• St Helens Chamber of Commerce visit to Parliament

    It was a pleasure to welcome members of St Helens Chamber of Commerce to Parliament to discuss ways we can work together to help local firms, entrepreneurs and workers in St Helens.

    Members of the Chamber travelled down to Westminster from St Helens for a working lunch, where the challenges of Brexit and the impact of leaving the EU on local and regional businesses was high on the agenda.

    The Chamber members also highlighted the need for the Government to invest in infrastructure in St Helens and across the North West to help businesses grow.

    Total infrastructure spending per head from 2016/17 onwards is just under £5 billion across the North West, compared to almost £20 billion for London and the South East.

    Alongside my colleague Marie Rimmer MP, I will be working closely with St Helens Chamber to stand up for workers and businesses across St Helens and get the best possible Brexit for our community with more investment from Government in our area.

  • 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.

     

  • Take a Break Interview On Helen’s Law

    Conor has been interviewed by Take a Break Magazine about the campaign for Helen’s Law, and the need to get a no body, no parole rule onto the statute book.

    Constituent Marie McCourt’s daughter Helen was murdered nearly 30 years ago, and her killer Ian Simms could soon be released from prison – despite never revealing where Helen’s body is buried.

    Helen’s Law is needed to ensure that family members like Marie do not face the added trauma of seeing a victim’s killer walk free while the location of the body remains undisclosed.

    In addition to the thousands who have signed the petition calling for Helen’s Law, over 6,000 Take a Break readers have sent in “coupons” to support the campaign.

    It’s over a year since Conor introduced a Bill for Helen’s Law to the House of Commons and MPs from all Parties have since backed the rule change. It’s high time the Government acted and put Helen’s Law on the statute book.

  • Conor’s response To The Budget

    St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has criticised the Government’s budget for a lack of action to tackle falling wages and rising costs for communities in St Helens and across the North West.

    Figures obtained by Mr McGinn from the UK Statistics Authority show that average weekly earnings for workers in St Helens North was £411.50 last year – down from £435.80 in 2010, a decrease of 5 per cent.

    At the same time, the Government is presiding over a five year high inflation rate, pushing up the price of goods and services, and the botched rollout of Universal Credit is pushing many families into poverty.

    On top of this, the Government has slashed the grant for St Helens Council from £127 million in 2010 to just £53 million last year – a drop of nearly £75 million.

    And the Government has broken its own promises to protect funding for schools and the police, with per pupil funding falling and police budgets set to be cut by £500 million in real terms by 2020.

    Mr McGinn and Labour are calling for the Government to properly fund our public services, fully remove the public sector pay cap, introduce a housing programme that properly meets demand and invest properly in the infrastructure in the North West.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “Under this Tory Government, we’ve had seven years of austerity and cuts to vital public services that families in St Helens and the wider region depend on.

    “Wages are falling and prices are rising for my constituents and our local services are being hollowed out on this Government’s watch. The Government must get a grip by pausing the botched rollout of Universal Credit and properly invest in our public services.

    “And the Government is breaking its own promises to protect schools and policing, with per pupil funding falling and half a billion pounds set to be axed from the police by the end of the decade.

    “The Government had a chance in this budget to ease the squeeze on our communities, but instead it is pressing on with the same failed austerity policies that make life harder for people in St Helens North.”

  • Dame Lorna Muirhead

    I was delighted to table a parliamentary motion paying tribute to Dame Lorna Muirhead for her outstanding public service, after 12 years as the Lord Lieutenant in Merseyside.

    Dame Lorna came to Liverpool in 1965 and worked as a midwife for 40 years, spending most of the time at the Liverpool Maternity Hospital and the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

    She was elected to the council of the Royal College of Midwives in 1994, becoming president of the organisation in 1997. She served for seven years as a National and International Ambassador for midwives.

    Dame Lorna’s dedication to helping others and her contribution to civic life makes her a fine role model.

    Along with Merseyside MP colleagues, I wish her a happy retirement and also send my best wishes to the new Lord Lieutenant Mark Blundell.

  • St Helens sees wages fall

    Under this Tory Government, workers in St Helens have seen wages fall and prices rise.

    Figures Conor has obtained from the UK Statistics Authority show that average weekly earnings for workers in St Helens North was £411.50 last year – down from £435.80 in 2010. That’s a drop of £24.30.

    At the same time, inflation has consistently pushed up prices, and new figures out today show the inflation rate is at a five year high of 3%, meaning higher prices on the weekly shop for families in St Helens.

    This Government is failing workers and families who deserve a fair wage and fair prices in the shops.

  • Fighting The Tory Power Grab

    Conor is fighting attempts by the Government to use Brexit to give Tory Ministers more powers to make decisions without proper Parliamentary scrutiny. These are the Ministers that have presided over seven years of cuts that have had a devastating impact on St Helens and our public services.

    Now they are seeking a free pass on crucial decisions for St Helens and Merseyside, in what their own backbenchers have labelled an “unprecedented and unnecessary power grab”.

    It’s a cynical move that fools no one. Just this week in Parliament, they voted against maintaining equalities, health and safety and consumer rights, workers’ rights and environmental protections.

    And instead of an orderly exit from the EU, this Government is risking crashing out with no deal, which would be bad for growth, jobs and businesses in St Helens – with up to 300 exporting businesses across the borough set to be hit by new tariffs and extra red tape.

    The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has a fundamental impact on Britain’s place in the world and the future of our democracy. Ministers must get a grip and put communities like ours in St Helens North first.

  • Next Weeks Budget

    Ahead of next week’s budget, the Chancellor must ensure that spending on mental health services is ring-fenced and this vital area is properly funded.

    The Government has announced £1.4 billion funding over five years to deliver the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and £1.25 billion for the Future In Mind programme for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

    This money is important but will not go far enough to meet rising demands on mental health services, here In St Helens and across the country.

    According to Public Health England 16.8% of people in St Helens have reported suffering from depression and anxiety. In the UK one in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year.

    Conor has signed colleague Luciana Berger’s petition for the Government to use the budget as an opportunity to ring-fence mental health spending, you can sign here too https://you.38degrees.org.uk/…/ring-fence-mental-health-spe….

  • Music and the UK economy

    Last week, Conor led a debate in the House of Commons on the contribution of music to the UK economy – which totalled £4.4 billion last year alone.

    The number of people employed across the industry grew last year by 19% to more than 140,000, and despite the uncertainty over Brexit, the music business generated export revenues of £2.5 billion in 2016.

    Here in St Helens, 25,500 people attended live music events in 2016, generating a box office spend of £1.2 million.

    St Helens is also recognised by the Arts Council as a UK leader in arts and culture and despite huge cuts to its budget, the Council has committed to providing whole-class first access to instrumental programmes for key stage 2 children.

    St Helens also fortunate to have fantastic venues like the Citadel and the hugely successful Westfield Street and Reminisce festivals, which are adding to those impressive figures.

    But the Government must do more to support young musicians and underfunded music such as brass and silver bands, like the excellent Haydock, Valley and Rainford bands that are truly the lifeblood of communities in St Helens.

  • Irish parliamentarians visit to Westminster

    Conor hosted the largest ever delegation of Irish parliamentarians to Westminster this week for meetings and events with MPs, Peers and political parties to discuss Brexit and challenges and opportunities facing UK-Ireland relations, including in trade and investment.

    The delegation included members of the Dáil Éireann and the Seanad Éireann, Ireland’s lower and upper Houses.

    It was particularly good to have Éamon Ó Cuív TD there, whose grandfather Eamon De Valera was Taoiseach and President of Ireland. ‘Dev’ made a famous and impromptu visit to Earlestown in the 1930’s when he addressed a large crowd who had gathered at the train station to greet him on his journey between Liverpool and Manchester.

    The visit this week followed a visit of MPs and Peers to Dublin in February, which Conor led, and was a great opportunity for dialogue and discussion at a crucial time in our relations

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