• progress needed at Wythburn Crescent

    I am incredibly disappointed by the lack of progress at Wythburn Crescent shops in Moss Bank following the devastating fire in October.

    I am in contact with the site owners, Torus, who are still awaiting a decision from the insurers so that they can proceed with the demolition and rebuild. They assure me they are pushing them on an almost daily basis, and are also in talks with an architect about designs for the rebuild.

    Of particular concern is the lack of response we have had from the Post Office. Hundreds of post offices are being closed across the country by design – to lose one by default would be devastating and is not something I and the local community are prepared to tolerate. I have demanded to meet the CEO of the Post Office to ask for a temporary service to be put in place and a guarantee about future provision.

    I realise how frustrating this is for Moss Bank residents – it is for me too – but I am continuing to work on this as a priority and together with local Labour councillors will keep the pressure on all those involved to get answers to our questions, and make the much-needed progress to return these essential local services.

  • its ‘Time For Better Pay’

    I am supporting a campaign to strengthen workers’ rights following the launch of a ‘Time For Better Pay’ petition from Usdaw.

    St Helens borough has more jobs classified as ‘sales and customer services’, ‘caring, leisure and other service’ and ‘process, plant and machine operatives’ which are more likely to be lower-paid professions. This means that people in St Helens borough will be more susceptible to receiving poor pay and working under poor conditions.

    The petition launched on the .gov website seeks 100,000 signatures to secure a Government response and possible parliamentary debate. Find the petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/234531.

    It demands the government introduces:
    ● A minimum wage rate of at least £10 per hour for all workers.
    ● A minimum contract of 16 hours per week for everyone who wants it.
    ● A contract based on an individual’s normal hours of work.
    ● An end to zero-hours contracts.

    Usdaw’s survey of over 10,500 working people about their experiences of low pay, short-hours contracts, and insecure work shows that stronger employment rights are urgently needed:
    ● Over the past five years, 92% of those surveyed have seen no improvement in their financial situation.
    ● Over the past 12 months, 76% of low-paid workers have had to rely on unsecured borrowing to pay everyday bills.
    ● 63% of people believe that financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.

    There are too many hard working people in St Helens borough who are struggling to get by. The Tories are allowing people in work to be paid less than they need for a decent standard of living. These unacceptable standards should be addressed by increasing the minimum wage to £10 per hour for all workers and ending zero hours contracts.


  • Newton-le-Willows station opens

    It’s great news that the new and improved facilities for local rail and bus passengers at Newton-le-Willows Interchange will open to the public this weekend.

    I’ve campaigned alongside local Labour councillors in Newton and Labour-led St Helens Council to lobby for increased investment in local transport infrastructure, and Labour’s City Region Mayor Mayor Steve Rotheram and Merseytravel responded by allocating almost £20m of funding to make these significant improvements:

    -Step free access to and between the platforms via new subway and lifts
    -Bus interchange adjacent to the new ticket office
    -New 400-space car park
    -Dedicated drop-off and pick-up area
    -Improved passenger waiting facilities
    -New toilet facilities
    -Additional cycle parking

    We now have the excellent facilities that commuters deserve and that befits Newton’s status as a town with a bright future at the heart of the North West, and one that has played such a significant role in Britain’s railways since 1830.

    I’ll continue to keep the pressure on the rail companies to get their acts together and provide the services to match the facilities, and also to campaign for improvements to other stations in my constituency at Earlestown, Garswood and Rainford.

  • recognising creativity in our towns

    Creativity, imagination, music, arts & culture were central to our St Helens 150 celebrations this year.

    A ‘Town of Culture’ award would give St Helens town & our wider borough the chance to put ourselves forward to attract further investment & build on our already impressive cultural offer.

    It’s a great idea by my colleague Yvette Cooper and I’ve joined MPs from the Labour Towns group in supporting this initiative.


  • Linda Maloney MBE

    Congratulations to my friend Cllr Linda Maloney on being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

    It is well-deserved recognition for a dedicated and hardworking community activist who has given decades of diligent service to people in Blackbrook, Haydock and across the borough of St Helens.

    Linda has blazed a trail for women in politics in the North West; in the Labour Party, at Council level and also regionally as the first woman appointed to a senior position in the Merseyside Fire Authority.

    Linda is also my election agent which means she has to put up with me ringing her morning, noon and night in various states of anxiety in the run up to an election. Most people would think she deserves some sort of medal for that alone!

    Whether it’s local, national or regional contests, no election day in St Helens North is complete for our Labour volunteers without a visit to Linda’s kitchen for a brew, some hotpot, a bacon barm and a chocolate biccie (and for me the chance to take a break from door-knocking for a few minutes to catch a bit of horse racing on the telly with her husband Mike).

    Many congratulations to Linda, Mike and their family on this well-deserved honour, and thank you for all your service to our community, council and party.

  • St Helens Borough Local Plan

    The Local Plan was approved following a vote by St Helens Council this week.

    An eight-week publication period will begin in January to allow the public to view the plan and submit representations to the council.

    The plan will then be submitted to an independent planning inspector in the summer, with the council aiming to adopt the Local Plan in 2020.

    I’ve always argued for a balanced Local Plan that encourages jobs, investment and economic growth across the borough and improves the quality of life for our residents.

    I think the latest version of the Local Plan shows that St Helens Council has listened to my and residents’ concerns about the previous draft.

    The leader of the council, Derek Long, the cabinet member for balanced development, Andy Bowden and local Labour councillors have worked hard to take the range of views across the borough in to account, while complying with government-set housing targets and trying to build a strong local economy.

    I am pleased to see a significant reduction in the amount of green belt proposed for release particularly across Rainford, Haydock and Billinge, and also the removal of proposed immediate development sites in the east of the borough between Newton and the East Lancs and especially around Haydock Island, and in Windle.


  • Christmas Card competition winner

    Well done to Josh from Broad Oak Community Primary School in Parr, the winner of my Christmas card competition. It was lovely to visit the school again and have a chat with the boys and girls, as well as being treated to some fantastic carol singing.

  • The Queens commonwealth canopy

    Conor McGinn MP was joined by pupils from St Peter and St Paul’s Primary School to plant two trees in Haresfinch Park as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conservation initiatives which involves all 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

    The trees were given to Mr McGinn thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s, ITV and St Helens Council as part of the Queen’s ambitious legacy project which brings together her deeply held commitment to the Commonwealth and her little-known love of trees.

    Mr McGinn formally planted the trees alongside local children from St Peter and St Paul and their head teacher Mrs Rigby, Moss Bank councillor Trisha Long and St Helens Council Cabinet Member for Parks Cllr Lynn Clarke, and with the help of the Council’s Parks team.

    Mr McGinn said:

    “I was delighted to have this opportunity to take part in this 53 countries-wide initiative to help raise awareness of the importance of trees to our environment and mark the Queen’s service to the Commonwealth and the country.

    “It was lovely be joined by pupils from St Peter and St Paul and to have the chance to explain to them that the trees – one called Peter, and one called Paul – being planted would be there for them to see growing for many years to come, and that by doing our little bit here in Haresfinch, we in St Helens were joining thousands of others in taking park in a much bigger and very special global event.”

  • A Government in disarray and not acting in the national interest

    The last 24 hours in Westminster have been chaotic and shambolic.

    The Prime Minister has lost authority and now is in office for her and her party’s self-interest, and certainly not in the national interest.

    The House of Commons should have voted on her deal today. Instead the Government has postponed the vote and is in a complete state of disarray.

    I would have voted against this deal. It is bad for young people, workers, businesses and the wider community in St Helens North. Theresa May’s offer gives no guarantees on workers’ rights, environmental protections, consumer standards, security co-operation and most importantly it gives no clarity about a future trading relationship between the EU and Britain.

    How can I trust the Tories to protect or deliver on any of these given what we’ve seen in Parliament this week, and more acutely in what the Government has done to the NHS, schools, police and local government in St Helens borough over the last 7 years?

    We are at an impasse. My priority is guarding against a no-deal Brexit that would be catastrophic for St Helens North and the whole country. I believe that this Tory Government is discredited and now should call a general election. If that doesn’t happen, then I believe the option of a second referendum is one we must consider.

  • marking the centenary of the Armistice – the end of the First World War – and Remembrance Day.

    I joined thousands of people across the borough at dignified and poignant commemorative events this weekend to mark the centenary of the Armistice – the end of the First World War – and Remembrance Day.

    Last night at I attended the Haydock Male Voice Choir’s Eve of Armistice concert, alongside the Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside, the Mayor of St Helens and Lord Watts at a packed St Helens Town Hall.

    This morning I joined the Deputy Mayor of St Helens, Armed Forces, veterans, cadets, community groups, schools, local councillors and the largest crowd seen for many years at the Newton-le-Willows Remembrance Day parade where I laid a wreath at the War Memorial at Earlestown Town Hall and attended the remembrance service at St John’s Church.

    I also attended an ecumenical service of commemoration at St Aidan’s Church in Billinge this afternoon, and events were also held at the Haydock Garden of Remembrance and at All Saints Church in Rainford.

    This evening, as part of the national “Battle’s Over” programme of events, beacons of light were lit in Taylor Park, Earlestown Market Square and on Billinge Hill.

    Tens of thousands of young men from St Helens, Newton and surrounding villages and parishes fought in the Great War. Thousands did not return home and lie buried in cemeteries or battlefields in France and across the world. Many thousands of others who did return home were scarred by what they experienced and were never the same men again.

    Today, a hundred years on, the people of St Helens came together in those same parishes, villages and towns of our borough to honour and remember their sacrifice.

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