OPINION: Karin Smyth MP on the 2019 General Election

(Newspaper column as seen in the South Bristol Voice January 2020)

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for re-electing me as your Member of Parliament. Since I first became MP for Bristol South in 2015, I’ve tried to work hard to address the issues that matter to you.

I am, of course, disappointed that the Tories remain in government. But the election campaign provided a good opportunity to talk directly with people and confirmed the focus I have here in Bristol South – on education and job opportunities, health services and transport.

None of these challenges are going away. And neither is climate change.

Parliament declared a climate emergency last year (2019), which followed Bristol’s climate emergency declaration in 2018.

Climate change is not a standalone issue, but runs through all areas of life. The Labour Party recognises this and outlined a range of measures in the manifesto designed not only to tackle climate change, but to transform the way we live – covering housing, jobs and education as well as the environment.

While we’re not in government to deliver these, we can and should take some of these elements forward locally.

My focus on apprenticeships continues this year with another Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair at City of Bristol College’s South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove on 27 February 2020. We’re particularly interested in exploring apprenticeships in greener industries such as renewable energy and hope to have some local employers who offer opportunities in this area. Work starts soon on the new Advanced Construction Skills Centre in Hengrove and there’s an opportunity to weave an environmental focus into this new training hub.

Local schoolchildren have been campaigning for free bus travel for young people. Children in London have this thanks to a Labour move, Bristol children currently do not. The Tory Metro Mayor Tim Bowles has powers which can pave the way for this and while Manchester’s Labour Metro Mayor Andy Burnham has set the ball rolling to use these powers, our Metro Mayor has not.

I will continue to push for this – along with the promised Hengrove to Long Ashton leg of the Metrobus, which disappeared off the route map until I pressed for it to be reinstated. We now need to see the buses on the road.

Public transport has a key role to play in reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality, and I’m pleased to see Bristol City Council moving forward with plans to improve air quality in the city.

I know that some of you are concerned around the implementation of this and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts – you can reach me via karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk