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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

'Mummy, why did granny get arrested for sending me a Birthday Card..?".

Jane Jackson is running an invaluable support group for Grandparents who have lost access to their grandchildren

Jane Jackson is a local grandparent who has suffered the same heartache as so many grandparents in not being able to get access to her grandchildren following a marriage breakup of the parents.

This is heartache enough, but as was reported in some national papers,  Jane has been highlighting how some grandparents are feeling the full force of the law under the harassment act- just for sending their grandchild a birthday or Christmas Card, and I am helping her fight her campaign.

Jane's message is simple - it's not about grandparents' rights, it's about the welfare of the child and their 'rights' to have access to loving family members.

Of course, as anyone who has experienced or known of genuine harassment or stalking will tell you, genuine harassment is appalling for the victim and should be dealt with most robustly by the law -and tragically, there have been cases where the law has been too slow to act when the alarm has been raised. But in order to be able to be there for genuine harassment, or indeed routine crimes like break-ins, its vital our police feel able to take, and are encouraged to take a consistent common approach to innocent and well-meaning grandparents who just want their grandchild to know they love them, once a year at Birthdays or Christmas.

If you would like to get in touch with Janes' support group, go to

Friday, 22 June 2012

Getting Bristol on-track

I make no apologies in shamelessly using the opportunity of Transport Secretary of State, Justine Greening's business lunch visit to impress on her the absolute necessity of Bristol getting sufficient investment for proper rail services: a Bristol Metro ( with a Henbury LOOP, not spur!) line.

I also made it very clear that none of this can happen without the (rather techie) requirement of four tracking at Filton Bank.

For once the stars are aligned for Transport in Bristol.  We have a concensus amongst local authorities on what needs to happen, and I managed to arrange a joint submission of MPs from across the region, from all parties, on what the city and regions needs in terms of rail; The City Deal is being agree, HLOS funding ( Government infrastructure funding) being agreed - and the Great Western Franchise specification up for grabs...
This opportunity is too good to miss! I said. Again, and again and... again...

Thanks to Clarke Wilmott for hosting the event and fingers crossed that persistence pays off...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Entrepreneurial Heaven - Angelberry

It was evidently a real chore to sample the multi-flavoured, multi-topping'd delights of Angelberry. Yes, I know, tough, but someone has to do it.

It's good to see a success story:  This is James. He chose not to go to University but to get straight in there and try to set up a business of his own.  His first venture,  "James the Green Grocers" ( anyone in Westbury on Trym will know where he is!) has been a great success and now he is branching out - to the naughtier allures of frozen yogurt in his new company Angel Berry

I met with James to discuss what we can do better to support small businesses, and the challenge of getting a loan. James has been lucky to have some great advice and support, but his success just shows what our next generation can do not only in terms of getting jobs, but creating jobs, with a bit of advice, start-up help, a loan, and some grit and determination.

Just look at all that fruit...   !
And for anyone worried about the calories, the good news is,the yogurt's virtually fat free! ( and hey, a bit of sugar now and again does no harm!)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Lockleaze goes Boing

Thanks to Richard Redrupp, Lockleaze Primary School and team, Lockleaze has a superb new facility of soft-play for kids and a great place for parents to come and meet, chat and relax while their children enjoy themselves.

They are also running I.T sessions, and brining often isolated members of the community together. This is a great example of a group who have not waited for someone to tell them what to do, but have used their initiative, determination and imagination to make something happen.

In a world which seems so full of reasons telling you 'why not' , it is always inspiring and refreshing to find people and groups who challengingly ask 'why not?' then get on and do it!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Street Party Jubilation

 So here are some Jubilee Stats: not only does Bristol stand out as the Street Party Capital outside London ( cheer) , but according to my rough calculations, around 60% of all Bristol's street parties were here in Bristol North West ( more cheers!)

Fantastic! But it made the challenge of getting round as many as possible all the more daunting. I didn't manage to visit every street party going on over the weekend, but I got to a fair old few...
 Each party was beautifully different, and upliftingly the same - every street did it in their own way, with their own special highlights - be it a superb fancy dress outfit ( well done, Millie from Devonshire's!)  an empire of Gazebos ( you know who you are!)  or welly-wanging and medals ( I still think its a bit too risky for an MP to be flinging hard rubber wellingtons about in the vicinity of her constituents' small children) ; but the same in that every street told me how it had brought the community together; how people had met and formed a rapport with neighbours they had lived along side for years, but never spoken to..
... how taking traffic of the road made the street seem like a completely different space, and how good it was for all generations to intermingle.
 At times the rain did it's best to dampen spirits, but in true British style, the parties carried on - particular credit to Wessex Avenue, who manage a superb party in the middle of what can only be described as a small river running down the hill, and a gale battering the small gatherings of community-gazebos, huddled in the middle of the street!
I don't think I've ever seen our national flag waved so proudly, or 'Jerusalem' and 'Land of Hope and Glory' sung with such gusto - and it was great to see our nation so proud of itself, and so patriotic.