Last night, the Tories refused to support the 8485 families in Barnsley East who are relying on Universal Credit in the pandemic.These numbers have increased by over 20% in the last 6 months alone.Almost half of all claimants are in work.Families across Barnsley deserve better than this.
The Met Office have issued an amber rain warning which covers our area and the Council are now warning that flooding is expected.The Council teams are currently out checking gulleys and drains in high-risk flooding areas to make sure they're as clear as possible.If your area is at a high risk of flooding, the Council are urging you to begin preparing your property for flooding.You can find some information about flooding advice, high risk areas and prevention tips at https://bit.ly/2RcJTCA.I have repeatedly raised my concerns about flood preparedness with the Government in Parliament over the last year.I also met today with Yorkshire Water and have been in contact with the Council.Our communities cannot afford to be left to fend for themselves by government; far more must be done to prevent flooding in the first place, rather than reacting to crises.
Cervical cancer can be prevented.Smear tests are the best protection against cervical cancer and save thousands of lives each year.This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, you can find out more information about cervical cancer and what you can do to prevent it by visiting https://www.jostrust.org.uk/ or by calling their free helpline on 0808 802 8000.
The Union Learning Fund makes a real difference for workers and employers.I have written to the Government urging them to think again about their ideological decision to cut it.Watch my video on this here.
Local Post Offices are important for residents in our community, providing a real lifeline for many to access essential services and stay in touch while we’ve all had to stay apart during this pandemic.Given the important role post offices play, it’s disappointing that the Wombwell branch is due to close this month, while services have not been reinstated in Hoyland and Darfield more than a year after they closed.After my recent letter to the Post Office about this, I’m pleased that some progress has been made.A new postmaster has been appointed in Hoyland with the aim of reinstating services later this year.In Darfield, the Post Office have received an application for a new branch, although this is currently at a very early stage.While I welcome this promising news in Hoyland and Darfield, I am concerned at the length of time residents have been without these vital services, and at the further loss of the branch in Wombwell.The Post Office have assured me that they are currently looking at options to reopen a post office in Wombwell.I will continue to push for more progress on this in the months ahead.The Post Office services which people rely on must be reinstated in Hoyland, Darfield and Wombwell as soon as possible.
Solidarity with British Gas workers on strike, particularly those in Barnsley.Industrial action is never taken lightly - British Gas must withdraw their fire and rehire threats.Join me and support them too by clicking on the link below.https://www.gmb.org.uk/campaign/back-british-gas-workers
Our nurses have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.I met the Royal College of Nursing recently to discuss the pressures their members are facing on the front line and their campaign for a fair pay increase.Find out more about their work: https://www.rcn.org.uk
Brexit has rightly not dominated the political agenda in the last year as we deal with the devastating impact of COVID-19. Over 70,000 people have lost their lives and more than 2 million people are predicted to lose their jobs. We have left the European Union and at the end of December I voted for the Government’s trade deal, having always believed we should respect the result of the 2016 referendum. The vote was a choice between this deal or No Deal. It’s not the deal we would have wanted - it lacks protection for our service, manufacturing and creative industries, as well as safeguards on employment rights. But we must now move beyond the divisions of the past and unite in the national interest to tackle the issues that we face and deliver real change for our country. The Government can no longer blame others for their own domestic failures. For the poverty, unemployment and inequality that they oversee. The real change that communities like ours need must now be delivered.
The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 24th December 2020:Christmas is a time of cheer and celebration, but it’s also a time for considering others - and as we all know, this will be a Christmas like no other. Sadly, it will be a more isolated Christmas, where we cannot spend time with many of the friends and family that we hold dear, as we had hoped. It didn’t have to be this way. Many governments across the world, with decisive leadership, took the steps that they needed to early on, without dither or delay, and they are now enjoying a normal festive season. It is with great sadness that we find ourselves here in what is the worst of all worlds. But I know that our communities will overcome the challenges that we face. In spite of everything, we have seen exceptional acts of kindness across our community, with people supporting their friends, family and even strangers in times of great difficulty. I want to thank everyone who has kept our country running, when so much of it ground to a halt, from key workers and our hospital staff, to voluntary organisations and the council, who have done an exceptional job in supporting people who are isolating; delivering food parcels and keeping our vital services running. And, most of all, I want to thank you - the residents of Barnsley. We have all made great sacrifices this year to protect one another and keep each other safe. This has been the greatest act of kindness. And it has made a difference. It has saved lives. We still have some way to go and we cannot let up yet. But the New Year brings us hope. The Covid-19 vaccine is now being delivered in our area, and this will be rolled out further in the New Year. With a wide vaccine delivery, we not only have the chance to return to some form of ‘normality’ in the not too distant future. But we cannot simply go back to the pre-Covid world. We need to fundamentally re-build our country in a way that works for everyone, not just the South and a privileged few. This is something that I will be picking up and fighting for in the New Year. But, in the meantime, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone across our community a very Merry Christmas - and a Happy New Year.