IT has been another busy month. As always, I have been a voice for all those in Filton & Bradley Stoke.
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to welcome students from South Gloucestershire College to Parliament. They received a tour of the Houses of Parliament. I also enjoyed the tough questions, and hearing their thoughts and ideas.
Education is so important, not only for college students, but for school children too, and I am so proud that schools rated good or outstanding in South Gloucestershire have increased from 79% in 2019 to 94% by 2023.
Getting children to our schools is very important. That is why I have been fighting so hard for our parents and pupils to preserve the bus services they need to get to school safely and on time. Indeed, on September 19 I raised this in the chamber of the House of Commons.
Unfortunately, the 458 and 936 bus services have been axed entirely, while the 459 and 460 have been forced to share the same vehicle. This is unacceptable to parents, to pupils and to me, and I re-emphasise my call on the West of England Combined Authority to reverse these decisions, especially given the extra £105 million in bus improvement funding they have received from HM government, which should have eased financial pressures.
In addition to transport and education, I raised the scourge of antisocial behaviour facing Filton, as well as the fire in Stoke Gifford Park, which was caused by arsonists. I have met with Police & Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford to discuss what Avon & Somerset Police are to do and I have echoed these concerns to government.
It was great to be back to see a game at Clifton Rugby Club. I spoke with inspirational Toby and his mother Claire. Toby has recently completed his second season of running, which has raised over £30,000 for St Peter’s Hospice. I wish Toby, his family, and St Peter’s Hospice well for the fundraising efforts.
In addition, I have been working closely with our local defence and aerospace industries.
Last week, I paid my fourth visit to Ukraine so far this year. I attended the International Defence Industries Forum, in which we discussed how cultivating relations between United Kingdom and Ukraine can bring about better collaboration between defence industries in the two countries; how we can break down barriers to getting weapons and equipment from the UK and western Europe to Ukraine; and to enable British and Ukrainian defence companies to manufacture in Ukraine.
To that end, I met with representatives of Babcock International, who are opening a new office in Kyiv to assist in this process.
While in Ukraine I had a meeting at the office of President Zelensky. My conversation with Mr Igor Zhovkva, Deputy Head of the President’s Office, raised the idea of security arrangements between the UK and post-war Ukraine as a deterrence against any future Russian aggression.