• carers week

    This week is Carers Week, a chance to recognise the outstanding work of the millions of people in the UK who provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, older or disabled family member, friend or partner.

    But carers do not always get the recognition and support they deserve, with around 1.4 million people providing over 50 hours of unpaid care per week, according to figures in the last census.

    And those carers who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance by providing full time care for someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit, often don’t have enough to make ends meet.

    That’s why I’m backing the Carers UK Fairer for Carers campaign, calling for an increase in Carer’s Allowance in England to reflect the huge amount of work they do.

    Carer’s Allowance is currently the lowest benefit of its kind at £64.60 per week, but it is due to increase by £8.50 in Scotland while staying the same in other parts of the UK.

    This simply isn’t fair for hardworking carers in St Helens who will receive a lower rate of financial support just because of where they live.

    The St Helens Carers Centre estimates there are around 23,000 carers across the borough, with more than a thousand new carers registering with the Centre in the last year alone.

    The Government must step up to the plate and address the financial hardship that many carers find themselves in, often because a loved one falls ill or grows old.

  • Channel 4 Headquarters

    It’s great news that Liverpool has been shortlisted as the potential location for the new Channel 4 Headquarters.

    I have been a strong supporter of the bid, alongside my MP colleagues across Merseyside and Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham. We all want to see Channel 4 come to our City Region.

    Liverpool is an iconic city known the world over for its creativity and passion for the arts. But the bid’s strength lies in the talent and creativity found across the boroughs of the whole City Region. In St Helens we are recognised nationally for the arts through the Heart of Glass and our library service and the bid reflects this pooling of skills and resources across Merseyside.

    Channel 4 being based in Liverpool would be a positive step for the broadcaster and the country, and a boost to the North West economy. It will also act to harness the creative talents to be found across the City Region and within St Helens North.

  • National Police Specials Weekend

    This weekend is National Police Specials Weekend and I’m delighted to take this opportunity to recognise the hard work and dedication of volunteer police officers in St Helens, Merseyside and across the country.

    Special Constables play a key role in local policing and have the same powers in law as regular police officers, including the power of arrest. They come from all walks of life, and work alongside regular officers and PCSOs in our community and play a vital role in supporting the work of the police and the community.

    Alongside full-time police officers, they are an integral part of our St Helens communities and this weekend we say: thank you!

  • Cowley commemorates those killed in the first world war

    I joined past and current pupils and staff at Cowley International College to commemorate those associated with the school who were killed in the First World War.

    The event, organised by Rita Allcock, was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress Cllr Joe and Sylvia Pearson, alongside the principal Cameron Sheeran.

    After a welcome from the principal and Rita, the names of those pupils from Cowley whodied were read aloud by current pupils before those in attendance joined in a rendition of Jerusalem and a selection of musical pieces from the past pupils’ band and current pupil Lee Downing.

    As well as the commemoration, those attending were presented with a copy of the Cowley School Roll of Honour, ‘Pro Patria 1914 – 1919’ a compilation put together by James Smethurst, a teacher at the school at the time. The compilation lists all the pupils from the school and the service they gave in the war.

    The event was a poignant reminder of the sacrifice made by so many pupils at Cowley, and indeed by so many families across St Helens, during the Great War.

  • local school supports UNICEF send my friend to school campaign

    I visited Lyme Community Primary School in Earlestown to see the important work they are doing as part of the UNICEF Send My Friend To School campaign.

    Pupils at Lyme School act as ambassadors for children’s rights and are part of the Global Campaign for Education which works to ensure education for all children.

    The campaign has brought together over twenty charities in the UK alone, and the children at Lyme School are playing their part by raising awareness locally, visiting other schools and distributing the posters they have produced within the community.

    It was great to attend the pupils’ special assembly, led by the schools Rights-Respecting steering group and Deputy Head Teacher Mrs Roberts.

    The pupils at Lyme School have done brilliant work raising awareness of the importance of education in the world’s poorest countries and it is a testament to their achievements that the school has been awarded silver accreditation for the UNICEF Rights-Respecting Schools Award – and work is underway for the gold standard.

    It was a pleasure to meet the pupils and receive the work they have produced and as requested I will be passing it on to the Prime Minister to underline the importance of supporting their work.

  • commuter chaos

    Commuters returning to work this morning were faced with more intolerable delays and cancellations. It is not good enough. I’m supporting calls by Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram for:

    1) An agreed action plan with Northern, the Department for Transport and Transport for the North to be published which outlines clearly what the problems are and when passengers can expect to see improvements.

    2) A deadline for the payment of outstanding Delay Repay claims and compensation for season ticket holders.

    3) A commitment that if Northern does not adhere to the action plan that it will be stripped of the franchise.

  • Barclays Bank Earlestown

    I was deeply concerned to hear that Barclays Bank is planning to close its Earlestown Branch at the end of August.

    This is bad news for my constituents in Newton-le-Willows, whose nearest branch will now be in St Helens.

    Following the closure announcement, I met with senior management at Barclays to seek assurances about the impact of the changes and they have assured me that customers wanting to carry out every day, over the counter, transactions will be able to use the Post Office on Haydock Street, Earlestown.

    While the way that many people choose to bank is changing, it is vital those who rely on a more traditional way of banking and might not have online accounts, still have access to banking services.


  • European Economic Area (EEA)

    I have consistently said that our future relationship with the EU must put jobs and the economy first and must therefore maintain the benefits of the Single Market and the customs union, which may require staying in both.

    This is a firm test that I am committed to holding the Government’s Brexit deal against when it comes before Parliament for approval. If the Government’s Brexit deal does not meet this test, I will vote against it. Securing a new and strong relationship with and perhaps within the Single Market is not only vital for jobs and the economy in St Helens and the UK, but also for ensuring a continued close partnership with the EU. In my view it is the only feasible way to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland

    I share the understandable and growing concern that the Government’s internal conflicts could lead it to an unacceptable countenance of new trade barriers between the UK and the EU. Not only would that be bad for jobs and the economy, it would also be bad for people’s rights. There should be no lowering of common standards, deregulation or divergence from the rights and protections that the UK helped to shape as a member of the EU. However, I fear that this is the likely path ahead under the Government’s plans.

    It is also vital that strong transitional arrangements are secured on the same basic terms as now, including within the Single Market, to avoid a cliff edge for our economy between Brexit day and the implementation of our future relationship with EU. Unfortunately, key aspects of the transitional arrangements negotiated between the Government and the EU remain ambiguous and unresolved.

    The amendment to which you refer was one of several to be made to the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords, in a series of defeats for the Government. It is unclear when the Government will bring the EU Withdrawal Bill back to the House of Commons for consideration of those amendments. This is a vital piece of legislation and I can assure you that I will be looking at each amendment carefully. In the meantime, I will continue to keep pressure on the Government to secure a Brexit deal that works for jobs, the economy and rights.

  • Use of agency staff doubling in the NHS

    Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, has slammed the Government’s continued neglect of the NHS after new figures show spending on agency staff since 2010 has more than doubled at St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust.

    The figures, obtained by Mr McGinn in a Freedom of Information request, show that the total amount spent on agency staff has soared from £4.8 million in 2010/11 to £10.7 million in 2016/17 – more than doubling the cost of temporary staff to the Trust.

    An increase in spending on agency nurses has driven up the figures, with just £0.5m spent in 2010/11 but over £2m paid out in 2016/17 – and the figure is set to increase for the last financial year too.

    Instead of taking action to help hospitals reduce bills and hire more nurses, the Government has scrapped student nurse bursaries – meaning nursing applications dropped by a quarter in 2017.

    The drop in nursing applications and the increase in spending on agency staff shows that our local Trust is being forced to spend more to plug staffing gaps.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “Spending on temporary and agency NHS staff has soared on this Government’s watch and it just goes to show that you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.

    “Despite the best efforts of our local Health Trust, hardworking and dedicated NHS staff in St Helens have endured years of real terms pay cuts as prices have risen, while the amount spent on agency staff has more than doubled to meet the increasing demand.

    “This is a direct result of this Government’s failure to properly run our NHS, and the decision to scrap student nurse bursaries will make matters worse, with a quarter fewer nursing course applications last year alone.

    “A dependence on agency workers to plug staffing gaps is bad for the long term future of our NHS and the Government should commit to turning these numbers around and recruiting more permanent staff as a matter of urgency.

    “Local Trusts like St Helens should not have to fork out to fix a problem created by the Tory Government in London.”

  • Beating the Bounds

    I was delighted to join Ste Lingard and so many others from across the borough to take part in Beating the Bounds 2018.

    The 42.5 mile, one-day trek around the boundaries of St Helens reflects an old tradition of teaching young people about the borders of their parishes while bringing the local community together.

    Ste has revived the tradition as a charity event in support of St Helens Mind, with the inaugural Beating the Bounds last year raising almost £2,000 for the local mental health charity.

    This year’s event, taking place in the 150th anniversary year of St Helens, went from strength to strength and it was great to see so many from the local community out to support Ste and other walkers.

    It is also a timely reminder of the excellent work done by St Helens Mind during Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 – you can still support Ste’s fantastic efforts on his fundraising page here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=SteLingard&pageUrl=4


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