As reported by Barnsley News & Sport on 11th January 2017.
Michael has urged people living in cold homes in Barnsley to seek help with their fuel bills.
He said many people living in fuel poverty this winter were unaware of the support they could receive to assist with the cost of heating their homes.
An estimated 189,400 households in South Yorkshire get the annual Winter Fuel Payment of £100 to £300 to help the elderly with their energy costs - an allowance introduced by Labour in 1997.
But Michael warned that, due to the "broken energy market", some people would turn off their heating because they feared they could not afford the bills this winter – even though help could be available from their energy supplier.
According to a survey carried out by poverty charity Turn2us, more than half of those quizzed (53%) were unaware that many energy suppliers offered help to some customers, particularly those on low incomes.
And, two-thirds (66%) were not aware that some energy suppliers have charitable trusts to help certain customers struggling with their fuel costs.
Michael backed the Turn2us charity’s “No Cold Homes” campaign to raise awareness of the help available and urged people in Barnsley to see if they could benefit from the various schemes.
“Far too many people in Barnsley live in fuel poverty and simply cannot afford to turn on the heating as often as they need.
“Thanks to our broken energy market, they are forced to live in cold homes and it is often the elderly and the most vulnerable who are the hardest hit.
“I would urge people to see what help is available with their fuel bills. Friends and family can help by checking on their relatives and neighbours to see what assistance might be available for them.”
As reported by Barnsley News & Sport on 11th January 2017. Michael has urged people living in cold homes in Barnsley to seek help with their fuel bills. He said many people...
As reported by the Barnsley News & Sport on January 9th 2017.
Michael is calling on ministers to introduce new measures to combat the soaring number of attacks on police in Barnsley.
His demand comes after new figures revealed that assaults on local police officers have continued to rise dramatically.
According to information released by South Yorkshire Police under freedom of information rules, there were 27 assaults on officers across all ranks in the Barnsley policing districts in 2015 – up from 19 assaults in 2014.
However, in the the first nine months of 2016, the number of assaults soared to 31 – already significantly higher than the whole of 2015.
The attacks come in the wake of the Government cuts of £160 million over five years to police budgets across the country that have put forces under increasing strain. More than £50 million has been cut from South Yorkshire’s budget since 2010 with the loss of 800 jobs last year alone.
Following a recent Commons vote, Mr Dugher is calling on PM Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd to adopt a three-point plan drawn up by Labour, led by fellow Yorkshire MP Holly Lynch, to combat the violence.
The plan calls for:
- Tougher custodial sentences for criminals who assault police because fines and suspended sentences are an insufficient deterrent
- The Home Office to record all assaults on police and to standardise the process across all police forces to help police chiefs and politicians understand the scale of the proble
- An end to Government cuts to police budgets to make sure police officers are not sent out on patrol alone
Michael said: “I know that the individual men and women serving in our police force across Barnsley do a magnificent job working to keep local people safe. They put themselves and their safety on the line every single day. We owe it to them to ensure that they get our every support.
“The Government must take urgent action to tackle the appalling and growing number of assaults on our police. We need tougher sentences for anyone who attacks a police officer so violent thugs realise they face a spell behind bars rather than just a suspended sentence or a fine.
“The Government must also stop cutting police budgets so officers are not left vulnerable or lacking proper support when going about their duties.”
As reported by the Barnsley News & Sport on January 9th 2017. Michael is calling on ministers to introduce new measures to combat the soaring number of attacks on police...
On New Year's Eve we sing: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot?" Rather like the character in in the film 'When Harry Met Sally', I've never understood why we sing it. I certainly don't believe it.
Many of us have lost loved ones in the past year – friends and relatives. New Year's Eve is often when we think of them. I thought about my grandmother, who died before Christmas of dementia.
2016 was also year that saw the passing of so many of the 'great and the good' - pop stars, actors, and TV personalities.
For me, I'll always remember that 2016 was the year that Jo Cox was murdered. She had only been an MP for a year, but she made such a difference.
I first met this fiercely brave Yorkshire woman 20 years ago. And this Christmas I thought in particular about her husband - my old mate Brendan - and their young children.
It's hard to see what good could possibly come out of the horrific circumstances surrounding her death.
But before she died, Jo was working with MPs from all parties on tackling loneliness in our society. Her Commission on Loneliness will launch at the end of this month and will look at finding solutions to a problem that affects so many people in our society.
According to Age UK, 82,500 people aged over 60 in Yorkshire and the Humber were on their own over the festive season. Across the country, around 1.2 million people are said to be “chronically lonely” or had been coping with loneliness for years.
We should all be doing more to visit neighbours, relatives and friends that might benefit from a bit of company.
2016 was the year when we said a sad farewell to Jo Cox, but let's make 2017 a year when she will not be forgotten - and where we honour her memory by continuing the work she began.
On New Year's Eve we sing: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot?" Rather like the character in in the film 'When Harry Met Sally', I've never understood why we sing it. I...
This column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on Friday 30 December 2016.
Whatever else 2016 is remembered for, this will be the year when a new word really entered the English language: Brexit.
A couple of weeks ago I voted in the House of Commons for Brexit and for the Government to invoke so-called Article 50 – the process by which we get the ball rolling on Britain leaving the EU – at the end of March next year.
In the referendum I campaigned to Remain. I did so knowing most people in Barnsley would vote to Leave, which you may think is a little counter-intuitive for a politician.
But politicians should also do what they think is right and stand up for what they believe in – not simply go with the tide.
I was worried what might happen to the economy if we came out (with forecasts for growth being revised downwards and government borrowing set to be billions higher, I still am). When the economy goes belly up, places like Barnsley tend to struggle the most.
I also never believed the claim from some Tories and UKIP (who want to privatise the NHS) that Brexit would deliver billions more for our cash-strapped National Health Service.
Most importantly I did understand and shared many of the concerns that people had about the EU, especially the scale and pace of ‘free movement of people’ that can put pressure on communities and have a downward impact on pay and conditions. I’ve argued for donkey’s years that Labour needed to champion tough new controls on immigration, despite its undoubted benefits in some areas.
But in the end I voted for Brexit because we must now respect the will of the people.
Yes, the Government needs a proper plan. Brexit can’t mean Britain going backwards on jobs and workers’ rights.
But I think it’s our job to get on with it – uncertainty itself is bad for the economy. And it’s our job to get the best deal for Britain and for Barnsley. That’s exactly what I intend to do in 2017.
This column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on Friday 30 December 2016. Whatever else 2016 is remembered for, this will be the year when a new word really entered the...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle on 30th December 2016 and Barnsley News & Sport on 4th January 2017.
Michael has condemned Government cuts to police budgets after new figures showed crime has soared in his Barnsley East constituency.
According to the latest figures, the number of crimes in Barnsley East rose from 829 in September 2015 to 926 in September 2016 – a rise of 11.7%.
Anti-social behaviour offences accounted for around half the reported crimes.
Worst hit was the Rockingham area where residents suffered an increase of 48.6% from 72 crimes in September 2015 to 107 crimes a year later.
The levels of crime also increased over the same 12-month period in Cudworth, Darfield and Stairfoot.
But crime dropped in Wombwell, Hoyland Milton and Worsborough, according to the UKCrimeStats think-tank.
Figures were not available for the North East Ward in Barnsley East.
Residents in the Hoyland area have also seen a recent surge in car crime, according to reports to police.
Michael said he planned to discuss the latest crime figures with South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings.
Commenting, Michael said:
“I've warned in recent years that Government cuts on the police service on the scale that we've seen meant that our communities could see a boom in crime.
“Our local police officers in Barnsley do a magnificent job protecting the public and they deserve all of our support and gratitude. But out of touch Ministers are letting them down by simply not giving them the resources they need to do the job when they are under increasing pressure.
“It's clear these Government cuts are now taking their toll and it is Barnsley residents and businesses who are are paying the price through higher crime levels.
“I will continue to press the Home Office over the impact of their cuts and I will discuss the latest figures with South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings who is trying his best to protect frontline community policing, despite the lack of proper funding from central government".
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle on 30th December 2016 and Barnsley News & Sport on 4th January 2017. Michael has condemned Government cuts to police budgets after new figures...
Michael recently took ‘Brassed Off’ actor Stephen Tompkinson to Grimethorpe to mark 20 years since the release of the film. After watching a rehearsal by the world-class Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Michael accompanied Stephen and band members at the local Working Men’s Club.
They met with local resident and the band’s librarian Kim Ward, whose grandfather and father worked at Grimethorpe Colliery, to visit
notable places in the village to see how it has changed over the last two decades. Michael also took Stephen to visit Experience Barnsley and the exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Oaks mining disaster
Commenting, Michael said:
‘Villages like Grimethorpe were decimated by the Thatcher and Major governments in the 1980s and 1990s. You come here today and you can still see the wounds that were inflicted, with people still mourning the loss of the well-paid and stable working-class jobs that gave them a strong sense of pride and community.
‘Grimethorpe was the most deprived village in the UK and among the poorest in Europe following the closure of its pit in 1993 – which employed 6,000 men. Though it is great to see jobs returning to the village, the ones that have returned aren’t as secure, well-paid or as skilled as the ones that were lost.
‘It is great to see that Grimethorpe Colliery Band is carrying on the proud legacy of a hundred years’ hard work, serving as a reminder of the village’s rich heritage in coalmining’.
You can read the full feature article in the Daily Mirror by clicking here, and see a short video of the band rehearsal below:
Michael recently took ‘Brassed Off’ actor Stephen Tompkinson to Grimethorpe to mark 20 years since the release of the film. After watching a rehearsal by the world-class Grimethorpe Colliery Band,...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle on 23rd December 2016.
Michael has urged ministers to combat loneliness after new figures revealed thousands of people across Yorkshire and the Humber feel lonelier at Christmas.
According to new research from Age UK, a total of 82,500 people aged over 60 in Yorkshire and the Humber will be on their own over the festive season.
The charity said an overwhelming 86 per cent of the people it had surveyed in the region believed there should be more help available for lonely people who are single, separated or widowed.
And, seven out of ten (70 per cent) of those quizzed thought regular visits from a friend or relative would be helpful, while almost half (46 per cent) said a phone call would also ease their solitude.
Across the country, Age UK said around 1.2 million people were “chronically lonely” or had been coping with loneliness for years.
Michael said the Government needed to do far more to help deal with loneliness which can contribute to a range of health issues.
He is supporting the work of a new Loneliness Commission set up in memory of murdered Yorkshire MP Jo Cox which is developing ways to deal with the problem.
Commenting, Michael said:
“With Christmas around the corner, loneliness can have a terrible impact on people in Barnsley and across the region.
“It is a problem that affects thousands of older people, but is also something that can blight the lives of many younger people too.
“Loneliness can be enormously damaging to people’s physical and mental health and lead to conditions like depression.
“We know that lonely older people are more likely to need long-term care and tend to visit their GP more often.
“The Government should be doing far more to work with charities like Age UK to help those who are most at risk.
“But we can also do more by visiting someone who we know would enjoy some company or a chat over Christmas.”
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle on 23rd December 2016. Michael has urged ministers to combat loneliness after new figures revealed thousands of people across Yorkshire and the Humber feel...
Michael has called on the Government to double the number new homes reserved for the homeless.
His intervention comes after latest figures show the number of people sleeping rough in Barnsley has trebled.
The number of people sleeping on the streets of Barnsley and across the rest of the country has more than doubled since 2010, according to official Government figures. Rough sleeping in England has rocketed from around 1,768 people in 2010 to 3,569 in 2015 – up 30% in the last year alone.
Michael is demanding action from the Government and is backing a Labour plan to end the “national shame” of rough sleeping on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities.
Under proposals unveiled by Labour, the party would set aside 4,000 flats or houses for the homeless, if Labour were to win the next general election.
Labour would work with housing associations to double the size of an existing scheme that provides flats for the homeless in London and extend it to include parts of the country like Yorkshire.
It would build on the The Clearing House scheme run by homelessness charity St Mungo’s on behalf of the Greater London Authority which provides 3,750 flats in more than 40 housing associations across London for people who have a history of rough sleeping.
Michael said Labour would aim to end rough sleeping within its first term in government by removing the need for anyone to sleep on the streets.
He challenged the government to reach an agreement with housing associations to make the extra accommodation for the homeless available now.
Michael went on: “Whilst the number of people sleeping rough in Barnsley is still thankfully relatively low, the figures show an alarming rise.
“Homelessness is a problem that can be solved. The previous Labour government achieved considerable success on homelessness. But it needs a determined approach from the current government to make sure that happens.
“The rising number of people sleeping rough is unacceptable and Ministers should be doing far more to ease the crisis.
“A future Labour government would put a stop to this national shame and provide homeless people with a place to call home so they can start rebuilding their lives.’
As reported by Barnsley News & Sport on 21st December and Barnsley Chronicle on 30th December Michael has called on the Government to double the number new homes reserved for...
A shake-up in school funding will see previously ‘underfunded’ schools in Barnsley receive more cash, according to education secretary Justine Greening.
But Michael says he will believe the extra funding for education when he sees it, following the admission from the government that the borough has been short-changed for years, compared to some other areas.
According to the Department for Education, schools in Barnsley look set to gain, while the funding per pupil will be cut in areas like Manchester and Liverpool under current plans.
Plans outlined by Ms Greening show more than 9,000 schools in England will lose funding as cash is switched from major urban areas to schools that have received less cash.
Details of which areas will win and lose under the plan to end the “postcode lottery” of school funding were revealed in the Department for Education’s second consultation on its national funding formula. The document said: “We need to ensure the system for distributing this funding is fair. Similar schools and local areas receive unjustifiably different levels of funding right across the country.”
Teaching unions warned that even the so-called winners were likely to see their gains outweighed by cuts in real terms of up to eight per cent to their funding over the next three years.
As reported by The Star, Sheffield on 19th December 2016, the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News & Sport on 21st December A shake-up in school funding will see previously ‘underfunded’...
On Sunday 11th December, the day before the 150th anniversary of the disaster, Michael joined Cllr Brian Mathers, Cllr Wayne Johnson, Cllr John Clarke, Dan Jarvis MP and Cllr Linda Burgess, Mayor of Barnsley, and members of the local community to remember the 383 men and boys that were killed when explosions ripped through the Oaks Colliery near Stairfoot in 1866.
Last week, Michael visited the Experience Barnsley exhibition in the Town Hall.
The first explosion, thought to be caused by flammable gases, buried the miners in the workings, including young boys who were handling the pit ponies. A second explosion killed 27 of the rescuers who had volunteered to help the trapped and injured.
Barnsley Main Heritage Group came up with the idea of marking this disaster by planting 383 crosses on the site of the colliery, each bearing the name of someone who died. Michael was privileged to take part and planted a cross for Samuel Thorpe Neal, age 12.
160 bodies of the men and boys killed were never recovered and during the commemoration event, a short service was led by Reverend Dewey in memory of those who remain buried in the works.
Commenting Michael said – “I am so grateful to Cllr Brian Matthers and others from the Barnsley Main Heritage Group for devising such a fitting tribute. It was very moving to be there with family and meet local people to lay a cross inscribed with the name of a relative that died on that terrible day 150 years ago.
I am looking forward to the unveiling next year of the statue to commemorate the disaster, which has been designed by Barnsley sculptor Graham Ibbeson. It has been funded by the Oaks 150th Anniversary Disaster Memorial Fund Campaign, of which I am a patron. This will be a fitting and permanent memorial to the huge sacrifices that were made by our people in that industry”.
See Michael’s column for the Barnsley Chronicle here
On Sunday 11th December, the day before the 150th anniversary of the disaster, Michael joined Cllr Brian Mathers, Cllr Wayne Johnson, Cllr John Clarke, Dan Jarvis MP and...
On the 13th of December, Michael supported the brilliant campaign by Labour’s Carolyn Harris MP to provide financial support for bereaved parents.
Approximately 5000 infants and children pass away each year in the UK, and the subsequent funeral costs often place a huge financial and emotional strain on already suffering parents.
Whilst a small number of authorities waive some or all of the fee required for children’s funerals, the estimated cost a year of children’s funerals in the UK is £10m, with some families forced to fundraise in order to raise the money.
The motion put forward calls for the Government to establish a specific fund to cover these costs and help parents, and Michael is proud to back it.
See the Early Day Motion here:
On the 13th of December, Michael supported the brilliant campaign by Labour’s Carolyn Harris MP to provide financial support for bereaved parents. Approximately 5000 infants and children pass away...
Today is National Postal Workers Day and one of the busiest posting days of the year.
In Barnsley, we have already seen the closure of Wombwell Post Office earlier this year, with a counter replacing it inside the Heron Foods shop on the High Street. In April, the Post Office announced plans to move 60 branches across the country into WH smith stores, forcing 2,000 job losses.
Last week, after having campaigned long and hard to stand up for post offices and their workers, Michael signed a Commons motion demanding that the Government develops a “strategy to safeguard the future of the Post Office as a matter of Urgency”.
Commenting, Michael said “The Post Office now at crisis point and Government action is required. We have seen the effect this has had in my own constituency and that’s why I am backing National Postal Workers Day today.”
"I'd like to pay tribute in particular to the CWU for all the campaigning they do all year round on behalf of their members and thus vital public service".
“This vital service requires the hard work of all of our postal workers up and down the country. They need our support to continue, especially at this time of the year leading up to Christmas.”
Today is National Postal Workers Day and one of the busiest posting days of the year. In Barnsley, we have already seen the closure of Wombwell Post Office earlier this...
Michael is calling on the government to reverse a rule change that makes it harder for former miners and their relatives to claim compensation for potential fatal lunge disease.
He is helping spearhead a campaign for an urgent rethink from ministers amid fears that ex-miners and their families could be "cheated" out of a vital cash lifeline. Thousands of miners contracted pneumoconiosis - also known as miner's lung or black lung after breathing in coal dust at work.
Under the 1974 Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis Scheme, ex-miners, as well as their widows or family members, are able to claim for compensation for their illnesses.
But Michael has warned that a change in the rules for making compensation claims could affect thousands of families of ex-miners in Barnsley.
The Department for Work and Pensions, which administers the scheme, has rules that the relatives of deceased miners will be forced to include a grant of probate with any compensation claim.
The change will make claiming compensation harder because families are likely to have to pay for solicitor or legal advice to get the grant of probate, a legal document which proves they have the right to deal with the deceased miner's assets and administer their estate.
Michael has thrown his support behind a House of Commons motion calling for a U-turn on the changes amid fears that it is a move to cut the cash paid out under compensation scheme.
Michael said, "These changes look like a cynical attempt to cut the amount of compensation paid out under the scheme by making it harder to make a claim. It is despicable attack on those who are suffering the impact of a terminal lllness. The decision to change the rules should be reversed immediately."
As reported by Barnsley News & Sport on 6th December and Barnsley Chronicle on 9th December. Michael is calling on the government to reverse a rule change that makes...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle on 9th December.
A crackdown on ticket touts to stop fans being force to pay 'rip off' prices for major sporting and music events has the backing of a Michael.
Michael is demanding action to get fans a fairer deal and throwing his support behind Labour Party proposals that would see touts using automated software to bulk-buy thousands of tickets for resale at huge profits facing prison sentences.
He hopes Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson's plan to introduce criminal penalties for the worst offenders will stop sports and music fans paying extortionate prices on the secondary ticket market as a result of touts using specialist computer soft-ware called 'bots'.
Michael said: "As a keen music ands ports fan, I know people in Barnsley will be very disappointed about the government's failure to deal with ticket touting. Fans should not be forced to pay rip-off prices to see their favourite events just because touts can see the chance to make a fast buck. It is a scandal that outs are using ticket-harvesting bots to buy up thousands of tickets and then sell them on at hugely inflated prices.
"It's time we got a fair deal for fans and took action to deal with this problem once and for all."
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle on 9th December. A crackdown on ticket touts to stop fans being force to pay 'rip off' prices for major sporting and music events...
The following piece appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 9th December 2016.
150 years ago, at 1.15pm on 12 December 1866, a huge explosion was heard for miles around in Barnsley. As a powerful new exhibition at Experience Barnsley records, word spread quickly: "The Oaks has fired".
The catastrophe at the Oaks Colliery near Stairfoot remains the worst disaster in the history of coal mining in England, killing 383 men and boys - including 27 volunteers who joined the rescue effort.
Our history is hugely important to us in Barnsley. As someone who grew up in a South Yorkshire pit village close to my Barnsley East constituency, I know that we must never forget where we came from.
That's why it is fitting that there are a series of events planned to remember those who lost their lives in the Oaks disaster.
I am honoured to be a patron of the Oaks 150th Anniversary Disaster Memorial Fund Campaign which has raised the money for a statue by local sculptor Graham Ibbeson to be erected at the site in the Spring.
With the funds raised locally and with the excellent backing of the NUM, the statue will be a permanent reminder of that terrible day.
On Sunday morning, I will be joining local people at a special service on the site of Barnsley Main, which took over the Oaks Colliery workings, to remember those who died.
A total of 383 crosses, with a name of a man or boy who perished etched on each one, will be placed at the commemoration in a fitting tribute devised by Barnsley’s deputy mayor, Cllr Brian Mathers.
The disaster at the Oaks shattered a community well accustomed to the difficult and dangerous work of miners. The bodies of some of the victims were never recovered.
The youngest boy to die was just 11.
The coal industry powered an industrial revolution in Britain and it made a few people very rich indeed. But it also came at an incredible cost to many of the communities and people who worked in it.
The following piece appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 9th December 2016. 150 years ago, at 1.15pm on 12 December 1866, a huge explosion was heard for miles around in Barnsley. As...
As reported by the Barnsley News & Sport on December 8th
Michael has signed a “green pledge” to defend the UK’s countryside and support UK action on climate change.
Michael's move comes amid warnings from campaigners that environmental protection rules could be weakened after Britain voted for Brexit because the rules were drawn up in Brussels and could be scrapped.
Dozens of the UK’s environmental rules, including aimed at securing cleaner beaches, lower levels of air pollution, and the protection of marine environments and rare species – from bitterns to butterflies – started life as European agreements.
The pledge signed by Michael calls on the Government to ensure strong environmental standards following the EU referendum vote. It has so far been signed by more than 140 MPs from all parties.
The pledge was initiated by a coalition of 13 national organisations which are campaigning to ensure that, when these EU rules are replaced, it is with new standards at least as strong as those set by the EU. This will ensure that the UK’s environment is healthy and our unique wildlife and countryside remain a national treasure.
Commenting, Michael said:
“I signed the pledge because I want the Government to make sure we protect the beautiful countryside throughout the UK, including around Barnsley, and that we continue to tackle important issues like climate change and air pollution.
“Everyone must now respect the Brexit vote, but following the EU referendum it’s vital for us to reassert the importance of a clean, green and healthy environment – whether that is in Barnsley, across the UK or overseas. Britain can and should be a world leader in dealing with environmental issues.”
Ben Stafford, Head of Public Affairs at WWF-UK, said:
“By signing the Pledge for the Environment, Michael has shown that he understands that a healthy environment is critical to a successful future for our country.”
As reported by the Barnsley News & Sport on December 8th Michael has signed a “green pledge” to defend the UK’s countryside and support UK action on climate change....
The move comes as fears grow that post offices across Yorkshire could be forced to shut due to falling incomes. Barnsley had already seen the closure of Wombwell Post Office earlier this year, although a post office counter has opened inside the Heron Foods shop on the High Street. In April, the Post Office announced plans to move around 60 branches across the country into WH Smith stores and shed up to 2,000 jobs.
Michael warned that the Post Office was now at a “crisis point” and called for Government action. He has signed a Commons motion that demands that the Government develops a “strategy to safeguard the future of the Post Office as a matter of urgency”.
Michael’s intervention came as managers at Crown Post Offices voted for further strike action on Saturday (December 3) in their continuing dispute over job losses, branch closures and pension changes.
Unions have said the action at Crown Post Offices, which are the larger branches that are usually located in High Streets, could disrupt Christmas mail.
Commenting, Michael said: “Whilst there is no immediate closure threat to our local post offices in Barnsley, the post office network is at crisis point over its future.
“We have already seen many local bank branches close down and I fear some post offices face a similar fate, unless the Government takes urgent action to safeguard them.
“Ministers must come up with a robust strategy to help get post offices on a sound financial footing and help them grow their income if this cherished part of our community is to survive.
“The Government should look at establishing a Post Office Bank to develop the financial services post offices already offer. That could help fill the gap left by the closure of so many bank branches.”
As reported on 1st December by The Sheffield Star and 30th November on Barnsley News & Sport The move comes as fears grow that post offices across Yorkshire could be forced...
Michael visited local schools that participated in his annual Christmas card competition this week to award prizes to winners and runners up. As part of this annual competition, Michael invites pupils from local primary schools across Barnsley East to submit designs, the winning one of which is used to send to nearly 3,000 people in Barnsley, the UK and across the world.
A panel of judges, which includes the Mayor of Barnsley and local sponsors, poured over hundreds of entries from ten schools this year and selected the winning entry that features on the front of the card, plus winners from each school that are included on the inside of the card. Each school is presented with book vouchers for taking part and the winners and runners up are given certificates and individual prizes.
The winning design which will feature on the front of Michael's Christmas card was from Birkwood Primary School. The winner is pictured here with Michael, together with the runners up from that school. You can also view a video of the presentation at Birkwood here.
The other school winners and runners up from other schools were:
Hoyland Common Primary School – Judd Osborne, 9 (winner), Isabelle Law, 6, and Betsy Watts, 6 (runners up)
West Meadows Primary School, video here – Declan Merrick, 8 (winner), Charlotte Jones, 6, and Aimee Hughes, 10 (runners up)
Kings Oak Primary Learning Centre – Alaska Pancott, 10 (winner), Trinity Green, 8, and Liberty-Angel McGrevy, 9 (runners up)
St Michael and All Angels Catholic Primary School – Olivia Brakes, 11 (winner), Cheyanne Boak, 10, and Ashna Shibu, 10 (runners up)
Churchfield Primary School – Millie Parkin, 9 (winner), Libby Jukes, 9, and Ella Lyman, 10 (runners up)
Hoyland Springwood Primary School – Ellie Hobson, 9 (winner), Kelsey Hastie, 11, and Natasha Goulding, 8 (runners up)
There was also a school winner and two runners up from St Helen’s Catholic Primary School. They are pictured above too.
Michael visited local schools that participated in his annual Christmas card competition this week to award prizes to winners and runners up. As part of this annual competition, Michael invites...
Michael has praised the work of volunteers from Barnsley Foodbank Partnership and Fairshare at a collection at the Tesco store in Stairfoot. Michael met with the store manager Peter Fay on Thursday, along with volunteers who were collecting for Barnsley’s food banks.
Last year, Tesco collected around 38 million meals for food banks nationally, with around 12,500 of those collected in Barnsley in the run up to Christmas. In particular, the local food banks are running short on tinned fruit, tea bags, dried paste, UHT milk and breakfast cereals.
Commenting, Michael said:
“I want to thank the hard work of the volunteers from the Barnsley Foodbank Partnership and Fairshare for giving up their time to take action on food poverty in Barnsley. I also want to thank Tesco, who do a brilliant job within the community and are always on hand to help out good causes such as this.
“The fact that we are one of the richest countries on earth, yet there are so many people depending on the generosity of others to put food on the table is a national shame. Over 90% of the food distributed by food banks comes from members of the general public and it is heart-warming to see the generosity of shoppers here in Barnsley”.
To find out more about the work of Barnsley Foodbank, visit their website here.
Michael has praised the work of volunteers from Barnsley Foodbank Partnership and Fairshare at a collection at the Tesco store in Stairfoot. Michael met with the store manager Peter Fay...
Michael paid tribute in a Westminster Hall debate to charities such as Be Child Cancer Aware and CLIC Sargent, and the incredible work they do providing support for children and young people diagnosed with cancer.
By raising awareness of the struggles faced by children and families, encouraging the early diagnosis of cancer, and providing invaluable support to those diagnosed, charities such as these fight tirelessly for children and young people with cancer. In doing so, they provide a crucial support network and make an invaluable difference.
However, there is still a lack of awareness surrounding the dangers of cancers with young people and children. Cancer is the most common form of death from illness in those aged 1-15, and although 0.5% of cancers affect children, the impacts are often devastating.
Michael emphasised that more must be done to tackle these figures, and both child cancer research and increasing the awareness of the threats faced are paramount to this fight. Charities such as CLIC Sargent and Be Child Cancer Aware are integral to this, and deserve recognition for the impact they have on children in difficult times.
Find out more about the work these charities do here:
Be Child Cancer Aware: http://www.bechildcanceraware.org/
CLIC Sargent: http://www.clicsargent.org.uk/
And see my intervention here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/eac0e840-b934-48c7-87d3-41432f643ae5 from 16:41:29
Michael paid tribute in a Westminster Hall debate to charities such as Be Child Cancer Aware and CLIC Sargent, and the incredible work they do providing support for children and...
Michael has backed Labour’s demand that the Government give the NHS the funding it desperately needs.
The NHS is operating with a deficit of £2.45bn – the worst on record and around 3.9 million people in England are on waiting lists to start treatment. Some 1.8 million people waited four or more hours in A&E last year - up over 400 per cent since 2010 and one in four patients have to wait a week or more to see or speak to a GP or nurse, or do not get an appointment at all
In addition, proposed cuts to community pharmacies will result in added pressure on A&E units and GPs and Michael has been at the forefront of the campaign to stop these cuts.
This weekend, Labour supporters in Barnsley have been out campaigning on the issue, including on Saturday morning in Hoyland market.
Commenting, Michael said:
“Our overstretched NHS is underfunded and understaffed. In Barnsley hard working NHS staff do a fantastic job, under immense pressure, as they struggle to keep up with demand for their help. But the Government seems to be ignoring the NHS and has done nothing to address the problems in social care. As we face another looming winter crisis in A&E, Labour’s campaign aims to care for the NHS give it the support it needs”.
Find out more about Labour’s Campaign Day here: (http://www.labour.org.uk/nhs)
Michael has backed Labour’s demand that the Government give the NHS the funding it desperately needs. The NHS is operating with a deficit of £2.45bn – the worst on record...
Michael is urging members of the public in Barnsley to support the charity Cash for Kids’ flagship campaign ‘Mission Christmas’, which makes sure that vulnerable and disadvantaged children across the region receive presents at Christmas. Recent figures by End Child Poverty revealed that 14,150 children are living in poverty in Barnsley, which amounts to 27.84%.
Last year, the campaign raised over £1.1 million and gave 21,438 children across South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and Chesterfield gifts at Christmas. Around 2,075 of these were from Barnsley. Social services, NHS, community groups, organisations, food banks and local charities are eligible to apply for gifts for children under their care and support.
Michael, who is patron of the charity, visited the operation HQ in Sheffield on Thursday (24 Nov) to meet the volunteers co-ordinating efforts to distribute donations from across the region to those that would otherwise be left without over the festive period.
This follows a plea from the charity for local businesses and residents in Barnsley to support the campaign by donating gifts or offering their business premises as a ‘drop-off point’. Allan Ogle, the charity manager, is also asking local support agencies and families in need of support to apply to the scheme.
Commenting, Michael said:
“It was fantastic to meet the charity manager Allan Ogle and his team to see the hard work they do making sure that vulnerable children in Barnsley and in our region are not left without at Christmas. If residents just buy one extra gift, it will mean all the difference to a child from a struggling family or in the care system.
“The charity does great work, but a slow uptake in Barnsley means that many children in our town could be facing a bleak Christmas. I would urge all local residents and businesses to support the charity and those needing support to get in touch with them.”
You can see more about the Mission Christmas campaign and the Cash for Kids charity by clicking here.
Michael is urging members of the public in Barnsley to support the charity Cash for Kids’ flagship campaign ‘Mission Christmas’, which makes sure that vulnerable and disadvantaged children across the...
Michael joined the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Brian Mathers, on Thursday to recognise the efforts, achievements and hard work of volunteers across Hoyland and Rockingham. At the inaugural ‘Stars of Hoyland’ awards, which took place at Barnsley Town Hall, Michael presented awards to residents that have dedicated their time to fundraising for charity, volunteering or making a special contribution to the community.
The winners were:
Young Volunteer – Kasey Parkin, Morgan Parkin and Jason Penton (Hoyland Milton) and Erin Marrison (Rockingham)
Environmental Achievement Award – Mark Arnold (Hoyland Milton) and Little Acorns (Rockingham)
Community Business and Contribution Award – Tesco
Outstanding Contribution to Sport and Recreation – Daz Wilkie
Outstanding Contribution to Art and Culture – Dan Smart
Good Neighbour – Andy Hodgkinson (Hoyland Milton) and Margaret Haigh (Rockingham)
Volunteer of the Year – Pat and Richard Sullivan (Hoyland Milton) and Janet Payling (Rockingham)
Community Group – Friends of Elsecar Park (Hoyland Milton) and West Bank House (Rockingham)
Commenting, Michael said:
“It was a great privilege to join with the Deputy Mayor and local councillors to celebrate the achievements of volunteers in such a wonderful community. All of the winners and nominees make a special contribution to their community and make it a better place to live.
“I would also like to thank the Deputy Mayor Brian Mathers for supporting the event and for local councillors, Jim Andrews, Tim Shepherd, Mick Stowe, Chris Lamb, Emma Dures and Robin Franklin for the hard work they do in the community and for making the event possible.”
Michael joined the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Brian Mathers, on Thursday to recognise the efforts, achievements and hard work of volunteers across Hoyland and Rockingham. At the inaugural ‘Stars of Hoyland’...
As reported in the Sheffield Star on 15th December
On the 22nd November Michael attended a RNIB's (Royal National Institute of Blind People) Parliamentary reception and backed their call to reduce the increasing number of cancelled and delayed appointments at hospital eye departments.
Appointments are being increasingly cancelled or postponed as a result of rising demand for eye care services. This is especially the case for patients with chronic eye conditions like wet age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. These conditions require long-term monitoring and treatment. If appointments are delayed or cancelled patients can be at risk of irreversible sight loss. According to the RNIB, last year in Barnsley 5292 appointments were missed with a further 484 cancelled by hospitals.
No one should lose their sight because of cancelled or delayed appointments. Find out more about the RNIB's campaign here: www.rnib.org.uk
As reported in the Sheffield Star on 15th December On the 22nd November Michael attended a RNIB's (Royal National Institute of Blind People) Parliamentary reception and backed...
As reported by the Sheffield Star
24 November 2016
Michael is calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act as new figures from mental health charity Mind reveal that just 33 per cent of trainee GPs in Barnsley East had a training placement that gave them mental health experience in 2015.
These figures are well below the national average of 46 per cent of trainee GPs who gained mental health experience on a placement last year. The figures come at a time when spending on mental health care in Barnsley is already well below the national average.
Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group has increased the amount it is spending on mental health this year by just 0.19 per cent, to £33m. This represents 8.09 per cent of Barnsley CCG’s total £408 million budget for this financial year – below the average 9.79 per cent spent on mental health by other CCGs.
Michael warned that children and young people in Barnsley were also being let down when it comes to the mental health services, with spending on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services decreasing this year, despite a growing demand for help.
With a third of all GP appointments connected to mental health issues, Michael said it was vital that more was spent on mental health and that all GPs and practice nurses had improved training to help them support patients.
Michael said: “Barnsley is already spending significantly less on mental health than other parts of the country which means we are failing some of the most vulnerable people in society."
“People are having to wait far too long to get access in Barnsley to the mental health services they need. That has to change.
“Our doctors and nurses do a fantastic job under immense pressure that has made their work far harder because of Government cutbacks to the NHS and pharmacies budgets. Improved training would give them the confidence to deal with people seeking support.”
Michael demands Improved Training for GPs and Nurses, to help local people with Mental Health Illnesses
As reported by the Sheffield Star 24 November 2016 Michael is calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act as new figures from mental health charity Mind reveal that just...
Michael has condemned the Chancellor’s financial blueprint for failing families in Barnsley.
He attacked the Government’s chaotic handling of the economy after Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed soaring borrowing, slower growth and higher prices in his Autumn Statement.
The Government will borrow an extra £122bn by 2020. The total amount of Government debt is predicted to rise by £210bn to almost £2 trillion by 2020.
Slowing economic growth is expected to increase unemployment across the country from 4.8% to 5.5% by the end of 2018, while inflation is expected to be up next year to 2.3 per cent – a big leap from the previous forecast of 1.6 per cent.
Michael warned poorer households in Barnsley would be hit hardest by the Chancellor’s plans, while 85 per cent of the income tax cuts still to come in this parliament will go to the richest half of households.
In real terms, average weekly earnings will be £15.20 a week lower at the start of 2021 than forecast in the Budget in March.
Michael said the Autumn Statement would do nothing for the “Just About Managing” households that PM Theresa May claimed she wanted to help.
He also criticised the Chancellor’s partial reversal in planned cuts to universal credit, allowed those affected to keep an extra 2p for every pound they earn as “a tiny token gesture”.
The Chancellor reduced the so-called taper rate at which universal credit is withdrawn as recipients’ earnings rise from 65p to 63p in every pound. But Mr Hammond rejected Labour calls to reverse £3bn of benefit cuts.
Before the Autumn Statement, Labour set the Government three vital tests:
1. We need a credible fiscal framework that ends austerity and supports investment
2. We need actual support for those in work on low and middle incomes
3. We need secure and properly funded public services.
Commenting, Michael said:
“The Autumn Statement shows yet again that the Government is failing - and it's people in Barnsley struggling to get by who'll pay the price.
“Theresa May claimed she wanted to help those people who were 'just about managing', but even the Government's own figures show that less well-off working households with families are hit the hardest.
“The Chancellor seems to be ignoring the NHS and has done nothing to address the crisis in social care.
“The Government have admitted borrowing will shoot up, growth will slow, prices will rise and working people will suffer a drop in earnings.
“After six wasted years, this failing Tory Government has yet to come up with a convincing economic strategy to boost living standards, invest in the future and protect our public services.”
Michael says Autumn Statement shows Government is failing - and it's working families in Barnsley who will pay the price
Michael has condemned the Chancellor’s financial blueprint for failing families in Barnsley. He attacked the Government’s chaotic handling of the economy after Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed soaring borrowing, slower growth...
Michael joined members of the Wombwell & District Operatic Society, of which he is patron, and local residents at a charity Christmas coffee morning on Saturday to help raise much needed funds for maintenance and shows.
The fundraiser took place at their HQ on George Street in Wombwell, where volunteers had come together to put on raffles and festive stalls for members of the public to support their local Operatic Society.
Commenting, Michael said:
“The Wombwell & District Operatic Society has been going for over 80 years and this is only down to the hard work of volunteers, whether they are part of the performing team, sewing team or painters. But it is also important to make sure that as members of the community we do our bit to support them too.
"The Wombwell & District Operatic Society puts on performances all year round, and it is important that we show our support and go to some of their fantastic performances. It was great to see so many people coming together to support them”.
You can find out more about their performances by visiting their website: www.wombwelloperatics.com
Michael joined members of the Wombwell & District Operatic Society, of which he is patron, and local residents at a charity Christmas coffee morning on Saturday to help raise much...
Following last night’s Proud of Barnsley Awards ceremony, Michael has congratulated those picking up awards for exceptional achievements, charity work and volunteering in the community. The event which is organised by the Barnsley Chronicle every year and sponsored by businesses from across Barnsley.
This years winners were:
Young Superstar: Charley Dyson
School of the Year: Hoyland Common Primary
Children's Champion: Bill Winstanley, Royston Dynamos
Sporting Achievement: Horizon U15 Girls' Cricket Team
Love Where You Love: Dodworth Village Community Group
Start-up of the Year: Pura Cosmetics
Exceptional Achievement: Less Binns
The Best of Barnsley Award: Barry Hines
Volunteer of the Year: Terry Haynes
Carer of the Year: Sybil Davey
Charity fundraising team: West Stand Bogs
Community Hero: Ged Brearley
Hospital Hero: Ward 14
Community Group: Friends of Wombwell Cemetery
Charity Fundraiser of the Year: Jonathan Booth
Triumph Over Adversity: Claire Throssell
Surprise Award: Shaun Dooley
Michael had previously nominated Friends of Wombwell Cemetery, who scooped the Community Group award, and Tala Lee Turton for her achievements in ballet and Major John Lomas for his hard work and dedication with the Army Cadet Force.
Commenting, Michael said:
“The Proud of Barnsley Awards have been running for a few years now and each year that goes by more and more extremely talented, dedicated and inspiring people keep coming forward. I want to congratulate the winners and all those that were nominated. It is important that we celebrate and recognise the contribution to our community and our town.
“Having judged the awards in previous years, I know that all those shortlisted are of extremely high calibre and they should also be congratulated for the work that they do volunteering in the community, championing causes that help others or working hard to achieve remarkable things. These people keep on proving time and again that we have every reason to be proud of Barnsley”.
Following last night’s Proud of Barnsley Awards ceremony, Michael has congratulated those picking up awards for exceptional achievements, charity work and volunteering in the community. The event which is organised...
Michael has given his support to a campaign by the shopworkers' union USDAW in a bid to raise awareness of the verbal and physical abuse targeted at shopworkers everyday.
The campaign follows research that revealed that every minute of the working day, another shopworker is verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked.
Commenting, Michael said:
"The shocking research by USDAW shows that abuse is a real problem in particular for shopworkers. Every person should have the right to go to work free from the fear of verbal or physical assault. I'm proud to support their campaign.
"USDAW is a great campaigning union. I would like to pay tribute in particular to my good friend Cllr Pauline Markham, who does an excellent job on behalf of the union promoting their campaigns and making sure their members have a strong voice here in Barnsley.
For more information about USDAW and this important campaign, please visit their website by clicking here.
Michael has given his support to a campaign by the shopworkers' union USDAW in a bid to raise awareness of the verbal and physical abuse targeted at shopworkers everyday. The...
This week Michael spent two nights visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories, as part of a delegation led by Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson. Michael met with Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem to look at coexistence projects bring both communities together, as well as meeting Members of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) from Labour's sister party. He also visited Yad Vashem, the memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and attended a special wreath-laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance.
Michael has written a blog about his recent visit for Politics Home here.
This week Michael spent two nights visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories, as part of a delegation led by Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson. Michael met with Israelis and...
15 November 2016
Michael is demanding improved training for GPs and nurses to help local people with mental health illnesses.
He is calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act as new figures from mental health charity Mind reveal just one in three (32 per cent) trainee GPs in Barnsley East had a training placement that gave them mental health experience in 2015.
The alarming figures for Barnsley East are well below the national average of 46 per cent of trainee GPs who gained mental health experience on a placement last year.
The figures come at a time when spending on mental health care in Barnsley is already well below the national average.
Furthermore, the amount spent on young people and children with mental health issues has fallen.
Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has increased the amount it is spending on mental health this year (2016/17) by just 0.19% to £33 million.
The £33 million represents 8.09% of Barnsley CCG’s total £408 million budget for this financial year – well below the average 9.79% spent on mental health by other CCGs.
Michael warned that children and young people in Barnsley were also being let down when it comes to the mental health services.
The spending on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Barnsley is £3.6 million in this financial year – a drop from the £3.7 million spent in the last two years despite the growing demand for help.
With a third of all GP appointments connected to mental health issues, campaigning MP Mr Dugher said it was vital that more was spent on mental health and that all GPs and practice nurses had improved training to help them support patients.
Commenting, Michael said:
“Barnsley is already spending significantly less on mental health than other parts of the country which means we are failing some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“People are having to wait far too long to get access in Barnsley to the mental health services they need. That has to change.
“Our doctors and nurses do a fantastic job under immense pressure that has made their work far harder because of Government cutbacks to the NHS and pharmacies budgets.
“Giving proper mental health training to GPs and practice nurses would help people in Barnsley get more help for mental health issues.
“Improved training would give them the confidence that they have the knowledge to deal with people coming to surgeries because they need advice and support over their mental health.
“The Government must do more to make sure all GPs and nurses get mental health training which will ease some of the pressures they face every day.”
According to Mind, practice nurses – as well as GPs – need more training because its figures showed more than four in five (82 per cent) practice nurses said they felt ill-equipped to deal with aspects of mental health. And, more than two in five (42 per cent) nurses said they had no mental health training at all.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind said he increased training would help patients with mental health problems.
Mr Farmer said: ““GPs and practice nurses have an incredibly difficult job to do, under enormous pressure and demands.
“A significant number of patients they come into contact with will have experienced mental health problems, yet many primary care staff tell us they haven’t had sufficient training to be able to deal with them.
“That’s why we’re urging the Government to ensure structured training is in place for trainee and qualified GPs and practice nurses.”
Michael said he was also concerned that – despite extra Government funding this year for mental health services – many areas appeared to be cutting back on spending.
Michael backed a House of Commons Early Day Motion in October that called on ministers to make sure extra money earmarked for mental health services reached the services and patients for which the funds were intended.
15 November 2016 As reported by Barnsley News and Sport Michael is demanding improved training for GPs and nurses to help local people with mental health illnesses. ...
Each year Michael supports a different local branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) and today he joined local councillors and residents in Wombwell to honour the Fallen.
Michael joined the Wombwell RBL branch president, Tony Dutton, who led the procession to St Mary's Church, where Michael and his family attended the annual remembrance service. Michael did the readings at the service before laying a wreath at the cenotaph.
As a member of the Hoyland Branch of the Legion, Michael then went to the Hoyland Centre to join local councillors and veterans at reception which followed another successful Remembrance Sunday there.
Commenting, Michael said:
“It was a privilege once again to stand with so many veterans to pay tribute to their service and to honour all those serving our country today and in the past. In particular it is a time when we rightly reflect and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for our freedoms.
"The turn-out from the public in Wombwell was fantastic, as it is throughout the Borough, and it was great to see so many young people from the cadet forces and local schools and the scouts, guides, cubs and brownies. My thanks goes to Tony Dutton in Wombwell who did a magnificent job, including stepping in at the last minute for our poorly vicar!
"A big thanks also to everyone in Hoyland, where everyone agreed it was the biggest crowd ever".
Each year Michael supports a different local branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) and today he joined local councillors and residents in Wombwell to honour the Fallen. Michael joined...
On Saturday evening, Michael and his family joined the Gujurat Association of Barnsley at the annual Diwali celebrations at the Rockingham Centre in Hoyland. Launching the event with the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor Linda Burgess, Michael performed the traditional coconut breaking ritual. Those attending were treated to an evening of traditional dance, music, food and fireworks.
Commenting, Michael said:
“The annual Diwali celebration is one of my favourite events of the year. Diwali is about the triumph of light over dark, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance, and is a great celebration of our diversity here in Barnsley. A big thank you once again to the Gujurat Association of Barnsley, led by Harshad Patel, who do a fantastic job every year".
On Saturday evening, Michael and his family joined the Gujurat Association of Barnsley at the annual Diwali celebrations at the Rockingham Centre in Hoyland. Launching the event with the Mayor...
9 November 2016
Michael has demanded urgent action to help the soaring number of people forced to rely on Barnsley’s food banks.
He also condemned the "shocking" and "shameful" ten per cent rise in the number of adults and children now using local food banks, blaming the Government's austerity policies.
His call comes after the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network , published new figures this week (November 8) revealing how many emergency food parcels it has delivered in Barnsley.
According to the charity’s mid-year figures, volunteers at its Barnsley food banks delivered 2,113 emergency food supplies to adults and children in Mr Dugher’s Barnsley East constituency between April and September 2016.
A total of 866 of the emergency aid parcels, which contain enough food for three days, went to children in the constituency.
The figure are a sharp ten per cent rise on the 1,914 people – comprised of 1,122 adults and 792 children - who received parcels over the same period last year.
Across the UK, the Trussell Trust’s network of 420 food banks distributed 519,342 food packages to people in crisis between April and September 2016 – compared to 506,369 over the same period last year.
Mr Dugher said Government’s austerity policies were to blame for the growing use of food banks, seen as a barometer of poverty, in Barnsley and across the country.
He backed the Trussell Trust’s call on the Government to set up special telephone hotlines between food banks and the Department for Work and Pensions to enable volunteers to help those using food banks solve their problems more quickly.
The Trussell Trust said problems with benefit payments, including administrative delays and benefit sanctions, were the biggest reason why individuals were referred to food banks.
Commenting, Mr Dugher said:
“It’s shocking that number of people in Barnsley who are forced to rely on food banks has continued to rise.
“I have visited several food banks in Barnsley and whilst the volunteers there do an amazing job, it is shameful that so many people, including children here in Barnsley, have been pushed into poverty because of the policies of this Tory Government.
“As one of the world’s richest economies in 2016, families should not be reliant on emergency food handouts just to survive.
"We can and must do better than this. Many of those who turn to food banks need the help because of delays with their benefit payments. That’s why I support the Trussell Trust’s idea of a new hotline to help the most urgent cases.”
The Trussell Trust says the new hotline would focus on the most urgent cases and provide vital, trouble-shooting support for people referred to food banks because of problems with a welfare claim.
It would help ensure the underlying causes of people’s crises are tackled faster, reducing stress and negative impact on the mental wellbeing of people due to delays, admin errors and instances where benefit sanctions have been questionably applied.
David McAuley, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said:
“To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system works fairly and compassionately, stopping people getting to a point where they have no money to eat.”
As reported by Barnsley News & Sport and the Barnsley Chronicle on 9th November 2016. 9 November 2016 Michael has demanded urgent action to help the soaring number of people forced to...
9 November 2016
As reported by Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has urged parents to have their say on fresh plans to change school terms and holidays in 2018.
Barnsley Council has unveiled plans (November 3) for possible changes to terms dates for the academic year 2018/19.
The possible shake-up is back on the table after the Council dropped proposals earlier this year to shorten the summer holiday and extend the school break in October.
Parents and families are now being asked for their opinions on three possible options set out by the council.
The options are:
1: A new pattern which would change the summer and October half- term breaks – giving an extra week in October and a week less in the summer.
2: Keeping the long summer break unchanged.
3: Fixing the same dates for the Easter break every year - rather than changing year on year, allowing parents to plan well in advance.
Commenting, Michael said:
“Barnsley Council is keen to hear the views of as many parents as possible on the future shape of school terms and holidays .
“I’d urge parents to consider what would work best for their children’s education and make sure they have their say on these important proposals.”
The consultation is open until 5pm on Friday, 2 December. People can give their views at Barnsley Council’s consultation site here: http://consult.barnsley.gov.uk/portal
The results will be presented to Barnsley Council Cabinet members in February 2017.
The Council plans to make a decision and circulate the results to schools and other interested parties in March, with any changes introduced at the start of the academic year in 2018.
9 November 2016 As reported by Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has urged parents to have their say on fresh plans to change school terms and holidays in 2018. Barnsley...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has made a speech arguing against the Government’s plan to cut the budget for community pharmacies by £113 million this financial year and a further £95 million in 2017-18.
During a debate in the House of Commons, which you can read here, Michael spoke about the increasing importance of community pharmacies to local communities, to patients and to the wider NHS.
Michael also joined Jon Ashworth to lead a protest against the cuts on College Green with many community pharmacists and Labour MPs.
The protest was attended by delegates of the Local Pharmaceutical Committee, including delegates from Barnsley, and also by Steve Lo, Managing Director of Lo’s Pharmacy.
Commenting, Michael said:
“The Government's proposal for our pharmacies is a prescription for disaster.
“Ministers are pursuing a scorched earth policy that is bad for Barnsley and will force the closure of hundreds of pharmacies in Yorkshire and thousands across the country.
“The expertise and dedication frontline healthcare staff out in our communities supporting the NHS will be replaced by empty shopfronts, with patients forced to travel further for the medicine and advice they need.
“MPs must send a message to the Government to think again and drop these flawed plans for the sake of the health of more than two million people who have already signed the biggest ever healthcare petition opposing to their plans.”
Steve Lo, Managing Director of Lo’s Pharmacy, who travelled to Westminster to watch the debate, added:
“If these cuts go ahead, they will force pharmacists to review their costs. For those who are not forced to close, that is likely to include reduced opening hours and fewer staff, as well as stopping the provision of services that they are not obliged to provide - like home delivery of medicine.”
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle the South Yorkshire Times and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has made a speech arguing against the Government’s plan to cut the budget for community pharmacies by £113 million...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, Daily Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, The Sun, ITV News, Labour List and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has criticised a Government decision to rule out an inquiry into the policing of the Battle of Orgreave.
In a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament on Monday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told MPs that there would be no inquiry into Orgreave.
The decision comes following a campaign by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign to launch an inquiry into what happened at Orgreave.
You can find out more about the campaign here.
Responding to the decision, Michael said:
“The Government’s decision to rule out an inquiry into what happened at Orgreave is a callous betrayal of campaigners and a spit in the face for every former coalfield community.
“Ruling out an inquiry denies truth and justice and it maintains secrecy around the policing of the Miners’ Strike. This is nothing less than a political decision to protect the interests of the Tory Party who presided over this appalling period.
“The anger about the policing of the Strike is still felt today in the former coalfields. No one is criticising the brilliant rank and file police staff in today’s South Yorkshire Police. But an inquiry into Orgreave, especially after Hillsborough, was a golden opportunity to once again rebuild trust and confidence in South Yorkshire Police and to deal with another bitter chapter in its history.”
You can find out more by visiting the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign website here.
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, Daily Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, The Sun, ITV News, Labour List and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has criticised a Government decision to rule out an inquiry into the policing of the...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has commented on the result of the High Court case this week where it was ruled that the Government should consult MPs before triggering Article 50.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is the formal mechanism for leaving the European Union, and will be used following the result of the EU referendum on 23 June.
Commenting, Michael said:
“Parliament must respect the will of the people, as expressed in the recent referendum. Voters in Barnsley were overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit and that is what I would vote for in the House of Commons.
“But I also think it's incumbent on the Government to consult Parliament on the terms of our withdrawal. People wanted to leave the EU, but they also want to see us protect the economy, jobs and working conditions.”
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has commented on the result of the High Court case this week where it was ruled that the Government should consult MPs before...
As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Michael is backing a new campaign to ease the financial burden of cancer on families.
He is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to act after children and young people’s cancer support charity CLIC Sargent highlighted the problem.
The move comes after CLIC Sargent released its Cancer Costs report, which revealed that parents spend on average an extra £600 when their child needs cancer treatment. The extra costs put a huge strain on family finances and force many into debt.
The typical extra bills that parents face when their child is ill include paying for more fuel when travelling to and from hospital, covering parking charges, and the extra expense of eating away from home.
Every day, ten children and young people receive a cancer diagnosis. CLIC Sargent campaigns to make life easier for these cancer victims and their families.
Michael is supporting the charity’s campaign and is urging the Prime Minister to take action to help ease these financial problems.
Commenting, Michael said:
“The anguish of discovering a family member has cancer puts a huge strain on any family.
“But the cost of coping with extra expenses that come with dealing with cancer can often be a crippling burden on a family’s budget.
“CLIC Sargent is right to highlight the impact of these costs that mean families with a child needing cancer treatment have to find on average an extra £600.
“It’s time the Prime Minister recognised this problem and did far more to help cancer sufferers and their relatives with these costs.”
Kate Lee, Chief Executive Officer of CLIC Sargent, added:
“The pressure of managing finances causes considerable stress and anxiety during what is an already impossible time for families. This is not right or fair.
“Following the initial shock of diagnosis, treatment often starts immediately and can take place far from home. Suddenly families see their lives transform, as their priorities shift to support their child through their illness.
“That is why we are calling on the Government, banks, energy and transport companies to implement a series of measures that will make a real difference to families coping with childhood cancer."
As reported in the South Yorkshire Times, Michael is backing a new campaign to ease the financial burden of cancer on families. He is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May...
Michael has backed Living Wage Week, a chance to promote the importance of a Living Wage that helps workers to meet the rising cost of living, which is taking place this week.
Living Wage Week is supported by the Living Wage Foundation, which calculates a real living wage for employees based on average costs of food, transport and expenses like rent and bills.
You can find out more about the work of the Living Wage Foundation, and Living Wage Week here.
Michael has backed Living Wage Week, a chance to promote the importance of a Living Wage that helps workers to meet the rising cost of living, which is taking place...
Ten local schools have entered Michael’s Christmas Card Competition this year. The standard of design is exceptionally high and Michael was very impressed with all the entries he received.
All the entries are evaluated and then shortlisted so that each school has a winner. These ten school winning designs have now been presented to the judging panel. The judging panel consists of the Mayor of Barnsley, Michael and the sponsors of the card. They will decide the overall winner and this design will then become Michael’s official 2016 Christmas Card.
All the school winners, two runners up from each school and the school itself will win prizes and the overall winner will be given a special prize.
The competition is only possible thanks to the generosity of local businesses who sponsor the competition. This year the sponsors are ASOS, Barmoral Tanks, Carlton Brick, Forge Community Partnership, Lo’s Pharmacy, Symphony, TESCO and West Bank House Community Association.
This year’s school winners that have formed the final shortlist are:
Birdwell Primary School, Birkwood Primary School, Churchfield Primary School, The Forest Academy, Hoyland Common Primary School, Hoyland Springwood Primary School, Kings Oak Primary Learning Centre, St Helen’s Catholic Primary School, St Michael and All Angels Catholic Primary School and West Meadows Primary School
Ten local schools have entered Michael’s Christmas Card Competition this year. The standard of design is exceptionally high and Michael was very impressed with all the entries he received. All...
Michael has written for the Yorkshire Post about the need to support a third runway at Heathrow and why this will benefit Yorkshire.
The Government recently announced that it would construct the third Heathrow runway following the recommendation of this option by the Davies review into airport capacity in the South East of England.
As Shadow Transport Secretary, Michael argued in 2015 that any airport expansion must meet four key tests, one of which was the need to ensure that all regions benefit from the additional jobs and growth that a new runway is expected to bring.
You can read Michael’s piece in full here.
Michael has written for the Yorkshire Post about the need to support a third runway at Heathrow and why this will benefit Yorkshire. The Government recently announced that it would construct the...
Michael has written a joint piece with Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth criticising the Government’s plan to cut the budget for community pharmacies.
Writing in the Times Red Box, Michael and Jon explain how the cuts will reduce patient access to healthcare and call on MPs from across the House of Commons to vote against the cuts plan when it is debated in Parliament on Wednesday.
You can see the piece, which is behind a Times paywall, here.
Michael has written a joint piece with Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth criticising the Government’s plan to cut the budget for community pharmacies. Writing in the Times Red Box, Michael...
As reported by the Sunday Express, Michael has continued his campaign against Government cuts to community pharmacies.
The Sunday Express reported that The Government’s Pharmacy Access Scheme, which is supposed to ease the burden of cuts will support some areas more than others – with Tory seats more likely to have support than Labour seats.
Commenting, Michael said:
“The Government seem determined to press ahead with these reckless cuts to community pharmacies that could force thousands to close.
“Even chemists that are eligible for the Pharmacy Access Scheme will still face budget cuts. Ministers are giving with one hand but taking away with the other.
"These cuts are bad for communities and bad for our NHS. All MPs should vote against these cuts this week."
As reported by the Sunday Express, Michael has continued his campaign against Government cuts to community pharmacies. The Sunday Express reported that The Government’s Pharmacy Access Scheme, which is supposed to...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, Barnsley News and Sport and the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has this week led a protest of pharmacists, councillors and local residents against Government plans to cut the community pharmacy budget.
The protest took place outside Lo’s Pharmacy in Worsbrough, in Michael’s constituency.
Michael has been campaigning against the Government’s poorly thought out plan for pharmacy cutbacks, and will continue to oppose cuts every step of the way.
Michael has also called for a debate and vote in the House of Commons, so that MPs from across Parliament can have a say on the damaging plan for cuts. This is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 2 November.
Commenting, Michael said:
“It was great to see so many residents, councillors and pharmacy staff in Worsbrough all joining forces to warn about the threat to community pharmacies in Barnsley.
“If they close, people who depend on their local chemist, including the elderly, will have to make longer, more expensive journeys elsewhere. And it will add even more strain on our already overstretched GP surgeries and A&E units.
“Ministers should listen to the public and drop these damaging cuts before it is too late.”
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle, Barnsley News and Sport and the South Yorkshire Times, Michael has this week led a protest of pharmacists, councillors and local residents against Government plans to cut the...
In his regular column for the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has written about his campaign against the Government’s plan to cut the community pharmacy budget.
The Government plans to cut community pharmacy funding by £113 million this financial year and by a further £95 million in 2017-18, which could see thousands of closures across the country.
Michael also led a protest against the planned cutbacks in Worsbrough this week with local residents, councillors and pharmacists.
You can read Michael’s column in full here.
In his regular column for the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has written about his campaign against the Government’s plan to cut the community pharmacy budget. The Government plans to cut community pharmacy...
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle and by Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has attended the launch of the Barnsley poppy appeal and visited Darfield library to mark the launch of a book commemorating some of the local men that were killed during the First World War
Michael joined members of the Darfield History Society at the launch of ‘Darfield Remembers the First World War’, which has been put together as a result of the efforts of local historians, including Glenice Smith and Michael Smith and Kay Valentine. Michael also thanked the Darfield Ward Alliance and Councillor Dorothy Coates for their contribution in funding the book.
He also joined the Mayor Councillor Linda Burgess, Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis and members of the Royal British Legion in Barnsley Town Centre to mark the launch of this year’s Poppy Appeal.
Commenting, Michael said:
"Barnsley has a long and proud history of supporting our people serving in our Armed Forces. As we continue to mark the centenary of the First World War, it was great to be invited to write the foreword and open the launch of the 'Darfield Remembers' book which commemorates the contribution made by the village during the War.
"My thanks go to the Darfield History Society at the Library and in particular locals Glenice and Michael Smith, and to Kay Valentine. Thanks also to local councillors and the Ward Alliance for their support.
"This special book commemorates the sacrifice made by so many local people during the War and it will serve as a permanent reminder for generations to come.
"As a member of my local Royal British Legion branch here in Barnsley, it was also great to join our Mayor and many veterans in launching this year's Poppy Appeal which is dedicated to the memory of the fallen and the future of the living.”
Copies are available for purchase here.
As reported by the Barnsley Chronicle and by Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has attended the launch of the Barnsley poppy appeal and visited Darfield library to mark the launch of a book...
Michael has written for the Yorkshire Post about his campaign against the Government’s plan to cut the community pharmacy budget.
Under the Government’s new plan for cuts, £113 million will be cut this financial year and a further £95 million budget reduction will be made in 2017-18.
You can read the piece in full here.
Michael has written for the Yorkshire Post about his campaign against the Government’s plan to cut the community pharmacy budget. Under the Government’s new plan for cuts, £113 million will be cut...
As reported by the Yorkshire Post, Michael has welcomed the decision to expand aviation capacity by building a third runway at Heathrow airport.
Commenting on the news, Michael said:
“As Shadow Transport Secretary, I set out the four tests that airport expansion needs to meet in order to secure Labour’s support, including that the benefits of expansion are felt throughout the country, including here in the North.
“Expanding Heathrow meets those tests, delivering connectivity and jobs across the whole of the country.
“Crucially, Heathrow demonstrates that that we can provide a much needed boost between the economy whilst putting in place vital environmental safeguards. It’s time now to get on with it.”
As reported by the Yorkshire Post, Michael has welcomed the decision to expand aviation capacity by building a third runway at Heathrow airport. Commenting on the news, Michael said: “As Shadow...
This weekend, Michael paid a visit to the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley Town Centre to view an exhibition by local pop artist Terry Brookes.
On the visit, Michael was shown around the collection by Terry and was impressed by the original works on display.
The collection, which expresses music, fun and romance, will remain on display at the Cooper Gallery until Saturday 29th October.
Commenting, Michael said:
“Terry Brookes is super-talented, one of the best artists in Britain and one of life’s nice people. To once again have his exhibition on our doorstep in Barnsley at the fantastic Cooper Gallery is just great. Go see it before it’s too late"
You can find out more about the exhibition here.
This weekend, Michael paid a visit to the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley Town Centre to view an exhibition by local pop artist Terry Brookes. On the visit, Michael was shown...