Column: Probation Failure

In her Barnsley Chronicle column on 24th May, Stephanie wrote about the importance of effective probation services, and the failure of the Government's decision to part-privatise them. You can read her full comments here.

Stephanie Visits Upperwood

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport and Barnsley Chronicle on 24th May, Stephanie recently visited Upperwood Primary Academy in Darfield. During her visit, Stephanie met with Alistair Budd, the Academy’s Principal, to discuss the work the Academy is doing in the local community. She also chatted to staff about the work they do, and met students on her tour of the school. She said afterwards:  “I really enjoyed my visit. It was great to chat to Mr Budd about the work he’s doing and ways I can support him and the school in future, and it was a real pleasure to meet fantastic teachers and bright, engaged students on my walk round the school.”

Stephanie Visits Forest Academy

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport and the Barnsley Chronicle on 24th May, Stephanie recently visited the Forest Academy in Kendray. During her visit, Stephanie met with Sam Bailey, the Executive Principal, to discuss the work the school is doing, the challenges faced, and any ways in which the MP could help. Stephanie also had a walk round the school, and chatted to staff and students during lessons. She said: “It was great to visit the Forest Academy in Kendray. I had a productive meeting with Ms Bailey – we chatted about the challenges the academy is facing, and ways I can work with her in future, and I really enjoyed having a look round the school and chatting to lots of brilliant teachers and students.”  

Stephanie's Joint Brexit Letter to Jeremy Corbyn

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, leading Labour figures in Barnsley including Stephanie have written to Jeremy Corbyn warning any push from Labour for a second EU referendum could put the party’s future at stake.Barnsley East MP Stephanie, Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis and Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, offered their support for Mr Corbyn’s ongoing negotiations to secure an exit deal but stated their objection to the prospect of a second referendum.The letter says reneging on assurances given and pursuing a second EU referendum ‘risks creating further irreparable division in society’ and could ‘disenfranchise millions’ of voters.“We do not support such a proposal and nor would the majority of our residents,” the letter says. “Along with the future of our democratic process, the future of our Labour Party is at stake. We simply cannot ignore and disregard the voice of traditional Labour voters who rely on our movement.“Instead we must reconnect with the working people for whom our party was formed to represent, and show the trust they have placed in us is not taken for granted.“Working to achieve a deal now is the way to do this, and to help unite those who voted on both sides of the referendum.”Stephanie, who resigned from her Labour front bench position after breaking party orders and voting against a second referendum on the UK’s exit from the EU, told the Chronicle: “In 2016 Barnsley voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU and a year later I was elected by the people of Barnsley East on a manifesto promise to respect this decision.“I have long been honest and clear that I feel a second referendum risks undermining this result and ignoring the clear message we received at the ballot box both locally and nationally to leave the EU.”The letter added: “As elected representatives of Barnsley we strongly believe that the decision made by our residents and by people across the UK on our membership of the European Union must be honoured.“The Labour Party’s manifesto pledge at the last general election to respect the result was a significant reason why so many people trusted us with their vote.“Ignoring this decision risks undermining the trust placed in us as elected representatives, and that is why we support your efforts in the ongoing negotiations with the government to secure a deal.”  

Probation Services and the Tragic Death of Jacqueline Wileman

As reported in the Yorkshire Post, the Barnsley Chronicle, Look North, Calendar News, and the BBC, Stephanie has spoken in Parliament this week on the role the failing probation services played in the tragic death of her constituent Jacqueline Wileman, before the Government announced a U-turn to end their decision to outsource these services. The Government's decision to part-privatise probation under then-Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has come under intense criticism, and Stephanie has continually raised in the House of Commons the results of this failed, ideologically driven move that has seen a vital service run in the interests of private profit over public safety. She has spoken of how one of the mean convicted of killing Jacqueline was under probation supervision at the time. Jacqueline's brother, Johnny Wood, has stated his belief that if the probation services had done their job his sister would still be alive. South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company is currently the responsibility of Sodexo services, a private company. It was recently rated as requrining improvement. On Thursday, in the face of failing standards and tragic incidents the Government announced they would reverse their changes, re-nationalise probation, and bring these services back in-house.  Read more below.

Column: social mobility and aspiration

In her Barnsley Chronicle column on 10th May, Stephanie wrote about social mobility, and the importance of making sure there are no limits on the aspirations of young people here in Barnsley. You can read her full comments here.

Stephanie Completes Famous Marathon for Barnsley Charity

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport and Barnsley Chronicle on 3rd May, Stephanie completed the London Marathon in the capital on Sunday to raise money for local charity Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services (BSARCS). The Member of Parliament joined over 42,000 runners along the famous course, crossing the finish line of her first ever marathon in just over six hours and reaching her target of £1,000. BSARCS is the sole group in Barnsley the provides specialist services to people affected by sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, and any kind of sexual violence. Working with women, men and children, they have helped around 1,500 people in the last year alone. Said Stephanie: “Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services is a fantastic local charity that does incredible work for people in our community, and I’m so happy to have completed the marathon and helped raise funds for them. “I’ve never run anywhere near 26 miles before, but the kindness of the crowds gathered along the route and generosity of those who have donated made the sore legs worth it – so thank you to everyone in Barnsley for your support. “Though every step after around 15 miles hurt I took each one for BSARCS, and the thought of what a difference the donations will make to some of the most vulnerable people across Barnsley kept me going.” Lynne Casserly, Development Manager at Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services, said: “We would like to thank Stephanie and everyone who has supported her in raising money for BSARCS.”

Column: Green Industrial Revolution to Tackle Climate Change

In her column the Barnsley Chronicle on 26th April, Stephanie wrote about the need to address climate change and the damage it could do our lives, and how a green industrial revolution driven by people in Barnsley could be the way to do so. You can read her full comments here.   

Stephanie to meet Government Over Death by Dangerous Driving Sentences

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport and the Barnsley Chronicle on 26th April, Stephanie will meet with Government officials to continue the push to increase the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving following the tragic death of Jacqueline Wileman. In September last year, a HGV was stolen and driven around Barnsley and crashed into a property in Brierley, but not before tragically hitting and killing Barnsley resident Jacqueline Wileman. The four men responsible were convicted of death by dangerous driving amongst other charges and existing criminal convictions. Each received between 10 and 13 years in prison, but will likely serve fewer. In an exchange in the House of Commons, Stephanie (pictured) questioned Ministry of Justice Minister Rory Stewart on the issue. She challenged the Minister on the ‘devastating failure’ of the Government’s privatised probation system that saw three of the four men convicted of Jacqueline Wileman’s death commit the crime whilst released on probation. Following this, she asked the Minister to meet with her to discuss the case and what they can do to prevent similar incidents – including scrapping the 14-year maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving. Responding for the Government, Minister Stewart paid tribute to the local MP for her campaigning on the case and accepted that the maximum sentence should be increased to life. He further agreed to meet the MP to discuss changing this law. Said Stephanie: “The death of Jacqueline Wileman was a tragic incident that struck at the very heart of our community and devastated many. “In the face of lenient prison sentences handed down to those responsible, Jackie’s family have bravely campaigned to make sure nobody else must go through what they have. “After bringing this campaign to Parliament, I’m delighted the Government have accepted the need to increase the sentence and I will look to meet them urgently and make sure that is the case.”  

Stephanie Signs Mineworkers Pension Letter

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 24th April, Stephanie has signed and supported a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer which calls for a formal review of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme. The current arrangement sees the Government acting as guarantor for mineworker pension pay-outs, with surpluses made by the scheme split evenly between its members and the Treasury. Since the agreement was struck in 1994, the Government has taken around £4.4bn from the scheme without paying in a single penny of their own. This includes £617m this year alone, with another £427m planned over the next three years. Stephanie recently held a parliamentary debate on the issue, pressing Government business ministers in the House of Commons to review the 50:50 surplus sharing arrangement, and now she has joined a number of other Labour MPs in signing a letter to the Chancellor, asking the Treasury to do the same. In the letter, the signatories stated: “The strong returns generated by the scheme combined with the absence of direct payments from the Government make the continued withdrawal of a 50% share for the current arrangement difficult to justify. “We call on the Government both to include a stronger level of protection for members’ bonuses as part of the guarantee and to consider taking a reduced share of the surplus to allow a greater proportion to be returned to mineworkers. “To this end, we would request that HM Treasury undertake a formal review of the surplus sharing arrangements, the case for reform and means of enhancing existing bonuses along with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.” Said Stephanie: “I’ve long voiced my opposition to the current surplus sharing arrangement in the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme that has seen the Government pocket billions without paying in a penny of their own. “Miners here in Barnsley, who spent years working hard for security in later life should not be forced to get by on a pittance as this Government continues to take money from the scheme. “I’ll continue fighting to get a fairer deal for miners and a greater share of the funds from their pension pot.”