• National award for Rainford high

    It was great to visit Rainford High to meet a team of pupils who won a national award in a global health and development contest.

    Zach Cunningham, Evan Cunningham, Rebecca Spencer, and Katie Wilkinson won in the Silver category of the Youth Grand Challenges competition – organised by the British Science Council.

    The team came up with the idea of Soap & Suds toys, to help stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases by encouraging children in developing countries to wash their hands more often.

    The team were supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and Unilever to successfully trial the Soap & Suds toys with young people in Ghana.

    The team have done a fantastic job and are a great example of just what young people across the Borough are capable of – especially when they get the right support, as in this case with head teacher Ian Young and STEM coordinator Hazel Duffy.

    I have written to the Secretary of State for International Development to make her aware of the project and asked her Department to help its development.

  • Conor warns over drop in number of people starting apprenticeships

    St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has warned of the potential impact on jobs and skills in St Helens after figures show the number of people starting apprenticeships across the borough has dropped by a fifth.

    The Department for Education statistics show there were 2,850 apprenticeship starts in St Helens during the 2011/12 academic year, but this has dropped to 2,280 for the 2016/17 school year.

    The figures show a growing skills crisis in St Helens, with 20 per cent fewer apprenticeship starts across the borough, some four times higher than the national average.

    Young people in St Helens are particularly badly affected, with 22 per cent fewer under 19 year olds starting apprenticeships, when the national figure is just 7 per cent.

    Mr McGinn has criticised the Government for leaving St Helens behind and not doing enough to support young people into apprenticeships across the borough.

    Meanwhile, Labour has pledged to invest £1 billion in vocational training and to reintroduce Educational Maintenance Allowance for young people as part of a new National Education Service, ensuring everyone can access high-quality education.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “St Helens is a great place to learn, work and do business, with innovative local firms and a proud industrial heritage.

    “But a shocking 20 per cent drop in apprenticeship starts across the borough in the last five years shows the Government is leaving St Helens behind and if this is not halted it will mean a jobs and skills crisis for future generations.

    “This is also a let-down to St Helens College, the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses supporting apprenticeships.

    “My top priority is to bring more jobs and investment to St Helens. Following the launch of the Government’s industrial strategy this week, I will be pressing ministers to make sure that strategy includes improving transport links and attracting investment to St Helens and across Merseyside.

    “Young people deserve better, which is why Labour has pledged to reintroduce Educational Maintenance Allowance – which was scrapped by the Tories – and to invest £1 billion in a new National Education Service.”

  • Real term cuts to policing

    With crime rising, the police and emergency services need as much support as they can get. But this Tory Government has frozen the grant for Merseyside Police at its current level – effectively a real terms cut.

    The Government’s attempt to shift funding from the central grant on to local council tax payers will do nothing to replace the 1,000 police officers that Merseyside Police has lost since 2010.

    The Government must urgently end its failed austerity policies and support our hardworking police and emergency services in fighting crime and protecting law and order in our communities.

    Last week I met Chief Constable Andy Cooke and assured him of my continuing support for the police and welcome his assurance of a continued focus on St Helens.

  • National Postal Workers Day

    Tuesday 12th December was National Postal Workers Day, a chance to recognise the year round hard work and dedication thousands of men and women who collect, sort and deliver letters and parcels.

    Our posties work in all weather – like in the icy cold today – to get the post delivered, and today is one of the busiest days of the year in the run up to Christmas.

    Conor proud to have the support and endorsement of the postal workers’ union, the CWU.

    Thank you to all hardworking postal workers in St Helens.

  • Trussell Trust Annual Food Collection

    Conor visited the Tesco store in Earlestown to meet store manager Sam Aldred, Leslie and Linda and to support the Trussell Trust annual food collection, which last year alone collected 3.6 million meals for people in need.

    2,600 Tesco stores across the UK are taking part in the annual Food Collection, which encourages shoppers to donate to The Trussell Trust to support to people who might otherwise go hungry this Christmas in St Helens North.

    People should not have to rely on food banks. However, the Tory Government’s austerity policies are the reality for many people, both in and out of work.

    But thanks to the generosity of many people, those in need will be able to get support through The Trussell Trust’s foodbanks and the work of organisations such as the Hope Centre in St Helens and their volunteers who are working hard to prevent people going hungry at Christmas

  • Palmer and Harvey

    In recent days the Palmer and Harvey company – which has a regional centre in Haydock – went into administration.

    This will result in hundreds of job losses in the constituency and across St Helens and the wider region, which is devastating news for the community just weeks before Christmas.

    Some workers only found out they had lost their jobs when they arrived for their shift and the gates were closed.

    Conor raised this as an urgent matter in Parliament and asked the Business Secretary to intervene and support Conor and the USDAW trade union to stand up for those affected. Since then, Conor has spoken with the administrators PwC. Conor has also spoken to St Helens Chamber of Commerce, which is offering free, in-house re-training and CV writing guidance for any workers who have been made redundant and they can be contacted on 01744 698800.

    Since the announcement Conor has been working with all involved to try and salvage something from this desperate situation.

    It is know known that at least 250 jobs will be lost at the Haydock site and there are huge questions for the company to answer about how this situation arose. Conor intends to pursue those questions in Parliament and by whatever other means necessary, along with MPs in other areas affected and the trade union movement.

    But the priority now is to try and find alternative employment for those affected as quickly as possible and to make sure they receive their full redundancy and associated entitlements where that applies.

    To that end, an event has been organised in St Helens Town Hall this Thursday 7th December at 10am.

    The event will commence with a presentation from the Jobcentre Recruitment Team providing advice and guidance on:
    • Redundancy Rights and Information
    • Financial Information
    • Jobsearch
    • Welfare Benefits
    • Other Options
    • Useful Contacts

    Following the presentation there will be the opportunity to meet some local employers who have current vacancies.
    In addition, Conor has written to the Business Secretary to ask if he can provide a hardship fund for those affected to tide them over from their last pay packet at the end of November to hopefully their next one or at least to help them through the Christmas period. This is especially important for those who have worked for the company for under 2 years and therefore are not eligible for any redundancy pay.

    Conor has also written to the DWP to ask for any benefits claims by those affected to be expedited so they will receive payments before Christmas.

    If you are an affected worker and need more information, you can contact your union rep, the administrators (who assure me they have written to every employee affected) or, if you are a St Helens North constituent, Conors office.


  • 2017 Educate Awards

    Congratulations to St Helens schools The District CofE Primary School and Rainford High on winning awards, and to Hope Academy for being a runner up at the 2017 Educate Awards in Liverpool.

    The District CofE Primary School in Newton-le-Willows won the Innovative and Creative Literacy award for its pioneering ‘Reading is STEMsational’ project, while Rainford High was awarded for its Outstanding Commitment to Sport in Secondary School.

    Rainford has taken part in over 200 fixtures so far during 2017 and has achieved significant team success in football, athletics, basketball, rugby and netball. The school also has a number of highly successful individuals including Jacob Kelly, who has just made the GB tumbling team.

    Conor has visited, supported and worked with both these schools, and their fantastic staff and pupils are a credit to the outstanding teaching in St Helens.


  • Haydock Cottage Hospital Memorial

    Conor joined the local community, ward councillors and Mayor Joe Pearson in Haydock for the dedication and unveiling of a memorial to Haydock Cottage Hospital.

    The hospital, which was part funded by local miners making donations from their wages, was opened 120 years ago following the Haydock Wood Pit disaster in 1878 in which over 180 people when killed. At the ceremony, music was played by Haydock Brass Band, as indeed it was at the opening of the hospital in 1886.

    The dedication of the Memorial is a fitting reminder of the hospital and the people who received its care, in particular the many miners from the area, who were working in such dangerous conditions.

    Thanks to Councillor Martin Bond for securing the memorial once the decision had been made to redevelop the hospital site, and then arranging the commemoration event.

    Across the borough of St Helens, there is a proud mining heritage, and Conor is working closely with organisations like the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to preserve and protect these proud traditions as well as investing in our communities for the future.

  • Remembrance Day Services

    Conor joined hundreds of local residents in taking part in Remembrance Day services across St Helens North.

    On Friday, he attended a service at Billinge Remembrance Garden, where local schoolchildren had gathered to remember.

    On Sunday, Conor joined veterans, cadets, community groups, local councillors and residents in Newton-le-Willows at a Remembrance Day parade and service at St John’s, and  laid a wreath at the War Memorial at Earlestown Town Hall.

    The day ended with an interdenominational service of commemoration at St Aidan’s Billinge where those who had died during both World Wars from the parish were remembered.

    Remembrance Day is hugely important to our communities in St Helens North and across the borough, particularly to bereaved families of service personnel and to veterans.

    Conor also thanked all those who organised, took part in and attended events this year.

  • The Living Wage Foundation recommended that the living wage for areas outside London should be £8.75 per hour – which is a gross 40 hour weekly wage of £350.

    But many workers in St Helens are working full time for the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour – which leaves these workers £50 a week short of the Living Wage Foundation recommendation.

    That means less money in the bank at the end of the month, and less money for food, bills and transport.

    Conor is supporting St Helens Council in leading the way as a council committed to a Living Wage, but the Government needs to do far more to raise wages for workers in St Helens and across the country.

    That’s why a Labour Government would raise the Living Wage to £10 an hour, giving workers and families on lower pay the income security they need.

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