January 2024: News from MP Thangam Debbonaire

Supporting residents of Barton House

The decision by Bristol City Council to decant Barton House has left residents anxious and in an awful situation. I and my office are in close contact with the Council and are doing everything we can to assist residents. I have also been in contact with the government about how the residents of Barton House can be supported during this difficult time; at the time of writing, I expect to meet the responsible Minister next week.

I recently met residents who are being housed at a hotel while survey work continues. I heard from them about the difficulties of living in temporary accommodation and the stress of not knowing whether or when they will be able to go back to their homes. This is a truly difficult time for them. I was pleased to learn about how the council has been able to improve the services being offered – the play area for young kids is a favourite with both children and parents.

I’m grateful to council officers, community groups and people for stepping up to help the families who have had to leave their homes.

Helping victims of the contaminated blood scandal

After decades of injustice, there is finally progress for the people infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal, with a victory in Parliament to change the law.

I was proud to vote in the House of Commons in December, along with my Labour colleagues, to establish a body to administer a compensation scheme for victims of the infected blood scandal. This was tabled by my Labour colleague Dame Diana Johnson as an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill. Thanks to years of campaigning by people affected, leadership in Parliament by Diana and others, and hard work by the Labour team, I am pleased we managed to defeat the government and the amendment was voted through.

The Bill, duly amended, will now progress through further stages of scrutiny and voting in Parliament. Labour will fight hard all the way to defend this progress, and finally achieve justice for those infected and affected by contaminated blood products.

Celebrating small businesses

Small Business Saturday fell on 1st December this year. I chose to spend the weekend doing my Christmas shopping at some of my favourite independent shops in Bristol. I also met businesses in Swindon during a campaign visit.

Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy: breathing life into our high streets; delivering services that make our lives easier; providing the goods we need to thrive.

Often small businesses feel neglected by government and not given the respect their sheer economic weight deserves. Labour won’t let that happen. A future Labour government will hardwire the voice of small business into everything we do.

It’s not just about the jobs they create or the economic growth they generate – small businesses bring richness and variety to our lives and to our economy. From tackling late payments to boosting exports, fairer taxes to better access to public contracts, Labour’s economic plan will stand up for our small businesses.