Working Alongside the Armed Forces in Cyprus

As part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme I’ve spent time over the last year working alongside the Army, seeing first-hand how they operate. So at the start of Parliament’s summer recess I took the opportunity to head out to the British Forces’ Cyprus base to work with the personnel there for a few days. I undertook training exercises with a range of military equipment and exercises, and met with both British armed forces and UN personnel to gain an insight into how our army operates abroad as part of international security efforts. I was also put through my paces in the army’s new physical fitness tests, which set the current physical requirements for those serving in the army. These tests are now gender-free, and set a uniform standard for anybody hoping to serve. Alongside the usual tests of covering various distances weighed down with heavy equipment, the new drills seek to mirror real-world requirements like casualty extraction. I think it’s safe to say that – even despite my recent training to complete the London marathon – I was some way off! Whilst I was out there it was great to meet Corporal Robert Lee, who serves as an engineer with No 1 Air Control Centre, RAF. Robert actually grew up on the same street in Darfield that I live on, and I think our whole community can be proud of the work he and others like him from across Barnsley and throughout our armed forces are doing to keep us safe. The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme has given me the chance to work closely with our army this year and has provided an invaluable insight into the work they do. I look forward to continuing my support for our incredible armed forces in the future.

Meeting with the Brake charity

I met with the fantastic Brake charity in Parliament recently to discuss the sentences for causing death by dangerous driving, and what we can do to ensure the Government increases maximum sentences – over 20 months since they promised to do so.

Column: school holiday challenges

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 2nd August:As we move into August, the school holidays are in full swing.It should be a really exciting time for children across Barnsley, with the endless possibilities and fun of the six week holidays stretching out ahead of them.But sadly, for so many families across our area, this can be one of the most difficult periods of the year.Because here in Barnsley, families are faced with the twin challenges of food poverty and buying school uniform.School uniform is often far too expensive, an issue constituents frequently raise with me, including one who had to pay £200 for one uniform and PE kit.A number of schools, particularly academies, state that uniform must include expensive logos or embroidery, and can only be bought from one particular supplier.In 2015 the Government promised to change the law to prevent schools having such exclusivity arrangements with suppliers, but this change has not yet been brought forward.These arrangements increase the cost, which is something I’ve raised with local schools and in Parliament.And it’s why I’ve launched my Barnsley East School Uniform Exchange.Boxes have been placed in five libraries and the Town Hall, as well as in my office in Hoyland, for parents to drop off unwanted uniform up to 16th August.This will then be distributed in the run up to the new school year.I’ll continue to push for change so uniform is affordable, but in the meantime, I hope this is something practical which can help families across our area.But sadly, far too many families are also affected by food poverty.No child should go hungry, and I have long believed in and campaigned for the introduction of free school meals for all primary school children. As a former teacher, I have seen first hand just how big a difference this can make to educational attainment and health.But during school holidays, without that nutrition, some families can find it difficult.That’s why I’m pleased that here in Barnsley, FareShare Yorkshire are working with Barnsley Council, community groups and other organisations on a campaign to provide food and activities for local school children throughout the holidays.Campaigns like this are so important, because every child deserves to fulfil their aspirations.But far too often under this Government, our children don’t get that opportunity.Many grow up in poverty – nationally it is 1 in 5, in Yorkshire it is greater than 1 in 4.Under this Government life has become so much harder for children growing up in Barnsley. The children I meet in our community are bright, engaged, and talented.They and their families invest so much time and effort in building their futures.It’s time this Government invested in them, and ensured that no child grows up in poverty.

Yorkshire Day

Happy Yorkshire Day! A day to celebrate all that makes Yorkshire great, from Yorkshire terriers to Yorkshire Tea and everything in between.Here in Yorkshire, we have a history dating back thousands of years that is ingrained in our nation as our wonderful county has shaped its story. Yorkshire has a rich industrial heritage, from the pits of Barnsley, to the steel works of Sheffield, and the motor manufacturing of Bradford – heritage that helped define our social, cultural and political history. In the Moors, Dales, and other wild spaces across the county we’re blessed with scenery and famous landscapes that rightly make us the envy not just of the UK, but the world. Yorkshire has always led the way on culture, too. From Yorkshire puds to parkin, the Brontës to Barnsley FC, and the long history of Yorkshire County Cricket Club to the recent emergence of the cycling as our county’s new favourite hobby, our cultural contribution is unrivalled. All these things and so many more define, in their own way, what makes Yorkshire great.And though it’s important to celebrate our heritage and history, I firmly believe our best days are ahead. But only if we push to make it so, and receive support from a Government that has for too long neglected communities in Yorkshire. We need a Government that delivers on investment in our region, in infrastructure, education, and social services. We need a Government that puts power back into communities, so that decisions from bus services to council budgets are in the hands of local people who know best. And we need a Government that follows through on its promises to make our region a powerhouse again, with a long-term strategy that gives everybody here the chance to maximise their potential. I’m proud to be the Member of Parliament for a Yorkshire constituency, and proud of our distinctive local heritage and our wider Yorkshire identity.But the people of Barnsley East elected me to help build our future, not simply revel in the past. So today as we rightly celebrate Yorkshire’s rich history, culture and heritage, let’s keep working together for the better, brighter future for our great country that we all want to see.  

Writing to the new Justice Secretary on death by dangerous driving

I have written to the new Justice Secretary asking him to confirm reports that the Government are bringing forward legislation on dangerous driving.

Launch of Disability Benefit Consortium report

I recently attended the Parliamentary launch of a report on the impact of welfare changes on disabled people.It’s clear the system overseen by this Government has had a difficult and devastating impact on many disabled people and those living with health conditions.

Barnsley East school uniform exchange

It’s clear that the cost of school uniforms here in Barnsley can often be far too high. Constituents often raise this with me, including one family who had to pay £200 for one child’s school uniform and PE kit. This is something I hear all too often, and it’s a problem worsened by the fact that this clothing is often out-grown within a year or even a few months. That’s why I’ve launched my school uniform exchange in partnership with Barnsley Council​. Donation boxes have been placed in libraries across Barnsley East, and in my office in Hoyland, so that parents can drop off unneeded or unwanted items of uniform, for other families and students to use. We’re asking for uniform to be dropped off up to 16th August, and this will then be distributed in the run up to the new school year. Addresses, opening hours and contact details for the drop off points can be found below. I think school uniform prices should be reduced and parents should be able to purchase uniform from a range of shops without expensive logos. It’s something I have raised in the House of Commons and locally with schools. I will keep doing that but I wanted to do something practical to help. If anyone has specific requests for items of school uniform, or if anyone has any questions regarding the exchange, you can email me atstephanie.peacock.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01226 743483. Drop off points: Cudworth Library: Cudworth Centre of Excellence, Robert Street, Cudworth, S72 8UQ; open Monday-Friday 9-5 and Saturday 9:30-12; 01226 717531 Darfield Library: Church Street, Darfield, S73 9LG; open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 10-1 and 2-5, Friday 10-1 and Saturday 9:30-12:30; 01226 773555 Grimethorpe Library: The Acorn Centre, 51 High Street, Grimethorpe, S72 7BB; open Monday-Thursday 9-5 and Friday 9-4:30; 01226 712575 Wombwell Library: Station Road, Wombwell, S73 0BA; open Monday, Tuesday and Friday 9-5, Thursday 9-7 and Saturday 9:30-12:30; 01226 773555 Worsbrough Library: Elm House Estate, Queensway, Worsbrough, S70 5EN; open Monday, Thursday and Friday 10-1 and 2-5, Tuesday 10-1 and Saturday 9:30-12:30; 01226 773555 My office: West Bank House Community Association, 236 West Street, Hoyland, S74 9EE; open Monday-Friday 10-4; 01226 743483

Pressing the Government on death by dangerous driving

Following the tragic death of Jackie Wileman, I used my first opportunity to ask this new Government to make it a priority to change the law on death by dangerous driving.You can watch my comments in Parliament here.

Speaking on my Little Litter Champions campaign

Over the summer holidays Barnsley East’s pupils are taking part in my Little Litter Champions campaign to help raise awareness of protecting our environment, and will help keep Barnsley clean as they do!You can watch my comments in Parliament here.

Speaking on the steel industry

The Government should use its powers of procurement to protect manufacturing and jobs.One very easy way to do that is to buy British.I recently asked them to do just that to help support our steel industry.You can watch my comments in Parliament here.