It's great to spend time in Bristol East

September 01 2019
It's great to spend time in Bristol East

Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy writes for the Voice

PARLIAMENT has been in recess in August and I’ve spent most of my time in Bristol, including visiting quite a few places and people in Fishponds.

I regularly hold surgeries at the Vassall Centre; anyone can contact my office and ask for an appointment, if they need advice or assistance. This month I also held a carers’ surgery, at which I met with constituents who have caring responsibilities for relatives who are elderly, sick or have disabilities, along with several young carers. Following this I popped in to Little Hayes Nursery in Frenchay Road to meet with parents, staff and children. They’d been given a free lunch as part of Feeding Bristol’s Holiday Hunger initiative, designed to make sure no child, especially those on free school meals, goes hungry during the long school holidays.

Edie Whitehead, who has already been featured in Fishponds Voice a number of times, is eight years old and is campaigning for McDonald's to stop giving away plastic toys with its Happy Meals. She started a petition which has over 1,000 signatures, and also wrote to McDonald's. I met up with Edie in a coffee shop in Fishponds to hear the latest on her campaign. McDonald's have told her that they’ll cut plastic toys by 60%, and substitute with other gifts, but we both think this isn’t good enough, particularly as children don’t get to see what is in their Happy Meal until after they’ve bought it. Edie is now urging children to “Hand It Back to Mac” if they do get given a plastic toy.

I also went on a “ride-along” with Avon and Somerset police, making a number of calls in the Fishponds area, following up on leads, before joining other officers at 10pm for night-time economy patrol in the city centre. This is something I’ve done a number of times before, including surveillance in Fishponds Road and surrounding streets with vice officers, and seeing community policing in action with neighbourhood beat officers and PCSOs. It’s a really useful opportunity to talk to the police about their role in reducing crime and keeping people safe, as well as seeing the pressures upon the service at a time when serious crime is, sadly, on the increase. There is only so much the police can do with limited resources, and I will continue to make the case in Parliament for the police to be properly funded.

As well as shadowing police officers, I also spent a morning with Dave, a postal worker at the delivery office in New Station Way. While I was helping him sort the mail and then deliver it, we chatted about how he loves the social aspect of his job, and getting out and about talking to people. Postal workers are often the eyes and ears of the community, and the first to spot when someone hasn’t been seen for a few days and might need help. We also spoke about the changing nature of the Royal Mail, with far fewer letters being sent but far more parcels, and how the service is adapting to this.

Parliament returns on September 3, and I think it’s time we did, given the urgency of the Brexit situation and the threat of no deal, but I’ve also very much enjoyed having a bit more time in Bristol!