• meeting the Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Phil Garrigan

    I met with the Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS), Phil Garrigan, to discuss the ongoing impact of Government cuts to funding. Since 2010 the MFRS has faced a real terms 50% funding cut by the Tories. With over £13 million lost, the impact is biting – 300 fewer firefighters, and a reduction from 42 to 24 fire engines. Our communities are in greater danger from fires as a direct result.

    Our fire officers are doing everything they can in the face of these terrible cuts – they were outstanding when tackling the large blaze on Parr industrial estate recently. The Government needs to recognise that excellence and goodwill from fire officers can only go so far and must provide them with the resources they need to support the brave work they do.

    I was pleased that in spite of the financial pressures Phil and the fire and rescue authority are committed to the building of a new fire station in St Helens and retaining the current level of crews and engines. I will be working with Phil, and our local MFRS representatives to deliver this commitment.

    The Labour Party has committed to reinvesting in our fire and rescue services. I call on the this Tory Government to reverse the cuts, give the fire service resources it needs and invest in the rebuilding of St Helens fire station.

  • outstanding rating for St Helens and Knowsley hospitals

    I am delighted that St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by the CQC. They received overwhelmingly positive feedback in many areas including leadership, culture and the care given to patients at Whiston and St Helens hospitals.

    The trust has continued to build upon excellence that it has been consistently identified as achieving. It was classified as ‘outstanding’ in the 2015 CQC report, ranked as the ‘best acute trust in the NHS’ for three consecutive years and ranked as ‘the number one place to work and receive treatment in the country’ in the National NHS Staff Survey.

    This success is particularly impressive as they achieved these fantastic results despite the harsh financial environment imposed by this Tory government. As the Tories continue to pressure our NHS, we must recognise and build upon the leadership and high standards at St Helens and Whiston hospitals.

    I want to thank all those working in the trust – the nurses, doctors, medical, ancillary and all staff as well as chief executive Ann Marr and chairman Richard Fraser whose dedication and hard work have led to these outstanding achievements.

     

  • visiting Queens Park Primary School

    I had a wonderful time visiting Queens Park Primary School after they wrote to me about a range of local issues. The discussions we had around their concerns about homelessness, high street shop closures, and the environment showed an impressive awareness and understanding of problems in our region.

    I was hugely impressed with their engagement and concern for the future of our community as well as their enthusiasm for playing their part in creating positive change.

    This action under the excellent guidance of Ms Kellet and Ms Taylor contributes to the school holding the British Council’s International School Award, an initiative to encourage pupils to debate and discuss a wide range of relevant issues. I am delighted to see such action to help our young people to become effective change-makers

     

  • visiting our local Jobcentre plus

    I visited Job Centre Plus in St Helens town to look at the support available to constituents in St Helens North.

    I voiced the many concerns that constituents have raised with me on the Universal Credit roll-out – worries about the assessment period and 28-day wage cycles, delays in payments for childcare and the identification required to set up the claims.

    Despite my strong opposition to this Tory Government’s policies on welfare, I was pleased to meet some of the staff – the vast majority of whom are from our community – working in the Job Centre, and thanked them for their efforts at a really tough time. I could see that locally in St Helens a whole person approach to supporting people is being implemented and I was particularly impressed by the Health Hub which links people with health conditions with community support organisations to help them fulfil their potential – including a mental health nurse with a remit to support the vulnerably housed.

    While recognising this support and the dedication of local staff, I am very clear that the Tory Government’s policies are wrong. I am currently working with hundreds of constituents to challenge these unfair cuts that cause daily misery in St Helens North and across the country and remain committed to working for the reversal of changes to Personal Independence Payments and cuts to Employment and Support Allowances.

  • Helens Law update

    For 31 years, Marie McCourt has been tormented because the man who murdered her beloved daughter refuses to reveal the location of Helen’s remains. Now Marie and the McCourt family have the added pain of seeing Ian Simms walk the streets & enjoy freedom. It is an appalling affront to common decency and any sense of justice.

    I spoke to Marie this morning and on her behalf have sought an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Justice. The law must change. This man and others like him should never be released. We need Helen’s Law.

  • meeting with local farmers and representatives of the National Farmers Union

    I met with local farmers and representatives of the National Farmers Union to discuss the issues and concerns of the farming community across St Helens borough.

    The Government’s lack of clarity on Brexit and Britain’s future relationship with Europe is creating massive uncertainty for farming across the country. The farming industry has important concerns about access to European markets, the future of labour supplies and the loss of EU grant funding.

    Local farmers I meet from Rainford, Windle, Billinge and across the borough, and the Lancashire NFU, also have legitimate concerns that cuts to policing and the Environment Agency are leading to increased levels of rural crime and flooding respectively.

    The Agriculture Bill going through parliament must ensure the highest standards of food safety, help farmers protect our environment and make sure food production is not undermined by lower standards and cheaper products from around the world.

    Having already worked with the local farming community and the national NFU on the use of pesticides, support for upland farmers and encouraging young people into farming, I reiterate my full support for our farmers and look forward to continuing our work together on the critical issues they raised with me.

  • Carr Mill redevelopment proposals

    I had a productive meeting alongside Moss Bank Labour councillors listening to residents’ views and concerns over proposals for the redevelopment of the Carr Mill Café and Laffak Road site.

    The site has been an eyesore for too long and is in dire need for redevelopment – but this cannot come without involvement from those who already live there.

    I will be taking forward the concerns raised and working with local councillors and the community to ensure the development delivers a positive outcome for all.

  • Knowsley & St Helens Combined Schools football team now be allowed to continue to play

    I am delighted to see that the Knowsley & St Helens Combined Schools football team will now be allowed to continue to play as one team until at least the end of the season.

    Alongside council and parliamentary colleagues from Knowsley and St Helens, I raised concerns with the English Schools FA about the decision to abruptly stop recognising the joint team, thereby depriving young people from our boroughs of the chance to play competitive sport. While it is a disappointment that they are still unable to play in this year’s national competition, it is good news that the boys can continue to play together at a local level. I will be lobbying the English Schools FA to allow the team to continue on a fully recognised basis into the future.

    Grassroots football – particularly at youth level – is vital to the future of the game, so this decision is good news and I would like to pay tribute to all the local players, schools, clubs and parents who championed the young footballers’ case which led to this u-turn.

  • opening the new rail station and transport interchange at Newton-le-Willows

    I was delighted to open the new rail station and transport interchange at Newton-le-Willows today alongside Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram.

    Newton-le-Willows has a proud history as a pioneering railway town. It’s at the heart of the North West and the gateway between the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester. The redeveloped rail station, new routes and plans for increased capacity confirm the town’s status as a key North West and Northern region transport hub.

    This significant investment in the station will hugely improve the facilities for passengers and better connectivity will help bring jobs, and growth to St Helens borough.

    I want to congratulate all the people involved in bringing this ambitious and impressive project to fruition and well done to everyone involved in the opening, particularly the Mayor of St Helens Borough, local councillors, Newton and Earlestown Community Group, and thanks to the Riddling Rack for providing refreshments.

  • Edge Hill University

    I was hugely impressed by the politics undergraduate students I met on my visit to Edge Hill University.

    Their enthusiasm and challenging questions show what an asset they are to the local area – and they gave me a tough workout!

    Many students at Edge Hill University are from St Helens borough, and we are proud of our close link with such a great institution.

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