more detail."
Nadhim Zahawi MP added "I am delighted that Jack is backing apprenticeships in Filton and Bradley Stoke. We delivered more than 2.3million apprenticeships starts during the last Parliament, which is a record to be proud of. For every single one of those apprenticeship starts, there was a person gaining new skills, and hands on experience, giving them a brighter future. This is why it is so important to ensure that Filton and Bradley Stoke is a key part of the drive toward the three million, ensuring that even more opportunities are created, and I am delighted that Jack will be doing just that."
Upcoming Business – Commons: Main Chamber (5 May 2016)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Church Commissioners and Public Accounts Commission and Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, including Topical Questions. Oral questions; 9:30 am
Business of the House (28 Apr 2016)
Chris Grayling: I shall come back to that issue in a few moments, but I of course share most of the sentiments that the hon. Gentleman has just raised. Let me deal with other issues first. I start by wishing you, Mr Speaker, and the shadow Leader of the House a very happy Ed Balls day. I never thought they would come to miss him as much as they apparently do. I was asked about the European convention on...
Today Jack Lopresti MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke asked the Leader of the House of Commons, the RT...
I believe that the EU referendum is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Britain to be a free and...
Jack has written to the Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Matthew Riddle, following a...