• Linda Maloney MBE

    Congratulations to my friend Cllr Linda Maloney on being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

    It is well-deserved recognition for a dedicated and hardworking community activist who has given decades of diligent service to people in Blackbrook, Haydock and across the borough of St Helens.

    Linda has blazed a trail for women in politics in the North West; in the Labour Party, at Council level and also regionally as the first woman appointed to a senior position in the Merseyside Fire Authority.

    Linda is also my election agent which means she has to put up with me ringing her morning, noon and night in various states of anxiety in the run up to an election. Most people would think she deserves some sort of medal for that alone!

    Whether it’s local, national or regional contests, no election day in St Helens North is complete for our Labour volunteers without a visit to Linda’s kitchen for a brew, some hotpot, a bacon barm and a chocolate biccie (and for me the chance to take a break from door-knocking for a few minutes to catch a bit of horse racing on the telly with her husband Mike).

    Many congratulations to Linda, Mike and their family on this well-deserved honour, and thank you for all your service to our community, council and party.

  • St Helens Borough Local Plan

    The Local Plan was approved following a vote by St Helens Council this week.

    An eight-week publication period will begin in January to allow the public to view the plan and submit representations to the council.

    The plan will then be submitted to an independent planning inspector in the summer, with the council aiming to adopt the Local Plan in 2020.

    I’ve always argued for a balanced Local Plan that encourages jobs, investment and economic growth across the borough and improves the quality of life for our residents.

    I think the latest version of the Local Plan shows that St Helens Council has listened to my and residents’ concerns about the previous draft.

    The leader of the council, Derek Long, the cabinet member for balanced development, Andy Bowden and local Labour councillors have worked hard to take the range of views across the borough in to account, while complying with government-set housing targets and trying to build a strong local economy.

    I am pleased to see a significant reduction in the amount of green belt proposed for release particularly across Rainford, Haydock and Billinge, and also the removal of proposed immediate development sites in the east of the borough between Newton and the East Lancs and especially around Haydock Island, and in Windle.

     

  • Christmas Card competition winner

    Well done to Josh from Broad Oak Community Primary School in Parr, the winner of my Christmas card competition. It was lovely to visit the school again and have a chat with the boys and girls, as well as being treated to some fantastic carol singing.

  • The Queens commonwealth canopy

    Conor McGinn MP was joined by pupils from St Peter and St Paul’s Primary School to plant two trees in Haresfinch Park as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conservation initiatives which involves all 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

    The trees were given to Mr McGinn thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s, ITV and St Helens Council as part of the Queen’s ambitious legacy project which brings together her deeply held commitment to the Commonwealth and her little-known love of trees.

    Mr McGinn formally planted the trees alongside local children from St Peter and St Paul and their head teacher Mrs Rigby, Moss Bank councillor Trisha Long and St Helens Council Cabinet Member for Parks Cllr Lynn Clarke, and with the help of the Council’s Parks team.

    Mr McGinn said:

    “I was delighted to have this opportunity to take part in this 53 countries-wide initiative to help raise awareness of the importance of trees to our environment and mark the Queen’s service to the Commonwealth and the country.

    “It was lovely be joined by pupils from St Peter and St Paul and to have the chance to explain to them that the trees – one called Peter, and one called Paul – being planted would be there for them to see growing for many years to come, and that by doing our little bit here in Haresfinch, we in St Helens were joining thousands of others in taking park in a much bigger and very special global event.”

  • 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.

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