Avon population

This week in Bristol: Coroner’s decisions are ‘unfair and unjust’

This week the parents of a young Bristol woman who took her own life at a mental health crisis home spoke out against an ‘uncritical’ inquiry into her death.

Content Warning: This article contains references to suicide

Jess Durdy died in October 2020, five days after being moved to Link House, run by the charity Missing Link. The 27-year-old had been referred there by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) because she struggled with daily and increasingly intrusive thoughts of suicide.

Her parents criticized the charity and NHS mental health services for not doing more to protect their daughter and said her death was preventable. But an inquest that ended on Wednesday was not critical and the coroner made no findings about the quality of Jess’ care.

“Although she desperately informed support workers for three consecutive days of how frightened she was by her intrusive thoughts of ligation, no meaningful action was taken to assess her risk, her safety at Link House or to request professional help from AWP,” said Miora, her mother. “As a result of these failures, we lost the daughter and sister we loved so much.

The family have been supported by the charity INQUEST, which told Cable that Jess’s parents are among a number of bereaved families who have spoken out against uncritical inquests by coroners. “The inconsistency and inequality faced by bereaved families in coroner’s court is unfair and unfair,” a spokesperson told Cable. “It must be challenged nationally by the Chief Coroner.”

In other news this week, Neil Maggs kicks off the eighth season of Bristol Unpacked with Bristol Old Vic art director Tom Morris and defense attorney Matt Foot outlines five key milestones that led to the controversial Police and Crime Act.

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Human rights NGO Liberty is intervening in a landmark court case involving the Colston Four, which challenges the role of juries in protest cases. Attorney General Suella Braverman, MP, took the case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that trials like Colston Four’s are too complex to be assessed by a jury. But Liberty disputes the attorney general’s plans to reduce the influence of jury trials in protest cases, saying they will deter people from standing up for what they believe. The result will not affect the verdict of the Colston Four trial.

💸 An independent watchdog has said the near doubling of Bristol Beacon’s renovation costs – from £52million to £107million – was the fault of Bristol City Council. According to auditors Grant Thornton, the local authority ‘underestimated the complexity and difficulty’ of renovating the concert hall and failed to put in place effective arrangements to avoid spiraling costs. The building is valued at zero pounds in the council’s accounts, after the administration spent £39million on the project.

🛍️ The Galleries will be completely demolished and replaced by a development of shops, apartments, offices, bars and restaurants. Developers have told everyone working at the mall that there are two years left before it closes and they lose their jobs. Details of the plans for the five-acre centre, which is jointly owned by LaSalle Investment Management and Bristol City Council, have not yet been made public, but are expected to be revealed at consultation events later this month .

🇺🇦 June data from the Homes for Ukraine program shows there were a total of 596 applications for visas to move in with sponsors in Bristol, 554 visas issued and 399 actual arrivals with sponsors in the city. Nationwide, there were 111,800 visa applications and 92,700 visas issued under the program, but only 55,500 arrivals. The Home Office data, taken up to June 14, was analyzed by Andy Hewett who works at the Refugee Council.

⚖️ An abortion rights march will take place this Sunday, July 3 in solidarity with American women who had their constitutional right to abortion revoked this week. The United States Supreme Court has struck down Roe v Wade, a landmark court case from 50 years ago. Campaign groups including Bristol Women’s Voice will meet at 2 p.m. on College Green to stand in solidarity with American women.

🧑🏾‍🤝‍🧑🏾 New census data shows Bristol’s population has grown by 10.3% over the past decade, from around 428,200 in 2011 to 472,400 in 2021. This is more than the overall increase for England (6.6%). Bristol is the most densely populated of the South West’s 30 local authorities, with around 31 people living on each football pitch. The greatest increase was observed among adults of working age.

🚗 Environmental charity Possible is launching its car-free challenge in July. Participants will receive support, guidance and milestones throughout the month, and will be entered into a raffle for their participation. The charity hopes to promote the climate impact of being car-free, as well as the mental and physical benefits.

A fuel protest will take place on Monday 4th July in the form of a slow road blockade, which is likely to affect the M4 from Almondsbury to the M32. The protests, which will start around 8.30am, are planned in response to soaring petrol and diesel prices in recent weeks, with the average cost of filling a family car currently standing at over £100 according to the CAR. Police have issued a warning about possible disruptions.

🚽 A new cafe will replace public toilets in the Downs, which has sparked outcry while other public toilets remain closed elsewhere. ACORN, the community union, ran a long-term campaign demanding the reopening of Bristol’s 18 public toilets, during which it submitted a 2,000-signature petition to council. ACORN said the council’s failure to keep public toilets open disproportionately affects the elderly, disabled and homeless, and questioned why the council is prioritizing toilets in Clifton.

🪧 Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union, has spoken out in support of striking St Monica’s Trust carers over pay cuts. He said: ‘These issues we face of being fired and re-hired, low pay, scrapped terms and conditions and an aggressive employer are common to many workers in Britain at the moment.’ The strikes began on Wednesday this week and are currently scheduled until July 12.

🚓 Two other people have pleaded guilty to charges related to the Kill the Bill protests. Rosa Lazarus, 21, from Wiltshire, admitted a charge of violent disorder on Friday and in August will return to Bristol Crown Court for sentencing. Meanwhile, Henry Olohan, 24, of Newport, pleaded guilty to affray and criminal damage on Thursday and will be sentenced in July. A total of 18 people have been jailed so far for offenses related to the protests.

🎉 Stir to Action’s Playground for the New Economy festival runs from July 12-14 in Devon and offers discounted day tickets at £25 for Bristol Cable members. The festival presents itself as three days of inspiring conversations, interactive workshops, idea surgeries, virtual experiences and live podcasts, with a sustainable food offer as well. Contact [email protected] for details.