As a former teacher, I know just how important education is in shaping young people's life chances, so it was good to meet with LKMco, an education and youth think tank, to discuss my work with schools here in Barnsley on issues from T Levels to apprenticeships to exclusions.
The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 19th July: This week in Parliament there was a debate regarding the Government’s spending on our armed forces. It’s an incredibly important issue, and after all it is the first duty of any Government to defend and protect its citizens. Over the last year I’ve been fortunate enough to see one branch of our forces in action, through my participation in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. From the Infantry Battle School and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, to active operations like NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence on the borders of Russia, I’ve seen first-hand the skill, professionalism and importance of our army and the personnel serving in it. Over the next year, I’m hoping to undertake a similar role with the Royal Air Force. But in seeing just how crucial our armed forces are, it’s worrying to see the extent of cuts to defence spending made by this Government. Since 2010, spending has fallen by over £9bn in real terms. Such staggering cuts are simply bound to have an impact on our operational capacity. But it’s also not just about how much is being spent, but where. For instance, responding to a question I asked in Parliament the Government recently admitted it simply doesn’t know how much money is being spent on veteran support services in Barnsley. Without this, how can we make sure the Government is doing everything it can to give those in Barnsley who have served our country the help they need? And there’s a huge regional disparity in spending too. Government spending on defence over the last year was equivalent to just £60 per head in Yorkshire and the Humber, compared to £940 in the South West. Expenditure on defence also supports jobs, including almost 60,000 across the South East and South West. But in Yorkshire and the Humber, just 2,100 jobs are maintained by defence spending. I contributed in the Parliamentary debate to raise this very issue. The Government has a responsibility to maintain our national defence, but that isn’t all when it comes to defence spending. They also have the ability to properly support those who have served, and sustain jobs and livelihoods in areas like ours. I’ll continue to press them to do just that.
I had a really productive meeting with Breast Cancer Now in Parliament today to chat about what we can do to increase early diagnosis of breast cancer. Looking forward to working together!
Following my previous post regarding Hoyland Post Office, I’ve been in touch with Post Office again to ask for an update with regards to what is happening with this important local service. They have confirmed that they have interest from two retailers and are confident they will have at least one completed application in the very near future. Once one, or both, have been returned, the application and business plan will be sent for financial scrutiny and if they successfully pass this stage, interviews can be scheduled. If successful at interview, they can then make an appointment and undertake final planning for the new Post Office. I’ll continue to press Post Office on this issue and will provide updates as and when I receive further information.
I heard first-hand from Barnsley’s Katherine and other members of The Royal College of Nursing in Parliament today about the pressures they’re facing, and the urgent need to end the workforce crisis in our health services.
There was lots happening at the Picnic in the Park in Ardsley - stalls, games and a band.It was good to meet Abs who ran the curry eating competition, and have a go at the Scouts' coconut shy.
A wonderful Barnsley Pride today ❤️💙💚💛🧡
It was lovely to pop in to the Great Houghton Family Fun Day, and help out with the tombola with local councillors Anita and Dorothy.
I attended the brilliant opening of the amazing new Barnsley Library @ The Lightbox.It will be a wonderful space for local people.And lots of activities have been going on all day from Peter Rabbit to a brass band.Come and explore it.
I had a wonderful evening at the Mayor of Barnsley’s charity ball.It was my first time as auctioneer raising money for two fantastic charities, BIADS and Age UK Barnsley, with brilliant entertainment from Holly Tandy and the great Neil Diamondo.