GOVERNMENT U-TURN WOULD BE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR CHANNEL 4, SAYS METRO MAYOR

Channel 4 privatisation being dropped from the Government’s Media Bill will be “the best birthday present for the 40-year-old Channel”, said Metro Mayor Dan Norris.

Number 10 has signalled that proposed sale championed by both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak during the Tory leadership contest in the summer could be quietly dropped.

“That’s a U-turn I can get behind”, said Mayor Norris. “After 40 successful years of public ownership for Channel 4, there has never been any need to sell it off to the highest bidder. I hope the unnecessary and unpopular Channel 4 sale plans which put West of England jobs at risk will finally end up in the bin where they belong”.

The Mayor has campaigned against the sale since it was first proposed and recently visited the Channel 4 Bristol Hub with fellow metro mayor and former Corrie actor Tracy Brabin. Today he called on the government to give “every support” to the broadcaster to implement their alternative plan to privatisation. This could involve almost doubling the number of staff working in the Channel 4 Bristol Hub, with thousands more in the region’s wider creative sector.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with Channel 4 in the fight to keep the broadcaster public and keep it in Bristol. The plan to sell off Channel 4 to the highest bidder was always economic and cultural vandalism and an attempt to undermine public service broadcasting – and the knock-on effects to our region’s amazing creative sector concerned me greatly”.

A dose of nature: thanks to £49,000 Metro Mayor grant

It’s official – gardening is great for mental health.

Anyone who looks after their own garden or allotment could have told you that, but now Metro Mayor Dan Norris found out first-hand just how true this is when he saw how one much-loved community garden is making a real difference thanks to a grant from the West of England Authority he leads.

On his visit to south Bristol’s finest Windmill City, Mr Norris saw how a mega £49,000 cash injection is being used to fund training as he met some of the 100 Bristolians on the courses taking place there and at St Werburghs and Lawrence Weston farms.

Everyone on the training courses – all of whom have at some time struggled with their mental health – can grow veggies in the garden to use in the café and farm shop and build new habitats for local wildlife areas, all while learning important strategies to manage their mental health.

Research shows that people who spend more time in the garden are more likely to report general good health, better wellbeing and greater physical activity levels than those who do not, and gardening is now prescribed by the NHS.

He also spoke to Windmill farm CEO Steve Sayers. He explained how the courses are really relaxed and informal, enabling local Bristolians to improve their well-being and mental health – and bring some joy to the talented Bristolians on the courses.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “There is something magical about gardening. The first sight of a teeny seedling pushing its way through the earth can do wonders for our mental health. And getting stuck in – minus the gardening gloves that is – can make you more cheerful too! Through ‘gardening for wellbeing’, Windmill City Farm training is giving more Bristolians the confidence and skills they need to go on to grow and dig their way to success. And it also means making friends for life –as important to our wellbeing as having enough sleep and eating more healthily. Good mental health is so important to leading positive lives and that is why I’m so pleased a £50,000 cash injection from the West of England Authority is supporting local people to build resilience, manage their wellbeing and build a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones”.

Windmill City Farm CEO Steve Sayers said: “The courses are relaxed and informal, enabling local people to improve their wellbeing and to build self-confidence in an inclusive and supportive environment. City farms are welcoming to everyone, and we make sure that our courses suit what people need to feel better in themselves and to take their next steps. The cash investment is crucial in enabling us to do this work, to keep the doors open to serve the needs of local people and to bring a little joy into the lives of everyone who gets involved here”.

With a 42-year history, Windmill Hill City Farm is a community farm in Bedminster. It now employs 125 staff, has over 300 volunteers a year, and an annual visitor footfall of 140,000.

Mental health charity Nilaari are helping deliver the Metro Mayor-funded project

Bang Out of Order

A Bristol Animal Charity and well-known animal lover Metro Mayor Dan Norris are joining forces to call on all residents to be mindful of the needs of animals as Bonfire Night approaches.

Speaking from Bristol Animal Rescue Centre (Bristol ARC) the Mayor highlighted heart-breaking research about how many animals suffer at this time of year.

The RSPCA say 63% of animals – dogs, cats and horses included – show “signs of distress” as a result of fireworks. Fireworks can also cause big problems for farmers with agitated livestock leading to lower production and getting loose from their fields and seriously injuring themselves and others. Poultry especially are at risk of a “smother,” where birds huddle together which can result in some birds dying. Most reports are from private displays rather than public ones.

Last year, Bristol ARC said they had big, big influx of stray dogs around Bonfire Night as dogs escape their homes out of fear of fireworks and end up there. And at the centre too, the dogs, cats and other furry creatures hate fireworks – many tremble and shake with fear.

However, 69% of UK adults do take measures to help relax or prepare pets, horses and livestock for firework season and Bristol ARC are encouraging even more people to act responsibly this year by producing a top ten tips factsheet.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “Bonfire Night is a British tradition. But for animals, who don’t have a clue what’s going on, it can spell stress. So please use fireworks considerately. My own dog Angel struggles at this time of year but finds it reassuring knowing I am at home with her. In the run up to the big day, I’d encourage owners to try to make the night as un-Bonfire-Night-like as possible. Have a look at Bristol ARC’s top tips and maybe create a safe haven with all your pets’ favourite blankets and cuddly toys, stick on Pet Classics on Classic FM for some calm, relaxing music and have a nice chilled-out evening”.

Zita Polgar, Senior Animal Behaviourist at Bristol Animal Rescue Centre said: “Each animal’s response to fireworks is different, but some pets might tremble, shut down, or freeze. Some might panic, causing physical injury to themselves or others around them, or damage furniture. They may try to escape or run away. It can be distressing for pet owners to see, especially if you’re unprepared”.

“They really are saving patients’ lives – here in Bristol and around the world”: Metro Mayor visits one of Bristol’s biggest exporting successes for International Trade Week

Metro Mayor Dan Norris marked International Trade Week with a visit to one of Bristol and the world’s biggest and best medical manufacturers helping transform the NHS and healthcare and emergency services worldwide for the better.

Limbs & Things, the multi-million pound, 200-strong firm exports its first-rate medical simulation products to more than 40 countries from their 5,000 sqm St Phillips base.

These products – from breast examination trainers to midwifery training products – are all designed and manufactured here in Bristol, and address all kinds of routine and emergency medical scenarios to help healthcare professionals deliver more accurate real-life procedures, improving patient outcomes.

As part of his visit, Mayor Norris was given a hands-on demonstration of how the firm’s newest product – their Infant Hip Trainer – is helping patients right from birth. Hip dysplasia, where the ‘ball and socket’ joint of the hip doesn’t form properly, affects around 1 to 2 in every 1,000 babies born and, if detected shortly after birth, can avoid many problems and medical interventions in later life.

The company explained to Mayor Norris how they have developed their brand-new product in partnership with Leading American paediatrician, Dr Joseph O. Lopreiato and how it is now being introduced into local NHS trusts, for midwives and other practitioners to use – saving lives.

Their training equipment is now used in every single NHS trust in the South West – North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust included.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “I’m delighted to visit the brilliant facilities at Limbs and Things. Their hip trainers and other products are amazingly lifelike. Having said that, there are certainly no dummies here! It’s so great to see a Bristol-based firm going from strength to strength and representing our city on the global stage. It just goes to show how many brilliant companies we’ve got in our fantastic region. The skill and innovation in St Philips to support our NHS and medical professionals everywhere is just incredible”.

Managing Director Nick Hull, who is showing Mayor Norris round on the day, said: “The export market is incredibly important to us. We have worked hard at developing our international trade through subsidiaries in key marketplaces such as the US, and we now sell our products in more than 50 countries, which still have significant potential for growth. Clinicians and teachers have a need for our products worldwide and we can see the impact they are having in teaching hospitals around the globe. It was great to be able to show Mayor Norris around and demonstrate some of our world-leading products, including the PROMPT Flex birthing trainers that we’ve developed in partnership with the PROMPT Foundation at Southmead Hospital and our new Infant Hip Trainer”.

Founded in 1990, around £20m of Limbs & Things £25m turnover now comes from outside the UK. The company’s largest export market is the US, followed by Europe, Asia and South America.

INFLATION NATION LATEST: BIGGEST INTEREST RATE RISE IN DECADES – METRO MAYOR COMMENTS

The Bank of England has announced its biggest interest rate hike in 33 years today – adding an average £1,100 a year to mortgage bills for hard-pressed West of England residents.

The Bank voted to up its rate by 0.75 percentage points – from 2.25% to 3% – to try to cool runaway inflation – the eighth consecutive jump in interest rates.

This is the highest rates have been since 2008 during the Global Financial Crisis. Less than a year ago, the rate was 0.1 per cent.

The hike will push up by hundreds of pounds the amount that mortgage holders have to pay every month, say industry experts.

The average mortgage borrower on a standard variable rate of 5.86% with a £200,000 loan over 25 years will be paying £1,364 per month (from £1,271 per month) which equates to an extra £1,111 every year – even before any other possible rate rises – according to Moneyfacts.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said the hike – the biggest interest rate increase since 1989 – would mean more financial misery for hard-pressed West of England families and showed the economy had “left the road and ended up in a ditch” under the Conservative Party. He said: “Today’s interest rate hike means higher mortgage rates and yet more financial misery for hard-pressed West of England families, and increased anxiety for thousands. Under the Tories, the economy has left the road and ended up in a ditch, and it’s Bristolians paying the price. They’ve sent mortgages and prices sky-high and damaged the UK’s reputation on the world stage with their disastrous mini-budget, but how do they repay working people? Through yet more tax rises and public spending cuts. That is the reality for the West of England now, and it’s only getting worse, not better. Enough is enough. The 12-year Tory circus destroying our economy must end. It’s time for stability with Labour – general election, now”.