Meeting Openreach to discuss broadband coverage

I met with Openreach to discuss broadband coverage here in Barnsley East.A stable and reliant internet connection is so important for people right across our area in their day-to-day lives, with people relying on the internet for shopping, paying bills, or dealing with benefit claims. Unfortunately, coverage in Barnsley lags behind other areas, and often isn’t satisfactory – I know this both from constituents raising it with me, and from my own personal experience.That’s why I’ve been campaigning for improved coverage for over a year, writing to the Government and broadband providers, raising this issue in the House of Commons, conducting a residents’ broadband survey, and meeting with Superfast South Yorkshire.And that’s why I’ll keep working on this issue until broadband coverage here in Barnsley is at an acceptable level for my constituents.If you have any issues with your internet connection, I encourage you to contact Openreach as it helps them plan and meet demand.Also, if you are interested in an apprenticeship with Openreach, their 2019 apprenticeships are now open.  They offer about 3,500 schemes across the UK every year and you can find out more about them here.

Visiting the Exodus Project

I met with Martin Sawdon to see his work with the Exodus Project​.The project provides after school activity clubs and camps for young people across Barnsley as well as supporting a number of volunteers to help run the project.You can find out more details and where your nearest club is here.

Speaking in a debate on charities and volunteers

I was pleased to speak in the debate on charities and volunteers this week in Parliament.It was an opportunity to pay tribute to fantastic groups across my constituency, but there are many more I couldn’t mention which do brilliant work.You can watch my comments here, and read my recent column on this here.

Visiting Birkwood Primary School

It was a real pleasure to visit Birkwood Primary​ in Cudworth.It was great to be quizzed by bright, engaged students on the school council, and present certificates in their celebration assembly.Thank you to the school council for the lovely present!

Pressing the Minister on the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme

In my recent debate, I pressed the Minister further on the facts: the current Mineworkers' Pension Scheme isn't just unfair, it isn't value for money.You can watch my comments here.

Challenging the Government on the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme

I recently pressed the Government to revise the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, which has seen billions taken away from miners and their families.You can watch a clip of my comments in Parliament here, and you can watch the full debate here.

COLUMN: Charities and Community Groups

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 15th February: This week in Parliament there was a debate on charities and community groups, which provided a great opportunity to discuss the brilliant examples in Barnsley. There’s BIADS and Butterflies, for instance; two fantastic local groups I met recently that provide outstanding support for people living with dementia in our community.I’ve visited our local foodbanks, and seen the support they give to so many people across Barnsley.And I’ve visited the Barnsley Churches Drop-in project, which provides support to those who are sadly homeless.It’s humbling to see the amazing work these groups do, making a vital difference to the lives of so many people in Barnsley.But apart from discussing the incredible work they do, the debate in Parliament also provided an opportunity to raise the challenges they face. Because there’s another side to the story: the damaging effect of this Government’s cuts – cuts that have had a devastating impact on groups in Barnsley.A few months ago, the Prime Minister had the audacity to claim that austerity is over.She should tell that to Luminar, a Barnsley charity which helped children and families affected by domestic abuse, but which has now been forced to close.She should tell it to the Barnsley Bereavement Support Service, which supports those struggling with the shock of losing someone close to them, but which is now struggling for funding and facing closure.And she should tell it to the charities, community groups and foodbanks across Barnsley which see the impact of austerity every day, in poverty on the rise, families going hungry, and people forced onto the streets.I’m always so humbled to meet the brilliant volunteers working in our community.They are passionate, determined and dedicated to helping others.On one of my visits to local community groups, I saw a sign which simply said: ‘volunteers are not paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless’.That, more than anything else, sums up local volunteers here in Barnsley. So this week I challenged the Government to do more to back local community groups, charities and volunteers here in Barnsley. They give so much of themselves in supporting our community, it’s time this Government supported them.  

My Mineworkers Pension Scheme Parliamentary Debate

Miners deserve justice for their pensions. I will be fighting for them later today in my Adjournment debate in the House of Commons pushing the Government to rethink their unfair surplus sharing agreement. You can watch here.

Marking HeartUnions week

This week, we’re marking HeartUnions week, celebrating our precious trade unions, and the incredible work they do every day in improving the lives of working people.Trade unions were formed when working people saw unscrupulous bosses undermining their pay, their rights and their working conditions, and they said no more.So many of the rights and protections that we take for granted today were only secured by the work of our trade unions. From anti-discrimination legislation, to improved pay and working conditions, to the minimum wage – our unions have played a vital role in shaping employment today.And today, with an unscrupulous Tory Government continuing to undermine workers’ rights, our unions are more important than ever.So I’m proud to be a trade unionist and a former union employee, and this HeartUnions week, I’m reaffirming my commitment to our unions, and their work to protect and enhance workers’ rights.You can read more about HeartUnions week here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/about-heartunions-week

Challenging the Government on fair tips

Despite the Government claiming credit for fair tips, we are still waiting after nearly three years for the actual law to change - the Minister told me it will now be the next parliamentary year before they act.At this rate Greg Clark will be the only member of Cabinet responsible for worse delays than Chris Grayling.I’m standing with Unite to demand action now.You can watch my comments in Parliament here.