Politics is about choices - and the Conservatives have chosen that schools will have less and less to spend per pupil Schools which have already cut back equipment and maintenance budgets are increasingly being forced to look at their other major cost: cutting the number of teachers and creating bigger classes. Continue reading
Happy St. George's Day! This morning I've been celebrating by joining the very first St. George's Day parade in Fleetwood. Many thanks to the organisers, the Fleetwood Old Boys Band and many our local military veterans for making the event such a success. Continue reading
Today, I have welcomed the announcement made by Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education that the next Labour Government will provide free school meals for all primary school children, a change that could benefit 50,953 children in Lancashire. The policy will be funded by introducing VAT on private school fees. Research by the National Centre for Social Research and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has indicated offering universal access to free school meals improves educational attainment through improvements in pupils’ productivity, enabling primary school pupils to advance by around two months on average. Continue reading
Having held a fully-booked advice surgery in Fleetwood last week I’m aware that the Government’s recent announcement to introduce emergency legislation changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), may well lead to future advice surgeries being busy with potential changes. As many will know, PIP helps chronically sick and disabled people fund their living costs and, in particular, the additional financial costs faced by disabled people. Disability charity Scope has estimated that these additional costs amount to approximately £550 a month. Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people as a result of these additional costs, and PIP is a key source of income to prevent real hardship. Currently 600,000 disabled people are in receipt of the payment. Continue reading
This weekend I have met with local businesses ahead of changes in business rates due to come into effect on 1st April, including Phil Simpson, one of the Directors of The Sun Hotel and Lancaster Brewery whose business has been particularly badly hit in the changes. The Sun on Church Street in Lancaster will see its rates go up from £30,600 to £54,900 after draft revaluation – an increase of 79%. The company also own The Duke in Barrow-in-Furness which is seeing an increase from £12,285 to £61,200 - up 498%. Continue reading
On Saturday I addressed a Frack Free Lancashire rally at Maple Farm near Preston New Road, and despite the weather, it was incredible to see so many there. But I was not surprised – Lancashire folk are known for standing up for what we think is right. And Lancashire has been crystal clear that fracking is not right for us. Our parish councils and borough councils voted against it, tens of thousands of people from across the county objected, and Lancashire County Council rejected both of Cuadrilla's applications to frack. I was furious to see the Government overturn that decision. Now Cuadrilla have started site construction, despite the overwhelming opposition of local people and despite the fact that there are legal challenges ongoing. In a matter of weeks the High Court will make an initial ruling on whether the Westminster Government's decision to overturn Lancashire's rejection of fracking could be unlawful. Why are Cuadrilla pre-empting that decision pressing ahead with construction now? Cuadrilla should stop all work until those cases are heard. Continue reading
Friday 27th January is Holocaust Memorial Day, an important opportunity for us all to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. Last night I lit a candle at a Holocaust Memorial Day event at Lancaster Castle which happens each year. The small committee that organise this local event are looking for new people to join them. If you're interested please get in touch with me so I can make introductions. I have signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledged my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people. Friday 27th January marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.
Last week I was asked to give the key note speech at the Federation of Small Business (FSB) Annual Dinner for the Lancashire and Cumbria region. Having worked very closely with the FSB since elected I was very pleased to be able to accept. One of my grandfather’s was a small businessman and my husband runs two small businesses, so I feel this is something close to my heart for personal reasons. But it is also something so incredibly important for our local economy. When you spend money locally, it is more likely to stay local. If you shop with a local business, rather than on a multinational online retailer, the person you buy from will also be living in our area, shopping in our area and eating in our area. One really easy way to support our local high streets is to use them! Continue reading