Please accept my apologies for being unable to join you today – the first time in Barnsley Trades Council’s proud history that this meeting is being conducted via Zoom!
Sadly, this is a sign of the times for many of us as we adjust to the new reality of the Coronavirus crisis: the social distancing; being apart from family, friends and loved ones; working and learning remotely – that is the new normal in the face of the gravest public health crisis any of us have faced.Read more
The Coronavirus pandemic has severely disrupted how we live our lives and is already having a profound impact on our economy, as local businesses weather the storm of the virus and the accompanying devastation. I’m working around the clock to get essential support and guidance for our businesses, to protect jobs in the short and medium-term and ensure we salvage as much of our regional economy as possible for the longer-term project of rebuilding our country and our economy that will begin when we have overcome the Coronavirus.Read more
I understand and share concerns about the implications of online retailers remaining open at this time. I have personally raised my concerns directly with the Chief Executives of local businesses, Barnsley Council, Government Ministers and Trade Unions and I will continue to push for Government guidelines on social distancing and workers’ safety to be fully implemented and enforced.Read more
I want to express my profound and heartfelt gratitude to all of those on the front line of the most serious public health crisis any of us have faced.Read more
The Coronavirus represents the most serious public health crisis any of us have faced. We will get through this with the solidarity, courage, initiative and resilience that epitomises our coalfield communities here in Barnsley and South Yorkshire.
The situation is South Yorkshire, and across the country, is extremely precarious. We are seeing very concerning increases in the rate of infection which will, in time, lead to increased numbers of hospitalisations and deaths.
It is essential that the Government takes decisive action to stem the growth in infection rates.Read more
At some point in our lives, most of us end up in debt. Whether that is a mortgage, a credit card, or finance for a car – we’re used to facing debt in our daily lives. But what happens when debt gets out of control? When working families are taking out loans with eye-watering levels of interest just to get to the next pay day? The risk of uncontrollable debt is that people end up bankrupt and lives end up ruined, while loan companies and legal loan sharks make a killing.Read more
Of all the issues that I face as an MP, the one that keeps me awake at night is the epidemic of poor mental health amongst our children and young people. As a dad whose children are currently in education, I empathise with those young people, and their parents, who are struggling in the face of extreme pressure (both in school and from wider society) and who do not have the necessary support structures in place. In terms of the challenge this poses to our public health policy, I genuinely fear we are facing a ticking time-bomb unless there are radical improvements in how the health and education systems support our young people.Read more
This week, the South Yorkshire council leaders and I agreed a plan for getting the South Yorkshire devolution deal over the line. After years of negotiations between local leaders and the Government, there is now an agreement in place that enables South Yorkshire to secure £30 million a year in additional resources and access a £35 million adult education and skills budget; gives me the powers that I need to continue to transform our regional economy and local communities; creates thousands of decent, well-paid jobs; and sets out a blueprint for South Yorkshire’s political direction in the coming years. These negotiations haven’t been easy, but we are making progress towards putting South Yorkshire on an equal footing with other parts of the country that already have devolution deals in place.Read more
The first thing that faces many of us each New Year is the annual increase in rail fares, effective from January 1. This year has seen a 2.7% increase in fares, hitting hard-pressed commuters in the pocket whilst services are deteriorating. Northern Rail are a prime example of rising fares and worsening services. Commuters across the North of England, myself included, know only too well the parlous state Northern are in: botched changes to timetables; unacceptable delays; and the continued use of 1980s pacer trains despite repeated promises that they would be phased out.Read more