As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, the Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley Gazette, on 18th October Stephanie has been elected to the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee. The move was passed by a Parliamentary motion on Monday and the Stephanie joins the cross-party Select Committee as a permanent member. The Science and Technology Select Committee’s main role is to ensure Government policy and decision-making is based on scientific advice and evidence, and it runs inquiries into topical issues, legislation and the Government. Commenting on the move, Stephanie said: “I’m pleased to be joining the Science and Technology Select Committee, which gives me a great opportunity to hold the Government to account. “A forward-thinking strategy that takes advantage of technological and scientific opportunities is vital to ensure our exit from the European Union helps working people like those in Barnsley with jobs and skills. “My place on the Select Committee will help keep Barnsley at the forefront of these developments.”
As reported in Barnsley News and Sport and Barnsley Gazette on 4tth October, Stephanie has revealed Government figures that show Barnsley residents are forced to wait over 15 weeks on average for a decision on welfare appeals. The figures were attained by Stephanie after she forced Ministers to admit the statistics through a Parliamentary Question. The figures relate to the appeals made on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) applications. ESA provides both help to those unable to work through long term illness or disability and support when they can work, whilst PIP helps cover the extra costs caused by serious disability or long-term ill-health. The data obtained by Stephanie shows that residents in Barnsley wait on average 15.2 weeks for an outcome to their appeal of the initial decision. The figures follow her recent reveal of the ‘shocking’ number of two-thirds of initial PIP and ESA applications rejections that are eventually overturned on appeal in Barnsley. Commenting, Stephanie said: “Many people who have fallen on difficult times through no fault of their own depend on vital financial support. “Yet this admission by Tory Ministers just shows how carelessly those who are struggling with disability or long-term illness in Barnsley are treated. “I recently revealed figures showing two-thirds of people who are initially rejected PIP and ESA are found to be eligible on appeal, with the original decision eventually overturned. “This figure is shocking enough, but now we find out those same people are being forced to wait nearly four extra months for the privilege of being offered the help they are eligible for. “This is simply not good enough, and the Government should immediately explain why residents in Barnsley are forced to go months without the vital help they are entitled to.”
As reported in Barnsley News and Sport on 11th October Stephanie joined the fight for truth and justice for what happened at Orgreave during the miners strike. Stephanie spoke to members of the public at an event on Orgreave hosted by the Darfield Ward Labour Party and Barnsley East CLP. It brought together local Councillors, the Orgreave Trust and Justice Campaign, Trade Union representatives and the public. Actions that took place at Orgreave between striking miners and the police over 33 years ago were discussed, along with the information that has come to light in the years since. Stephanie said: “It’s important to have the opportunity to speak about the Orgreave injustices at events like this. “The incidents that took place that day in South Yorkshire are still incredibly pertinent to so many people in our community, and it’s crucial we continue our campaign for those who were affected. “The event was open to all, and it was great to be joined by so many people to discuss how we can continue our fight for the truth and justice that working people deserve.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 29th September Stephanie pledges support for deaf children. Stephanie met with deaf teenager Erin McKay at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton to discuss how support for deaf children can be improved. Erin, 17 attended the conference as a Youth Advisory Board member for National Deaf Children’s Society which recently launched a ‘right to sign’ campaign for BSL British Sign Language to be an option at GCSE. Erin said “BSL is one of the languages of the UK so I think everyone in the country, deaf or hearing should get the chance to learn it. Sadly, most people miss out because it’s not taught at school and private lessons are expensive. “I want to break down the barriers to learning BSL, so it was great to speak to Stephanie to help her understand this issue because she has the power to make a difference” Erin and Stephanie also talked about the charity’s ‘Listen Up’ campaign to improve children’s audiology services. Mandatory inspections were scrapped in 2012 and a voluntary accreditation scheme was introduced instead. But many services, including the New Street Health Centre in Barnsley haven’t been inspected for years. Jess Reeves, Campaigns Manager for the National Deaf Children’s Society, said “there are more than 40,000 deaf children in England, and a good audiology service is a vital lifeline for them but without mandatory inspections this cannot be guaranteed”
As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 29th August, Stephanie outlined the unsustainable situation in Barnsley with fewer police recourses, less pay for officers and a mounting number of 999 calls being made. You can read the full column here.
As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, Stephanie has started the new Parliamentary term highlighting the importance of animal welfare by meeting with the RSPCA and their inspectors at the House of Commons. In 2016 alone, the RSPCA received over 1.1 million calls to its cruelty line and investigated just under 160,000 complaints of animal cruelty. Said Stephanie: “I’m proud to support the RSPCA and the work that they do to protect animals in Barnsley East. “It was fantastic to meet some of their hard-working inspectors and to thank them on behalf of the animal lovers in our area for all that they do. “I know how important animal welfare issues are to my constituents and it is an issue that I intend to take up on their behalf in this Parliament, and I look forward to working with the RSPCA moving forward. David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, commented: “It is always a pleasure to be able to highlight the work that our outstanding team of inspectors do day in, day out, twenty four hours a day. “Despite having limited resources the RSPCA continues to be the leading enforcement organisation for animal welfare in England and Wales, as the fact that we receive a call to our Cruelty Line every 27 seconds shows. “The RSPCA has been working to improve the laws that protect animals since we were founded in 1824. “As the UK exits the European Union there are all sorts of animal welfare issues that we need to work with politicians to make progress on; from protecting animal sentience to working to end live animal exports, from reforming the Common Agricultural Policy to encourage better farm animal welfare to improving food labelling.”
As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 15th September, Stephanie calls on the Government to give our hard working public sector employees the proper pay and support they deserve, and finally scrap the cap You can read the full column here.
As reported in Barnsley News and Sport, the Barnsley Gazette and the Barnsley Chronicle on 31st August 2017. Stephanie opened the new community sporting pavilion at Wombwell Main Community and Sports Association in her Barnsley East constituency. The Association is a local charity that provides a home for a several sports teams and a number of community and educational groups. The new pavilion caps off a tireless effort by many at the club over five years to modernise and refresh the facilities, including sourcing significant capital funding. Stephanie sad: “Wombwell Main Community and Sports Association is a great asset to the community, and their new pavilion is a welcome development. “A number of people have worked incredibly hard to make it happen, and I’m delighted to see their work pay off. I congratulate those involved and look forward to the positive effect the new pavilion will have on our community.”
As reported in Barnsley News and Sport on 21st August. Stephanie has called for South Yorkshire Police to be given the power and resources to tackle criminals using off-road bikes and mopeds in Barnsley. She has raised the issue after hearing of the problems caused by off-road bikes, quads and mopeds which have been particularly involved in antisocial behaviour in numerous areas. Local residents have been affected by riders on bikes that have often been stolen, with bike theft rising in recent years. Riders are often masked and riding without proper registration. Under the current laws, the police are able to seize bikes under antisocial behaviour legislation. But Stephanie is calling on the Government to clarify whether the police are legally allowed to pursue bikes and mopeds, and provide the adequate resources for them to do so. She said: “Our local police do a fantastic job, but brutal cuts to their resources and the loss of officers on our streets has hindered their ability to tackle anti-social behaviour. “As a result, I hear of far too many incidents of anti-social disturbances and crimes caused by bike, quad, and moped users – many of which are stolen or illegally used. “Residents across Barnsley should be able to feel safe and comfortable in their homes and our community, but many of them have been affected by this anti-social behaviour. “Our officers need the power to pursue bikes legally where it is appropriate, but ministers have been dragging their feet on clarifying the law. “It’s about time the Government gave them the resources and powers they need to keep our community safe”.
In a piece for the Yorkshire Post on 19th August, Stephanie wrote about the impact of insecure work and the need to tackle an issue which impacts people in Barnsley and across the UK. She discussed the various forms insecure work takes, the effects it has, and how it can be tackled. You can read the full article here and here.