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BIG JUMP IN WEST OF ENGLAND UNEMPLOYED

18,495 more West of England people are out of work since lockdown began according to new figures released today.

There are now 31,595 people in the city aged between 16 and 64 claiming unemployment related benefits.

The news came as national labour market stats showed the number of people reporting they had been made redundant rose to a record high of 370,000 in the three months to October.

Mr Norris, who has pledged to be a “jobs first” Metro Mayor, said “Not only are these worrying figures but we must remember that behind every number is a struggling family. Many families will be facing Christmas with worry and uncertainty.

I also believe that it is not a coincidence that redundancies escalated to record levels whilst the clock was ticking down to the end of the furlough first planned by the Chancellor before his last minute U-turn. I hope he has learnt from this and call on him to clarity right now ahead of the next furlough cliff edge in January.

The UK is now is the worst recession of any major economy and West of England people are counting the cost.”

RAIL FARE HIKE FOR BRISTOL AND BATH COMMUTERS

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris has criticised the government’s announcement of a 5.9% rise in rail fares as a ‘nightmare before Christmas.’

It means an annual Bristol Temple Meads to Bath Spa season ticket will rise to £1,957 – up by over £100.

Dan Norris said: “There is a cost of living crisis made in Downing Street and passengers are already feeling the pinch. There is also a climate emergency. We’re a railway region and as Metro Mayor I’m investing in new stations and more regular services. But we need a government that is on the side of passengers encouraging them to travel by train not hammering them with price hikes.”

The Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh added: “This savage fare hike will be a sick joke for millions reliant on crumbling services. People up and down this country are paying the price for twelve years of Tory failure.”

Rail fares have risen twice as fast as wages since 2010.

METRO MAYOR BACKS LABOUR’S “BOLD AND RADICAL” DEVOLUTION PLANS

Labour is to make handing new economic, taxation and law-making powers to metro mayors like the West of England’s Dan Norris a key part of its reforms to the UK political system.

In a major speech this morning, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer vowed to deliver “the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people” and set up a “creative media” cluster in the West of England as one of 300 economic powerhouses, with the aim of doubling economic growth across the UK.

The proposals are included in the Commission On The UK’s Future report, which former prime minister Gordon Brown has produced for the party, and which includes over 40 recommendations.

Published today the report proposes handing over new powers to metro mayors as well as devolved governments including:

  • New powers over transport and infrastructure.
  • New powers to stimulate growth, with longer funding settlements.
  • Powers over economic development and job creation.
  • Powers to link training and skills to local employment through the devolution of colleges.

Responding to the report, Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “This is a bold set of proposals from Labour. Across the West of England, and the country, people are hungry for change and to see decisions made in their areas. I welcome the steps towards further devolution in this timely report. The West of England is my home and I’m absolutely determined for it to be the best it can be. Already as Metro Mayor I have some significant responsibilities for transport and skills. I will continue to call for London-style devolution to ensure I have the powers to go alongside that to accelerate delivery and make our region even better. It’s time for a government that cares about the working people of the West of England. It’s time for a fairer, greener future with Labour.”

Let it Glow! Metro Mayor launches Bath Xmas light show

Mayor Dan Norris is urging local people and their dogs to explore local this Winter as he officially launched a magical Christmas light experience in Bath.

The Enchanted Garden of Light, a spectacular light walk, is once again returning to the grounds of the American Museum and Gardens which will be illuminated with festive sparkle.

The dog-loving Mayor learnt how the festive walk at the Grade II-listed gardens this year features more technical wizardry with brand-new lights and sounds especially approved by canine experts meaning dogs on leads are welcome to enjoy the event.

Amongst the lights will be a festive wonderland featuring a climb and slide play area for the little ones, and stalls serving American classics like hot dogs and Pulled Pork buns. The pop-up ‘Amazing Christmas Store’ will be open late with a range of Christmas present ideas, from traditional toys to award-winning food and drink.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris, who is running an Explore Local campaign, said: “American Museum and Gardens really have pulled out all the stops to bring some Yuletide cheer to Bathonians and all visitors and their dogs with this amazing light show. It’s great to see the smiles on everyone’s faces. There’s also the chance to warm up with plenty of festive treats too! Christmas is a time for togetherness, so I’d encourage all locals to gather your loved ones, banish the dark winter nights and enjoy some festive cheer at some of the top, top attractions we have locally in our amazing West of England region”.

The Enchanted event will run from Thursday 1 December to Saturday 31 December. Tickets can be booked online.

Mayor Backs Building Blocks for the Future

An apprentice met Metro Mayor Dan Norris to explain how a West of England Combined Authority-funded course that uses LEGO bricks helped him build a pathway to a new career.

Chris Dando is now a trainee support worker at St Mungo’s Bristol. Fred took part in the unique course hosted by acta Community Theatre which helps Bristolians struggling with their mental health improve their skills and confidence.

The Mayor learnt how a £12,000 cash injection from his West of England Authority is currently supporting 35 more Bristolians to go on to become apprentices like Chris, or access other training schemes and jobs. Mr Norris then joined in the creative fun by building a LEGO bee.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “LEGO is the ultimate creative toy, as you design and build what you want. It’s about thinking, planning, connecting and constructing, all vital skills to get great jobs. I’m pleased a £12,000 cash injection from my West of England Combined Authority is supporting Bristolians taking part in this innovative course and I look forward to seeing what everyone builds from LEGO and in their future careers”.

Oliver Jones, acta Community Theatre Director, added: “We are very grateful for the funding that we receive from the West of England Combined Authority for our Pathway project that enables us to work with people who are facing many challenges and barriers, and giving them a real purpose and aspiration to progress in their lives. We have already achieved some amazing results with participants progressing to further education, social enterprise courses, volunteering and employment. All of this is achieved through working creatively in a safe and supportive space and unlocking the potential that lies within each and every one of us”.

Well-set for high-skilled jobs: thanks to £80,000 Metro Mayor grant

Two dozen local people are taking part in a brand-new welding course fully funded by Metro Mayor Dan Norris’ West of England Authority so they can go on to get in-demand high-skilled jobs.

The Mayor, who is responsible for skills and training, met learners taking part in the weekly hands-on training course (and had a chance to try out his welding skills) when he officially launched the scheme at Bath College Somer Valley Campus, Radstock.

The welding course is taking place in the college’s fully equipped workshops and is taught by lecturers with a combination of over 30 years of industry experience

The Mayor learnt how welding is a key skill that can be transferred to an array of different industries such as metal fabrication, construction, mechanical services, ship building, pipeline installation, and beyond.

At the end of the course participants will go away with key skills they need in the professional welding industry, a CSCS card which proves they have the appropriate training and qualifications to work on construction sites, and a guaranteed interview with a top-notch West of England employer – including big firms like EDF Energy.

Speaking at the launch, Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “The West of England has always been an engineering powerhouse and I’m sure Brunel himself would have been delighted that we are still training up the welders of tomorrow. Skills and training are a really important part of my role as Metro Mayor. That’s why I’m proud to launch this £80,000 West of England welding programme fully funded by my West of England Authority. The region needs more welders, pipe fitters and technicians and it’s a good skilled job for people to gain.”