• Conor welcomes Labour’s candidate for Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram MP, and Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP to St Helens

    Rotheram Visit 2 Rotheram Visit 1

    Conor welcomed Labour’s candidate for Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram MP, and Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP, to St Helens to see plans for a new housing scheme in Parr and meet local community activists from re:new.

    The Torus housing development at Chancery Lane will provide over 30 homes for those aged 55 and above. The scheme will also offer support to meet the needs of those forced to move home due to recent housing benefit cuts.

    The re:new neighbourhood management project in Parr is a joint initiative between St Helens Council and Helena Partnerships. It aims to create better places to live and to improve the quality of life for local residents.

    Commenting after the visit, Conor said:

    “It was great to have Steve and John visit St Helens and see some of the impressive community development and housing projects like this one in Parr.

    “It and others like it will provide a much-needed boost in housing quality and supply for the local area.

    “Merseyside is bearing the brunt of Tory cuts to supported housing and local government, as well as imposition of the bedroom tax. In addition, this Government has ended funding for remedial work to make contaminated land fit for development, which has a hugely negative impact on industrial areas like Parr.

    “Despite this we are lucky to have a strong community ethos across St Helens, and I pay tribute to people like Bernie and many other volunteers and activists like her who continue to work hard to improve neighbourhoods and make life better for local residents.”

  • Conor backs International Women’s Day

    IWD

    Conor McGinn MP has backed International Women’s Day and called for the Chancellor to deliver a Spring Budget that works for women.

    International Women’s Day, held on 8 March, marks a celebration of the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women.

    This year the 2017 Spring Budget falls on International Women’s Day and Conor and Labour are calling on the government to guarantee a budget that works for women.

    As of the 2016 Autumn Statement, 86% of the net gains to the treasury through tax and benefit measures had come from women, with a disproportionate impact on women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

    Labour have announced a twelve month consultation on a new Economic Equality Bill. This Bill will aim to strengthen legislation around equal pay and tackle the structural and economic barriers that stop women, BAME communities and disabled people from reaching their full potential.

    Commenting, Conor said:

    “Tory cuts have hit women the hardest and it is high time they put in place policies to change this – that’s why I’m calling on the Chancellor to deliver a budget that works for women.

    “Much progress has been made in the battle for gender equality but this government are turning back the clock on economic equality for women.

    “That the gender pay gap is still 18.1% for full-time workers is shocking and much more needs to be done to ensure women are on equal economic footing.

    “I will work with Labour colleagues to hold the Government to account and to introduce an Economic Equality Bill to tackle structural and economic barriers.”

  • Conor McGinn calls for Government U-turn on decision to scrap bursaries for student nurses and midwives

    STP

    Conor has called on the Government to drop its plans to abolish bursaries for student nurses and midwives.

    NHS bursaries are due to be scrapped from August in a move that could leave students paying tuition fees of more than £9,000 and forced to rely on student loans.

    But Conor is fighting the move which he warned would only worsen the recruitment crisis which had meant local hospitals are forced to rely more heavily on agency nurses to plug staffing gaps.

    His demand comes after it was revealed last year that St Helens Care Commissioning Group faced a £12.5 million shortfall in its funding.

    Conor is backing a Labour campaign for a Government U-turn over the plan to scrap the bursaries for student nurses amid fears it could worsen NHS staffing problems across Merseyside.

    Latest national figures show that students are already avoiding nursing degrees because of the extra financial burden on them.  Almost 10,000 fewer would-be nurses have applied for university courses – 23 per cent fewer than last year.

    Commenting, Conor said:

    “There has already been a big drop in the number of people applying to become nurses which is likely to have a damaging impact on healthcare in St Helens and elsewhere.

    “That should be a wake-up call to the government which needs to rethink these badly flawed plans to abolish bursaries.

    “We have seen the huge pressure that the NHS is under in St Helens and this ill-judged decision by the Government will just make matters worse.

    “With Britain leaving the EU, we will need home-trained nurses more than ever.  But the government’s decision is likely to worsen the staff shortages already faced by many hospitals.”

  • Conor visits Vulcan Rifle Club

    Rifle Target

    Conor visited the recently refurbished Vulcan Rifle Club to meet with club members and try out the shooting range.

    The new clubhouse replaces the old rifle range as part of St Modwen’s redevelopment of the area. The large scale redevelopment includes a housing development, a play area and a new home for Vulcan Bowling.

    Whilst at the club, Conor tried his hand at shooting a .22 rifle at a 25yd target and spoke to members about the sport. One of the issues raised by the club was the proposed rise in the cost of processing firearms licences, which could see the club having to pay a huge increase from £84 to £1050. The cost increase of 1250% would put financial pressure on Vulcan and many other rifle clubs across the country.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “I would like to thank club Chairman, Michael Hesketh, and Secretary, Ken Skidmore, for their invitation to visit the new range.

    “It is fantastic news that the membership of the club has increased since the new range has opened.

    “It was, however, concerning to hear about Home Office proposals. The Government should be doing all it can to support clubs like Vulcan, rather than hampering them with over a 1000% increase in firearm licensing costs.

    “I have taken this matter up with both the Home Office and Department for Culture, Media and Sport and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

  • Openreach

    I know that concerns have been raised that BT has underinvested in Openreach, leading to poor service which has resulted in customers experiencing service interruptions and slow speeds. I also understand that Openreach has faced criticism for delaying the installation of ultra-fast broadband.

    In 2016, Ofcom announced the initial conclusions of its Strategic Review of Digital Communications, including plans for a more independent Openreach, and in July launched a consultation on its proposals for Openreach to become a legally separate company within the BT Group. This consultation closed on 4 October and I will follow developments closely.

    As you may be aware, the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee recently published a report which calls on BT to invest significantly more in Openreach. The Committee also supports Ofcom’s plans for establishing greater separation between Openreach and the BT Group, but argues that if BT fails to offer necessary reforms and investment assurances, Ofcom should move to enforce full separation of Openreach.

    I believe it is important Openreach implements more ambitious service standards and is much more responsive to consumers, as far too many customers have experienced a lack of access to broadband and poor quality service. I believe it is right that Ofcom should decide on the future of Openreach and should be supported to ensure the most competitive environment possible. I am concerned that the Government has failed to foster a competitive communications market, both in in mobile and fixed, and believe that more competition means better service, more investment and lower prices for businesses and consumers and that Ofcom should be supported to make sure that happens.

    More widely, I believe we need a digital industrial strategy to ensure everyone benefits from the digital revolution, particularly as research has shown that faster broadband speeds would add up to £17 billion to the UK economy by 2024. It is therefore disappointing that the Government has abandoned the previous Labour Government’s commitment to fully funded universal broadband. I am concerned the Government lacks a coherent strategy and has repeatedly failed to hit its targets on broadband rollout, costing the economy billions in lost productivity gains and new jobs; and denying millions of people the economic and social benefits provided by the Internet.

    The Government’s Digital Economy Bill contains measures to create the right for every household to access a minimum broadband speed of 10 megabits per second by 2020. While I welcome the proposed broadband Universal Service Obligation, it is disappointing that it has taken so long for it to be introduced. Indeed, it is now four years after the last Labour Government’s commitment to universal broadband for all would have come into force.

    I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will hold the Government to account on how it plans to improve communications infrastructure and connectivity as the Digital Economy Bill progresses through Parliament. Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I can assure you I will continue to follow this important issue closely and hold the Government to account on the delivery of high speed broadband.

  • Conor McGinn steps up campaign to get a better deal for St Helens ex-miners

    Miners letter

    Conor McGinn, St Helens North MP, is demanding a far better deal for former mine workers from St Helens and across the region.

    He has joined Gloria DePiero MP in writing to the trustees of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS) to call for a meeting to review an arrangement that has deprived ex-miners of billions of pounds.

    Under an agreement made by the Tory Government and the trustees of the British Coal pensions schemes in 1994, 50 per cent of the surplus made by the MPS goes to the Government.

    Since 1994, it has made £3.36bn from the scheme – despite making no contributions, even when the scheme was in deficit.

    Mr McGinn is working with the National Union of Mineworkers and MPs from coalfield communities to get a fairer deal for ex-miners.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “Thousands of miners from St Helens and Lancashire and across the North West worked hard in difficult and dangerous conditions to build up a pension pot for their retirement.

    “I believe they or their widows and families should have a much greater share of the huge surplus that has been built up.

    “We will keep fighting for them. The Government might want to forget the contribution these men made, but we won’t. Victory to the Miners.”

  • Conor to hold debt advice surgery on Friday 10th February 5pm

    CAB

    The first couple of months of the New Year can be a tough time for many people as they try to get their finances in order after Christmas.

    That’s why Conor McGinn MP has teamed up with St Helens Citizens AdviceBureau to encourage people to get advice on dealing with their debts.

    The St Helens North MP will hold a joint advice surgery with the CAB at his St Helens constituency office on Friday 10th February at 5pm.

    Conor McGinn said: “Post-Christmas is a stressful time for many people who are struggling with their debts.

    “More and more people every year have trouble making ends meet and covering the most essential household bills.

    “Money troubles don’t go away by themselves. So, if you’re getting into difficultly, act quickly and seek advice about how to deal with it. St Helens CAB is there to provide advice and support and our joint surgery will give people a chance to get help and advice.”

    Karl Pearce, chief executive of Citizens Advice St Helens said: “Demand for money and debt advice is highest in January and February, with one person contacting their nearest Citizens Advice for help every 11 seconds and people visiting our website every 3 seconds in January.”

    “Although debt worries can be more acute in January and February, people also need to take stock of their finances and thinking about the future. It doesn’t matter what your earn – whether you are on minimum wage or have a comfortable salary – everyone can benefit from reviewing their finances.”

    If you feel Conor and the CAB could be of help, please contact 01744 21336 to make an appointment.

  • Conor backs law change to tackle police assaults

    Conor policeHolly Lynch

    Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, has co-sponsored a Bill which would put in place measures to protect police officers, fire and rescue service workers, paramedics, doctors and nurses.

    The Crime (Assaults on Emergency Service Staff) Bill is led by the Labour MP for Halifax Holly Lynch and sponsored by Mr McGinn and nine other MPs. The Bill would make certain offences, including malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm and common assault, aggravated when perpetrated against a police officer, firefighter, paramedic, doctor or nurse in the execution of their duty.

    It would also require someone who spits at an emergency responder to provide a blood sample to rule out the risk of having transmitted a communicable disease, or face a fine and custodial sentence for refusing to do so.

    Mr McGinn has previously called for tougher sentences for criminals assaulting police officers after he obtained figures for the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy. The figures showed that 584 Merseyside police officers were assaulted in the year 2015-2016 which represented one in six of the force’s 3,635 officers.

    This week the Police Federation of England and Wales released the results of their latest welfare survey data which suggest that there were more than two million (2,113,602) unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12 month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon.

    Speaking after the Bill was presented in Parliament, Conor McGinn MP said:

    “The amount of assaults and intimidation faced by our emergency services workers is truly shocking.

    “It seems clear that something needs to be done to better protect emergency workers and it for this reason that I am proud to support and sponsor Holly’s Bill.

    “I know from my regular meetings with the police officers and representatives from the Police Federation, as well as medics and firefighters what a difficult and often dangerous job they do. They deserve our utmost respect.

    “We need tough sentences to protect those who protect us and show that attacks against emergency service workers will not be tolerated.

    “This Bill will help protect those providing vital services against violent attacks and other forms of intimidation.

    “I hope the Government take note and act now to ensure police officers and emergency service workers are properly protected.”

  • Conor’s response to St Helens Council’s Local Plan preferred options consultation

    The public consultation on St Helens Council’s Local Plan preferred options closed today at noon, and as previously stated I am publishing my response to it.

    It’s important to clarify that the Local Plan is the responsibility of the Council, and the preferred options are those put forward by the Council. The Council was responsible for running the consultation process and is responsible for answering queries about the details of the plan and what it proposes. As a Member of Parliament, I do not have any formal role in any decisions taken in relation to the Local Plan.

    I do, however, have very strong interests in something that is of such significance to the community I represent as one of two local Members of Parliament. I made clear at the start of the process that in formulating my response to the Local Plan consultation, I would take on board the views of residents, businesses, community groups and all those constituents who wished to contact me about it. I received a total of forty-eight emails from constituents, and a further four constituents came to see me at my surgeries. I passed on their views to the Council as well as personally responding to each one. As well as reflecting the views expressed by constituents, I have also put forward my own views based on the platform that I stood on when I was elected as MP for St Helens North in 2015, and the vision I have for St Helens to be an attractive place to live, work and visit.

    I realise that the Local Plan will continue to be a topic of debate and discussion. I look forward to St Helens Council’s response to the submissions received through the consultation and I will continue to closely monitor progress on these matters.

     

    Mike Palin

    Chief Executive

    St Helens Council

    Town Hall

    Victoria Square

    St Helens

    WA10 1HP

     

    30th January 2017

    Dear Mike,

    I am writing to set out my response to St Helens Council’s Local Plan preferred options consultation. In doing so I shall be reflecting issues and concerns which have been raised with me by my constituents over the consultation period.

    I welcome the vision set out in the plan for St Helens to be an attractive place to live, work and visit.

    I fully support the ambition to win investment and create employment in our borough, making the most of the opportunities afforded to us by our location in the heart of the North West situated between Manchester and Liverpool.

    I recognise that the Council is required by the Government to produce a local plan which must be based on strong evidence of need.

    The proposals include the removal of land from the greenbelt, and I believe it is therefore important that the Council clearly demonstrates and fully explores the need for this and commits where possible to meeting land requirements for both housing and employment sites from the redevelopment of brownfields sites.

    Many of my constituents have expressed concerns about the amount of greenbelt land the plan proposes to release. If the Council believes and can demonstrate it has no alternatives to the release of greenbelt for housing then it could address some of those concerns by, for example, considering a stepped housing target, with identified land released in phases rather than altogether with a focus maintained on bringing back into use brownfield sites.

    I am disappointed that the funding historically provided by the UK Government to bring brownfield sites back into use has been stopped, which makes it difficult to decontaminate land previously used by industry in areas like Parr.

    I support the need to encourage investment within the borough and for the plan to reflect ambition in terms of creating opportunities for jobs and growth. However the Council must take into account the impacts such developments will have on transport infrastructure, particularly the road network, which is under significant pressure in Haydock, Blackbrook, Moss Bank and the eastern part of the borough where local roads meet the M6 and the A580.

    The Council must also take into consideration the capacity of local schools, NHS and other services and their ability to meet the demands of an increasing population in the areas identified in the plan for housing. This applies across the constituency but is a particular issue in the communities of Rainford, Billinge, Garswood and Windle where residents already feel services are stretched and would have difficulty meeting additional demand created by additional housing.

    I welcome the inclusion of Parkside within the plan and the identification of Earlestown as the second town centre within the borough, but the plan needs to be clear that any traffic generated from the Parkside development will be directed to the motorway network in such a way as to minimise the impact on Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows and in particular Newton High Street.

    If the Council allocates land for employment at the level envisaged, it must strive to encourage a mix of sustainable employment opportunities. I recognise the high level of demand from the logistics sector because of our location, and I welcome the job opportunities this will bring for local residents, but we must encourage the delivery of a range of employment opportunities including the creation of highly skilled jobs.

    Residents in a number of areas have also raised concerns over the allocation of land at risk of flooding. I would like to be assured that in putting forward these sites the Council has undertaken a full flood risk assessment and any developments on these sites would not increase existing risk of flooding.

    I am aware that other authorities, in particular those in Greater Manchester are in the process of producing their own local plans, and that these plans identify land in areas bordering my constituency. In these instances, St Helens Council and the relevant other authorities in Wigan, West Lancashire, Warrington and Knowsley should work in close cooperation to ensure balance on both sides of local government boundaries, which often do not reflect the hinterland of some of our communities and where residents access services. The plan needs to take greater account of these areas in the final recommendations.

    I want every resident of St Helens to have a good quality of life and I welcome recent investments in projects like the restoration of Sankey Canal to open up our borough and provide excellent green spaces and landscapes for recreational and health related activity. Investment in projects such as this, alongside parks and areas like Lyme and Wood Pits Country Park, enhance the natural beauty of our area and accessibility to nature and greenspace.

    Any development will need to include corresponding work to improve and enhance current infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing population. Economic growth has to provide quality and sustainable employment opportunities and opportunities for local businesses to benefit from any developments which take place. As part of this, I want to see opportunities for local construction and related companies and trades people, with developers and the local authority working in conjunction with St Helens College and St Helens Chamber to guarantee apprenticeships and local jobs.

    I understand the challenges faced in producing a local plan and the balance which must be struck in addressing the concerns of residents and in equipping the borough for the future. I hope the issues and points I have raised will be taken into account.

    In 2018 we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the creation of our borough of St Helens, which led the industrial revolution. We provided the fuel upon which the future was crafted through coal and chemicals, and shaped the country with rail and glass, engineering and production.

    We now have an opportunity for St Helens to take its place again at the heart of the North West and the UK, optimistic about our future and ready to lead once more.

    Yours sincerely,

    Conor McGinn MP

    St Helens North

     

     

  • Conor visits Happy Hands

    Happy Hands

    Conor McGinn MP visited the Happy Hands group based in St Helens. Happy Hands supports families and children who are deaf, hard of hearing or have communication difficulties through a disability.

    The group, funded through Children in Need, is based at the Deaf Resource Centre on Dentons Green Road. It meets every week to provide support and information for families as well as days out and activities for the children to increase self-confidence and improve communication.

    Conor visited the centre to meet the children attending the group, parents and volunteers and discuss the work they do, and some of the issues faced by the local deaf community.

    Conor said:

    “I would like to thank Joa Lee for the invitation to visit the group, they are providing an excellent and important service.

    “The opportunity for parents to find support and for their children to meet, play together and take part in activities is invaluable. The young people certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.

    “The visit was also an opportunity to talk to their parents about some of the issues facing the Deaf community.

    “That the Department for Work and Pensions has failed to provide interpreters at benefits assessments is seriously concerning.
    “It is important that Government and the public are aware issues facing the Deaf community. I will continue support Happy Hands and help in any way I can.”

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