The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January: Whether its burglaries and theft, or anti-social behaviour and harassment, crime has a profound impact on the day to day lives of those who are affected. Every person here in Barnsley has the right to feel safe in their home and community, and it is saddening to hear that this has not been the case for everybody recently – particularly in areas like Hoyland where there has been a spate of crime. I know that our local South Yorkshire Police service are doing all they can to keep our community safe. But despite the efforts of officers and staff there, cuts to budgets and resources by this Government has had a huge and inevitable effect on their ability to police our community. Since 2010, South Yorkshire Police has lost 480 frontline officers and 117 community support officers from our streets. That’s almost 600 fewer bobbies on the beat, patrolling our streets and providing a presence in our community. And when so much of neighbourhood policing is dependent on officers being the eyes and ears, building relationships and collecting information, it is little wonder these cuts have had such an impact. It’s the same story outside of Barnsley, too. Across the UK we have seen 21,000 officers, 18,000 police staff, and over 6,800 community support officers axed from the frontline. Combined with this blow to tackling crime, the millions slashed from youth services and early intervention has also hindered our ability to challenge its root causes. Despite these obstacles, South Yorkshire Police are doing well in trying circumstances. I’ll be meeting with them next week to discuss how we can work together with local residents, businesses and community groups to tackle these issues. Last weekend, I was out and about talking to affected residents about their concerns and what more we can do. I’m also seeking residents’ views on crime in my local survey, which I encourage everybody to take part in. And down in Westminster, I’ve consistently pushed the Government to do more to tackle crime and provide the proper support our local police services need – something I will continue to do. Because in my role as MP few things are as important to me as everybody here in Barnsley feeling safe and secure, and I’ll keep pushing until that’s the case.
I had lots of fun opening Mary's Little Lambs nursery in Grimethorpe!
During the Christmas recess I joined the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme in visiting the UK’s contribution to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia. Bordering Russia, Estonia is home to a significant NATO presence, and we were briefed by the Estonian Ministry of Defence and NATO commanders. We also met the UK’s Enhance Forward Presence Battlegroup to – comprised of none other than our very own Yorkshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion. Even by our northern standards the conditions are freezing cold and incredibly testing, but they continue to a fantastic job.
Tonight in Parliament, we voted on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. I understand this is a very important issue facing our community and country which many people feel strongly about, and I wanted to outline why I voted against the Prime Minister’s deal.To be clear, I respect the result of the referendum in 2016, and I do not support another referendum. We’ve already held a People’s Vote, and the views of people here in Barnsley were clear. So for me the current debate around Brexit is not about whether we leave the EU, but how.I’ve been very clear throughout this process that any Brexit deal must guarantee the jobs, rights and protections that so many people here in Barnsley rely on. It must ensure that workplace and environmental protections are safeguarded, and it must respect the decision expressed in Barnsley through the referendum in 2016.Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s deal doesn’t do any of these things. It’s a bad deal for people here in Barnsley, and a bad deal for our country. It doesn’t safeguard hard-won rights and protections, and it keeps us locked into EU rules with no say in shaping them. That’s why I voted against the deal. However, I also believe that we cannot leave with No Deal, which would be catastrophic for people here in Barnsley – something that has become increasingly obvious, particularly after speaking to local businesses in our community. I’ll do all I can to ensure this doesn’t happen.This position – voting against Theresa May’s deal, opposing a second referendum, and opposing No Deal – was supported by a large majority of respondents to my recent Brexit survey.So, in my role as the MP for Barnsley East, I’m pushing for a better Brexit deal as we leave the EU, one which works for people here in Barnsley, which guarantees jobs, rights, and living standards, and honours the result of the 2016 referendum. Following the Government’s defeat, the Prime Minister now has three days to come back to Parliament with a plan for how the Government intends to proceed. In the meantime, be assured I am pushing for the best possible outcome for the people of Barnsley East.
Theresa May’s Brexit deal surrenders hard-won rights and protections which so many people here in Barnsley rely on, it doesn’t guarantee jobs and living standards, and it keeps us locked into EU rules with no say in shaping them. This simply isn’t good enough - I’ll be voting against this bad deal tonight. But if the deal is defeated, as expected, I’ve been very clear that I don’t support a second referendum. We’ve already held a People’s Vote, in 2016, and people here in Barnsley made their views very clear. So for me, the debate now is not about whether we leave the EU, but how, and whatever happens following tonight’s vote, I’ll keep fighting for a Brexit deal which works for the people of Barnsley East.
Army recruitment is just the latest example of the Government’s failed policy of privatisation.I challenged the Government on this in Parliament - you can watch my question here.
I popped into Barnsley Churches Drop-in, which supports those across Barnsley who are homeless, sleeping on the streets or without a permanent home of their own for lots of different reasons. Humbled to meet such passionate, dedicated and committed volunteers who are making such a difference supporting those who need it, and to chat to some of the people who visit the drop in regularly.
It was great to join Chris Webb from Barnsley College on the pitch at Oakwell before Barnsley v Bradford.It was a brilliant game - 3-0 to the reds.
I held my regular monthly surgery recently, as well as a special digital surgery answering questions from students from Barnsley College as part of The Politics Project. If you’d like my help with an issue or would like a future surgery appointment, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I really enjoyed visiting Barnsley Brew and opening their new factory in Grimethorpe.I’ve always loved a good cuppa - I’ll be drinking Barnsley Brew from now on!