Comments on the Queen’s Speech

Karin Smyth MPCommenting on the Queen’s Speech of 27 May 2015, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth said:

“Bristol residents will be intrigued by the idea about devolving greater powers to cities.

“It promises much, but the devil will be in the detail and I want to know the specifics of what this might mean for our city. One thing is for sure: it won’t be possible to strengthen local democracy by diminishing its resources, so appropriate funding will be needed to support any devolution plans.

“The need to improve employment prospects of people across south Bristol is a key priority for me, and I welcome at face value the prospect of good apprenticeships for more local young people.

“But I want to see a focus on how a devolution process can help Bristol South’s young people acquire the right skills to equip them for the changes in employment that lie ahead.

“There are many things that can make a tangible difference to our young people’s employment prospects. We need collaboration between providers of post-16 education and skills training, for example, and the provision of the right courses in locations that can be easily reached by transport that is affordable. These things need ‘joining-up’ and if a devolution process can enable and empower local government to deliver improvements then the city can benefit.

“To take full advantage of opportunities that could arise from devolution, MPs and the elected mayor will need to speak as far as possible with one voice in the city’s interests. We will need to work hard to listen to local people’s priorities. This includes recognising that Bristol people didn’t vote for a Conservative government.

“Citizens and elected representatives alike all have a part to play as decision makers in shaping a sensible, strategic way ahead that meets the needs of our communities.”

In addition, commenting on the inclusion in the Queen’s Speech of a Housing Bill, Karin Smyth said:

“The desire to own a home of your own is very strong, but the real problem in Bristol South is the supply of housing. Selling off limited housing association stock isn’t going to address this acute need: logic tells us that measure alone will make the problem worse, not better.”