• A Government in disarray and not acting in the national interest

    The last 24 hours in Westminster have been chaotic and shambolic.

    The Prime Minister has lost authority and now is in office for her and her party’s self-interest, and certainly not in the national interest.

    The House of Commons should have voted on her deal today. Instead the Government has postponed the vote and is in a complete state of disarray.

    I would have voted against this deal. It is bad for young people, workers, businesses and the wider community in St Helens North. Theresa May’s offer gives no guarantees on workers’ rights, environmental protections, consumer standards, security co-operation and most importantly it gives no clarity about a future trading relationship between the EU and Britain.

    How can I trust the Tories to protect or deliver on any of these given what we’ve seen in Parliament this week, and more acutely in what the Government has done to the NHS, schools, police and local government in St Helens borough over the last 7 years?

    We are at an impasse. My priority is guarding against a no-deal Brexit that would be catastrophic for St Helens North and the whole country. I believe that this Tory Government is discredited and now should call a general election. If that doesn’t happen, then I believe the option of a second referendum is one we must consider.

  • marking the centenary of the Armistice – the end of the First World War – and Remembrance Day.

    I joined thousands of people across the borough at dignified and poignant commemorative events this weekend to mark the centenary of the Armistice – the end of the First World War – and Remembrance Day.

    Last night at I attended the Haydock Male Voice Choir’s Eve of Armistice concert, alongside the Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside, the Mayor of St Helens and Lord Watts at a packed St Helens Town Hall.

    This morning I joined the Deputy Mayor of St Helens, Armed Forces, veterans, cadets, community groups, schools, local councillors and the largest crowd seen for many years at the Newton-le-Willows Remembrance Day parade where I laid a wreath at the War Memorial at Earlestown Town Hall and attended the remembrance service at St John’s Church.

    I also attended an ecumenical service of commemoration at St Aidan’s Church in Billinge this afternoon, and events were also held at the Haydock Garden of Remembrance and at All Saints Church in Rainford.

    This evening, as part of the national “Battle’s Over” programme of events, beacons of light were lit in Taylor Park, Earlestown Market Square and on Billinge Hill.

    Tens of thousands of young men from St Helens, Newton and surrounding villages and parishes fought in the Great War. Thousands did not return home and lie buried in cemeteries or battlefields in France and across the world. Many thousands of others who did return home were scarred by what they experienced and were never the same men again.

    Today, a hundred years on, the people of St Helens came together in those same parishes, villages and towns of our borough to honour and remember their sacrifice.

  • Roger Phillips show

    This week I took part in a live phone-in with Roger Phillips on his daily show on BBC Radio Merseyside.

    I know lots of people across St Helens listen to the show and it was great to have constituents ringing in, and to chat with them and Roger about everything from housing to Brexit and council tax to the railways.

  • new Community Police hub in Rainford.

    St Helens North MP Conor McGinn joined Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy to open a new Community Police Station in Rainford.

    Community Police Stations are designed to be accessible, visible centres which are co-located with partners in busy neighbourhood hubs which are already well used by the communities they serve. They are a key part of the strategy to transform Merseyside Police’s stations with the aim of saving £2.5m on running costs every year, money which can be redirected straight into frontline policing.

    Jane said: “I’m delighted that we have now opened the doors to this Community Police Station in Rainford and my thanks to Conor McGinn for working with me on this.

    “We are not hiding the fact that these changes are driven by austerity. Merseyside Police’s workforce has been cut by nearly a quarter since 2010 and the pressures they face continue to grow. That means the Force has to work more smartly and efficiently than ever before and Community Police Stations are designed to help neighbourhood officers be closer to the communities they serve, while also reducing our annual running costs.

    “The Chief Constable and I remain committed to providing a visible and accessible police force, as best we can with the resources we have available. While the service we can offer has changed, I think Rainford Village Hall is an excellent location for a Community Police Station. It will put the neighbourhood team right at the heart of the community in a busy location which is clearly really popular with local people, is already used for a host of activities and events and which has been recommended by local councillors. I hope it will be a real asset to the community.”

    Conor McGinn MP said: “It is vitally important that our towns and villages have a visible and responsive policing presence and the reopening of Rainford Station, even on a limited basis, is recognition of the need for police officers to be in our communities and working with our communities.

    “I am grateful to the Police Commissioner for her strong leadership and engagement with me and St Helens Council in ensuring that we meet the policing needs of local people in tackling crime and keeping them safe.

    “The consequences of central government-imposed cuts to Mersey Police have been felt acutely in St Helens over the last number of years. The Commissioner, the Council and I will continue to work together to mitigate the effects of continuing cuts across Merseyside, and to ensure visible, responsive and well-resourced policing across St Helens North from Billinge to Newton and Parr to Rainford.”

    The Community Police Station in Rainford will be open on a regular, but not continuous basis and will include public meeting rooms and facilities from which officers can parade on. It will not house any custody suites or cells. Surgeries will be publicised at the centre, on local billboards and through the Force’s website.

  • Moss bank fire

    On Wednesday night a devastating fire completely destroyed a parade of shops including the Post Office at Wythburn Crescent in Moss Bank. These businesses were a real community hub, providing essential services to local residents.

    Along with the Cllr Derek Long, the Leader of St Helens Council, I called an emergency site meeting with councillors, Torus Housing, the police and local residents and employees of the affected businesses to talk about the impact the fire has had on the community and how – working together – we will support local residents, the shop owners and the 30 staff employed at the site in the weeks and months ahead.

    I was struck by the determination shown by residents to pull together and support those most affected. It is a tight-knit community and the shops were an important part of it, particularly for the many older people who live in the area. Making sure they are up and running again as soon as possible is vital.

    Torus have confirmed to me that the buildings will need to be demolished. I have asked for this to be done urgently and for extra police resources to be put in the community to prevent any vandalism and for the site to be properly secured. I have also contacted the Post Office seeking assurances that facilities in the area – at least a mobile post office until we are able to reopen a permanent one – will be available as soon as possible.

    I will also want a clear plan from Torus – the owner of the building – about the plans and timescale for the rebuild. Residents groups working with local councillors will also be organising a meeting with further information in due course. In the meantime, residents and anyone affected by the fire can contact my office and we will do our best to help provide any information we have or help we can give.

  • Norman Harvey VC

    I joined hundreds of people in Newton-le-Willows for a series of events to honour Norman Harvey VC, a local man who received the Victoria Cross a century ago for valour and gallantry while serving in the First World War.

    Born in Newton on 6th April 1899, Norman enlisted in the 4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment in November 1914, when he was only 15. He was transferred to the 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in April 1918.

    Norman was 19 when he won his VC medal on 25th October 1918.

    Norman’s award recognised his actions in Ingoyhem, Belgium. When his battalion was held up and suffering severe casualties from machine-gun fire, he ran forward and engaged the enemy single-handed, killing two, wounding one and capturing 12 men and two guns.

    After the War, Norman lived at Old Station in Parkside Road.

    He re-enlisted for World War Two and was killed in action in 1942.

    The commemorative events at the weekend began with the unveiling of a commemorative paving stone by the Mayor of St Helens at the War Memorial in Earlestown before a very moving service at St Peter’s Church in Newton, with Haydock Male Voice Choir and Valley Brass Band providing music and Captain Harry Smeldey reading the VC citation.

    The service was followed by a parade led by the 103 Regiment Royal Artillery Pipes & Drums to Mesnes Park where, in the presence of Norman’s daughter Geraldine and other members of the family, the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside and the Colonel of 2 Royal Irish Regiment unveiled the dramatic sculpture of Norman Harvey created by Ray Lonsdale.

    It was a very special day for Newton and a testament to the local community which turned out in huge numbers to respectfully honour the service and bravery of one of their own in his home town.

  • 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?

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