• Rainford Rangers links to Brookvale Young Boys FC

    For almost 25 years, Rainford man Terry Duffy has had a link with a boys football club in the village where I grew up in Northern Ireland.

    Brookvale Young Boys FC have visited Merseyside several times and I was absolutely delighted to hear that Rainford Rangers are making the return visit to county Armagh this weekend.

    I popped up to a training session in Rainford last Sunday to wish the boys well as they embark on their “lads and dads” trip across the water. The club are great ambassadors for the village and the whole of St Helens. As well as visiting Bessbrook, they will be playing teams from Omagh in county Tyrone and Ballybofey in county Donegal.

    Sport has an incredible capacity to bring people together and forge lasting friendships. I am really proud of this strong connection between our community in Rainford in my constituency and the community in Bessbrook where I grew up. Long may it continue!

  • Corporal John Davies VC

    I was delighted to join the family of Corporal John Davies VC alongside the Mayor and many others including local branches of the Royal British Legion, military personnel, local veterans, support group SAMS and local councillors at the St Helens Cenotaph to attend the unveiling of a commemorative paving stone for his courageous actions for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

    Corporal Davies – known locally as Jack – was among the first to volunteer for the 11th (Service) Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, more commonly known as the St Helens Pals.

    He was wounded twice during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, returning to active duties after recovering on both occasions.

    On 24 March 1918, Corporal Davies was manning a section of the front near the French village of Eppeville. The following extract from his Victoria Cross citation tells the story of his incredible gallantry, unwavering bravery and total dedication to his comrades:

    “When his company—outflanked on both sides—received orders to withdraw, Corporal Davies knew that the only line of withdrawal lay through a deep stream lined with a belt of barbed wire, and that it was imperative to hold up the enemy as long as possible.

    “He mounted the parapet, fully exposing himself, in order to get a more effective field of fire, and kept his Lewis gun in action to the last, causing the enemy many casualties and checking their advance.

    “By his very great devotion to duty he enabled part of his company to get across the river, which they would otherwise have been unable to do, thus undoubtedly saving the lives of many of his comrades.

    “When last seen this gallant N.C.O. was still firing his gun, with the enemy close on the top of him, and was in all probability killed at his gun.”

    Incredibly, Corporal Davies survived the assault and was taken as a prisoner. After the War, he returned to St Helens where he lived with his family for the rest of his life. In response to being asked about his heroism, Corporal Davies replied, “I was doing my duty”.

    The people of St Helens will never forget the incredible bravery shown by Corporal Davies or the countless others from our borough who made the ultimate sacrifice.

  • Mental Health service funding

    I challenged Government Ministers over funding cuts to the North West Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust year on year since 2011.

    The Trust is charged with delivering community and inpatient mental health services across St Helens, Halton, Knowsley, Warrington and Wigan, and it supports a number of mental health charities across Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

    The Trust has £9.5 million less now than six years ago – a cut of nearly 6 per cent.

    Despite Government promises to increase spending on mental health, their record shows that services across the North West are having their budgets cut just as more pressure is being piled on to the NHS.

    This means that mental health services are under resourced and oversubscribed – which is not sustainable for those charged with providing or needing to use services.

  • Marking the 25th anniversary of the Warrington bombing

    It was very humbling and deeply moving to be with the families of Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball in Warrington today to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing which killed both children.

    The event was also attended by HRH The Princess Royal, the Irish Ambassador in Britain, Metro Mayors Steve Rotherham and Andy Burnham, and civic and religious leaders from across our region.

    Many people in the borough of St Helens, particularly where I live in Newton-le-Willows, have strong connections to Warrington and were deeply affected by the bombing.

    I was there at today’s poignant event as the MP for those neighbouring towns to demonstrate that the solidarity our community showed with the people of Warrington in that dark hour is just as strong today.

    Colin Parry’s remarkably generous and moving words were an inspiration to us all. He and Wendy, and the work of the Peace Centre they founded, have made a remarkable contribution to building better relations between Britain and Ireland.

    The awfulness of such terrible destruction could easily have led to hatred and anger. Instead, the determination and generosity of the Parry and Balls families and the people of Warrington helped further peace and reconciliation. That important work has and continues to make a difference, and is the lasting legacy of the two young boys we gathered to remember today.

    (Photo from Dave Gillespie at the Warrington Guardian)

  • Conor meets with Patterdale Lodge Patient group

    I met with Patterdale Lodge Patient Group in Newton-le-Willows to talk about health provision locally and across the country.

    The meeting provided an opportunity to hear from NHS patients about the impact government policy is having on meeting the health needs of our local community.

    Those who attended were keen to praise the hard work of their GPs and staff across the NHS but were concerned about issues ranging from waiting times to the ability to consistently see the same GP when having to see a doctor.

    I know that many constituents are concerned about our NHS, with waiting times soaring, Hospitals in financial crisis and locally a £20 million funding gap in the health economy.

    I have campaigned on the impact of health cuts, and for those working hard in the NHS to receive pay rises.

    I will continue to support the hard work of GPs and those working in the NHS and challenge the Tories to give our hospitals and health care system the resources they need to deliver a health service that our communities deserves.

  • Alfie Dingley

    I sympathise profoundly with the situation faced by Alfie Dingley and his family, and others who are living with a physical condition and are in search of the most effective pain relief.

    Alfie’s life is blighted by epileptic fits and it is understandable that his family want him to have whatever medication they feel will help him. I believe Ministers must ensure that all evidence relating to Alfie’s case has been examined and that all avenues of treatment are being considered to ensure that Alfie has the best possible quality of life.

    This case is the latest in a long line of examples that have led to more calls for legislation to permit the medical use of cannabis, and while I do not agree with legalising cannabis for general use, I believe the Government should look carefully at the case for the use of cannabis or cannabis products as a medicine.

    Where there is evidence, the Government should consider the case for trials and the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 4. This would enable its availability for use in healthcare in the UK.

    As you may be aware, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) administers the process by which medicines, including those containing controlled drugs such as cannabis, can be developed and subsequently prescribed and supplied to patients. In October 2016, the MHRA published its opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medicinal purposes “are a medicine” and offered regulatory guidance to any company that may wish to apply for a licence.

    The Government has said it is exploring every option within the current regulatory framework, including options of issuing a license to the family of Alfie Dingley. I assure you I will follow the Government’s progress closely and bear in mind the points you have raised.

  • St Helens YMCA

    I recently visited St Helens YMCA to meet Chief Executive Justin Hill and Chair of Trustees Richard Tully to discuss their work supporting homeless people in our borough.

    St Helens YMCA provides a range of services, childcare, sport and training as well as housing provision. This includes supported accommodation with a 56 bed hostel and the Foyer Project – which is a stepping stone to independence and employment.

    Across the country, rough sleeping has increased for the seventh consecutive year and here in St Helens homelessness is a growing problem.

    This increase in homelessness is a national scandal and the Tory Government’s cuts to local government and our vital services is a shameful record that hits the most vulnerable in our society.

    Despite funding difficulties, St Helens Council continues to support organisations like the YMCA who help the homeless in partnership with groups like the Salvation Army, the Hope Centre and Teardrops. See More

  • Conor responds to the spring statment

    The Spring Statement from the Chancellor is more of the same failed austerity from this Tory Government.

    In the five years up to 2020, St Helens Council will see its budget cut by £21.9 million – nearly a third of its government funding.

    This is a disgraceful and prolonged attack on the public services that communities across our borough rely on – from local libraries to road maintenance.

    More cuts is not the answer. We need to properly support our councils that have been forced to do more with fewer resources, and our communities who are suffering as a result.

  • The social care system is failing people with dementia.

    People with dementia, on average, face hospital delays twice as long as patients without the condition.

    Just last year, half a million bed days were lost because dementia patients who were ready to leave hospital weren’t helped to get home.

    This is letting down dementia patients and their families as well as piling more pressure on our already overburdened NHS.

    Despite these enormous pressures, organisations like the St Helens Carers Centre offer a range of support for dementia patients and their families – supporting more than 1,500 people caring for a loved one who has dementia across the borough.

    The Centre was also the first in the country to introduce a Carers Emergency Card, which is carried both by the Carer and the cared for person with dementia, meaning that if the person with dementia becomes lost or confused, they can be identified through the card and the carer notified

    With the number of people living with dementia across the UK set to hit 1 million by 2021, it is more important than ever that the Government steps up to the plate and fixes dementia care – you can find out more from the Alzheimer’s Society here:

    https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20175/fix_dementia_care

     

  • 200 new jobs for St Helens

    It is hugely welcome news and a real boost to our borough that Movianto will be bringing 200 jobs to St Helens.

    The new jobs mean more opportunities and demonstrate that St Helens is very much a place that companies want to locate and do business in.

    It also goes to show just what can be achieved when our council, our local educational institutions and the business community work together with a ‘Team St Helens’ approach.

    St Helens is open for business, and these new jobs are a shot in the arm for the local economy – particularly following the closure of Palmer and Harvey before Christmas.

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