• Conor: Closing St Helens Courthouse would be “illogical and inefficient

    Conor McGinn MP has criticised the Government for being hypocritical and wasteful regarding the proposed closure of St Helens Courthouse.

    Speaking in Parliament, McGinn noted that the Ministry of Justice spent £1.7million refurbishing St Helens Courthouse in 2012 declaring it as ‘efficient and logical’, but are now considering its closure only 4 years later.

    In July 2015 the Government launched a consultation on their court closure programme, the Estates Reform Project, which proposes the closure of 91 courts and the integration of 31 courts and tribunals in England and Wales.

    Commenting McGinn said:

    “The closure of St Helens Courthouse would be illogical and inefficient and would have a detrimental effect on my constituents and people across the Mid-Mersey region. 

    “How can it be consistent that just 4 years ago the Government spent £1.7 million refurbishing the courthouse, but are now proposing its closure?

    “This exposes the wastefulness and hypocrisy of this Tory government. They are putting access to public services at risk, and are doing little to the help people in my constituency and across the North West. The Minister couldn’t even commit to a date when he will announce his decision, despite the consultation closing over three months ago.

     

     

  • Conor McGinn MP signs Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment

    HET 3

    This week Conor McGinn signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment.

    By signing the book Conor has pledge his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.

    Wednesday 27th January will mark the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

    In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

    After signing the Book of Commitment, McGinn said:

    “Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – and is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and make sure they are not forgotten.

    “I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join members of my community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”

    Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

    “We are proud that Conor is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day.

    “As we mark the 71st anniversary of the end of the Holocaust and the liberation of the concentration camps, it is vitally important that we both continue to remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.”

     

     

  • Conor backs local firm and slams Government for betrayal of renewable energy

     

    Conor McGinn MP has backed a local firm and slammed the Government for betraying them and Britain’s renewable energy sector.

    Speaking in Parliament, McGinn raised concerns about the effect cuts to feed-in-tariff and a proposed increase in VAT for residential solar could have upon solar energy firms, including St Helens firm and Saints sponsor Solar King, which employs 200 people locally.

    In December, the Government announced that feed-in-tariffs would be cut by 64% and proposed increasing VAT for residential solar by up to 15%.

    The Solar Trade Association has estimated that over 1000 jobs have been lost in the solar industry since the government proposed cuts to feed-in-tariff.

    Commenting McGinn said:

    “The Government’s promise of a ‘solar revolution’ lies in tatters.

    “The double whammy of cuts to feed-in-tariff and planned increase in VAT are seriously concerning for companies like Solar King.

    “Current government plans will harm the solar industry in UK and cost jobs here in St Helens, and the whole Tory approach seems at odds with climate change commitments made in Paris.

    “The Energy Secretary should listen to the concerns of renewable energy companies in my constituency and across the UK. However, given her continuing refusal to meet me and companies based in St Helens to discuss these issues, I don’t hold out much hope that she will.”

    Graham King, the CEO of Solar King, said:

    “Conor is right to raise the issue in Parliament; we have just had to cut the workforce by over 50% because of the reduced tariff.

    “20% VAT for residential solar would cause further issues as it would lead to a price increase, which obviously means its less attractive to customers.”

  • Conor appeals to Ministry of Defence to reconsider veterans funding decision

    Commando Joe's

    Conor McGinn MP raised the issue of funding for the North-West based veterans Commando Joe’s in Parliament, winning a commitment from the Government to review the decision to end its funding of the organisation’s schools projects.

    Commando Joe’s works in more than 500 schools across the country, placing veterans in classrooms to share skills and experiences with young people.

    Despite robust evidence from the University of Swansea of the success of its work, its Government funding is due to end in March this year.

    Commenting McGinn said:

    “Commando Joe’s does great work in schools across the country, and the activities run have been shown to help improve pupils’ educational attainment and attitude as well as providing opportunities for veterans to share their skills an experiences.

    “I met with Director Mark Hamilton and training manager Shaun Hickey and was impressed with their enthusiasm, and commitment to helping young people achieve their potential.

    “I welcome the Veterans Minister’s invitation to meet to discuss how we can continue this great work, and I hope that we can help find future funding for the organisation.”

    Mark Hamilton, Director of Commando Joe’s, said:

    “It is fantastic to know Conor supports our programme and we’re grateful for his help.

    “The funding we receive means a huge amount, not only for the employment of ex-military veterans with the right aptitude to work with vulnerable young people, but also schools and the support we give teachers and impacts within the community.”

  • Conor & Labour uncover statistics showing St Helens North has 4th highest number of early winter deaths in England – with a further rise predicted

    Fuel Poverty

    Shocking figures released by the Office of National Statistics predict that the number of people dying prematurely in winter 2014-15 are two and half times higher than in the previous winter.

    In St Helens North the reported number of excess deaths has averaged 68 over the past 5 years, the 4th highest in England. With the total for England and Wales leaping from 17,460 to 43,900 it is almost certain that St Helens North will see a further worrying growth in local figures.

    The number of excess winter deaths (EWD) are defined as the difference between the number of deaths which occurred in the winter months of December to March and the average number of deaths which occurred in the rest of the year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that between 30 and 50% of EWDs are caused by poorly insulated cold homes.

    The ONS figures show that fatalities in women have more than doubled with people aged over 75 worst affected.

    Commenting Conor McGinn said:

    “The average number of EWDs was already cause for concern, these new figures show that government cuts are really hurting the most vulnerable people.

    “These figures are truly shocking. As the weather turned cold last week I am gravely concerned for the many people living in fuel poverty in St Helens North.

    “Regrettably it will be those on low incomes and in poor quality housing who will suffer because of this government’s lack of investment.”

    Clive Lewis, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, said:

    “The latest figures show the highest number of EWDs since the winter of 1999, with many of these being older people, often living in homes with poor insulation. Yet the government is cutting back on life-saving energy efficiency measures by up to 65%.

    “Labour believes that everybody has a right to access the basic level of energy they need to keep their home warm enough to live in. With 2.35 million households now living in fuel poverty, this government clearly doesn’t share our vision.”

  • Conor and Labour fighting Tory plans to scrap student maintenance grants

    The government are planning to scrap maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds, replacing them with additional loans.

    This change would mean that the poorest 40% of students going to university in England will graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, will impact on students studying at further education colleges.

    These sweeping changes – which were not in the Conservative election manifesto – were attempted to be forced through in committee rather than on the floor of the House of Commons, hidden away from public scrutiny.

    On Tuesday 19 January, Labour will hold a debate and a vote on the floor of the House of Commons, to challenge the government and try and halt their decision to scrap maintenance grants for loans.

    Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, speaking ahead of the debate, said:

    “Maintenance grants provide vital support for students from lower income backgrounds from St Helens North, and ensure that poorer students do not leave university with greater debts that their more privileged peers. But this could change if the Tories force through their plans.

    “I have been in touch with student representatives from Edge Hill University and St Helens College who have expressed their concerns about the impact this will have locally. The Government’s own assessment shows that these cuts will have a disproportionate effect on disabled people, women, older learners and people from industrial areas like St Helens”

    “The government should be doing all it can to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds reach their full potential. This change would do the opposite, and could make poorer students think twice about going into higher education due to the considerable debts they will rack-up in the process.”

    Angela Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, responding to the scrapping of maintenance grants for loans for lower income students, said:

    “Instead of investing in future generations the Tories are betraying students and making life harder for people from the poorest backgrounds, who would leave university with substantially higher debts than their better-off peers under these plans.

    “Targeting those who are working hard and doing the right thing to better their lot in life leaves the Tories’ claim to back those who want to get on in tatters.

    “The Tories have shown yet again that they’re governing from the shadows, trying to force through the sweeping changes in committee hoping that no one would notice.”

  • Conor urges renewed focus on Ukraine and strongly backs the UK’s role in NATO and the EU

    Conor McGinn MP, has asked the Foreign Secretary for an update on the ongoing political and military conflict in Ukraine.

    Speaking in Parliament, McGinn asked about the progress of work undertaken by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

    Under the Minsk agreement the OSCE has been given responsibility for monitoring ceasefire arrangements and weapons withdrawal in Donbass.

    Commenting Conor said:

    The recent international focus has rightly been on the refugee crisis and action against ISIL Syria, however, we shouldn’t ignore the continuing conflict on Europe’s own doorstep.

    “The OSCE is doing an important job, and I would like to pay tribute to their personnel who do their work under direct threat due to the continued fighting in Donbass.

    The aggressive posture adopted by Russia towards former Eastern bloc countries shows the need for an effective European defence umbrella. Britain must play a leading role in that, and I believe that is best achieved by our continued membership of NATO and the EU.”

  • Conor receives Commons assurance that Foreign Office “will do everything it can” to help Mark Middlehurst

    Conor McGinn MP has raised the plight of his constituent Mark Middlehurst in the House of Commons today. Mark is in critical condition in hospital in Perth, Australia, after suffering a severe brain injury as the result of an accident. His family, who live in Billinge, have travelled to Australia to be with him. They need to raise over £50,000 so that he can make the journey back to the UK, accompanied by a full medical team.

    The St Helens North MP said:

    “I have been in touch with Mark’s parents Julie and Malcolm since shortly after his tragic accident. I and my office are liaising closely with the family to do whatever we can to help get them the support they need in Australia, and to enable them to make the journey back to the UK with Mark.

    “I hope by raising this in the House of Commons it will help Mark’s family with their fundraising efforts and ensure they receive the full support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I know they have received tremendous support from the community in St Helens and I know everyone will get behind them to help raise the money they need to get Mark back home to Billinge.

    “I am grateful to the Leader of the House for his assurance that the Government and the Diplomatic Service will do everything they can to help the Middlehursts, and I will be in contact again with the Foreign Secretary next week to ask for an update.

    “People say the world is a small place these days. But the Middlehurt’s experience shows that home can feel very far away when something awful like this happens. They are in all our thoughts and prayers, and I know everyone at home will keep doing whatever we can to support them through this.”

  • Conor slams Govt over rail fare rise

    Local commuters in St Helens North are now paying 25 percent more for their train fares under the Tories, because of yet another year of rail fare hikes.

    The announcement that rail fares will rise again in January 2016 means that passengers have been hit by a cost increase of 25 per cent since 2010.

    The new fare rises come into effect on 2nd January. Figures released by Labour show that the cost of an annual season ticket from Earlestown to Manchester has risen by £324 since 2010. The cost of a rail season ticket for commuters from Garswood, Rainford, Earlstown and Newton-le-Willows has risen by up to 25% since 2010.

     Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North, who has previously raised the issue in Parliament, has slammed the Tory government for hammering passengers and commuters.

    Commenting Conor said:

     “Passengers in St Helens North have been hit again and again by eye‐watering rail fare rises. Fares have now rocketed by 25 per cent under the Tories, far outstripping any increase in most people’s pay packets.

     “For many people here, travelling by train isn’t a luxury, it’s how they get to work every day. A season ticket to Manchester now costs over £324 more every year.

     “It is not good enough. More needs to be done to ensure that transport is affordable for the people who use it.

     “Labour’s policy is to bring the railways into public ownership so they can be run for passengers not profit. That means fairer fares, investment in a 21st century railway and giving passengers a stronger voice.”

     

  • Conor calls for priority payments to North West farmers affected by flooding

     
    Conor McGinn MP, has called on Government to ensure that North West Farmers affected by flooding receive payments before Christmas.
     
    The National Union of Farmers recently reported that many farmers in the North West have been informed by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) that they will not receive payments until February.
     
    Commenting Conor said:
     
    “It is simply unacceptable that farmers in the North West may not receive payments from the RPA until February.
     
    “The floods have led to the damage of the agricultural land of many farmers, and it is vital that they receive the funds for repairs.
     
    “I hope the Government will act decisively to ensure that farmers in the North West receive payments before Christmas.”
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