VIsiting Catterick as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme

I had a fantastic day visiting Catterick Infantry Training Centre last week as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. Catterick trains all of the Army’s infantrymen through a 26-week course – it was fascinating to see how junior recruits are put through the rigours and prepared for combat.

Speaking on the Copyright Directive

It’s only fair that the people who create music that giants like YouTube profit off are properly paid for their effort and creativity.After discussing the Copyright Directive in my recent digital surgery with Barnsley College, I raised it in Parliament recently.You can watch my comments here.

COLUMN: Failed Privatisation

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st February: Recently I raised the issue of army recruitment in Parliament, and the drop in numbers joining our forces. I wanted to challenge the Government ministers in charge of our army to explain why this is the case. Because recent statistics show that in the last quarter available, the private company in charge of the recruitment process failed to bring in 90 per cent of the recruits the British army needs. In Barnsley army recruitment fell by over half since 2015 – just 29 people joined up in the last year. But not only is this private company, Capita, failing in their vital role to provide enough recruits to keep our army strong, they’re being paid handsomely by this government to do so – to the tune of almost £500m. But unfortunately, Capita’s failings and the Government’s wasting of tax payers’ money is just the latest example of Ministers’ continued obsession with outsourcing and privatisation that has resulted in so many costly errors. In our transport system, for example, the privatisation of our rail services has seen prices for Barnsley’s commuters skyrocket whilst carriages are increasingly aged, cramped, and late. And just last year, the government was forced to terminate the private contract it had granted for the East Coast Mainline after its operators could no longer afford the costs they had promised – but not before handily writing off the remaining £2bn the companies had promised the taxpayer. In our justice system, the Government was forced to take over the privately run HMP Birmingham after the company it was outsourced to, G4S, failed to run it safely. And notably, around this time last year the private company Carillion collapsed with debts of £1.5bn when operating 420 public sector contracts, at a staggering cost to the taxpayer. Example after example shows that this Government’s fixation with outsourcing and privatisation fails at great expense to taxpayers here in Barnsley. Whether it’s our vital public services like the NHS that keep us healthy and safe, or matters of national security in our army like I brought up in Parliament, it’s time services were ran by this Government in the interests of the public, not private profit.  

Challenging the Government on council budget cuts

Following a recent report that Barnsley Council has faced 40% cuts from this Government since 2010 – the highest in the country – I raised this in Parliament.Unfortunately it’s clear from the Minister’s reply that they just don’t get it – talk of fancy funding formulas and analytics just isn’t good enough, and doesn’t reflect the reality of devastating cuts to local services which so many people here in Barnsley rely on.You can watch my comments here.

Barnsley Hardest Hit in Country by Austerity

It has been revealed that Barnsley is the area hardest hit by austerity in the country. Since 2010, local authority spending has been cut by 40%, or £688 a year per head. From street cleaning and pothole repairs, to social care provision and homelessness support, these cuts have a devastating impact – and our town in the North has faced cuts around four times the average reduction faced by wealthier areas in the South. Once again, some of the poorest in our community are hit by the Tories whilst affluent, leafy suburbs in the South have it easier. It’s an utter disgrace. Read more here. 

Signing the Book of Commitment to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

I signed the Book of Commitment in Parliament to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. It’s vital we remember those lost during the Holocaust, and give our thanks to the survivors who continue to educate us today.

Writing to Plus Option trading company assets

It’s absolutely disgraceful that the Plus Option trading company have taken £150,000 from my constituent, a lady in her 70s, and are refusing to provide an explanation of where this money has gone. Given that they’ve ignored numerous letters from me, even after I raised this in Parliament, I’ve been left with no option but to write to all the companies listed as assets on their website. Hopefully this morally bankrupt organisation will now front up, respond to my letters, and explain how they’re going to reimburse my constituent. In the meantime, I’ll continue to pursue every avenue I can to help my constituent and make sure others aren’t exploited by such a predatory organisation.

Tackling crime in Hoyland, Hoyland Common and Elsecar

Following the concerning spate of crime in Hoyland, Hoyland Common and Elsecar, I’ve met with the police, and today I’ve been out in Hoyland with Sergeant Mark Ellis, visiting local businesses and residents and listening to their concerns.In Parliament on Monday, I raised this issue directly with the Government, and questioned them on police funding – the Government’s new funding settlement doesn’t provide an extra penny of funding for policing here in Barnsley. I’ll be writing to the Home Secretary about this – the Tories are trying to tackle crime on the cheap, and it’s simply unacceptable.There are almost 600 fewer officers on our streets across South Yorkshire since 2010, and it’s residents and businesses like those affected by the recent spate of crime here in Barnsley who are paying the price.You can share your views on crime by filling out my crime survey here, and if anyone has any concerns they’d like to raise with me, please don’t hesitate to email me on or call my office on 01226 743483.

Supporting the campaign for a 'Town of Culture Award'

I had the opportunity to boast about Barnsley’s cultural successes in a debate on the possibility of a ‘Town of Culture Award’ – something I’d support, if only because I’m sure our great town would win it.You can watch my comments here.

Questioning the Government on police funding and crime

I raised the recent spate of crime in Hoyland, Hoyland Common and Elsecar with the Home Secretary in the House of Commons today - you can watch my comments here.   Despite the Minister’s answer, not a penny of funds from this Government will go towards tackling crime in Barnsley. Their funding settlement puts the burden onto local Council Tax payers and will mean areas like Barnsley will not be able to raise anywhere near as much as the Tory shires. Hard working residents here in Barnsley should not be forced to foot the bill and plug the gaps left by Tory cuts through their Council Tax.   With almost 600 fewer officers on our streets across South Yorkshire since 2010, the Tories are trying to tackle crime on the cheap. It’s residents and businesses like those affected by the recent spate of crime here in Barnsley who are paying the price. This is totally unacceptable – I will be writing to the Home Secretary to press him further on this funding inequality, and I will be meeting with local police later this week.   You can read my recent column in the Barnsley Chronicle on this issue here, and you can share your views on crime by filling out my crime survey here.