• how i voted on ‘indicative votes’ tonight

    This is how I voted tonight in the House of Commons on ‘indicative votes’ on a series of Brexit options about the basis on which Britain leaves the European Union.
    All of them are far from perfect, and in my view none of them are as good as the deal Britain has now as a member of the European Union.
    But Parliament needs to find a way forward and MPs need to show leadership, compromise and try to bring the country back together.
    I voted for negotiating to leave on the basis of Labour’s alternative approach, a customs union, ’Norway 2.0’ and for a confirmatory public vote on any deal.
    I voted against the economic catastrophe that would be caused by leaving with no-deal.

  • My views on this week’s Brexit developments

    These are difficult and uncertain times for the country and our community. The Government’s shambolic handling of Brexit negotiations has been chaotic and confused, and caused concern for people right across Britain.

    My mailbag today reflects that and also demonstrates the diverse range of opinions in my St Helens North constituency. I get hundreds of emails and letters each week from people who want to revoke Article 50 altogether and stay in the EU, from people who want to leave with no-deal, from people who want to leave but remain in the customs union or the single market, from people who want Theresa May’s deal, from people whose views since the referendum have changed in both ways – but primarily from leave to remain – and increasingly from people who want the public to have the final say over any deal.

    When MPs are told “get on with it”, “leave means leave” or “just cancel Brexit”, it unfortunately isn’t that simple. Parliament is divided, but so is the country.

    In 2016, a majority of people in St Helens borough voted to leave the European Union. But for every six people who voted to leave, four voted to remain.

    In respecting the result of the referendum both locally and nationally, I voted to trigger Article 50 to enable Britain to leave the European Union. I was as clear then as I am now that any deal or process for leaving should prioritise workers, families, businesses and the community in St Helens borough. In addition, it must be in the national interest, ensuring that we get the best deal to protect jobs and our economy, hard-won workers’ rights, environmental and food standards, human rights, security and defence co-operation with our European partners, peace in Northern Ireland and most importantly our young people’s futures.

    But Theresa May’s deal does none of that. It would make people in St Helens borough poorer and I will never do anything to enable that. Worse still, leaving with no-deal would be an economic catastrophe that would be devastating for our community, and so my priority is to ensure we don’t crash out in this way.

    The Prime Minister has shown that she is unwilling to listen, so now Parliament has taken control. Tomorrow night, MPs will undertake a series of indicative votes stating their preferred options to try and find a way forward. I hope we can find a consensus. But I am increasingly of the view that whatever Parliament decides, or if it can’t agree, we may still need to go back to the people for a final say.

    Finally, it is my job to represent everyone in St Helens North. Not just leave voters, not just remain voters, not just those who voted for me or the Labour Party, but everyone. I will keep doing that as best I can over the coming critical days and weeks.

  • Tory Government to vital Children’s Services in St Helens

    I am appalled that the Tory Government has cut funding for vital Children’s Services in St Helens borough by £13,962,762 since 2010/11.

    Spending on early intervention strategies and preventative services have been particularly affected. This means that local authorities are forced to shift spending to late intervention statutory services at a point where the negative impact on children’s lives will be significantly higher.

    A coalition of children’s charities has warned that unless the Government invests £3billion, local authorities will run the serious risk of being unable to keep children safe and well.

    These cuts are having a significant impact on the life chances of the most vulnerable children. I am calling on the Government to provide the critical investment that children’s services so desperately need.

  • Glass Futures update

    I am delighted that Glass Futures have identified St Helens as their preferred location for their new glass making facility that is set to have a production capacity of 30 tonnes per day.

    This is another vote of confidence in our borough as the best place in the North West for investment.

    I have met with leading representatives of the glass industry both here and in Westminster to make the case for St Helens borough. Our skills, infrastructure, location, and proud manufacturing history make us the perfect place for this new investment.

    Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has also voiced his support for St Helens as the ideal location. I will continue to push for this investment which would be a huge boost to St Helens borough.

  • Catholic sixth form funding

    Carmel College provides a first-rate education for young people across St Helens borough. I spoke in Westminster about the fantastic impact they have on increasing social mobility, with over a third of high-achieving students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Unfortunately, Carmel and other Catholic sixth form colleges face significant financial disadvantages compared to other sixth forms and 16 to 19 academies – which of course are also under huge funding pressures because of cuts. Under current legislation, they are unable to access VAT refunds as well as access to a teacher’s pay grant. It is vital that we address this unfair anomaly to enable fantastic educational institutions like Carmel College to continue to make a real difference

  • community health and wellbeing fair

    I dropped into a community health and wellbeing fair at St Helens parish church where they were promoting important information about services available to help improve health and wellbeing. They gave attendees the chance to take part in a taster Tai Chi session and watch a performance from St Helens Mind choir.

    Health and mental health problems are common, and we should be openly talking about how to manage and cope with them. Events like this are vitally important to encourage this discussion and aid people to improve their lives proactively.

    I want to thank St Helens Cares and St Helens CCG for organising such a crucial event.

  • commemorating the Golborne mining disaster

    I joined hundreds of people to commemorate the ten miners who lost their lives in the Golborne mining disaster 40 years ago.

    John McKenna
    Colin Dallimore
    Joe Berry
    Desmond Edwards
    Patrick Grainey
    Peter Grainey
    Brian Sherman
    Bernard Trimble
    Raymond Hill
    Walter McPherson

    Our mining communities across the Lancashire coalfield share a proud heritage and the same values, and those were very evident at this event. A procession led by the local brass band, clergy including the Bishop of Liverpool, families and the National Union of Mineworkers moved past the site of the pit, where family members laid flowers, before arriving at St Thomas’s Church for a moving service.

    I want to thank all those who have supported the Golborne ex-miners and worked to commemorate and preserve the memory of those who died in the disaster, in particular Brian Eden, Eric Foster and my good friend Colin Rooney. And I especially want to pay tribute to Brian Rawsthorne.

    It is important for us to remember that terrible day and to keep supporting workers today who still need to fight for safety and protection at work.

  • meeting the Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Phil Garrigan

    I met with the Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS), Phil Garrigan, to discuss the ongoing impact of Government cuts to funding. Since 2010 the MFRS has faced a real terms 50% funding cut by the Tories. With over £13 million lost, the impact is biting – 300 fewer firefighters, and a reduction from 42 to 24 fire engines. Our communities are in greater danger from fires as a direct result.

    Our fire officers are doing everything they can in the face of these terrible cuts – they were outstanding when tackling the large blaze on Parr industrial estate recently. The Government needs to recognise that excellence and goodwill from fire officers can only go so far and must provide them with the resources they need to support the brave work they do.

    I was pleased that in spite of the financial pressures Phil and the fire and rescue authority are committed to the building of a new fire station in St Helens and retaining the current level of crews and engines. I will be working with Phil, and our local MFRS representatives to deliver this commitment.

    The Labour Party has committed to reinvesting in our fire and rescue services. I call on the this Tory Government to reverse the cuts, give the fire service resources it needs and invest in the rebuilding of St Helens fire station.

  • outstanding rating for St Helens and Knowsley hospitals

    I am delighted that St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by the CQC. They received overwhelmingly positive feedback in many areas including leadership, culture and the care given to patients at Whiston and St Helens hospitals.

    The trust has continued to build upon excellence that it has been consistently identified as achieving. It was classified as ‘outstanding’ in the 2015 CQC report, ranked as the ‘best acute trust in the NHS’ for three consecutive years and ranked as ‘the number one place to work and receive treatment in the country’ in the National NHS Staff Survey.

    This success is particularly impressive as they achieved these fantastic results despite the harsh financial environment imposed by this Tory government. As the Tories continue to pressure our NHS, we must recognise and build upon the leadership and high standards at St Helens and Whiston hospitals.

    I want to thank all those working in the trust – the nurses, doctors, medical, ancillary and all staff as well as chief executive Ann Marr and chairman Richard Fraser whose dedication and hard work have led to these outstanding achievements.

     

  • visiting Queens Park Primary School

    I had a wonderful time visiting Queens Park Primary School after they wrote to me about a range of local issues. The discussions we had around their concerns about homelessness, high street shop closures, and the environment showed an impressive awareness and understanding of problems in our region.

    I was hugely impressed with their engagement and concern for the future of our community as well as their enthusiasm for playing their part in creating positive change.

    This action under the excellent guidance of Ms Kellet and Ms Taylor contributes to the school holding the British Council’s International School Award, an initiative to encourage pupils to debate and discuss a wide range of relevant issues. I am delighted to see such action to help our young people to become effective change-makers

     

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