• Conor McGinn backs bid for St Helens regeneration funding

    Conor McGinn backs bid for St Helens regeneration funding

    Local MP Conor McGinn has pledged to work with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) and back its bid to secure £40 million in funding – helping communities in St Helens.

    The Trust supports former coalfield communities and invests in jobs and skills, and St Helens will stand to gain if the funding bid is successful.

    Four in ten people in St Helens live in the top 20 per cent of most deprived neighbourhoods in the country – making it a priority areas for regeneration funding.

    On top of this, 23 per cent of people in St Helens have a limiting long-term illness, compared to the national average of 18 per cent.

    Under plans set out by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the new funding will assist 10,000 young people into work and help a further 200,000 people access sports and fitness projects.

    Throughout the country, an estimated 5.5 million people live in former coalfield communities – one in ten across England.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “Communities in St Helens face higher levels of deprivation and rates of long term illness than the national average.

    “As a former coalfield community, it’s important that St Helens benefits from central government regeneration funding, which is why I am proud to back the important work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and support their bid for £40 million of funding.

    “Jobs, skills and training are all vital for our communities and it is important the Government invests in our young people through regeneration funding – here in St Helens and across other former coalfield communities.”

    Coalfields Regeneration Trust Chairman Peter McNestry added:

    “People may think that £40 million is a lot of money to ask for, but when you consider the scale of the challenges that still remain, it requires this level of ambition if we are to make the significant and lasting impacts needed.

    “We know that we can deliver a social return on investment of £10 for every £1 spent. There is no other organisation in the country that could achieve this in our communities.”

     

  • Conor gives his support to St Helens libraries and Libraries Week

    Conor McGinn visited Moss Bank and Haydock libraries as he praised dedicated library staff in St Helens and threw his support behind Libraries Week.

    Over the last week, local libraries have showcased the creativity, innovation and diversity they offer. In St Helens, the activities range from tea and talk events, family reading sessions, examining the Borough archives and Read and Rhyme sessions that introduce children to the fun of reading.

    Conor said: “Libraries Week is a wonderful showcase for all that our libraries have to offer thanks to the efforts of their dedicated staff. As well as their traditional role, our award-winning library service is a key partner in tackling social exclusion and isolation by giving people a place to meet and socialise.

    “We have also seen our libraries used as venues for top quality arts and drama productions and exhibitions through the Cultural Hubs programme. Like thousands of constituents, I and my family have enjoyed using our library service which is an invaluable asset, and Libraries Week gives us the opportunity to shout about its success and importance to our communities.”

  • St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School Celebrates 60 Years

    It was lovely to join staff, pupils, parents and the community of St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School in Parr at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King for a Diamond Jubilee Celebration Mass of Thanksgiving.

    The service is just one of the events being held to mark the school’s 60th anniversary and to celebrate the part its staff, students – past and present – and the wider community have played in the school’s journey and success.

    I want to particularly thank headteacher Mrs Catherine Twist for inviting me to take part in this special event to mark the school’s Diamond Jubilee year, and to Archbishop Malcolm McMahon for his warm welcome to all of us to the Cathedral.

    St Cuthbert’s has been an important part of our community since its opening in 1957 and in adding my congratulations to the school for reaching this important milestone, I would particularly like to thank all the current staff and governors, and many others in similar roles over the last 60 years, who have been dedicated to providing young people in the area with a good education, an ethos of care and community, and strong values to take forward in to adult life.

  • Conor marks first anniversary of ‘Helen’s Law’ Bill with demand for urgent Government action

    Conor  has written to Theresa May to express the unhappiness of victims’ families with the Government’s failure to bring in a new “no body, no parole” law for convicted murderers.

    Conors proposed new law would prevent the release from jail of killers who refuse to reveal the whereabouts of their victims’ bodies.

    He is fighting for Helen’s Law to get justice for his constituent Marie McCourt whose daughter Helen was murdered in 1988.  Despite her killer’s conviction, Helen’s body has never been found.

    Conor has stepped up the campaign ahead of the first anniversary today (Wednesday October 11) of his parliamentary battle to change the law with his Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Bill.

    In his letter to the PM, Conor said: “I must report the immense sense of frustration and continued sense of injustice that victims are feeling at the lack of progress.”

    He urged the Prime Minister to work with him to get Helen’s Law on to the statute book as swiftly as possible to ease the torment endured by Marie McCourt and many other families.

    Helen McCourt was killed at the age of 22 by Ian Simms, the landlord of a pub where she had worked as a barmaid. She disappeared close to her home in Billinge in Mr McGinn’s constituency of St Helens North on February 9 1988.

    Simms, then aged 31, was found guilty of murder in a landmark conviction based on overwhelming DNA evidence – even though Helen’s body was never found.

    Since Helen’s death, Simms has continued to torment Marie McCourt by refusing to explain what happened to Helen’s body.

    His callous silence has denied Marie and her relatives the chance to grieve properly and give Helen a proper funeral.

    Marie has described that unimaginable distress and the prospect that she could die before discovering the whereabouts of her daughter as “a special kind of torture”.

    More than 400,000 people have signed a petition backing Helen’s Law which would help grieving families give their loved ones a proper funeral.

    The new law would help people like Marie and others suffering similar ordeals, likethe parents of murdered schoolgirl Danielle Jones, who vanished from a bus stop in 2001, and relatives of Carole Packman who was killed in 1985.

     

    According to Home Office figures, there have been at least 30 murders since 2007 in England and Wales where no body has been recovered.

    “Throughout her ordeal, Marie has shown dignity and courage while continuing to fight for justice.

     “Yet, despite his cruel silence, her daughter’s killer could soon be released from jail. That would be a terrible injustice.

     “Helen’s Law would mean that if a killer refused to give information about the location of a victim’s body, they would not be considered eligible for parole and would remain behind bars.

     “Despite the huge support of more than 400,000 people, the Government is in danger of being seen to be dragging its feet and risks betraying victims’ families and those like Marie who are being denied the justice they deserve.”

  • Conor McGinn demands protections for Good Friday Agreement in Brexit Bill

    Conor McGinn has called for the Good Friday Agreement to be protected in law as the UK leaves the European Union.

    In amendments tabled to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, the legislation that will take the UK out of the EU, Mr McGinn has called for the principles of the Good Friday Agreement to be reaffirmed in law.

    The amendments will ensure freedom of movement and trade on the island of Ireland, enshrine the power-sharing and North-South institutions set-up under the Agreement in UK law, preserve existing human rights and equality legislation and the principle of consent in relation to Northern Ireland’s future.

    The status of Irish citizens would also be placed on the statute book, with the amendments recognising rights “inclusive of and in addition to their status, rights and entitlements as EU citizens”.

    Conors changes to the Bill, which would come into force after clearing parliamentary hurdles in the House of Commons and House of Lords, would mean the Good Friday Agreement is explicitly upheld by the British Government after the UK’s departure from the EU.

    Conors proposals also seek to preserve the EU-recognised status of the Irish language, on the basis of “respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity” as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

    “As the UK leaves the European Union, Parliament has a duty to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland.

    “That’s why I am calling for the maintenance of the Good Friday Agreement – and all of its provisions and institutions – to be enshrined in law through my amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

    “MPs from all parties recognise the importance of protecting the peace process and the tremendous progress we have seen on the island of Ireland and in British-Irish relations since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement nearly 20 years ago, and the Government has the chance through my amendments to show it does too.

    “We must act to safeguard the progress made by protecting the Good Friday Agreement and enshrining it on the statute book as we leave the EU.”

     

  • Conor elected as officer of all party group on childcare and early education

    Conor has been elected as an officer of an influential new group at Westminster, the Childcare and Early Education All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). The group will spearhead efforts to improve childcare and early education across the country.

    The move comes after Conor – a father of two pre-school aged children himself – revealed new figures about the number of local children who are missing out on free childcare in St Helens.

    In St Helens, almost one in five (19%) of two-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out on 15 hours free childcare, according to the latest official Government figures.

    That means around 136 two-year-olds in St Helens from disadvantaged backgrounds are not getting the free childcare they need.

    Commenting, Conor said: “The Government is already failing to fund its promise to provide 30 hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds.

    “The latest figures show that many two-year-olds in St Helens are not even getting 15 hours of free childcare.

    “The Tories are letting down families who most need help with childcare, as well as childcare providers who are struggling to meet costs.

    “I hope that, together with Parliamentary colleagues, I can use this new group to press the Government to strengthen early education for children in St Helens and across the country.”

    Of the £9.1 billion spent on childcare and early education in this Parliament, just £250 million is earmarked for the most disadvantaged children.

    Around three in 10 disadvantaged two-year-olds are still missing out on a free childcare place – despite new evidence to show that this can have a marked impact on their development.

  • Conor gains support for his EDM on National health service Pay

    In Westminster , I was delighted that Labour’s frontbench put forward my Early Day Motion on NHS pay for debate in Parliament.

    70 MPs from all parties – except, of course, the Tories – had already signed the motion calling on the Government to scrap the pay cap for NHS workers.

    When it became clear that the majority of MPs were likely to vote with Labour in support of this yesterday, the Tories cynically announced an end to the pay cap but then ran away from the vote. It was passed unanimously by the House of Commons.

    It is a great victory for our NHS staff and all those who have been campaigning for a pay rise like the Royal College of Nursing and Unison.

    I’m proud to have played a role alongside Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth in pushing the issue to the floor of the House of Commons, putting it up to the Tories and getting the motion passed unanimously.

    The Government now needs to act and pay our nurses, NHS staff and all public sector workers properly and fairly.

  • Conor welcomes the commencement of work on Pasture Lane

    Residents in Rainford will be relieved that works on Pasture Lane have finally commenced.

    I first approached the Government for help just a few days after the flooding caused serious damage to the road and forced its closure at the end of 2015.

    Local people have had to endure 20 months of waiting because Tory Ministers in London wouldn’t release the funding needed to make these repairs.

    I pay tribute to the local community for their persistent campaigning on this issue and thank St Helens Council for its role in securing funding.

    I will continue to monitor the works over the following weeks to ensure they are completed to a high standard and on time.

  • Conor calls on the Government to act on school holiday hunger

    Conor has added his name to Labour MP Frank Field’s Bill calling on the Government to act to stop children going hungry during the school holidays, which has been presented in Parliament.

    The issue of food poverty among children is often worse during school breaks when free school meals are not available, adding to the pressure facing families and forcing some to rely on food banks.

    The School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill that would put a legal duty on local councils to ensure the provision of free school meals and activities for children during the summer break.

    The move comes after a report from MPs revealed that around 3 million children were at risk of going without school meals during the summer – with the loss of free school meals for two months adding up to £40 a week to a family’s outgoings for one child.

    In St Helens, the council had holiday schemes running on weekdays in churches and children’s centres where children could get a hot meal and join activities.

    Conor has visited the Make Lunch St Helens project that aims to help parents who struggle to provide a hot meal for their children during the school summer break.

    But he warned that the Government must do more to help cash-strapped councils and parents ensure that children do not go hungry during school holidays.

    Conor said: “A growing number of families in St Helens and across the region are finding it hard to make sure their children get a hot meal during the school holidays.

    “The absence of free school meals puts them under increasing financial pressure and they often have to try to find extra money to pay for activities for their children during school breaks.

    “There are some fantastic local projects doing their best to provide support, but we need more action from the Government to make sure children do not go hungry during school holidays.”

  • Conor campaigning for transport improvements in St Helens North

    Conor McGinn has stepped up his campaign for urgent transport improvements in St Helens and across the North West.

    St Helens North MP Conor also accused Government ministers of backtracking on pledges to invest in transport as part of the Northern Powerhouse project.

    He spoke out following a major summit to discuss Cross Rail North and wider transport investment for the Northern Powerhouse held in Leeds.

    Conor accused the Government of pouring cash into London’s £30 billion Crossrail 2 project at the expense of the North West and appearing to water down a previous commitment for the full electrification of the Trans Pennine Line.

    He is also demanding assurances about progress on improvements at Newton-le-Willows station, plans to upgrade Garswood station and the proposed improvements at junction 23 of the M6 motorway.

    Conor said: “Yet again the Government is snubbing the North West at the expense of London and the South East.

    “We desperately need good transport links to help drive economic growth in St Helens and across the North with improvements from West to East from Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

    “It is these transport improvements that will increase jobs and prosperity for St Helens and Merseyside – not the proposed HS2 rail link or London’s Crossrail 2.

    “We need the Northern and Trans Pennine Express operations to deliver better connections between Merseyside and other economic centres in the region.

    “The Government should shift its focus away from London to other cities and towns like St Helens that are crying out for better transport connections.”

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