Stephanie meets Coal Authority

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 15th March, Stephanie recently held a meeting with the Coal Authority at her office in Hoyland.The Coal Authority is responsible for licensing all coal mining in Britain, and also addresses legacy issues relating to mining, such as water pollution and subsidence.The meeting was attended by James Lowth, the Coal Authority’s Director of Operations.During the meeting, James outlined the work the Coal Authority does, and Stephanie pressed them on the work they’re doing to address the challenges faced by Barnsley East.Commenting, Stephanie said:“As a proud mining area, the closure of the pits has had a profound impact on the economic, social and cultural life of our community here in Barnsley.“As well as fighting injustices like the unfair surplus sharing arrangements in the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, I’m committed to helping my constituents to deal with other issues stemming from our mining heritage, such as water pollution and subsidence.“That’s why I felt it was important to meet with the Coal Authority, and to speak to them about the work they’re doing here in Barnsley East.”

Modern Slavery Meeting

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 15th March, Barnsley East Labour Party Women’s Forum recently held an event on tackling modern slavery here in the UK.The event was held on Saturday 9th March from 1pm to 2:30pm at Barnsley Town Hall.It’s estimated that there are currently 14,000-16,000 people living in modern slavery in the UK. The event discussed the nature of this practice, and ways it can be identified and tackled.Speakers included Jane Williamson, a tutor who has worked on Northern College’s ‘Free Thinking Programme’ to provide education to survivors of modern slavery, Mark Burns-Williamson, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and national lead for tackling modern slavery, and Tim Forber, Assistant Chief Constable with South Yorkshire Police.The event was chaired by Stephanie .Commenting, she said:“Modern slavery is an absolutely appalling practice, where people are forced into work without pay and life without freedom.“It’s staggering that this practice is still so widespread in the UK in the 21st century, and it’s so important that we do all we can to fight it.“That’s why I’m pleased to have chaired this important event, so that we can work towards understanding, identifying and tackling modern slavery, and ultimately ending it once and for all.”  

Stephanie Runs Half Marathon for Barnsley Charity

As reported in the Barnsley Gazette, Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport on 13th March, Stephanie ran a half marathon last weekend to help raise funds for a local charity. Donning her running gear to tackle the 13-mile course in blustery and challenging conditions, the MP  surpassed her target of raising £500 for the Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Service (BSARCS). BSARCS in the sole organisation in Barnsley providing specialist services to people affected by rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual violence. In the last year alone, the charity has helped around 1,500 people affected by the trauma of sexual violence. Amidst funding cuts to local authorities that have placed greater financial strain on charities like BSARCS, the Barnsley MP decided to take the opportunity to help raise funds for them She said:. “I won’t be catching Mo Farah at the finish line any time soon, but running the half marathon was a great opportunity to help raise funds for a fantastic local charity. “Many charities rely on funding from local authorities, but with budgets slashed to the bone by this Tory Government it is vital frontline services like those provided to vulnerable people by Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services that suffer. “Hopefully the kind donations given and money raised will go some way in helping this excellent organisation continue to provide crucial services and help for those in Barnsley who need it.”  

Stephanie Visits Citizens Advice Barnsley

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 8th February, Stephanie recently visited Citizens Advice Barnsley.During her visit, Stephanie met with the Citizens Advice Chair, Janine Eldred, and their CEO, Jo Clark.Stephanie chatted to them about the work they’re doing and the challenges they face.Commenting, Stephanie said:“It was a real pleasure to visit Citizens Advice here in Barnsley.“While they use the national Citizens Advice name, Citizens Advice Barnsley is its own separate local charity, and sadly their workload and the pressures they face have increased hugely in recent years, as Government cuts have hit local services right across Barnsley.“So it was invaluable hear from their Chair and CEO about the challenges they face and ways I can support them, as well as chatting to them about the work they do to help people right across our area.”

Stephanie Opens BIADS AGM

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 8th February, Stephanie recently spoke at the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support (BIADS) AGM.Stephanie, the organisation’s patron, spoke at the beginning of the AGM.She spoke about the achievements of BIADS over the previous year and looked forward to the year ahead, as well as speaking on the importance of dementia support services here in Barnsley.Commenting, Stephanie said:“I’m proud to be the patron of BIADS, an organisation doing such important work in supporting those living with dementia and their carers here in Barnsley.“As the Alzheimer’s Society states, we must do all we can to ensure that those living with dementia can feel a part of, not apart from society.“BIADS is a central part of working towards making that a reality in Barnsley, so it was great to support them at their AGM.”    

PM's Town Funding Offer 'Derisory'

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 8th Feb, Stephanie has slammed the Prime Minister’s new offer of funding for struggling towns as ‘derisory’. Under their new ‘Stronger Towns Fund’, the Government has pledged £1bn until 2026 to towns who have ‘not shared in the proceeds of growth’, with another £600m available through a bidding process. However, just £197m has been earmarked for local authorities across the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber for the next seven years. Since 2010, councils across Yorkshire and the Humber region have been subject to cuts worth £932m. According to the Centre for Cities recent report on austerity, Barnsley Council alone have experienced cuts to budgets of £145m since 2010. This means the entire funding pledge for region barely covers the funds lost by this single local authority.  Nationally, councils will see cuts of £7.3bn this decade. The Barnsley MP directly challenged the Government on the proposal in the House of Commons, stating the 40% cuts to Barnsley Council budgets and asking the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government: “Does the Minister honestly thinks that today’s announcement makes up for the huge cuts that the Government have made to my town?” Commenting afterwards, Stephanie said: “It has taken the Government almost a decade to finally acknowledge what people across the country have been telling them for too long: that their policy of austerity has had a devastating impact on our communities. “Any money to address the damage caused by this Government to towns like Barnsley is welcome, but the Prime Minister’s derisory offer falls woefully short of what’s required to do so. “Under the proposal, it will take the best part of a decade for the entire Yorkshire and Humber region to receive little more than Barnsley local authority alone has lost through cuts under this Government. “The Prime Minister’s token gesture won’t fool people here in Barnsley, where people have seen first-hand the damage the Tories continue to inflict on our community”.  

Column: Free TV Licences

As featured in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st March, Stephanie wrote her recent column on the importance of free TV licences, particularly for older people in Barnsley for whom TV can be their only source of company. She called on the Government to protect free TV licences. You can read her full comments here.    

Stephanie Reveals Cuts to school staff numbers

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st March, one in every four support staff in Barnsley’s secondary schools has been lost since 2011, Stephanie has revealed. The figures were admitted to the local MP by an Education Minister in response to a written parliamentary question. According to the Government, the number of teaching assistants in secondary schools across Barnsley has fallen from 287 in 2011 to 202 in 2017, a fall of nearly 30 per cent. Other support staff have fallen from 273 to 207 in the same period, a reduction of over 24 per cent. Combined, this means that staff other than frontline teachers in Barnsley’s secondary schools have reduced by over a quarter since 2011. Support staff are particularly important for children with special needs, often providing dedicated support and preventing increased workload pressure on teachers. Even auxiliary staff employed by schools, including everything from cafeteria workers to bus drivers, seen their number fall by over one in five. Since 2013 Barnsley’s schools have faced cuts to funding of £3m, equal to 5 per cent of the total schools block allocation funding. This is significantly higher than cuts across the region, equivalent to 3 per cent. Per pupil funding has fallen by over £500 in the same period, a drop of 8.4 per cent and higher than the national average of 4.9 per cent. Commenting, Stephanie said: “Once again, we see the real impact of this Government’s near decade-long obsession with austerity, as support staff in our schools have fallen by over a quarter since 2011. “Teachers are already under pressure after being asked in too many cases to do more with less, and now we see their vital support workers reduced significantly over recent years. “Many schools here in Barnsley are doing a fantastic job in trying circumstances, it’s time this Government properly supported them in doing so.”  

Stephanie Reveals Funding Snub to prevent violence against women

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 1st March, not a single penny from a Government funding package for tackling violence against women and girls has been allocated to Barnsley or South Yorkshire, Stephanie has revealed. The Government’s ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Service Transformation Fund’ was established to provide £17m between 2017 and 2020 towards schemes addressing this issue. Yet in response to a parliamentary question tabled by the local MP, the Government has admitted that no money from this fund has made its way to Barnsley or the wider South Yorkshire region. In their response to Stephanie Peacock’s question, the Government stated that decisions on allocation “were taken to ensure a reasonable spread of funding geographically”. Despite this, no funding has been provided from the service directly to schemes in Barnsley and South Yorkshire. Other fund allocations include £400,000 awarded to a project in Prime Minister Theresa May’s local Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner in the Thames Valley. Commenting on the figures she forced the Government to reveal through her parliamentary question, Stephanie said: “It’s greatly disappointing that, despite the Government’s pledge to offer geographically diverse funding to tackle violence against women and girls, not a single penny has been allocated to Barnsley or South Yorkshire. “In addressing such a pressing issue, money should be no obstacle, yet this Government appears to have focused funding on a select few areas. “Any intent to tackle violence against women and girls is of course welcome, but on the back of staggering cuts to the local authorities and police forces at the forefront of these efforts, the Government must do much more.”

Modern Slavery Event

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 1st March, Barnsley East Labour Party Women’s Forum are to hold an event in March on tackling modern slavery here in the UK. It is estimated that there are currently 14,000-16,000 people living in modern slavery in the UK, and the event will discuss the nature of this practice, and ways it can be identified and tackled. Speakers include Jane Williamson, a tutor who has worked on Northern College’s ‘Free Thinking Programme’ to provide education to survivors of modern slavery, and Mark Burns-Williamson, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and national lead for tackling modern slavery. The event will be chaired by Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock (pictured) who says: “Modern slavery is an absolutely appalling practice, where people are forced into work without pay and life without freedom. “It’s staggering that this practice is still so widespread in the UK in the 21st century, and it’s so important that we do all we can to fight it. “That’s why I’m pleased to be chairing this important event, so that we can work towards understanding, identifying and tackling modern slavery, and ultimately ending it once and for all.” The event will be held on Saturday, 9 March at Barnsley Town Hall from 1.00pm to 2.30pm.