Recently, I joined fellow MPs and local councillors in signing a joint letter to the Prime Minister calling for the cuts to Children’s Services to be reversed, and for our councils to receive the investment they need and deserve. As we all know, Theresa May’s time in Downing Street is coming to an end. She still has a golden opportunity to transform the lives of some of the poorest children and young people in our communities, by reversing the cuts that her government, and previous Conservative and Coalition governments, have inflicted upon areas like ours. Indeed, Barnsley has borne the brunt of almost a decade of austerity. We are the hardest hit Borough in the country, and, at the same time, we have some of the most vulnerable children to look after. Sadly, I have no confidence whatsoever that this opportunity will be taken. If we are serious about making sure that every child gets the best possible start in life, then we have got to take the necessary practical steps to make this happen.Read more
I am always shocked and saddened to read the statistics on loneliness. Given that over half of people aged over 75 live alone, and that there are an estimated 2 million older people experiencing loneliness each year, we need to be taking practical steps to ensure that no-one is left without company. That means ensuring that pensioners can access public transport through the free bus pass. And it means guaranteeing free TV licences for over-75s.Read more
I hadn’t planned to write this column about mental health. But the recent tragic suicide of a local resident combined with a huge volume in mental health related casework has meant that I felt I had to air my concerns, with a hope of getting people talking about the issue.Read more
Being a victim of crime can be extremely distressing. Time and again, I have been contacted by constituents who have been the victims of theft, burglary, criminal damage and arson. People who have been mugged in broad daylight in the town centre. Businesses subjected to the theft of diesel. Car owners who have had their vehicles stolen by thieves who broke into their houses and took their keys. Repeated acts of vandalism and criminal damage against cars.Read more
I believe that Brexit should be about redefining the UK’s relationship with the EU, and redefining Westminster’s relationship with the rest of the UK. To do only the former would be to ignore many of the reasons that motivated people to vote Leave, and would also mean that the UK is ill prepared to deal with a future outside of the EU.
It is therefore, vitally important that we secure the best possible Withdrawal Agreement, as this will lay the foundations of our future relationship with the EU. I know from the conversations I have had with my constituents that the public are understandably impatient for progress and certainty. They want us to move on to the next stage of our negotiations, and want the Government to begin tackling the many other challenges that our country faces. However, we cannot make that progress without reaching an agreement in Parliament.Read more
Buses are vital lifelines to our local communities here in Barnsley and across South Yorkshire, where around a quarter of households do not have access to a car. For those families, buses are their primary means of getting to where they need and want to go – for work, education and leisure.Read more
For those who have been affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit, January brought some welcome news. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, announced that the roll-out of Universal Credit will be paused and some of its worst elements reviewed. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, it comes too late for areas like Barnsley where the roll-out is almost complete.Read more
This Monday, 4th February, marks the 25th anniversary of the closure of Goldthorpe Main – the last pit in Barnsley. Although it would take a further 8 months to run down the supplies, February 1994 marked the end of an era.
Barnsley is a town built on coal. The pits are an inextricable part of our history – it is the coalminer and the glassblower stood together on our town’s coat of arms – and the winding wheels that remain in place, are a poignant reminder of our industrial heritage. Also testament to that heritage are the generations of men who spent their entire working lives underground, many of them paying the price of serious illness, ruined lungs and even their lives. It was the hard graft of Barnsley miners that powered our communities and industries – but in the quarter of a century since the last pit closed, miners and their families have received a raw deal from successive governments.Read more
As the old saying goes: ‘a week is a long time in politics’ – something that has never felt more true since the vote in parliament on whether to accept the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement on January 15.
That vote resulted in the biggest defeat for any government in the history of our Parliament. MPs from all sides – those representing constituencies that voted heavily to Remain; and those, like myself, representing seats that voted heavily to Leave – demonstrated that they did not think that the deal worked in the best interests of the country.Read more