• Conor’s response to the Budget

    Conor’s initial response to today’s Budget:

    “After eight years of Tory austerity, people in St Helens are more than ever feeling the effects of the swingeing cuts to our schools, NHS, policing and local government services. Nothing announced today by the chancellor can undo the impact these cuts have had on our community and families right across the borough.

    “St Helens Council will have lost 71% of its central government funding by 2020, some £115million. That’s the equivalent of two years’ worth of the boroughs entire social care budget at a time when almost 5,000 adults in the borough are in need of long term care and almost 2,000 vulnerable children are in care or need some form of protection, and while the number of residents over the age of 90 is set to triple in the next twenty years with the amount of people with dementia set to increase by 58% in the next ten years.

    “Rather unbelievably, the Chancellor also said he was announcing a ‘funding bonus’ for schools to help buy ‘the little extras’. Does he think teachers and books are ‘little extras’? Because that’s what local schools tell me they can’t afford because of Tory cuts to their funding, which has seen £2bn in real terms cuts to schools nationally.

    “While I welcome the Government’s new-found interest in renewing our high streets, I’ll be seeking clarity from about how much of this is new money, and how much will be allocated to towns like St Helens and Newton-le-Willows. We must also ensure that any proposed business rates relief – which will be a welcome boost for our small shops and cafés – is funded by Whitehall, not the Town Hall.

    “Over the last eight years, the Tories have taken billions out of our public services and from the pockets of working people. St Helens has been disproportionately burdened with those cuts and a reduction in wages and living standards. If this Budget means even the smallest fraction of the money taken is being returned, I will be holding this Government to account and fighting to make sure that our community gets its fair share.”

  • Conor attended the launch of Clickworks

    Conor attended the launch of Clickworks, a new hi-tech, digital hub for local businesses in St Helens town centre.

    Clickworks, based in Hardshaw Street, is an initiative of St Helens Chamber and offers a range of facilities and equipment for such as video-conferencing, meeting space and 3D printing. The new hub will also provide training courses to help people develop their digital skills.

    The centre was part-funded through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and was opened by Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham who spoke of the importance to of the digital economy to our region.

    Speaking at the launch, Conor said: “This is a fantastic new facility that can really benefit local businesses and those looking to improve their digital skills. The funding from the city region is to be welcomed and having Steve here today demonstrates his commitment to all areas of the LCR. St Helens Chamber also deserve huge credit for its role in delivering this new venture, proving once again why they are considered one of the best chambers of commerce in the country.”

  • Conor McGinn named Politician of the Year at the PinkNews Awards

    St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has been named Politician of the Year at the PinkNews Awards in London.

    The Labour MP and Conservative peer Lord Hayward were both honoured for their work across the political divide to extend equal marriage to Northern Ireland.

    LGBT campaigners have praised the pair’s efforts to secure equality via Westminster, given the absence of a devolved government.

    The two politicians were presented with their joint prize by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow at the awards event in Westminster, which was also attended by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    Mr McGinn has said he hopes his bill will keep up pressure on the UK government to act on the issue.

    This week, the House of Commons voted by 207-117 in favour of an amendment proposed by Mr McGinn and his Labour colleague Stella Creasy that forces the Government to address the ban on equal marriage, by issuing guidance to civil servants and departments in the region on the human rights impact of the current laws in relation to same-sex marriage and abortion.

    But once again today, a single objection by a Conservative MP blocked the second reading of Mr McGinn’s marriage equality bill.

    Mr McGinn said: “This is not about people getting married or even being gay, this is about people being equal. We are absolutely determined to do get equality for people in Belfast so that they can enjoy the same rights as my constituents in St Helens and people in London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

    “Our opponents who block my Bill and seek to frustrate the wishes of Parliament and hundreds of thousands of people are only postponing the inevitable. Change is coming!”

  • policing concerns

    At a recent constituency surgery in Rainford, I met with a group of residents to talk about policing in the village, the number of burglaries and anti-social behaviour taking place.

    I am a strong supporter of our police officers, PCSOs and civilian staff and have raised my concerns in Parliament over police cuts – and the impact of those cuts on policing our community and on the officers themselves. Merseyside police have seen officer numbers drop by over 270 in the last three years alone, while at the same time crime has risen by nearly 14%.

    I will be taking up residents’ concerns with the police, the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner and the Home Secretary. The issues raised in Rainford are the same raised by residents in areas across the constituency – residents at surgeries in Billinge, Moss Bank and Blackbrook reported the same problems and issues.

    The thin blue line is being stretched to breaking point. Jack, the young son of one of the residents, read out a letter (pictured) he asked me to send to the Chief Constable about crime in the area. If a primary school pupil can see what the problem is, why can’t the Home Secretary?

  • the Agriculture Bill

    The development of a new, post-Brexit UK agriculture policy is a seminal moment for the future of our environment, our food production and our countryside.

    I believe we need an Agriculture Bill which ensures, in measurable and enforceable terms, the future of our environment, wildlife and habitats while also providing food security. Sustainability must be at the forefront of a thriving farming, food and drink sector.

    I agree with the need to shift financial assistance to farmers, from support for simply owning land to the principle of public money for public goods, to help those who work our land to restore and improve the natural environment.

    However, I believe that the Agriculture Bill falls short in several areas. In my view, it does not fully recognise the central importance of UK sustainable food production and supply. I fear this may lead to a greater reliance on food imports from countries where we have no control over environmental standards. It is vital that any future trade deals do not dilute welfare standards, environmental protection or labour standards.

    I am further concerned that, while the Bill gives wide-ranging powers, it does not make clear how the environmental outcomes that we need are to be funded, delivered or regulated. It offers no targets for improving our environment and no mechanism for setting any targets. This is especially concerning at a time of alarming species decline, soil degradation and increasingly volatile and extreme weather conditions driven by escalating climate change.

    It is also the case that the Agriculture Bill fails to legislate for current agriculture funding to continue beyond 2022. I would like to see more certainty on long-term funding.

    During the second reading debate on 10 October, I supported an Opposition amendment which set out these concerns. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated. The Bill will now move on to committee stage where I hope that several improvements will be made.

    As the Agriculture Bill progresses, I can assure you I will be supporting amendments to ensure that it properly protects our natural environment and recognises the central importance of sustainable food production.

  • Conor’s visit to Rectory CofE School

    Conor visited Rectory CofE School in Garswood to meet the children at the school and talk to staff about additional needs provision.

    As well as mainstream provision, Rectory also offers specialist education for children with autism and moderate learning difficulties. Conor visited a number of the classes and discussed the challenges faced by the school in meeting the needs of the additional needs pupils given the increased pressure on the schools budget.

    He also took questions from the year 5 and 6 pupils – and some of their teachers!

    Conor said: “I really enjoyed my morning at Rectory and the dedication of the head teacher Mrs Sweeney and the staff is clear to see. The school has strong links to the local church and wider community, and the children were a real credit to their families and carers. But like so many other schools in the borough, funding cuts are impacting on the resources our education establishments need. I’ve said time and again that our schools must be properly funded to give our teachers the resources they need to give children the best possible start in life – and it’s a message I’ll be taking from Garswood to Westminster.”

  • Mersey Gateway Bridge tolls

    On the first anniversary of the opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge, I joined a group of Labour MPs in writing to the Transport Secretary to call for the scrapping of the tolls.

    Many of my constituents have been left financially worse off by the tolls, and I know of businesses that have relocated because of their impact.

    While the bridge is to be welcomed for its impact on improving the region’s transport infrastructure, the tolls are in fact a barrier to economic growth.

    An early end to tolls on the Severn Bridge between England and south Wales has been announced but here in the North West we are already short-changed when it comes to investing in transport infrastructure and the tolls mean we are over-charged too.

    If the Government is serious about its commitment to the Northern Powerhouse and increasing regional productivity then it needs to scrap the tolls, and put the money back in the pockets of local residents and businesses.

  • launch of a new not-for-profit company in our local communities

    Conor joined representatives from local housing associations, the voluntary sector, St Helens Council and Jobcentre plus for the launch of a new not-for-profit company aiming to provide jobs, education and training in our local communities.

    As well as back to work programs, Genesis plans to organise courses on everything from first aid and food hygiene for local businesses. It will be working closely with local employers and assisting those they work with look for jobs, improve English and maths skills and will provide IT support.

    Among the sites it will work from is Derbyshire Hill Family Centre in Parr.

    Conor said “it is important that we give local people the chance to take advantage of the employment opportunities being created in the local area. Initiatives like this are vital to improving skills, building confidence and enjancing employability. I wish Genesis well in playing its part in supporting residents into work.”

    Company founder, Roy Williams, added “it was good to see so many people at the Genesis launch event to hear about the work we are doing to support local people and improve their skills and help employers find new staff. I would like to thank Conor for his support and commitment to initiatives like this.”

  • dementia care and the related campaign by the Alzheimer’s Society

    I commend and support the Alzheimer’s Society’s “Fix Dementia Care” campaign to ensure that people with dementia receive the highest standards of care in hospital, in care homes and at home. It has supported the development of hundreds of dementia-friendly communities across England and is leading investment in research to improve care, advance prevention and move closer to achieving the goal of a world without dementia.

    Improving the quality of social care is a vital part of providing dignity and support for people living with dementia. As we work to find a cure, I believe we should place an equal emphasis on the care provided to people living with dementia and the support provided to their families and carers.

    I believe the Government has failed to address the crisis in social care. Eight years of cuts to local authority budgets have left our social care system ill-equipped to deal with increasing demands. Since 2010, £6.3 billion has been cut from adult social care and there are now 400,000 fewer people receiving publicly funded social care. The Government has repeatedly delayed the publication of its social care green paper and last year Ministers scrapped plans to implement a cap on personal contributions to lifetime care costs.

    I support the establishment of a new National Care Service, built alongside the NHS, to move quickly towards a joined-up system that responds to the health and care needs of the population. I am also committed to ensuring that people do not have to pay high care costs, as is too often the case with the current system. I support implementing a lower cap on care costs than the £72,000 cap that was abandoned by the Government.

    At the 2017 general election, I stood on a manifesto with a commitment to invest an additional £8 billion in social care budgets across this parliament to ease the care crisis, including an extra £1 billion in the first year. This additional funding would have meant offering some extra packages of care which were publicly-funded.

  • religious dress

    The freedom to practice faith – or not – is one of the cornerstones of the free and diverse democratic society in which we live, and I firmly believe in a person’s right to choose their expression of faith.

    I therefore support the right to wear all forms of religious and other dress and I believe in strengthening our communities’ rights to practice religion free from persecution.

    I believe that we must do everything in our power to ensure that people of faith or no faith have the freedom to pursue their beliefs without fear of harassment or victimisation.

    I am therefore proud that the Equality Act 2010 helped to foster an open society by strengthening the legislative framework to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief or, indeed, lack of it.

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