I have been the MP for Hemsworth constituency for 21 years. It is a coherent and strong community mainly based around 23 former mining villages.
The boundary proposals for our area take Hemsworth out of the constituency and replace it with Wakefield rural, creating “Featherstone constituency”. This flies in the face of coherence and I will explain why.
Firstly, it is vital that an MP has a link with their constituency, but is it also vital that the community has a link with it too. Under the current boundary proposals that would be destroyed.
The proposals combine two distinctly separate communities that do not share transport links, access to amenities or leisure facilities, or any historical or coherent community ties. They will also result in a constituency that is simply too big. This raises huge problems.
The M1 will run right through the constituency and there are no bus or train links that connect one side of the constituency to another. It would take nearly three hours to get from one end of the constituency to another using existing public transport, in fact it would be quicker to cycle. Don’t forget, a quarter of people in our area don’t own a car.
There will be no connection between the various levels of elected representatives in Hemsworth. It will be a Wakefield council area not represented by a Wakefield MP, but a Barnsley MP.
Also, since 2015, nearly 2,000 people have registered to vote in Hemsworth. These people would not be counted under the government’s proposals. I can think of many Tory MPs whose majorities are much smaller than that, so it would be unusual for them to ignore such a significant proportion of a constituency electorate.
Today, the House of Commons discusses the government boundary changes that will affect our area. Labour have tabled a Bill to contest the Tory proposals which I support.
It may seem like an unimportant issue, but constituency boundaries impact everyone. For example, if the an area an MP represents is too big, it could mean your voice isn’t as easily heard, or that the needs of your community are lumped with those of another community in a totally different cultural, geographical or local government area.
We are all more or less in agreement that a boundary review is needed. Updating electoral boundaries is a vital part of the functioning of our democracy and it is our duty as politicians to do what is in the best interests of our country.
People have lost faith in politics – 60% are not satisfied with the way parliament is run. There is a deep malaise in Britain which has often expressed itself on the doorstep as “politicians are only in it for themselves”. But the public are savvy to political manoeuvring – for example, they all know why Northern Ireland got £1 billion.
It would seem that the same political manoeuvring is going on today. I am sure the intention is not to deliberately gerrymander, but that is certainly the perception the government is giving.
What is clear is that the government haven’t even bothered to understand the local dynamic when drawing up these proposals. They have been designed with one thing in mind: increasing the number of Tory MPs.
It is a shame that such politicking is being put before democracy and local people.
I have been the MP for Hemsworth constituency for 21 years. It is a coherent and strong community mainly based around 23 former mining villages. The boundary proposals for our...
It’s harder up north. This much is generally understood, but what it actually means for people living here, like my constituents, is rarely talked about by political elites or the media. They show little interest in events outside the capital.
Brexit was their wake up call. It revealed a deep frustration from people like us at the failure of policies cooked up in Westminster that did nothing to dampen the impact of the economic devastation caused by deindustrialisation. We needed to change a political system that was not delivering for areas like ours.
But the Brexit being pursued by the Conservatives will not deliver the change the north needs either. The opportunities that Brexit presents are wasted on a party that wants only a race to the bottom. They want to deregulate markets, centralise power and open Britain up to huge businesses at any cost. What the Conservatives lack in imagination they also lack in the competence needed to overcome the challenges ahead, as we are reminded almost daily.
Many of these challenges are especially relevant to the north. Today’s report from the Institute for Public Policy Research’s “State of the North” show exactly why.
The report tells us that Brexit will have nearly twice the impact on the economy of the north of England as it will on London, primarily as a consequence of northern regions’ greater dependency on EU trade. We’ve not be able to grow our own as much as places down south, so have ended up less independent than them.
But what the IPPR’s report also highlights—and this, I think, is significant—is that by 2030, the dominant age group in the north, in politics and in the economy, will be the millennial generation and their successors. These are the people who hold the key to transforming this for people in our region. They will also bear the brunt of whatever policies are put (or not put) in place over the next few years.
Young people are likely to hold fewer assets and have lower income than their predecessors. We need to give the generation the tools to change this, particularly round here.
We can start by giving 16 year-olds a vote on the issues that will come to shape their lives—as Labour recently tried to do in the House of Commons, only to be stopped by a Conservative Party set on wrecking democracy least they be defeated.
But more than anything, what we need is a transformative politics that sets out to fundamentally reshape the UK and the North in particular. The aim of this politics should be to democratise wealth, abolish inequality and give people a real say in the decisions that matter—especially those excluded from the market and ignored by politicians, as young people so often are.
I want devolution to be a huge part of this. It is key to this and is crucial to unlocking the North’s potential.
As I’ve often said, we in the North know what’s best for our communities, and the terms of any further devolution should determined by local needs and desired outcomes, not those set by central government. Devolution should also offer an opportunity to challenge dominant approaches to policy making, not reinforce them, as it tends to do in its current form. So, devolution, yes, but the right kind of devolution.
But without proper investment, devolution will have limited impact. We need the power to make decisions, but we need the resources to realise their potential. Infrastructure investment in the north, for example, is many times lower per head than it is in London. This has to change.
This then should be the target for politicians like me. We must meet the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit but we can go someway to dramatically rebalancing the economy in favour of the north, and in favour of the many, not the few.
It’s harder up north. This much is generally understood, but what it actually means for people living here, like my constituents, is rarely talked about by political elites or...
People round here work hard. The wealth of our nation was built on work from people like us.
Yet we’re still being pushed behind by a government that cares little for areas outside of London and the South East. There’s been no meaningful investment round here for decades.
Now we’ve found out that 3 in 10 workers across our area are paid less than the Real Living Wage. The Living Wage is calculated as enough to live on, and is above the national minimum wage.
It’s not right. People work hard, but many big firms pay people too little, even though they could afford to pay them more. And without the investment that makes business more productive, small firms can’t pay people a living wage, even if they wanted to.
The Government has to put this right as soon as possible. We need more investment now.
People round here work hard. The wealth of our nation was built on work from people like us. Yet we’re still being pushed behind by a government that cares little...
As my constituents know, I’ve been fiercely critical of the way the HS2 project has unfolded in our area. The proposed M18 route, which runs from the West Midlands to Leeds, will result in the demolition of homes and business in our area—with many more facing considerable disruption and devaluation.
We’re fighting back against the planned route but there’s a sense of uncertainty in the community, which is made worse by HS2 Ltd’s lack of consultation and the difficulty we’ve faced in having a useful dialogue.
At our last meeting with Paul Maynard MP, the Conservative Minister responsible for HS2, one of the key issues we raised was how the North is being treated worse than the South when it comes to tunneling. Just 2% of the Eastern Leg of Phase 2 is tunnel, compared to 21% of the Phase 2 Western Leg and 29% of Phase 1.
The North, it seems, isn’t worth that extra investment, and the uneven development and benefits of HS2 are stark.
I was reminded of this again last week when reading the news that Transport for London is planning the construction of two more London Overground stations at Old Oak Common Lane and Hythe Road, both of which will be on the HS2 route.
Now, I don’t blame Transport for London (TFL) for planning these stations. As the National Audit Office noted last year, “Local authorities . . . are responsible for driving regeneration and local growth benefits” from HS2, and according to TFL, this redevelopment has the potential to deliver 25,500 new homes and 65,000 jobs.
But will we in the North, and in Yorkshire in particular, also see such local transport investment—totalling 100s of millions of pounds?
Not likely. As was reported earlier this year, the gap between transport infrastructure investment between the Capital and the rest of the UK is huge, with £1,943 being spent per person in London on current or planned projects compared to just £190 for Yorkshire and the Humber. That’s a staggering difference of 10 to 1.
With central government cuts crippling councils in the North hardest, and with local authority spending up to 40 per cent lower for regions outside of London, this isn’t likely to change.
This doesn’t bode well. As the same National Audit Office report warned, when it comes to HS2, “there is a risk that these wider benefits will not materialise if funding cannot be secured” for additional local redevelopment. We were told that HS2 would solve all our problems, but this silver bullet is looking less shiny by the day.
And if our cash-strapped authorities can’t provide the investment, the divide between North and South will only widen. And whatever investment is made will likely be pressured into servicing HS2, at the neglect of meeting people’s urgent transport needs and improving links between many of the North’s great cities.
Once again, London steams to the front of the queue for transport investment, and the rest of us are left behind.
As my constituents know, I’ve been fiercely critical of the way the HS2 project has unfolded in our area. The proposed M18 route, which runs from the West Midlands...
Finally I have been able to meet with Minister Paul Maynard to discuss HS2(2b) and raise my constituents concerns about the impact the M18 Eastern will have to our area. Yesterday afternoon I together with Toby White, as a representative from a local business, and members of the Crofton Against HS2 Group, finally had an opportunity to raise some of the major concerns around the HS2 route and its impact on our area. The Minster changed our appointment at the last minute and we all thought the meeting wouldn’t take place, but I am pleased to say that it did and we all got to have our say, there are clearly lots more to discuss, but we didn’t leave without feeling that we had impressed upon the minister that there was a lot more to be done.
Ultimately, we demanded of the Minister that the best thing to happen is to change the route. Hundreds more people in our area will suffer from the current planned route. That is my number one priority when speaking with Maynard.
I make no bones about my belief the chosen route is unfair, the consultation that the Department of Transport consulted on the route that did not include the 2014/2015 realignment! So when we all responded to the consultation November 2016 to March 2017, little did we know that people weren’t given the right information to respond to! The entire consultation now looks like a sham. We have been promised an answer on this quickly. I will update everyone as soon as possible when we are given this.
We asked the Minister about the potential parkway and I was flabbergasted that the Minister could not provide any certainty to if the parkway station will be in our area or not. A Parkway station will add even more misery to our area should they decide to build one in the constituency. The roads are too rural and narrow a fact HS2 seem to constantly ignore. The Parkway will be like a massive car park for thousands of cars, specifically designed for commuter’s to access the rail links to Sheffield or Leeds. There will be no benefit what so evert to our area.
We raised concerns about stopping the horrible levels of noise pollution that would come from such a monstrous line. HS2’s tender documents imply there isn’t anything to be done about bringing down the levels of noise people in our area will be subjected to.
There have been lots of inconsistencies around HS2’s assessment to how many demolitions there will need to be and how many households will be affected. There seems to just as much misinformation on this issue along the whole HS2 route not just our area.
All of this makes me lose confidence in HS2 Ltd. They’re a terribly-run body, who seem to spend money like water while helping nobody at all. The Higgins Report – another thing we discussed in the meeting – was an example of this. It was rushed, harmful and misleading. As I said before, the route consulted on was not the one published, and HS2 appear to be constantly going back to routes already ruled out by Higgins in the past what a shambles. They’ve avoided releasing information about known mining areas when asked – even when we’ve submitted FOI requests. The M18 eastern route does not avoid known mining areas as they claim, our area is peppered with former mining sites something HS2 ltd seem to ignore. There were also lots of concerns about the surveying being done by MP’s in the Manchester area. Many of you will have heard the concerns raised in the House of Commons last week when HS2 came up in the debate last week!
On all of the above points, we have been promised answers by the Minister as soon as possible. We need him to take responsibility for these issues and give us resolutions to these problems. Paul Maynard seemed to share a sense of frustration too and he has been very vocal about this, if the tabloids and social media are to believed. He has said that he would try to improve communication with the HS2 ltd. We’ve heard that before though, so it will be refreshing to see if anything actually happens especially as HS2 Ltd engagement officers cancelled an important meeting with the Action Group the day they were due to meet!
He has also said he will get advice on the possibility of tunnelling. We reiterated the point that the North is being treated worse than the South on this issue. 24% of HS1 is tunnel, 29% on HS2 phase 1, 21% Phase 2 Western Leg but only 2% on the Eastern Leg of Phase 2. Others get it and we don’t, even though our area is just as (if not more) beautiful!
For local businesses too, the outcome of the consultation on the site of the depot must be released quickly. There are lots of businesses we would lose if HS2 came right through our patch. This is just one where we’d lose the positive impact of it. We need good jobs round here that pay well. HS2 is threatening that for us. While the July announcement looks like the depot is likely to move to Leeds, we need that certainty. This has been going on for far too long now, and I will make sure there are no delays after that consultation has closed.
Finally I have been able to meet with Minister Paul Maynard to discuss HS2(2b) and raise my constituents concerns about the impact the M18 Eastern will have to our area. Yesterday...
As everyone knows, I’ve been against the HS2 route through our area from day one.
HS2 Ltd has made a lot of mistakes, and people across the country who are affected need answers quickly.
The debate in parliament about the HS2 route, which I attended yesterday, showed that the concerns we have here in our area are also shared by MPs from lots of different areas and parties.
In the debate the Government was criticised for the amount of money spent on the project so far, the terrible engagement and consultation with people affected by the route, concerns about the engineering of the project, and dismay about why some areas have been offered tunnelling but others not.
Others raised big concerns about the environmental impact of this huge trainline. Round here, historic woodlands like Howell Woods and the heritage of the Iron Age camp near South Kirkby will be destroyed. I was shocked to hear just how many others have similar problems.
It is always moving to hear about the disruption of people's lives. During the debate we heard about how HS2 Ltd spent years being vague about their plans for the route, which has meant people weren’t able to plan for their futures. People have been unable to sell houses, have not been guaranteed compensation to move somewhere maintaining their quality of life, and have been ignored by HS2 Ltd when trying to get answers.
This struck a chord with me – HS2 Ltd have always been slow at getting back to us. They’ve not responded properly to Freedom of Information Requests from the Crofton Against HS2 campaign group or from residents either. And it has taken me months to get a meeting in the Minister’s diary to raise these concerns.
The compensation plans are just as bad. Kevin Barron, who is the MP for Rother Valley, spoke about how thousands of houses on a housing estate will be affected, but HS2 Ltd won’t acknowledge this, and won’t compensate them appropriately.
The debate also rose concerns about the gross underestimate of how many other people along the Rother Valley area that will have a train line right outside their windows.
Those living along the Meadowhall route have been prevented from selling their houses and many will not be able to access compensation at all for the disruption this has caused them over the past several years, even though HS2 isn’t proceeding with that route.
Paul Maynard MP, the Minister overseeing the HS2 project, said at the end of the debate that he will take the time to consider all of these concerns. I’m glad they’ve had a chance to be raised, and will demand answers when I have a meeting with him next week. I will provide another update after the meeting, and let you know how the Minister addresses all of these points for people from our patch.
As everyone knows, I’ve been against the HS2 route through our area from day one. HS2 Ltd has made a lot of mistakes, and people across the country who are...
I represent twenty-three towns and villages in my constituency. These communities, mostly rural, have different identities and traditions but many have been left behind when it comes to the local services we all rely on.
You might have had your local bank closed in the past few years – whether that be Yorkshire Bank in Featherstone, HSBC in Hemsworth, Barclays in South Elmsall, or another.
What’s more, the remaining branches have reduced opening hours. Many local people are rightly worried about the loss of their local bank services, which is why I met with a number of the banks to voice their concerns and demand assurances that our rural communities would not be left behind.
We were told that most banking transactions can now be carried out at local post offices, so there would be no real loss to our communities. It’s now clear, however, that more and more of our post offices face closure in the coming years. I have been contacted by Postmasters in my constituency who have explained their branches could close due to the ongoing changes within the Post Office Company. Falling business and the Post Office Company’s push to increase profitability mean that Postmasters are being put under increased pressure.
This could lead to our rural communities being left without any permanent banking or post office services. The nearest service would then involve travelling to either Wakefield, Pontefract or Barnsley. To add insult to injury, due to the cuts to bus subsidies from Central Government, we have suffered from a marked reduction in bus services. This is making it more difficult for local people to travel to neighbouring towns and villages. One woman I met told me that because of a lack of bus services she has to walk over a mile on country roads in the dark to get to work on a morning.
With the loss of our banks, potential closure of post offices and reduction of buses, people from round here are being left without access to basic local services. Private companies are putting profit before people and letting our communities down.
I stood on a manifesto where we pledged to change the law so that banks can’t close a branch where there is a clear local need. They must put communities first. That manifesto included ending the closure of Crown Post Office branches too.
I represent twenty-three towns and villages in my constituency. These communities, mostly rural, have different identities and traditions but many have been left behind when it comes to the local...
Happy Yorkshire Day everyone!
I wouldn’t want to have been born anywhere in the world but Yorkshire. We have great people and communities, great businesses, fabulous universities, creative artists, world-leading scientists, wonderful theatres and galleries.
When you think about Yorkshire, it’s hard not to think about David Hockney or Henry Moore or the Bronte sisters or the Brownlee brothers or Nicola Adams or Jessica Ennis-Hill or even the Arctic Monkeys.
But it is not right that our region has been left behind by a tiny elite group whose wealth and power is centred in London and the South East. We need fundamental change in how our politics works to stop Yorkshire from being continually held back. I have come to the conclusion that the only answer to this chronic regional inequality is devolution.
Yorkshire is God’s own county. I hope we can speak with a loud, clear voice so that we are given the opportunity to thrive.
Happy Yorkshire Day everyone! I wouldn’t want to have been born anywhere in the world but Yorkshire. We have great people and communities, great businesses, fabulous universities, creative artists, world-leading...
The Government has appointed a new Minister for the HS2 project, Paul Maynard. He has taken over from Andrew Jones, who was previously in the role.
I have asked for a meeting with him as soon as possible. He must be informed just how much the HS2 route will damage our area, and do all I can to get him to change the route.
I will keep you advised of any progress. I am absolutely clear that everything must be done to change the proposed route, and will be making it my mission to do so over the coming months.
The Government has appointed a new Minister for the HS2 project, Paul Maynard. He has taken over from Andrew Jones, who was previously in the role. I have asked for... Read more
Everyone I talk to thinks that the Conservative Government works for the wealthiest people in our country and not for everyone else.
New evidence has emerged which demonstrates the truth of this viewpoint.
This is because the new figures have been published as to who pays for the Conservative Party.
It’s astonishing that over half of the donations from people since the beginning of the election campaign have come from the tiny elite group identified by the Sunday Times as the 1000 richest people in Britain.
Since the election was called a few weeks ago, a handful of these mega-millionaires have donated more than £1,300,000 to the Conservative Party. Clearly they believe that the Tories exist to help people like them, so are using their wealth to help the Tories in return.
And the truth is that it exactly this group of people which this Government has looked after the best.
While the rest of us have been suffering from austerity, the Rich List been getting even richer. In 2005, before the financial crisis began to bite, their combined wealth stood at about £250billion. Now, they have more than doubled their wealth to £658bn.
These are the people benefiting from a Tory Government. No surprise then that they are trying to use their money to get themselves another one.
The truth is that the wealthy and the Conservatives ’sup from the same pot’ as we say here in Yorkshire.
One way this happens is in the so-called ‘Conservative Leaders’ Dinners’
The wealthy and the leaders of the Conservative party wine and dine together. They come together with their shared interests.
Big donations from the already wealthy appear to be accompanied by Government action. Their latest manifesto shows exactly this. They have made huge promises to Big Oil - giving it more space than any other industry. But what they don’t want you to know if that they’ve taken almost £400,000 in donations from oil magnates - and half of these have come to their cosy dinners.
We are in a position to change this. While ‘few’ can secure promises from Theresa May’s Conservatives, they can’t buy the vote of the ‘many’. Britain is at a crossroads. We can either go on in the same old way. Or we can transform the way our country operates by choosing a Labour Government.
Everyone I talk to thinks that the Conservative Government works for the wealthiest people in our country and not for everyone else. New evidence has emerged which demonstrates the truth...