I met with Northern Rail to discuss their COVID-19 response.I asked how they plan to increase train services while prioritising passengers' safety.We need a reliable, affordable & safe public transport system to help our local economy recover.Please get in touch if you have any queries or concerns: firstname.lastname@example.orgYou can find more info here.
The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7th August:Summer holidays are normally a time to relax and unwind from the previous school year. This summer, however, millions of British households are unsure if their finances will survive until September. The next few weeks will be especially difficult for families who have been hit hard by job losses or reduced incomes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many do not know how they will make ends meet. Every year millions of children across England go hungry over the summer break. The worst affected are the 1.3million children who are eligible for free school meals. In Barnsley alone, there are over 6000 children who rely on the scheme. These kids miss out when schools are shut for the summer. Last month Labour called on the Government to reverse its decision to end the COVID-19 voucher scheme at the end of the Summer term. The scheme provided vital food support to children at home during the pandemic. Manchester United player, Marcus Rashford, added his voice to the campaign, which eventually saw the Government commit to extending the free school meals voucher scheme during the holidays. I am glad the Government realised it was making a mistake and took action to make sure vulnerable children were fed this summer. But it remains the case that working families across the country have been pushed into poverty by this pandemic. Families and parents are now turning to foodbanks to get by. On a visit to Barnsley foodbank last week, volunteers informed me that demand for emergency food parcels has trebled. At the same time donations to foodbanks have fallen to an all-time low as households have had to tighten up on spending to get through this crisis. The fact that many parents and carers simply cannot afford to feed their kids is deeply worrying. The Government needs to do more to help make sure children are well-fed and have the resources they need to reach their potential. We cannot expect children to do well at school if they are hungry. That is why I stood on a manifesto that pledged to provide all primary school children with a free school meal. It is also why I started my school uniform exchange last summer. It is unacceptable that families that are already struggling to get by are forced into greater financial difficulty by extortionate compulsory uniform costs. I have been contacted by parents and carers who have had to pay over £120 for one child, before optional extras and other children are even taken into consideration. In Parliament, I have called for school uniform prices to be reduced and for parents to be able to purchases uniform from a range of shops without expensive logos. The generosity of families across Barnsley who donated unwanted or extra school uniforms to the exchange was overwhelming. Even though I was unable to run the exchange this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I still have some items left over from the previous year. If anyone has specific requests for items of school uniform, or if anyone has any questions regarding the exchange, you can email me at email@example.com or call my office on 01226 743483. Continue reading
Far-right groups & activists are making use of Bitchute to spread terrorist propaganda and COVID-19 misinformation.Social media platforms need to take action now and stop its links from being shared on their sites.Read more here and here.
The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 24th July:Our community has been deeply affected by dangerous driving, speeding and anti-social behaviour on our roads.Last week, I held a virtual public meeting on this issue. Residents voiced their anger and frustration at the excessive speeding on the Dearne Valley Parkway, the noise pollution from revving engines and the racers who meet up at Cortonwood and Birdwell.It was clear from the points raised during the meeting that these problems are not only worse during the summer months, but also worse at weekends and at night. They have had a significant impact on the sleep, mental health and wellbeing of local residents, impacting how they go about their day-to-day lives.We need action now to make our roads safer.I have written to South Yorkshire Police as well as Barnsley Council and the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner to voice the concerns of constituents. Speeding on the bypass and racing on public roads is dangerous. It not only endangers the lives of fellow motorists but also pedestrians and other members of our community.Two years ago, Jacqueline Wileman, a mother-of-two living in Brierley, was killed when she was struck by a stolen lorry. The men convicted of causing her death were only given sentences of between 10-13 years in prison. They will be eligible for parole after completing only half that time.Alongside Jackie’s brother, Johnny Wood, I have been campaigning to change the law and get Jackie justice. We met with the then Justice Minister to secure a commitment that sentencing guidelines would be changed. However, following that meeting the Government have done very little to follow through on their promise to review sentencing guidelines.On Tuesday, I co-sponsored a Bill put forward by the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, that will increase the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving. I firmly believe that tougher sentences dissuade people from taking unnecessary risks while driving.The sentences handed down at the moment often do not reflect the devastation caused by these crimes. Increasing maximum prison sentences will properly punish those who commit them.We need a justice system that recognises the life sentences given to families who have lost loved ones.Local residents should not have to fear walking around their neighbourhood or driving down to the shops.I will continue to hold the Government to account on the issue of road safety and fight for measures that will protect the wellbeing of road-users and members of our community.
For the last couple of years, I've been campaigning with the family of Jackie Wileman to change the law and get justice for her family and friends.I recently co-sponsored Theresa May's Bill in the House of Commons to increase maximum sentences for death by dangerous driving.Families who've lost a loved one face a life-sentence of grief and pain. It's only right that offenders are appropriately punished.This will, ultimately, deter other dangerous road users and make our streets safer.Read more here and watch the Bill be introduced in Parliament here.
Met virtually with Virgin Money regarding their decision to close Yorkshire Bank in Wombwell on 3rd August. I expressed my disappointment at the decision, and outlined the concerns residents have raised with me about the impact this will have on our community.With more than 300 names having signed our petition against the closure, the level of opposition to the decision is clear. Unfortunately, though, Virgin Money have made it clear the decision will not be reversed. Read their explanation of the closure here: https://cutt.ly/YB_ImpactAssessment They informed me that they are contacting customers at the branch, particularly those over 70 and in vulnerable groups, to inform them of the decision and offer help with transitioning to other ways of banking. If you haven’t had a call and would like one, please do let me know. They committed to hold physical clinics in Wombwell town centre after the branch shuts, where people can drop in for support with their banking. These will be held for as long as there is demand – please let Virgin Money know if this is something you’d be interested in.
As Parliamentary Chair of HOPE not hate I called on the Government to ban the Nazi-Satanist cult, the Order of the Nine Angles.In March, we coordinated a letter to Priti Patel from HOPE not hate and a group of cross-party MPs.I’m urging the Home Office to reconsider its decision.You can watch part of my comments in Parliament here.
I’m glad the Government have realised that investment in sustainable flood defence projects makes far more sense than paying for repairs time and time again.These funds are still not enough. South Yorkshire needed a down payment of £271m.We got £16m.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-53401099
Good virtual meeting with Barnsley Youth Council, Youth SEND Forum and Care4Us Council.Great to chat to young people who want to make a real difference in our community - we spoke about issues from mental health support to tackling knife crime to local transport here in Barnsley.
I held a meeting alongside John Healey MP with residents worried about speeding and anti-social behaviour on our roads, particularly Dearne Valley Parkway and Cortonwood.Thank you to South Yorkshire Police, councillors and everyone who attended.Please get in touch if you would like more info.