• Conor steps up fight to protect disabled drivers

    Disabled parking

    Conor has stepped his campaign to tackle rogue drivers who park in bays reserved for disabled motorists.

    He invited Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People, to St Helens on Friday (May 13) to discuss the problem.

    The move was part of St Helens North MP Mr McGinn’s efforts to deal with the menace of selfish drivers who misuse disabled bays in the town.

    Conor said: “It was great that Debbie Abrahams could come to St Helens to see the problem at first hand.

    “As Shadow Minister for the Disabled, she has a key role in helping drawing up Labour’s policies so her involvement in my campaign is invaluable.

    “We will be working together to try to find solutions to this problem and help make the lives of disabled people in St Helen’s a little easier.

    “We must not allow the selfish actions of a small minority of motorists make life needlessly hard for disabled drivers when they visit shops and other venues.”

    Debbie Abrahams said she backed Conor McGinn’s campaign and said it could be rolled out nationwide, if it proved a success in St Helens.

    She said: “It’s really important that we highlight not just the inconvenience and upset that inconsiderate use of parking spaces allocated for disabled people can cause, but the real difficulties as well.

    “Life is tough enough for anyone with a disability and the convenience of being able to park easily near to shops and other public buildings is just one simple way we, as a society, can help ease the difficulties they may face.

    “I’m sure the issue isn’t just happening in St Helens but it will be interesting to see if a campaign here can have an effect and, if it does, we may be able to roll it out across the UK.

    “Most people are considerate, of course, and don’t use these spaces. But we need to do something to get the message across to the minority who don’t act considerately that it’s an unacceptable and anti-social thing to do.

    “Conor and the residents who are tackling this problem should be congratulated for bringing it to light and doing something about it.”

    Mr McGinn begin his campaign after hearing about the plight of local residents Kelly Hayes and Lisa Brennan, who are regular visitors to Parr Swimming and Fitness Centre.

    They have both faced problems caused by motorists who have parked in the spots reserved for disabled drivers with blue badges.

    Mr McGinn said the problem was worse in off-street car parks – such as council or supermarket car parks – which are often not covered by road traffic rules.

    In such car parks, spaces, disabled drivers usually have to rely on the consideration and courtesy of other car park users.

    Among those backing Mr McGinn’s campaign is war veteran Andy Reid.  Triple amputee Mr Reid has described the misuse of disabled parking bays in St Helens as a “massive problem

  • Neonicotinoids and bees

    I am in no doubt about the importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and economy and I share your concern about declining bee numbers. I am aware several organisations are campaigning on this issue and that 38 Degrees held an event in Parliament on 9 May 2016.

    As you are aware, the European Commission announced in 2013 that it would restrict the use of neonicotinoids to crops that are not attractive to bees and other pollinators after the European Food Safety Authority concluded that 3 commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides pose an unacceptable danger to bees. The Coalition Government initially opposed the ban.

    I appreciate there are many reasons for the decline of pollinators, including habitat loss, climate change and pests and diseases. However, the Government cannot continue to ignore the threat to bees from neonicotinoids. I support the current European-wide ban because I believe it is a proportionate response to the evidence. I am also aware that since the ban, more evidence has appeared which emphasises the risk of these pesticides to bees.

    However, the Government approved an application for the ban to be lifted in autumn 2015 to allow chemicals to be sprayed on oilseed rape to help prevent crop damage. The Government has confirmed it has received two new applications for emergency authorisation in 2016. These are currently being assessed and the Government says it will make its decision based on advice it receives from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides. I believe it is vital to take a science-led approach to pesticide use and to consider how best to support farmers, protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators.

    The Government is providing £900 million through its Countryside Stewardship scheme, which offers payments to farmers for taking actions for pollinators. However, I am concerned by the very low-uptake of this scheme and believe the Government must take measures to restore farmers’ fragile confidence in it. I am also concerned that the way in which the Government is implementing the new ‘greening’ requirements of the basic payment scheme will not deliver improvements for pollinators in the farmed landscape and I would like to see more effort from the Government in creating better farm habitats and in assessing alternatives to neonicotinoids and providing more support to farmers with Integrated Pest Management.

    As you may be aware, the European Commission (EC) is currently reviewing the evidence and will look at the effects on bees from seed treatment and granule uses of the restricted neonicotinoids on any crop. The EC is expected to complete its assessment by 31 January 2017 and the UK Government says it will base its view on future regulation on all the available scientific evidence. I am pleased the Government now seem to have an open mind to considering the evidence, especially given their previous opposition to the ban.

    I can assure you I will continue to press the Government to apply evidence-based policy.

  • BBC

    The BBC is one of our most treasured institutions and the cornerstone of our creative industries. I therefore believe that its investment and scope must be maintained so that the BBC remains a great universal broadcaster that continues to inform, educate and entertain.

    The Government’s consultation shows that a massive majority of the public agree that the BBC is serving viewers and listeners well and do not want to see a reduction in its scope or remit. The majority of respondents also believe the BBC’s content is of a high quality and is distinctive from other broadcasters, which is a view shared by the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. It is also the case that the majority of respondents to a recent YouGov poll do not trust the Government to protect the BBC.

    I share these concerns. I believe the Government wants to cut down the size of the BBC and that this ideological approach not only undermines the independence of the BBC, but ignores the results of the consultation. The Government has already confirmed the BBC will take on the cost of free TV licences for over-75s. Other proposals being considered include narrowing the BBC’s remit to stop it from making some of its most popular shows. I believe the Government’s actions are an assault on the principle of public service broadcasting.

    As you may know, the Clementi Review into Governance and Regulation of the BBC has recommended replacing the BBC Trust with a unitary Board with a majority of non-executive directors, half of whom would be appointed by the Government. However, recent reports suggest the Government plans to directly appoint most members of the new body.

    I believe the BBC does need reform and I accept changes are needed to how it is governed. However, both the Clementi report and the public consultation make clear that the independence of the BBC must be at the heart of its future. I therefore believe that the new unitary board must be underpinned by independent appointment processes, including for its Chair. It is clear that the independence of the BBC is at real risk under the current Government. I am also concerned that the Government wants to exert more political influence by shortening the Charter period. This must be fought all the way.

    The Government says it will take the consultation responses into account and bring forward proposals for BBC Charter Review in a White Paper this May. I welcome the fact that the Government is finally going to publish its White Paper and I await its proposals for the next stage of Charter Review. I can assure you I will oppose any attempts by the Government to dismantle or downgrade the BBC.

    It is clear that the public overwhelmingly support the BBC and I will continue to do all that I can to defend the independence of the BBC and to save our outstanding national broadcaster.

  • Trade Union Act

    I strongly opposed the Government’s Trade Union Bill throughout its Parliamentary stages because it sought to undermine the basic protections that trade unions provide for people at work.

    Trade unions are an important part of an open, democratic society. I am very concerned that by bringing forward the Trade Union Bill the Government sought simply to weaken trade unions rather than to work with them in order to help boost economic efficiency and tackle Britain’s major economic challenges including our worrying productivity gap and skills shortages.

    It is my view that the Act is designed to restrict workers’ voices and to prevent unions from effectively representing their members.

    I also fear this Act risks driving a false wedge between government, industry, employees and the public by severely restricting the rights of ordinary working people to challenge important workplace issues such as low pay or health and safety concerns. As a result, this Act could damage industrial relations and make it harder to prevent the strike action and disruption that we all want to avoid. That is why I voted against the Trade Union Bill at every opportunity in the House of Commons.

    Through cross-party working in the House of Lords, some of the worst elements of the Trade Union Bill were removed. Government defeats showed the weight of opposition to the Bill and also offered opportunities for the Government to hear some of the genuine and deeply felt concerns about it.

    Despite all the concessions from the Government following determined opposition, I remained opposed to the Bill. The Trade Union Act is entirely unnecessary and is bad for workers and businesses.  It risks damaging industrial relations and undermining constructive employment relations.

  • Leveson Inquiry

    I fully support the Leveson Inquiry and agree that, following the appalling revelations of phone hacking, it is extremely important we get to the bottom of what happened at News International (now News Corp) and other newspapers. At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to fully implement Leveson’s recommendations.

    As you know, there were two parts to the Leveson Inquiry. Part One looked into the culture, practices, and ethics of the press and was concluded in November 2012. A Royal Charter was then agreed in October 2013 by all parties and approved by Parliament, to formally establish the new independent press watchdog that Leveson recommended. However, several newspaper publishers rejected the Royal Charter and set up their own regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which launched in September 2014.

    Part 2, which remains outstanding, is intended to look at the conduct within News International and other newspapers, and examine how the police investigated allegations of illegality including whether there was corruption. Part 2 would also consider implications for the relationships between newspaper organisations and the police, prosecuting authorities, and relevant regulatory bodies and recommend what actions, if any, should be taken.

    I know people and organisations like Hacked Off are concerned about reports the Government is set to drop Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry and has broken its promise to keep victims of press abuse at the centre of press regulation reform. I share these concerns. My Shadow Frontbench colleagues have been pressing the Government on its progress towards implementing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which, as you know, deals with the award of costs and would enact the changes recommended by Leveson. I believe the Government must get on with commencing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 immediately and must also get on with facilitating Part 2 of the Leveson inquiry.

    The Government say it cannot proceed with Part 2 until all criminal investigations and trials related to Part 1 have been concluded. When the outstanding cases are completed, the Government say it will consult with Sir Brian Leveson before announcing the next stages.

    I believe the Government has failed to implement the effective form of independent press regulation that Leveson recommended and which the Government signed up to as part of the cross-party agreement during the last Parliament. I believe the Government must keep its promise to the victims of phone hacking. Anything else would be another betrayal of the victims of press abuses and their families.

    I can assure you that I want Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry to be established as swiftly as possible and will continue to press the Government to deliver on its clear promises by fully implementing the cross-party agreement on Leveson’s recommendations.

  • Conor welcomes new Haydock Medical Centre

    Haydock Medical centre

    The new Haydock Medical Centre located on Woodside Road has started on site with a “Sod Cutting” ceremony which took place on Friday, 13May. A joint venture between PPE Construction and MAC Construction Solutions, this design and build project will provide a new two storey medical centre including doctors’ surgeries, pharmacy, offices, reception area, changing facilities and washroom facilities. PPE will also undertake all associated parking and landscaping works. The building works are expected to complete in February 2017.

    With over 30 attendees, the Sod Cutting ceremony was undertaken by Conor. He was accompanied by Councillor Martin Bond and the medical price was represented by Chris Williams, Pharmacist.

    Conor said: “This new medical centre will make a hugely positive difference to health provision for the local community in Haydock. I’ve been supporting GP Dr Breach and local pharmacist Chris Williams in moving the plans forward and I was delighted to be asked to join with local constituents to take part in the event to mark the beginning of work on site.

    “The team from Platinum Projects Europe and MAC Construction Solutions are doing a great job in transforming what was a real eyesore. And I look forward to returning early in the New Year to see the new building completed and the medical centre providing services to the local community.”

     

  • Conor meets with local nursery representatives

    Porticos 2

    Conor McGinn met with local representatives of the National Day Nurseries Association to discuss childcare and issues affecting local providers

    The meeting took place at Moss Bank Porticos Nursery and was organised by Nicole Politis, director of Porticos Nurseries as an opportunity for local private and voluntary child care providers to talk to Conor about their worries that the Government will not be able to provide adequate funding to meet their promise of providing 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

     After meeting with the local providers, Conor said: “As a dad with a young child, I know that access to high-quality and affordable child care is important to parents. The Government’s promise to extend provision of free childcare has to be matched by properly funding to enable local nurseries to continue to provide and expand the services they deliver.”

     

     

  • MPs back Saints’ autism campaign

    Saints

    Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Debbie Abrahams MP, has joined MPs, Marie Rimmer, St Helens South and Whiston, and Conor McGinn, St Helens North, in backing Saints’ campaign to raise funds for St Helens Autism Support. 

    Saints have launched a one off replica shirt for Rugby League’s Magic Weekend and the special edition kit will be worn in Newcastle when they play Huddersfield Giants on 22nd May.

    Debbie Abrahams, who is MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, explained why she’s backing the campaign, saying: “What Saints’ campaign demonstrates is how sports clubs can help raise the profile of important issues because they are so well integrated into their local communities. 

    “I’ve come along today to talk to Mike about how we can take the example of this campaign and share it with other clubs across all sports.

    “If all clubs worked in this way just think how quickly and effectively we could disseminate messages about all sorts of key issues that affect society, especially around disability issues.

    “Having autism, or having someone with autism in your family, can be a very isolating situation when so few of us really understand the condition. But when a club like Saints takes the time to raise the profile of an issue it can help us to talk more openly about it and start to break down the barriers.

    “So, I would encourage all Saints fans to be in that number and support a great cause at the same time!”

    Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, said: “This campaign will raise awareness of the condition in St Helens and across the rugby league world, whilst raising funds for a local charity and I’m pleased to be supporting it.

    “Saints are the heart and soul of our community and this latest initiative in support of a local charity is further tribute to Eamonn, Mike and everyone associated with the club. 

    “In choosing to raise awareness of autism in this innovative way, St Helens RFC and St Helens Autism Support have made an impact far beyond our borough boundaries. 

    “I am delighted that Debbie has recognised the hard work being done locally on this and other disability issues in St Helens, and I hope the fantastic work being done here will serve as an example and give encouragement to those campaigning across the country.”

    Mike Rush, CEO of St Helens RFC, said: “We were delighted to welcome Debbie, Marie and Conor to the club today to demonstrate why our campaign to raise awareness of autism is very important.

    “Since launching the shirt we have received support from all over the world and across all sections of sport, TV and music.

    “We estimate that well in excess of eleven million people have had access to information about our shirt thanks to social media.

    “That is doubly pleasing for me as not only has it already had a positive impact on people in our local area but it is raising funds for a cause very close to my heart.

    “I have a close understanding of autism and the difficulties it can present to families not only in St Helens but across the country.

    “I am proud of the Board of Directors and the Club for backing a local charity and for all those fans from St Helens and other clubs who have bought shirts.

    “With support from the three MPs who came to the club today, the awareness of this cause can only get bigger.”

    Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and Whiston, said: “I’m very proud to see Saints launching these limited edition shirts in support of such a fantastic cause.

    “Autism needs to be better understood by all of us. There are so many autistic people who have great skills, abilities and potential but face barriers to fulfilling it because of a lack of knowledge and understanding from others.”

    Each replica shirt also carries the logo of St.Helens Autism Support, a local group making a massive difference in the area by helping raise awareness of the condition and aiding people, particularly children, with all levels of autism.

    The players’ matchday shirts will also be signed and auctioned off for the charity.

     

  • Conor welcomes Merseyside bus fare bonus for St Helens residents

    liam keith conor merseytravel arriva fares aprril 16 IMG_0890 (002)

    Conor has welcomed a boost for local commuters with the introduction of a new flat bus fare for St Helens.

    St Helens bus users will save up to 30p per journey after the 1st May saw an extension of the single flat fare to cover all of Merseyside and the Liverpool Plus ticket area.

    The change comes about after consistent campaigning for Fair Fares by Labour MPs, local authorities and councillors across Merseyside.

    In welcoming the announcement Conor said:

    “St Helens residents deserve good quality public and affordable public transport. For too long my constituents were hit by a double-whammy, paying for two bus journeys to make one trip, when other parts of Merseyside had a single fare to get you from A to B even if you had to change buses.

    “I welcome this announcement brought about by Labour elected representatives applying pressure on the bus companies, and I hope to see further measures introduced to keep public transport affordable and accessible for people in St Helens North.”

    Chair of Merseytravel, Labour’s Cllr Liam Robinson added:

    “Affordability and making bus fares better value is a key issue that Labour controlled Merseytravel constantly raises with bus companies. Whilst there is still more to do, we are pleased the fare cuts Arriva are making are a good first step in the right direction”

  • Conor meets energy advisers at St Helens Citizens Advice Bureau

    Conor visited St Helens CAB to meet specialist advisers who help people struggling with energy and other household debts.

    During the visit Conor met three advisers who are funded by the British Gas Energy Trust, the advisers give advice and support to people who are having difficulty paying their gas and electricity bills.

    The British Gas Energy Trust was founded in 2004 and, as well as funding advisers in community advice centres, it also provides grants to help clear energy and other household bills, or replace essential household items.

    British Gas has provided more than £85 million of funding to the trust since 2004, helping 176,000 people with advice and grants.

    The British Gas Energy trust advisers have been based in St Helens CAB since 2011. In the last year alone, they have helped local people with £75000 of financial support.

    Speaking after his visit, Conor said:

    “The partnership between St Helens CAB and the British Gas Energy Trust does excellent work in providing financial assistance to those who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

    “Notwithstanding the need for stronger regulation to ensure value for customers and fair prices for energy costs, I welcome the contribution from British Gas to this initiative.

    “As ever, Karl and the team at St Helens CAB are doing their best to ensure vulnerable members of our community get the support they need. We are lucky to have them.”

    Christine Tate, from British Gas, said:

    “The advisers provide a hugely important service, providing face to face support and a range of practical advice. The visit was a great opportunity to show how they support local people in Conor’s constituency.”