As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 7th February and the Barnsley Chronicle on 16th February, Stephanie has written to the Government to demand answers after revealing statistics that showed her Barnsley East constituency’s broadband speed and connections are well below average. According to independent analysis undertaken by the House of Commons Library, Barnsley East trails the rest of the country when it comes to speed and access to vital broadband connections. The figures revealed, for instance, that average broadband speeds in Barnsley East are 20 per cent lower than the national average. Superfast availability is also lower than average, whilst there is 0 per cent availability of full fibre broadband in the constituency. Within Barnsley East, Hoyland Milton ward’s average internet speed of 21 Mbps puts it in the worst 10 per cent of wards in the UK, whilst Darfield, North East and Rockingham wards also reside in the worst 30 per cent for broadband speed in the country. Stephanie Peacock’s letter, addressed to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport raises the sub-standard quality of Barnsley East’s broadband access, and demands answers over the Government’s plans to address the constituency’s digital exclusion. She said: “Access to fast and reliable broadband is absolutely essential to the way of life for so many people and businesses in our community. “Sub-standard broadband risks stunting the growth of local businesses as they trail competitors elsewhere, and digital exclusion can be devastating for those who rely on the internet for necessities like arranging health appointments or applying for welfare payments. “But these figures show that our community is being left behind when it comes to access to broadband speeds and connectivity, with levels way below the national average. “I’ve written to the Government to demand answers on what steps they intend to take to prevent Barnsley East being held back by a lack of high quality broadband for any longer.”
As reported in the Barnsley Gazette and Barnsley News and Sport on 5th February, Stephanie has blamed the Government after she revealed results achieved in key subjects by students on free school meals in Barnsley have fallen drastically. The figures were obtained from the Government by the local MP by a written parliamentary question. They show that since 2011, the percentage of students eligible for free school meals (FSM) achieving the expected grades at key stage 2 in English and Maths has substantially decreased. In 2011, the number of pupils in Barnsley on FSM achieving a Level 4 grade in English was 72 per cent, but this has fallen to just 50 per cent reaching the expected standard. Similarly, the 56 per cent of FSM-eligible pupils achieving the expected grade in Maths in 2017 is considerably lower than the 73 per cent who did so in 2011. After acquiring the figures, Barnsley East’s MP is blaming the Government for the fall in standards as a result of consistent cuts to school budgets. She said: “It’s absolutely vital children eligible for free school meals get the best start with a good education, but these figures show fewer of them are. “With schools here in Barnsley already funded significantly less than other areas, savage cuts to budgets over the last seven years by this Tory Government have had a devastating effect on teaching. “With schools under-resourced and under strain, it’s the children in our community who need help most who are suffering from these brutal cuts.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 2nd February, Stephanie spoke recently at this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day event in Barnsley. The commemoration was held at Horizon Community College last Friday. It brought together local residents, schools, community groups, Mayor Cllr Jeff Ennis, Stephanie Peacock MP, and holocaust survivor Iby Knill, who shared her important story. Barnsley East’s MP used her opportunity to speak of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme – the power of words – and remarked on the importance of remembering the tragic events. Stephanie said: “It was an honour to speak at this year’s incredibly important Holocaust Memorial Day event here in Barnsley."
As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on February 2nd, Stephanie used her column this week to discuss local pharmacies. She talked about her meeting a local pharmaceutical group, and the impact devastating cuts have had on our community pharmacies. You can read Stephanie's full column here.
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley Gazette on 26th January, Stephanie Peacock signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment. In doing so the local MP pledged her commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those lost during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today. Saturday 27th January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. After signing the Book of Commitment, Stephanie commented: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Barnsley East and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. “As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and pay tribute to the survivors. “I would encourage everyone to show their support for such an important day.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport on 25th January, Stephanie has slammed the Government after new figures revealed more than one in four children in Barnsley are living in poverty. The figures, released by the End Child Poverty coalition, show that 27.95 percent of children living in Barnsley are in poverty after housing costs are included. This includes over 6,000 children in Barnsley East, where a slightly higher level of 29.64 percent of children are trapped below the poverty line. Within the Barnsley area, the Worsbrough ward contains the highest level of child poverty, with more than one in three children living in poverty. The figure in Barnsley is higher than the UK average, where over 3.7m children are now living below the poverty line according to End Child Poverty – slightly more than one in every four. Said Stephanie: “These new figures paint a damning picture of life for so many families and children under this Tory Government. “No child in Britain and Barnsley in this day and age should be forced to go without food, a heated home or proper clothing. “But the Government’s decision to freeze child benefits in the face of soaring living costs has forced more than 14,000 children in Barnsley below the poverty line. “This Government must take urgent action to address the issue, and prevent more children in Barnsley being trapped in poverty.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport on 24th January, Stephanie returned to the classroom recently to teach students of Kirk Balk Academy as part of the ‘Big Class Challenge’. The Big Class Challenge is a programme run by the Teach First charity, aiming to bring volunteers from different sectors into schools to teach pupils. Former teacher and TeachFirst ambassador Stephanie took part in the initiative, and got back in the classroom for a one-off class with students of Kirk Balk Academy. She spoke to the students on a range of topics, including aspiration and the importance of the students aiming high, before fielding questions. Stephanie said: “It was great to be back in the classroom as part of Teach First’s Big Class Challenge. “The Challenge is a wonderful initiative that encourages volunteers with a wide range of experiences and skills to get into schools and teach one-off lessons to students. “As a former teacher and Teach First ambassador, it was a pleasure to teach the students at Kirk Balk Academy and support this initiative.”
As reported in the Barnsley Gazette and the Barnsley News and Sport on 19th January, Stephanie has been appointed as an Opposition Whip. The role entails helping with the organisation of Parliamentary and legislative business for the Labour Opposition. Stephanie expects the role to keep her at the forefront of upcoming legislation and its impact on Barnsley East. The role also leaves her free to continue speaking and taking action on local issues in the Commons. She said: “I’m honoured to have been asked to serve on the Opposition front bench, and I’m determined to use the role to hold this Tory Government to account and stop yet more damaging policies being imposed on people in Barnsley. “This role is a great opportunity to work even closer to the forefront of Parliamentary business. At a time when the Government has no majority, the Commons is more powerful than ever and this is a chance to make a real impact on the decisions that affect this community and the whole country.”
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 19th January, this week Stephanie visited Cudworth Library foodbank. She discussed the rising number of people requiring the use of help due to the impact of policies such as Universal Credit. You can read her reaction to the foodbank visit here, and watch her bring up the issue of constituents being forced to choose between eating and heating in Parliament with the Government here.
As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 19th January, Stephanie has attacked the Government for failing to prevent an NHS crisis, as Barnsley Hospital missed its target time for dealing with A&E patients. The latest figures for December show that only 85.9 per cent of patients attending Barnsley Hospital A&E were seen within four hours – well below the 95 per cent target. According to NHS England’s figures, a total of 7413 people attended A&E in Barnsley in December. Of these, 1054 were forced to wait longer than the four-hour target. Nationally, A&E units endured one of their toughest ever months, with only 85.1 per cent of patients seen within four hours – one of the worst levels on record. Commenting, Stephanie said: “These figures once again demonstrate the completely preventable strain this Government’s woeful mismanagement has forced on our NHS. “Hard-working staff at Barnsley Hospital continue to do an incredible job with what they can, but the lack of resources and support is clear. “Over 1000 patients were forced to wait for more than four hours in A&E in December. “Theresa May and her bungling Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have treated our vital NHS services with neglect for far too long. “They need to get a grip of the situation, because it’s local residents here in Barnsley who will suffer until they do.”