• Labours new policy on free bus travel for under 25s

    Labour has announced a new policy to fund free bus travel for under 25s across the country – which would save money for thousands of young people in St Helens.

    Across our borough around one in four children grow up in poverty, with years of Tory austerity hitting family finances and stretching budgets.

    Introducing free bus travel for young people will support them to travel to work, to school or college and to visit friends.

    Across the Liverpool City Region, Labour is leading the way with the introduction of the Merseytravel My Ticket – the young persons discounted ticket which gives unlimited travel across the whole region for a full day and is available to all young people up to their 19th Birthday.

    This is particularly important given that young adults tend to have less disposable income and more insecure work than older people.

    Across the country, introducing free bus travel for under 25s will save up to 13 million young people up to £1,000 per year and will be paid for using money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty.

    Labour’s research has shown how the average number of bus trips made by under 25s since 2010 has declined – up to 40 per cent for those aged 21 – 25. Free bus travel will help boost these falling numbers and give young people greater mobility.

  • Helens Law Day of Action

    This year marks the 30th anniversary of Helen McCourt’s murder in Billinge.

    Today, I joined with Helen’s mother Marie McCourt, other victims’ families and their MPs in Westminster for a day of action in the campaign for a “no body, no parole” rule to be included on the statute book.

    We met with the Justice Secretary David Gauke and presented a petition with almost 500,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street.

    I am determined to help Marie finally get some peace from what she describes as the “special kind of torture” of knowing she could die without ever discovering the whereabouts of her daughter.

    Families from across the country who are involved in the campaign came together to back the campaign for Helen’s Law.

    It is high time Parliament delivered the change in the law that Marie and so many other families desperately need.

  • Universal Credit Roll Out

    This week sees the rollout of the Universal Credit Full Service to St Helens.

    The botched rollout has continued despite widespread problems, including the failure of the online system to accept certain kinds of evidence and long waits for an initial payment with delays in processing claims.

    In some other parts of the country, these delays have added to an already lengthy wait for initial payment that is built into the Universal Credit system.

    The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has already highlighted that these delays have placed people at risk of eviction as rent arrears have built up due to the delays.

    Figures from the Trussell trust also show food bank referrals have increased at more than double the national average in areas in which the Universal Credit Full Service has been rolled out.

    The Government must urgently get to grips with these problems and fix Universal Credit so that people in St Helens are not put at risk.

     

  • Congratulations to Haydock Band

    Congratulations to Haydock Band on the fantastic news that they have been promoted to the First Section as of 2019.

    Brass bands are graded like football teams – the Premiership with household name bands such as Black Dyke and then sections one down to four. Haydock are now one step away from the Premiership.

    Haydock Band has deep roots in our community and their reputation is growing all the time including through recent appearances on TV and radio, and this is one more feather in their cap.

    I also know gaining promotion like this isn’t easy as it is based on the standard of performances over the last three years so this is a fitting reward for the hard work and dedication of Musical Director Mark Quinn and everyone associated with Haydock Band.

    I am delighted for the band, and I will continue to work with them as they build on their success.

    What we now need to see is funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England better recognise bands like Haydock and others in Merseyside and the North West by giving them greater support to grow and flourish.

  • My support for Unison’s Ethical Care Charter

    I spoke at the Age UK Mid Mersey conference to highlight the enormous challenges facing social care – with a funding gap of more than £20 million in the health economy across St Helens.

    I also pledged my support to Unison’s Ethical Care Charter which will establish key standards for the safety, quality and dignity of care by improving pay, conditions and training levels.

    Social care has been pushed into a state of emergency. Cuts to adult social care budgets are expected to reach £6.3 billion by the end of 2017/18 and the Tory Government has completely failed to set out a proper plan to fund it.

    This is having a detrimental impact on care quality, and the estimated number of people with an unmet social care need in England could be as high as 2.35 million.

    That’s why Labour is committed to give the NHS over £30 billion of extra investment over the next parliament and invest an extra £8 billion to tackle the crisis in social care.

    We have committed as a Party to taking one million people off the waiting list and guaranteeing that patients can be seen within four hours in A&E.

    In St Helens, we have a £20 million shortfall across the health economy in the borough, piling more pressure onto already overstretched carers.

    There is a crisis in our NHS and social care and we urgently need a Labour government to rescue services.

  • Eric Bristow

    As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Darts, I was very sad to hear of the death of legendary player Eric Bristow.

    Eric was World Champion five times in the 1980s, dominating the sport and helping so much to popularise darts and take the players of the game from pubs and clubs onto our TV screens and into people’s homes and popular culture.

    I was delighted to host him along in Parliament just last year for our Westminster Darts Tournament.

    Here in St Helens, we are home to some great darts players as well as businesses like A180 Darts and the St Helens Darts Academy.

    Eric played a huge part in making darts what it is today and he will be sadly missed by everyone associated with the sport.

     

  • supporting a national centre of excellence for innovation in the home of the UK glass industry.

    It was fantastic to be at the World of Glass with representatives from across the UK glass industry, St Helens Ambassadors, Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham and Marie Rimmer MP as we met to hear about the progress being made to create a national centre of excellence for innovation in St Helens, the home of the UK glass industry.

    The £50 million project, announced in February, would put St Helens at the forefront of glass manufacturing worldwide, and create 50 jobs across the borough. The plan for the new centre of excellence has pulled together leading glass companies such as Pilkingtons and NGF as well as universities, with the aim of developing new high tech products.

    The event gave Chairman of Saints and the St Helens Economic Board Eamonn McManus the opportunity to make the case for St Helens as the ideal location for the project and the benefits it would bring, both to the glass industry and the Borough.

    It is fitting that in our borough’s 150th anniversary year, St Helens is leading the way as a world leader in research and development in glass technology.

  • Rainford Rangers links to Brookvale Young Boys FC

    For almost 25 years, Rainford man Terry Duffy has had a link with a boys football club in the village where I grew up in Northern Ireland.

    Brookvale Young Boys FC have visited Merseyside several times and I was absolutely delighted to hear that Rainford Rangers are making the return visit to county Armagh this weekend.

    I popped up to a training session in Rainford last Sunday to wish the boys well as they embark on their “lads and dads” trip across the water. The club are great ambassadors for the village and the whole of St Helens. As well as visiting Bessbrook, they will be playing teams from Omagh in county Tyrone and Ballybofey in county Donegal.

    Sport has an incredible capacity to bring people together and forge lasting friendships. I am really proud of this strong connection between our community in Rainford in my constituency and the community in Bessbrook where I grew up. Long may it continue!

  • Corporal John Davies VC

    I was delighted to join the family of Corporal John Davies VC alongside the Mayor and many others including local branches of the Royal British Legion, military personnel, local veterans, support group SAMS and local councillors at the St Helens Cenotaph to attend the unveiling of a commemorative paving stone for his courageous actions for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

    Corporal Davies – known locally as Jack – was among the first to volunteer for the 11th (Service) Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, more commonly known as the St Helens Pals.

    He was wounded twice during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, returning to active duties after recovering on both occasions.

    On 24 March 1918, Corporal Davies was manning a section of the front near the French village of Eppeville. The following extract from his Victoria Cross citation tells the story of his incredible gallantry, unwavering bravery and total dedication to his comrades:

    “When his company—outflanked on both sides—received orders to withdraw, Corporal Davies knew that the only line of withdrawal lay through a deep stream lined with a belt of barbed wire, and that it was imperative to hold up the enemy as long as possible.

    “He mounted the parapet, fully exposing himself, in order to get a more effective field of fire, and kept his Lewis gun in action to the last, causing the enemy many casualties and checking their advance.

    “By his very great devotion to duty he enabled part of his company to get across the river, which they would otherwise have been unable to do, thus undoubtedly saving the lives of many of his comrades.

    “When last seen this gallant N.C.O. was still firing his gun, with the enemy close on the top of him, and was in all probability killed at his gun.”

    Incredibly, Corporal Davies survived the assault and was taken as a prisoner. After the War, he returned to St Helens where he lived with his family for the rest of his life. In response to being asked about his heroism, Corporal Davies replied, “I was doing my duty”.

    The people of St Helens will never forget the incredible bravery shown by Corporal Davies or the countless others from our borough who made the ultimate sacrifice.

  • Mental Health service funding

    I challenged Government Ministers over funding cuts to the North West Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust year on year since 2011.

    The Trust is charged with delivering community and inpatient mental health services across St Helens, Halton, Knowsley, Warrington and Wigan, and it supports a number of mental health charities across Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

    The Trust has £9.5 million less now than six years ago – a cut of nearly 6 per cent.

    Despite Government promises to increase spending on mental health, their record shows that services across the North West are having their budgets cut just as more pressure is being piled on to the NHS.

    This means that mental health services are under resourced and oversubscribed – which is not sustainable for those charged with providing or needing to use services.

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