Huffington Post: 'Like With the Rip-off Energy Firms, Labour Is Determined to Take on the Bus Barons'
19 December 2014
Following the launch of Labour's Passenger Power bus campaign to give greater control over local bus services to city and county regions, Michael has written a blog for the Huffington Post.
You can read the blog in full by clicking here.
19 December 2014
As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael voted this week to call on this Tory-led Government to scrap the Bedroom Tax by Christmas.
The call for action was unfortunately defeated by the Government through the support of the Lib Dems and follows a parliamentary question tabled by Michael which revealed almost 1,500 have been hit by the tax in Barnsley East alone. Each of these people have been forced to find, on average an extra £700 a year. In the wider region, over 16,500 people in South Yorkshire have been affected by the Bedroom Tax.
The policy is cruel and unfair and has failed A government report published in the summer found that just 6 per cent of people hit by the Bedroom Tax were moving and that the policy had led to 60 per cent of people falling behind with their rent.
Commenting, Michael said, “This Christmas nearly 1,500 people in Barnsley East alone will struggle to make ends meet, many relying on food banks to survive because of the Bedroom Tax David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s government introduced in April 2013. The Bedroom Tax is wasting people’s money, time and talents.
“We need to scrap this cruel, unfair and failing tax once and for all. It should be scrapped immediately.”
Michael launches Labour bus campaign
18 December 2014
Michael launched Labour’s new bus campaign this week – called ‘Passenger Power’ - about putting communities and passengers in control of local bus services. Labour will hand powers back to local communities to save crucial bus routes.
Across England, over 1,300 bus routes have been cut since 2010. People living in rural areas in particular are seeing their bus services disappear. In rural areas, the number of miles of local bus service has dropped by a massive 23 per cent compared to 2010.
At the same time, bus fares are rocketing, going up by 25 per cent since 2010 - an increase five times faster than wage growth. Over the same period, operating costs for local bus services has stayed the same. The new figures reveal that bus passenger fare receipts from this year were half a billion pounds more than in 2010. And the operating revenue for the bus companies has increased by four per cent since 2010.
Bus companies have been cutting crucial routes that people rely at the same time as increasing fares to maximise their own profits. Like the energy companies, the bus market is broken.
Labour is setting out a new plan for local bus services to fix the problems. The next Labour Government will legislate to give greater control over local bus services to cities and county regions. Through the ability to determine routes, set fares and integrate bus services with other forms of public transport, local areas will be able to provide better services at one clearly understood price.
Michael said, “Local bus services are the lifelines of our communities.
“Whilst the bus companies are coining it in, local bus routes are being slashed and this Government says everything is fine.
“The bus market is clearly broken and the way local services are provided is not fit for purpose. Labour will stand up for passengers by changing the way things work to hand all English regions London-style powers over local bus services. This will ensure communities get the local bus services they need."
Michael backs the 'Flaw in the Law' campaign
18 December 2014
As reported in today's South Yorkshire Times, Michael is backing a campaign to make it a crime for an adult to send a sexual message to a child.
THe NSPCC 'Flaw in the Law' campaign calls on the Government to introduce a new offence so that it is always illegal for an adult to intentionally send a sexual message to a child.
Commenting, Michael said, “Given the alarming rise in online child abuse, it is very concerning that the current law is unable to adequaltley protect children. The Internet poses a serious threat to child safety and the NSPCC is absolutely right to highlight the inadequate levels of protection for children who may be sent sexual material from adults online. The Government should listen to the serious concerns being raised and create a new offence"
Michael votes against Government pension changes that could put firefighters’ lives at risk
15 December 2014
Michael has today opposed Government changes to firefighters’ pension regulations which could put firefighters’ lives at risk.
The regulations put forward by the Government are built on the assumption of a dangerously low aerobic fitness standard. The Williams Review, which the Government itself commissioned, states that the aerobic fitness measure the Government is basing their plans on means “the risk of sudden catastrophic cardiac events increases… with a risk of sudden death particularly while undergoing high levels of physical exertion”. This flawed fitness standard would put firefighters needlessly at risk and fail to protect the public.
If a more robust fitness standard is implemented it would mean that the assumptions on which the Government’s pension regulations are based would no longer be valid. The result would be that a number of firefighters who try to maintain fitness would be unable to meet these operational standards into their late 50s through no fault of their own.
Michael signed the ‘prayer against’ the regulations, which secured today’s full Parliamentary debate in order to hold the Government to account and oppose them. At least 270 MPs have put their names to the ‘prayer’. Unfortunately the vote was lost by 313 votes to 261.
Commenting, Michael said, “The Government’s Firefighters’ pension regulations are not fit for purpose. They are based on an assumption about a dangerously low fitness standard, which would put public safety and the lives of firefighters at risk.
“The Tories can’t build a better future for working people because they stand up only for a privileged few. Firefighters risk their lives to save ours and they deserve better than this.”
Sunday Mirror: 'Labour demands inquiry into cost of fuel as millions continue to be ripped off'
14 December 2014
As reported by the Sunday Mirror, Michael has called for an inquiry into petrol prices to stop drivers being ripped off at the pumps. The calls follow a 40 per cent fall in the price of global oil prices since July, a fall in price that isn't being passed on to the public.
Michael visits five more schools to announce winners of his Christmas Card Competition 2014
14 December 2014
Michael visited five more schools on Friday to announce and hand out prizes to the school winners of his constituency-wide competition to find a Christmas card design.
All the school winners and runners up were awarded certificates and prizes of book vouchers for taking part.
It was revealed last week that Millie Cawthorn, age 10, who goes to Birdwell Primary School, was the overall winner of the competition. Her design is now on the front of hundreds of Christmas cards.
Worsbrough Common Primary School: Aneisha Hall (above left) and Eve Hatfield (above right). Lily Caddick also won a prize.
Saint Michael and All Angels Catholic Primary School: Elysia Thorpe (above left) and Lucas Wanless (above right), who was the school winner. Immageon Taylor also won a prize.
Hoyland Common Primary School: Heidi Almond (above left) and Madison Clare (above right) – the school winner. Izzy Sinclair also won a prize.
Birkwood Primary School. From left to right (above): Cllr Charlie Wraith, Michael Dugher MP, Hannah Ferguson, Rhea Goose (the school winner) and Aimee Donohoe.
Kings Oak Primary Learning Centre. From left to right (above): Libby Davies; Alaska Pancott (Winner); Michael Dugher MP; Irin Tasnuva; and Joshua Hyde.
Michael delivers Christmas Greetings to postal workers
12 December 2014
Michael visited Royal Mail’s Wombwell Delivery Office today, to see for himself how dedicated postal workers sort and deliver the post at their busiest time of year and he was introduced to the postal workers who are working hard sorting and delivering mail in the run-up to Christmas.
Commenting, Michael said, "It was great to meet postmen and women at Wombwell today and see just how much effort they put into delivering the mail for people locally.
"Our postal workers do such an important job at this time of year to deliver Christmas cheer for many people and families in our area and I would like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period."