Meeting the RAF Benevolent Fund

Great to meet the team at the RAF Benevolent Fund recently and hear Mike’s inspiring story. They support each and every member of the RAF Family, providing help to those serving, veterans and their dependants.   If you are or know someone who is an RAF veteran find out how the Benevolent Fund can help: https://www.rafbf.org/how-we-help/request-our-help-today

Attending the Long Live the Locals event

I dropped into the Long Live the Local event in Parliament recently to show my support for their campaign.British pubs play a huge role in our communities, culture and economies.They should be supported by the Government, not pushed into bankruptcy by an unaffordable beer duty.

Visiting Barnsley Samaritans

I visited Barnsley Samaritans recently to hear about the work they do supporting people across Barnsley in their time of need.From marriage break downs to bullying and debt, they are there to talk whenever you need it.   Call their freephone number, 116123, day or night if you are struggling, and you can also reach them on 01226 202222.

Column: CEO pay and tackling inequality

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 10th January:At 5pm on Monday 6th January top bosses in the UK will have already earned what a typical worker expects to earn in the whole of 2020.In 2018 the average FTSE 100 chief executive had a salary of £3.46million or £901.30/hour. This is 117 times the average UK annual wage of £29,559.These figures are shameful.I doubt I am alone in wondering what these CEOs could possibly be doing to justify this huge pay difference.For far too long legal loopholes have allowed companies to put profits and the interests of their shareholders ahead of the welfare of the majority of their employees.As an MP I have presented my own legislation in the House of Commons aimed at stopping the exploitation of underpaid agency workers who had been kept in insecure jobs by unscrupulous bosses.Workplaces should be fair and equal spaces where everyone’s contribution is valued.Whilst CEOs have been earning the average UK worker’s salary in 33 hours families across the UK are struggling to make ends meet.Over the last ten years of Tory Government inequality has widened across the UK.Low-wage earners have been left to choose between putting food on the table and paying rent as local authority and services budgets have been slashed.Here in Barnsley our local council’s day-to-day spending has been cut by over 40per cent.This Christmas foodbanks witnessed record breaking numbers of vulnerable people in need of emergency food parcels.Working families are locked in poverty.It’s time that the government stepped in to lighten the burden of hardworking families and individuals who are in desperate need of help.Big corporations need to be held account for their employment and payment practices.I will continue to campaign to end inequality and give workers legal protections from bosses who prioritise profit over people.

Column: tackling loneliness

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 27th December:I would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone here in Barnsley a happy new year. In the last couple of months I have spoken to thousands of Barnsley residents on their doorsteps. I have met so many people who have told me about their lives and the wonderful community spirit we have across our area.I have also heard stories of loneliness, particularly among our elderly residents.Age UK has estimated that there are nearly 5000 people living in isolation in Barnsley.This is a particularly concerning figure as social isolation and loneliness have been shown to be as harmful as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.As a community we can do our bit to help those who suffer from social isolation during the festive period.From supporting the efforts of community groups such as Agewell in Wombwell who host guest speakers, offer field trips and hold raffles and bingos to inviting round a neighbour for a cuppa, we can help members of our community who are lonely.Our local councillors have been doing their best to combat elderly loneliness with council-commissioned activities for elderly residents.The last two years I have hosted a Great Get Together Event here in Barnsley, to bring people together. This was inspired by the late Jo Cox MP who campaigned on the issue loneliness. That work goes on with charities, businesses and more public awareness about what we can all do to tackle this issue.If you know anyone who is struggling with loneliness it might be worth popping in to check on them, doing a simple task like helping carry shopping bags or offering to accompany them out and about if they are nervous to go alone.I am proud to belong to a community that is so generous. This time of the year can be one of the best, let’s make sure that everyone in Barnsley has someone to enjoy them with.Happy 2020!

Visiting Experience Barnsley's Second World War exhibition

I visited Experience Barnsley’s exhibition this weekend on Barnsley and the Second World War.We must never forget the impact of the war on our community and our country, or the immense sacrifices made by local people right across Barnsley.Find out more here.

Darfield post office

Residents have contacted me following the closure of Darfield post office. Over the last few weeks I’ve been touch with The Post Office to find out what’s happening & push them for details on when the post office will re-open.   I understand the closure is temporary and they have provided me with the following statement:   “We sincerely apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of Darfield Post Office. We understand and appreciate how much communities rely on our services. We would like to reassure customers that the decision to suspend services at any of our branches is never taken lightly. We take very seriously any decision to temporarily close a branch, and will only do so when it is warranted. We are working hard to restore services for the community as quickly as possible. Alternative Post Offices in the area include; Wombwell Post Office, 60-62 High Street, Wombwell, Barnsley, S73 8DA. Brampton Post Office, 63 Knollbeck Lane, Brampton, Barnsley, S73 0TW. Great Houghton Post Office, 6A Rotherham Road, Great Houghton, Barnsley, S72 0DB.” I know just how vital local post offices are to our communities here in Barnsley, and I’ll continue to follow this issue closely. I will push for for Darfield services to be maintained and re-opened swiftly.

Repeat of crime wave in Hoyland

I am very concerned that there has been another spike in crime in our community, and have been working with the police to see what can be done to combat this. We have had a number of reports of incidents of crime, including a spate of burglaries and a violent attack on a resident at Owd’ Martha’s Yard. In addition, there have been instances of anti-social behaviour occurring in Hoyland, Elsecar, and other surrounding areas. I recently met with the District Commander for Barnsley and I have been assured by South Yorkshire Police that the area is covered by Barnsley South East Neighbourhood team, based at Goldthorpe Police Station with dedicated PCs and PCSOs covering the area. This team also conduct high visibility, proactive patrols to engage with the community and develop intelligence. Extra patrols have also been set-up to catch those responsible. I have been informed that, as a result of the extra patrols, a large number of youths were identified as being the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour. These youths received ASB warning letters and were spoken to in front of parents. One particular youth has been identified as being a main perpetrator, and as such the Police have initiated a programme of intervention which involves partner agencies. New resources have been committed to our area, with a new Neighbourhood Policing team being created on the 24th of February. This team will be based in Hoyland and will cover Wombwell, Rockingham, Hoyland Milton, and Darfield. I have been doing, and will continue to, work to engage with residents about crime in our community and how we can tackle it. I recently conducted a crime survey with residents to hear and understand their views on crime in the area as well as writing to residents who highlighted issues, visiting the homes of residents affected by crime, and conducting a walk round of businesses in Hoyland to discuss issues. I have also written to the Council regarding funding for PCSOs, and raised issues of crime in the Commons on more than one occasion and with the Home Secretary.  I encourage, as do the Police, concerned residents to report any instances of crime or anti-social behaviour to the police via 101. Moreover, please do signup to alerts and follow the Barnsley South East Neighbourhood Policing team on Twitter @BarnsleySE_NHP and on Facebook @BarnsleySouthEastNHP, where you can find more information on work carried out by the Police.    

Questioning the Prime Minister on dangerous driving sentences

Our justice system is failing families like Jackie Wileman’s whose loved ones have been killed by dangerous driving.   I asked the Prime Minister if he was going to commit to increasing sentences for death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life.You can watch my, question here, and you can read more about this in the Barnsley Chronicle here.

Questioning the Government on the FA's deal with Bet365

We need urgent government action on FA’s deal with Bet365, which forces fans to place a bet/put £5 in an account before they can watch matches.   In Parliament I pressed the Government on some of the worrying implications of this deal.  You can watch my comments here.