• Marking the 25th anniversary of the Warrington bombing

    It was very humbling and deeply moving to be with the families of Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball in Warrington today to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing which killed both children.

    The event was also attended by HRH The Princess Royal, the Irish Ambassador in Britain, Metro Mayors Steve Rotherham and Andy Burnham, and civic and religious leaders from across our region.

    Many people in the borough of St Helens, particularly where I live in Newton-le-Willows, have strong connections to Warrington and were deeply affected by the bombing.

    I was there at today’s poignant event as the MP for those neighbouring towns to demonstrate that the solidarity our community showed with the people of Warrington in that dark hour is just as strong today.

    Colin Parry’s remarkably generous and moving words were an inspiration to us all. He and Wendy, and the work of the Peace Centre they founded, have made a remarkable contribution to building better relations between Britain and Ireland.

    The awfulness of such terrible destruction could easily have led to hatred and anger. Instead, the determination and generosity of the Parry and Balls families and the people of Warrington helped further peace and reconciliation. That important work has and continues to make a difference, and is the lasting legacy of the two young boys we gathered to remember today.

    (Photo from Dave Gillespie at the Warrington Guardian)

  • Conor meets with Patterdale Lodge Patient group

    I met with Patterdale Lodge Patient Group in Newton-le-Willows to talk about health provision locally and across the country.

    The meeting provided an opportunity to hear from NHS patients about the impact government policy is having on meeting the health needs of our local community.

    Those who attended were keen to praise the hard work of their GPs and staff across the NHS but were concerned about issues ranging from waiting times to the ability to consistently see the same GP when having to see a doctor.

    I know that many constituents are concerned about our NHS, with waiting times soaring, Hospitals in financial crisis and locally a £20 million funding gap in the health economy.

    I have campaigned on the impact of health cuts, and for those working hard in the NHS to receive pay rises.

    I will continue to support the hard work of GPs and those working in the NHS and challenge the Tories to give our hospitals and health care system the resources they need to deliver a health service that our communities deserves.

  • Alfie Dingley

    I sympathise profoundly with the situation faced by Alfie Dingley and his family, and others who are living with a physical condition and are in search of the most effective pain relief.

    Alfie’s life is blighted by epileptic fits and it is understandable that his family want him to have whatever medication they feel will help him. I believe Ministers must ensure that all evidence relating to Alfie’s case has been examined and that all avenues of treatment are being considered to ensure that Alfie has the best possible quality of life.

    This case is the latest in a long line of examples that have led to more calls for legislation to permit the medical use of cannabis, and while I do not agree with legalising cannabis for general use, I believe the Government should look carefully at the case for the use of cannabis or cannabis products as a medicine.

    Where there is evidence, the Government should consider the case for trials and the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 4. This would enable its availability for use in healthcare in the UK.

    As you may be aware, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) administers the process by which medicines, including those containing controlled drugs such as cannabis, can be developed and subsequently prescribed and supplied to patients. In October 2016, the MHRA published its opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medicinal purposes “are a medicine” and offered regulatory guidance to any company that may wish to apply for a licence.

    The Government has said it is exploring every option within the current regulatory framework, including options of issuing a license to the family of Alfie Dingley. I assure you I will follow the Government’s progress closely and bear in mind the points you have raised.

  • St Helens YMCA

    I recently visited St Helens YMCA to meet Chief Executive Justin Hill and Chair of Trustees Richard Tully to discuss their work supporting homeless people in our borough.

    St Helens YMCA provides a range of services, childcare, sport and training as well as housing provision. This includes supported accommodation with a 56 bed hostel and the Foyer Project – which is a stepping stone to independence and employment.

    Across the country, rough sleeping has increased for the seventh consecutive year and here in St Helens homelessness is a growing problem.

    This increase in homelessness is a national scandal and the Tory Government’s cuts to local government and our vital services is a shameful record that hits the most vulnerable in our society.

    Despite funding difficulties, St Helens Council continues to support organisations like the YMCA who help the homeless in partnership with groups like the Salvation Army, the Hope Centre and Teardrops. See More

  • Conor responds to the spring statment

    The Spring Statement from the Chancellor is more of the same failed austerity from this Tory Government.

    In the five years up to 2020, St Helens Council will see its budget cut by £21.9 million – nearly a third of its government funding.

    This is a disgraceful and prolonged attack on the public services that communities across our borough rely on – from local libraries to road maintenance.

    More cuts is not the answer. We need to properly support our councils that have been forced to do more with fewer resources, and our communities who are suffering as a result.

  • The social care system is failing people with dementia.

    People with dementia, on average, face hospital delays twice as long as patients without the condition.

    Just last year, half a million bed days were lost because dementia patients who were ready to leave hospital weren’t helped to get home.

    This is letting down dementia patients and their families as well as piling more pressure on our already overburdened NHS.

    Despite these enormous pressures, organisations like the St Helens Carers Centre offer a range of support for dementia patients and their families – supporting more than 1,500 people caring for a loved one who has dementia across the borough.

    The Centre was also the first in the country to introduce a Carers Emergency Card, which is carried both by the Carer and the cared for person with dementia, meaning that if the person with dementia becomes lost or confused, they can be identified through the card and the carer notified

    With the number of people living with dementia across the UK set to hit 1 million by 2021, it is more important than ever that the Government steps up to the plate and fixes dementia care – you can find out more from the Alzheimer’s Society here:

    https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20175/fix_dementia_care

     

  • 200 new jobs for St Helens

    It is hugely welcome news and a real boost to our borough that Movianto will be bringing 200 jobs to St Helens.

    The new jobs mean more opportunities and demonstrate that St Helens is very much a place that companies want to locate and do business in.

    It also goes to show just what can be achieved when our council, our local educational institutions and the business community work together with a ‘Team St Helens’ approach.

    St Helens is open for business, and these new jobs are a shot in the arm for the local economy – particularly following the closure of Palmer and Harvey before Christmas.

  • Tory Government plans to slash budgets for fire services

    Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service does a vital job protecting our communities in St Helens and across the region.

    But new figures uncovered by the Fire Brigades Union show that this Tory Government is planning to slash budgets for fire services – with a 12 per cent cut expected for Merseyside in the four years up to 2020.

    These dangerous cuts, which will leave our firefighters with fewer resources, come on top of more than 11,000 firefighter job cuts since 2010.

    The terrible tragedy of Grenfell Tower last year underlined the importance of a fully funded fire and rescue service, but the new cuts will run down capabilities and damage morale.

    I’m backing the Fire Brigades Union in calling on the Government to urgently reverse these cuts and protect Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

  • Conor hosts reception in Parliament for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust

    Former coalfield communities up and down the country like the ones I represent in St Helens have seen chronic underinvestment in employment, skills and health since the closure of the pits.

    I hosted a reception in Parliament for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust as they set out their ambitious programme of strategic projects in St Helens and across the country, supporting St Helens Council and local communities and businesses.

    I was delighted that so many Parliamentary colleagues came to support the event, particularly Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

    It is more important than ever to support our coalfield communities so that high skilled and well-paying jobs are available and health and wellbeing are prioritised.

    You can find out more about the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and the important work they are doing in St Helens here:

    https://www.coalfields-regen.org.uk/where-we-work/england/ See More

     

  • Royal British Legion’s Count Them In campaign

    Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families are a hugely important part of the community in St Helens. But currently, we don’t know enough about them or their needs.

    That’s why I’m supporting the Royal British Legion’s Count Them In campaign, calling for extra information to be gathered on the Armed Forces in the next census in 2021.

    It is estimated that there are currently over 6.5 million members of the Armed Forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population.

    However, little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group.

    Liverpool City Region has pledged its support to the campaign and other authorities should follow suit.

    Including new questions on the next census would provide public bodies, local authorities, and charities with valuable information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can for the Armed Forces community.

     

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