• welcoming our friends from Stuttgart

    Last weekend the borough of St Helens welcomed a large delegation from our twin city of Stuttgart and I was happy to join with them as we celebrated together the strong ties, forged at the end of the Second World War and still going strong 70 years later.

    In a series of events including a food and drink festival, arts exhibition and the opportunity for the Mayor and politicians from Stuttgart to rededicate us all to the longstanding friendship and to work together to strengthen those bonds.

    I had the opportunity only recently to speak at the Council of Europe about the importance of our twinning, and it was a pleasure to welcome Deputy Mayor Dr Martin Schairer and the delegation here to my constituency. To underline the depth of our relationship the group contained representatives of schools, arts, businesses and the players of TSV Uhlbach who played a match against St Helens Town FC.

    The visit was a great success, with even the football ending in an honourable 4 all draw with no penalty shootout! I had the opportunity to talk with Dr Schairer about our ongoing relationship and the benefits both St Helens and Stuttgart have had from our relationship and how we can strengthen them moving forward

  • st helens sports festival

    I had a great time at Ruskin Drive for the annual St Helens sports festival which attracted 5,000 pupils over the 2 days in the sun.

    The sporting event was established in 2011 to mark the count down to the London Olympics only stopping in 2016 to welcome a £3.6 million redevelopment. Two years on, the event offered a chance to reflect on how sport contributes to the borough’s culture and how important it is to celebrate healthy lifestyles.

    There was a range of sport to enjoy ranging from football to tennis. Also, they hosted the Lancashire Inter League Group cricket match between Liverpool Competition U14s and Greater Manchester Cricket League U14s on the Sunday.

    It is important that we continue to fund sporting activities and I would like to thank the Council’s sports development team, the clubs based at Ruskin Drive and across the borough who use their time to promote sport in the local area.

     

  • Fair Wages For All Ages

    As a co-sponsor of my colleague Holly Lynch MP’s Bill, I’m delighted to support the campaign for Fair Wages For All Ages.

    Young people under the age of 25 working on minimum wage currently earn less than their older colleagues – even if they are doing the same job.

    This is having a big financial impact on young workers, with House of Commons Library figures showing that someone working full time on the minimum wage, who is paid at the rate for 18 year olds, would earn £3,774 less per year than someone who is over 25.

    This gap is only going to increase further as the ‘living wage’ increases towards a target of around £9 an hour.

    It is unacceptable that young people are being left behind in this way, which is why I’m backing the Bill and the campaign to introduce fairness to the system by bringing younger people’s wages into line with their older colleagues.

    This is the right thing to do and would also bring the UK into line with other countries whose young workers do not face this wage discrimination, including Germany, New Zealand, Ireland and even the United States

  • supporting musicians in the house of commons

    The rise of music streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube have allowed millions more people to access music at an affordable price.

    But often there is a large ‘value gap’ between the revenues earned by these platforms and the money paid to artists and bands.

    In 2015, YouTube accounted for 40 per cent of overall music listening but just 4 per cent of revenue for artists. This huge gap in value is simply not fair for hardworking artists and musicians who should be properly rewarded for their creativity.

    I raised the importance of this in the House of Commons and I was pleased to hear that the Government is committed to supporting musicians.

  • The Garswood & Seneley Green Carnival

    The Garswood & Seneley Green Carnival this year was yet again a great success.

    I would like to thank Councillor Sue Murphy for organising the carnival and all the volunteers who were involved in making the event so enjoyable.

    Furthermore, I’d also like to thank Garswood Primary School for hosting the event.

    The carnival offered a variety of stalls and events which were enjoyed by all – and the sunshine along with the crowning of the annual Rose Queen made it a great day.

    The annual event brings the local community together – well done to all involved.

  • St Helens day

    St Helens Day took place this year to mark our borough’s 150th anniversary.

    In 1868 Queen Victoria granted the charter that incorporated the municipal borough of St Helens, integrating Eccleston, Parr, Sutton and Windle. 150 years on, St Helens Day offered time to reflect upon some of those that make our borough special. Pioneers in Glass production and pharmaceuticals are just two examples alongside musicians, sportsmen and women and many more.

    The civic parade, led by the Mayor, celebrated the people of the borough. The St Helens 150 programme has seen local arts and cultural partners working alongside the council to create an exciting year of events right across the borough.

    As well as reflecting upon the town’s proud history we also look forward to a bright future for the borough.

     

  • the contaminated blood scandal enquiry

    The victims of the contaminated blood scandal have been waiting years for justice. So, I’m glad the Government has responded to our calls for action and is getting the long-awaited inquiry moving.

    It has accepted the terms of reference recommended by inquiry chair Sir Brian Langstaff which means he can now start his investigations.

    This is good news for my constituent Sandra Molyneux who lost her husband Alan in 1985 after he contracted a virus from a blood transfusion at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. Alan was a haemophiliac and needed regular treatment for his condition, but was one of thousands infected with contaminated blood. Sandra was left widowed at the age of 32 with two children as a result of his death from the infected blood which was imported from the USA in the 1970s and 1980s.

    I raising her case since I became the MP for St Helens North and it’s high time the Government offered more than words to Sandra and all those who have endured similar pain.

    As well as fighting for Sandra as her local MP, I have campaigned for action in my role as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood.

    The first stage of the inquiry’s work will be to gather evidence from the Government, the NHS and many other organisations as well as, most importantly, those who have been directly affected by the scandal.

    That work needs to be as comprehensive as possible, but it also needs to be completed as quickly as possible for the sake of all those who have waited so long.

    The impact of contaminated blood has had a profound impact on so many people’s lives. I hope we can finally get justice for Sandra and the other victims who have suffered so much.

  • the 70th anniversary of the creation of the National Health Service

    This week marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the National Health Service.

    I’m proud of the NHS, the most enduring legacy of the socialist and progressive measures taken by the radical 1945 Labour Government.

    The real heroes of our NHS are its hardworking and dedicated staff, from staff nurses to junior doctors and hospital porters to ambulance paramedics. They are the lifeblood of our health service, without which it wouldn’t exist.

    Every family has their own NHS story, and like everyone else my gratitude to our health service is because of the treatment I and my family have received over many years and generations. And I’m really proud that my mum has worked in the NHS for 36 years, and that aunts, great-aunts and cousins were NHS nurses and midwives both here in England and in Northern Ireland.

    The travesty of recent years is the abject failure of this Government to support our NHS staff.

    Since 2010, we have seen this Government in disputes with junior doctors and nurses, impose real terms pay cuts in back to back years and preside over a devastating series of winter crises in our hospitals that has stretched staff morale to breaking point.

    Just this year, new figures revealed that here in St Helens, Government mismanagement of our NHS has quadrupled the bill for agency nurses, because of staff shortages after they cut nurse training places.

    The NHS, its staff and its patients desperately need a Labour government that can deal with these crises and support our NHS in the years to come and preserve that most progressive idea of a healthcare system free at the point of use, available to those who need it.

     

  • the importance of a credible brownfield first policy

    I had a very good engagement with the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

    The CPRE has set out some useful policy detail on the importance of a credible brownfield first policy for increasing housing supply, which I agree with.

    In 2010, Government figures showed there were approximately 70,000 hectares of brownfield land that is unused – half of which was considered suitable for housing. Since then the Tories have completely cut funding for remediation work needed to bring this land back in to use, while at the same time increasing pressure on local authorities to meet new house-building targets. This is having a particular impact on places like St Helens.

    In my response to our Local Plan, I made it clear that St Helens Council should commit to the redevelopment of brownfield sites first and phase any release of land to focus developments on previously used sites, with a local register of brownfield sites to ensure we maximise the opportunities to develop them.

    I’ll continue to push for a balanced Local Plan which is ambitious for St Helens, Newton-le-Willows and our villages, which encourages people to live, work and visit here, and which first and foremost ensures the best quality of life for local residents with good housing, schools, health & public services and decent transport infrastructure.

  • meeting with the NFU

    It was great to meet Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union, to discuss the importance of agriculture to the economy and what more the Government can do to support farmers.

    More than 32,000 people work in the agricultural sector across the North West and nearly 100,000 hectares is farmed across the region.

    It is vital for these farmers, their families and the communities theyserve that people are aware of and able to engage with the food and farming industry, which is why I’ve been supportive of an Agriculture GCSE in our schools, for example.

    The NFU will also be stepping up its work educating young people about the importance of food and farming with its new ‘Farmvention’ programme.

    The initiative will launch in September and will offer schoolchildren the opportunity to design tractors and farms of the future as well as giving schools the chance to win fully funded day trips to farms.

     

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