After the excitement of another election campaign in St Helen’s, it was back to business on Friday. I have made it my goal to visit as many organisations, businesses, schools and constituents as possible when I am in Barnsley. On Friday, I managed to do all of these in one day!
I began with a visit to Gawber Primary School, a great school with very dedicated staff. It was good to meet with pupils and see the work they were doing for Art Week.
In previous blogs, I have mentioned the excellent tourist attractions we have in Barnsley. It really is worth taking a look: The Cooper Gallery, Cannon Hall Museum, the DMC, The Civic to name a few and of course, we will also have Experience Barnsley open in the Town Hall from next year. It was thanks to the last Labour Government that entry to museums is free for all – a bonus when looking for a family day out that doesn’t break the bank, given the current economic climate. It is vital that we use these attractions to make certain we keep them.
It is always good to go to The Civic, it is a great venue and the current exhibition 55 Brazil is well worth a look. Fergus and the team do a great job in bringing some really innovative exhibits to Barnsley and I recommend a visit. On Friday, I was there to speak at a reception for Action Space Mobile, an organisation that has been involved in providing arts projects to schools and people of all ages who are vulnerable or have learning difficulties, disabilities or mental health issues. They began this work at a time when for many, such issues were not openly spoken about and were even something to be ashamed of. The Action Space Mobile team have done some amazing work over the past forty years and it was great to see a celebration of this and to hear some of the amazing achievements they have seen by people who were able to express themselves through creative activities.
Friday finished with a very useful meeting with representatives from the Fire Brigade Union, we discussed the current issues around Fire-fighter Pensions and public sector pensions generally. Many of my constituents are public sector employees and I believe it is unfair to expect them to accept the proposals being offered by the Conservative-led Government without the opportunity for proper and due consideration. The Local Government Pension Scheme is not a gilt-edged road-to-riches in retirement, it is a plan that these workers have paid into throughout their working life and, rightly, expect to be able to live on when they retire.
On Saturday, I was delighted to have my first visit to the National Coal Mining Museum, along with my family. It was an excellent visit, we all enjoyed the underground tour very much! It was also useful to hear how the Museum Director, Dr Margaret Faull is having to meet the demands of cuts that are affecting the museum. Again, this is an incredible attraction, right on our doorstep and it is free to enter. I heartily recommend a visit.
After brushing off the coal dust, it was away to Wortley Hall, to address aspiring policiticans and talk about my first few months as an MP.
I am looking forward to another very busy week in Westminster. Watch this space for details!