A very successful parliamentary lobby today from Bristol Drugs Project.
Great turnout, including the Chief Superintendent of police, the chairman of the bench at Bristol magistrates court, HSBC (who were sponsoring the event), local lawyers, former service users, and many involved in drugs treatment work. And a good sprinkling of MPs, including Doug Naysmith, Dan Norris, Liam Fox (who actually made a pretty good speech), and John Penrose (from Weston, which has a real problem with drug users moving into rehabilitation hostels there and then staying on in the town after they've lapsed). Paul Smith, Labour candidate for Bristol West, was also there. (Contrary to recent press reports, BDP is not in my constituency, it's in West, but I've been working closely with them and spent a day volunteering there a while ago). Ben Bradshaw, Health Minister and Minister for the South West, also attended on behalf of the Government, and spent a lot of time talking to people before the speeches began.
Will give a fuller report on my website proper, but the event concluded with the Chief Exec of the National Treatment Agency telling the meeting that there would be significant increases in funding over the next few years (similar to the 39% increase this year and 28% the year before). He explained that the gap couldn't be closed overnight as it would mean withdrawing funding immediately from authorities which are considered to be over-funded, but the aim is to have closed the funding gap by the end of this Comprehensive Spending Review period - i.e. by 2011. Excellent news!