The Last Word

Dawn Primarolo's final article for The Pigeon Magazine


"As you sit down to read this article Parliament will have been dissolved ahead of the General Election and for the first time in nearly 28 years I will no longer be the Member of Parliament for Bristol South.

There is a great deal that I shall miss about representing the wonderful people who live in our community. I made my last visit to a local school the other day, Victoria Park Primary, to learn more about their Reading Recovery programme. Earlier this week I wrote asking for additional funding for Hawkspring, a fantastic local charity, to help them carry on their work supporting families affected by drug and alcohol abuse. It was also a pleasure recently to open the South Bristol Business Conference held in Knowle West which attracted over 70 local firms.

This is the job of an MP, to support schools, businesses and local organisations.

I shall also miss challenging those in positions of power who make the decisions affecting our everyday lives. Offering help to constituents badly let down by the local Council, or unfairly treated by government departments, provides an insight into how policy decisions can have unintended and far reaching consequences. When I was a Minister in the last Labour Government this contact with the people of Bristol South meant my mind was always concentrated on the real impact of my decisions.

It has been very sad that in the last few years the decisions made by the current Government have had a deliberately negative impact on so many in our community, whether it be the Bedroom Tax, cuts to tax credits or the freeze on public sector workers’ pay, many local people have been hit very hard. The possible threat to close a GP surgery in Knowle last summer provided clear evidence of the Government’s unwanted and disastrous reorganisation of the NHS. In my view their decision to cut new affordable housing budgets by 60% in 2010 was one of the most damaging, there is now a real housing crisis in our city.

Despite this I am filled with optimism as I retire as your MP, Bristol South has improved significantly in the last 28 years. The hospital, new schools, flourishing community groups and, above all, the resilience of local people offers real hope. Whether it be the efforts to create a vibrant community on West Street, the continuing success of the Southville Centre, the ever improving Windmill Hill City Farm, park groups from Grevillle Smyth to Victoria Park and more, we are very lucky to have so many dedicated people who give up so much of their time to improve our area.

In a few weeks you will have the chance to elect a new Government and a new MP. Obviously I hope that you will vote for the Labour candidate, who will vote to scrap the Bedroom Tax, get the homes we need built and reverse NHS privatisation. I also know she will continue to support our schools, businesses, local groups and everyone who makes south Bristol such a fantastic place."

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