In spite of strong local opposition and challenges by myself, local magistrates, legal professionals and residents of the area regarding the accuracy of many of the assumptions made in the consultation - especially the projected savings - Scunthorpe’s closure is likely to go ahead sometime next year.
Many of the courts already closed by the Tories in the last Parliament are still standing empty and costing millions in upkeep - hardly value for money for the taxpayer.
Under the Tories access to justice has already become unaffordable for many people and it is almost certain that these closures will lead to even more people being denied justice.
The Magistrates’ Association has expressed its concerns and is “very worried” about the impact of the closures and the inevitable additional pressure on the system that could threaten accessible justice.
There are a number of MPs trying to get a debate in the House on this issue, which I'm supporting.
The Tory Government is to close nearly a fifth of the courts in England and Wales including Scunthorpe’s.
In spite of strong local opposition and challenges by myself, local magistrates, legal professionals and residents of the area regarding the accuracy of many of the assumptions made in the...
I have been awarded Cruelty Free International MP of the month.
I have been a strong advocate of animal welfare, working closely with Cruelty Free International on a number of issues including our EU cosmetics campaign and our ‘Vote Cruelty Free’ General Election initiative.
I gave the following interview to Cruelty Free International.
How did you become interested in animal protection?
I’ve had a lifelong interest in animals being treated properly. When elected, I took over from an MP who had done lot of work on animal welfare so it wasn’t surprising when I was asked to support the charity FRAME in drawing together the All Party Group for the Reduction, Replacement and Refinement of Animals in Research. I became the Chair of this Group.
How important is this issue among your constituents?
Local people are always getting in touch to share their concerns about animal welfare issues. Some of the biggest issues in my electronic mailbag have been opposing any return to hunting with dogs, concern about the transportation of animals and the treatment of badgers.
Do you share your home with any animals?
No. As a child I kept many animals, including lizards, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits.
We are pleased to have your support for reducing the use of primates in experiments. Why do you feel this issue is important to you?
During debates on the transposition of the EU Directive on Animal Experiments during the last parliament, I was successful in working with colleagues across party to ensure that the issues of main concern were respected in the way it came into UK law. In particular, we were successful in having it stated clearly that Great Apes could not be used for research. Likewise we got the government to rule out the use of stray cats and dogs in research. I hope we can see further progress in these areas soon.
What action would you like the current Government to take on animal experiments?
The government needs to have better inspection regimes and robustly challenge the industry to continually reduce the use of animals in experimentation with the goal of eradicating the use of animals at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately there is a bit of a culture of using animals because we’ve always used animals. The science has moved on and the culture needs to move with it.
I have been awarded Cruelty Free International MP of the month. I have been a strong advocate of animal welfare, working closely with Cruelty Free International on a number of issues...
Sadly the Conservative Government has confirmed its decision to close the Scunthorpe Magistrates’ and Family Court, despite a very good case being put by local people to keep it open. Access to justice is likely to become more difficult and there is a real danger that this will put more pressure on already overstretched police. With around 500 fewer police than 4 years ago as a result of the Conservative Government’s cuts it’s not surprising that things are not as good as they used to be. Unfortunately the poor Inspection Report Humberside Police got before Christmas chimed with what local people have been telling me. They've seemed a bit off the pace, slow to respond to some of the everyday nuisance that impacts badly on people’s lives. In the Town Centre retailers have now taken action themselves to improve the situation with enhanced security which is good, but the police still need to be more visible and proactive. Local people deserve prompt, effective response.
I met with the Assistant Chief Constable recently to express my concerns and was encouraged by the way he listened and what he had to say. Community policing resources are once more being protected and this ought to result in more responsive, visible policing. Let’s hope so! In May everyone will get their opportunity to have their say on whether the police are performing as we would wish when we cast our votes in the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, the Labour Party candidate Keith Hunter gained unanimous support from the members across Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire.
But the police aren’t the only public services under pressure - others are also beginning to creak. The Health Service is so important to all of us who rely on it. The Junior Doctors’ dispute has shown a Government that’s lost the trust of too many front line workers. This isn’t good for any of us. I think everyone would agree that hospitals need to deliver appropriately 7 days a week but the aggressive way the Conservative Health Secretary has talked about other health professionals has been most unhelpful. And now by imposing a new contract on Junior Doctors he is taking a massive gamble with our NHS.
Locally the Conservative Council is imposing a new contract on council workers so imposition seems to have become the order of the day! In contrast, despite the massive problems faced by steelworkers, their employer and their unions continue to try hard to work through things together in the most difficult of circumstances. Good industrial relations is a real strength of any organisation. And organisations are at their best when management and workforce are able to operate in a climate of mutual trust tackling difficult issues. After all it’s in everyone’s interest that the businesses and organisations we are part of moves with the time, embracing change. But it’s far better if this is done cooperatively rather than through conflict. Today Conservatives in government, locally and nationally, seem to be far happier than I would wish to go down an adversarial route.
Sadly the Conservative Government has confirmed its decision to close the Scunthorpe Magistrates’ and Family Court, despite a very good case being put by local people to keep it open....
Rightly the fact that it has been Child Mental Health Week reminds us all of the importance of upping our collective game in this area. Head teachers in schools across...
On Wednesday 10 February I joined over 160 other MPs and Kevin Whateley at the launch of Alzheimer’s Society’s new campaign Fix Dementia Care which calls for improvements in hospital care for people living with dementia.
MPs gathered in Westminster to call for greater transparency across the NHS following an Alzheimer’s Society investigation which found too many people with dementia are falling while in hospital, being discharged at night or being marooned in hospital despite their medical treatment having finished.
Good hospital care for people with dementia should never be a throw of the dice – yet in some hospitals people are routinely experiencing the consequences of poor care.
The campaign is making the following recommendations to fix dementia care:
All hospitals to publish an annual statement of dementia care, which includes feedback from patients with dementia, helping to raise standards of care across the country
The regulators, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission to include standards of dementia care in their assessments
Please sign up to the Fix Dementia Care campaign at www.alzheimers.org.uk/fixhospitalcare
On Wednesday 10 February I joined over 160 other MPs and Kevin Whateley at the launch of Alzheimer’s Society’s new campaign Fix Dementia Care which calls for improvements in hospital care...