The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent:
A couple of weeks ago in Wombwell I had the pleasure of meeting Rosie Conway. Rosie is 17 and currently studying hard for her A levels at Barnsley College.
You may have seen her yourself. She currently appears in a national billboard publicity campaign for the National Citizen Service (NCS). Rosie can be seen on roadside posters in Barnsley and all around the country. She features alongside fellow NCS graduate Jermain Jackman, who took part in the programme in 2012 and went on to win the BBC’s singing competition, The Voice, in 2014.
Rosie was invited to feature in the campaign, entitled ‘Our Future’, as a result a social action project she implemented in her local community on the NCS programme, where she worked to plan and prepare events with the Royal British Legion. Rosie is one of more than 130,000 teens to have taken part in NCS since the programme launched in 2011.
The NCS is a great initiative, where 16-year-olds from different backgrounds in the summer after they have taken their GCSEs, get to work together and give something back to their communities. After three weeks of team-building and outdoors activities, participants spend 30 hours helping improve their communities.
Along with Rosie I met Barnsley FC players Peter Ramage and Ben Pearson, on the day before their important match against Port Vale at Oakwell. I remember saying to them that we could do with a win and, sure enough, 20 year old Pearson scored the winner with his first ever career goal – securing the three points for Barnsley!
In our local area, Barnsley Football Club’s Community Sports & Education Trust, in partnership with the Football League Trust, have become an established provider of the NCS programme. Last year I visited Oakwell and saw for myself the work that Barnsley FC and the NCS do in our local communities.
For four years, Barnsley FC has delivered the NCS programme, but that’s not all they do.
They also have developed ‘Fit Reds’, where men aged 35 plus across Barnsley are offered the chance to play at Oakwell as part of a healthy lifestyles programme. The programme blends fitness training and health education.
So far, over 180 men have benefitted from the programme which has resulted in massive reductions in blood pressure readings and weight. I was so impressed by this initiative that I have recently nominated them for a national award run by the Department of Health.
These wonderful examples of those who ‘put something back’ typify the best of Barnsley and our people. We can justifiably be proud of Rosie and her achievements but many more in our community perform similar work without recognition.
You may have seen the Latin motto ‘Spectemur Agendo’ that appears on Barnsley FC crest, that of Barnsley Council and other local Barnsley crests. Translated into English, it means “judge us by our actions”. We certainly should. We can all be proud of Rosie from Wombwell and thousands like her.
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent: A couple of weeks ago in Wombwell I had the pleasure of meeting Rosie Conway. Rosie is 17 and currently studying...
The following article appears on the South Yorkshire Times website:
Most people won’t know that there is an important date to remember this year and that is Monday, April 20, the deadline for registering to vote.
And whilst I recognise that most people are pretty tuned off and tuned out when it comes to politics, the truth is: no vote, no voice.
Being registered to vote is important. When I’m chatting to people in the check-out queue at the local supermarket or having a pint on a Friday night in my favourite watering hole, the Milton Arms in Elsecar, people rightly have plenty of issues and worries on their mind.
They can be anything from the cost-of-living, immigration or what’s happening to our NHS. I accept that it’s my job to convince people that if you really want to change things, you have to have your say and go out and vote.
This government hasn’t made it easy by changing the rules. They rushed through legislation to introduce individual electoral registration (IER) which requires each individual to register, rather than the head of the household as it was previously. As a result, 950,845 registered voters have disappeared from the register across the country.
According to the Electoral Commission, about 30 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds are currently not registered to vote compared with fewer than five per cent of over 65s not being registered to vote. Only 56 per cent of those living in private rented accommodation are registered to vote, this is compared to 90 per cent of homeowners.
The following article appears on the South Yorkshire Times website: Most people won’t know that there is an important date to remember this year and that is Monday, April 20,... Read more
This week Britain’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), published serious warnings over the Government’s decision to award the contract to operate the East Coast main rail line to Stagecoach and Virgin Trains, citing concerns regarding their share of the London-Scotland market. The CMA said there was “a realistic prospect” of “higher fares or reduced services” on parts of the line. This latest blow to the Government once again demonstrates why this privatisation should never be happening in the first place.
The CMA has highlighted two big potential problems with the Government’s East Coast main line contract, which could result in a reduction of competition on certain routes. They warned that this could lead to both higher fares and reduced service quality for rail passengers travelling between Peterborough, Grantham and Lincoln, and for coach and rail passengers travelling between Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. This could affect thousands of passengers relying on these services.
If these problems are not resolved within a week, the watchdog said it will have no choice but to launch a full, in-depth investigation, rightly throwing the whole contract into question.
It is now clearer than ever that David Cameron put privatisation ahead of the public interest when he decided to privatise the East Coast main line. Since 2009, the public operator, Directly Operated Railways, has successfully operated the East Coast service, achieving record performance and passenger satisfaction, whilst investing in services and delivering below average fare increases.
Labour List blog: ‘Warnings about privatisation of the East Coast show that it’s high time to reform our railways’
This week Britain’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), published serious warnings over the Government’s decision to award the contract to operate the East Coast main rail line... Read more
The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 4 February 2015
THE independent Campaign for Better Transport revealed in a report recently that more than 2,000 bus routes have been cut since 2010 and that things are getting worse quickly, with nearly 500 bus services being altered or withdrawn last year alone. At the same time, bus fares are rocketing, going up by 25 per cent since 2010 – an increase five times faster than wage growth.
It’s clear that the bus operators have been cutting crucial routes that people rely on at the same time as hiking up fares to maximise their own profits. So it is no surprise that some of the big bus companies, like Stagecoach, are whinging about Labour’s plans to give communities more powers over how their local bus services are run. It would suit them down to the ground for things just to stay the same.
Currently, 67 per cent of the bus market is run by just five firms: Go-Ahead; Stagecoach; Arriva (under Deutsche Bahn); First Group and National Express. These big firms are doing very well indeed out of the current system. Together, they made £518m in 2012 and their bosses have enjoyed massive pay packages. For example, Stagecoach’s CEO, Martin Griffiths, was paid £2.2m this year, including a £600,000 bonus.
Like the energy market, the bus market is broken and not working in the public’s best interests. We want to see this change and re-balance the bus market so communities and passengers have more power.
The top executives running the big bus companies are now trying to peddle a scare story, stating that local authorities would somehow be unable to handle the transfer of powers and it would come at untold cost. This is not only patronising, but completely unfounded.
The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 4 February 2015 THE independent Campaign for Better Transport revealed in a report recently that more than 2,000 bus routes have... Read more
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent:
Last Tuesday saw the whole country come together in commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.
Organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), this memorial day is a reminder to all of us of the importance of commemorating the millions who were affected by the Holocaust and gives us an opportunity to remember, mourn and reflect on what happened in the Holocaust and in all genocides since. As the events of the Holocaust sadly move from living memory to history, the lessons of what happened remain as powerful as ever.
Last year I visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – the world centre for Holocaust research, documentation, education and commemoration, and the site of a permanent memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. I laid a wreath to remember the victims, took part in a ceremony and visited the incredibly moving children’s memorial, which was constructed to honour the one million Jewish children who were killed.
HET’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ programme, and the inclusion in the National Curriculum of compulsory study of the Holocaust in our schools, goes some way to ensure we maintain a knowledge of what happened. It enables us to celebrate the courage of those who fought against it and to learn the lessons for the future.
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent: Last Tuesday saw the whole country come together in commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of... Read more
The following column appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent:-
One of the big problems these days is that there aren’t enough role models for our young people. Well, not good ones anyway. But one who springs to mind recently is Ken Burkinshaw from Hoyland.
Last month Ken, whom I’m privileged to call a friend of mine, was awarded the ‘Ushakov Medal’ from the Russian Government for his service more than 70 years ago. The citation from the Russian Embassy thanked him for his “supreme expression of bravery” and the contribution he and his comrades made to defeating Nazi Germany.
Ken was just 16 when he served on board HMS Sheffield which nine times helped deliver much needed resources to our Russian ally during the Second World War. During this campaign, merchant ships were escorted by the Royal Navy – through U-boat infested waters in Arctic weather conditions – to take war material to the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945.
Some 40 convoys undertook the dangerous 1,500 to 2,000 mile run, one of the deadliest convoy routes during the War, dubbed by Sir Winston Churchill as the “worst journey in the world”. Ken himself has said: “It was minus 40 degrees. You daren’t wipe your nose or it would break off. We had to chip ice off the guns before they could fire.”
The following column appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent:- One of the big problems these days is that there aren’t enough role models for our young people. Well, not good ones... Read more
It’s the first time since the 1920s that working people will be worse off at the end of a parliament than they were at the beginning”. That was how Ed Miliband summed up the cost-of-living crisis that continues to engulf hard working families across the country in his big speech earlier this week. And this was brought into sharp focus for rail commuters returning to work last week who’ve seen their fares go up by more than 20 per cent since David Cameron became prime minister.
Ed Miliband is determined that Labour will speak to four million people before polling day in this year’s general election. That’s why Labour’s transport team have been out in recent weeks talking to the hard-pressed members of travelling public at bus and railway stations up and down the country.
This week I was with Labour’s brilliant local candidate Matt Turmaine at Watford Junction railway station where commuters are having to dip even deeper into their pockets just to get to work on increasingly overcrowded trains. Season tickets from London to Watford junction have increased by £528 since 2010 – a rise of 22 per cent. Commuters further up the London Midland line travelling from Milton Keynes have endured a 28 per cent hike – an increase of over £1000 – something Labour’s Andrew Pakes and Emily Darlington have recently exposed.
On top of this, people across the country have been hit with stealth fare rises. The government has imposed fare rises on the Northern franchise of up 162 per cent. In my own constituency, in Barnsley East, we have been clobbered by increases of up to 25 per cent, as the government has allowed the operator to extend peak hours. At the opposite end of the country, in Brighton we have revealed government plans for more stealth fare rises on the Brighton main line through eliminating cheaper tickets, which could leave some passengers paying £664 more for their season tickets.
It’s the first time since the 1920s that working people will be worse off at the end of a parliament than they were at the beginning”. That was how Ed... Read more