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The Daily Politics

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Latest news

Michael calls for Government to halt fracking in Barnsley

28 August 2015

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has called for fracking to be put on hold in his constituency and across the country following increased concerns over potential environment damage, including contaminated water polluting ecosystems and drinking water supplies.

Michael has written to the Secretary of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change calling for an immediate halt in the process in Barnsley and for a moratorium nationally.

This follows the announcement that the Government has awarded energy companies new licences to explore for oil and gas including one that covers part of his constituency.

You can listen here to an interview with Michael on BBC Radio Sheffield about his call for the Government to halt proposals for fracking – scroll to 01:09.

Commenting, Michael said:  

“David Cameron has said the Government is “going all out” for shale gas development, but we need a moratorium on fracking, not only in Barnsley and South Yorkshire but nationally too until we have much clearer evidence on its environmental impact.

“This Government seems prepared to push ahead with fracking at any cost and once again it sees the north of England as a soft touch. But the potential benefits of shale gas can’t come at the expense of environmental protection or our climate change commitments.

“I have written to the Secretary of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change to call for a halt on shale gas exploration until stronger scientific evidence can show it is safe to drill for shale gas.

“I support my constituents and people across the country who have genuine safety and environmental concerns about fracking. It should be local people - not Ministers in Whitehall - who have the biggest say.”


Michael slams Government failure on energy policy as figures show thousands live in fuel poverty in Barnsley East

28 August 2015

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has slammed the Government’s energy policy as figures reveal 3,693 households are estimated to live in fuel poverty in his Barnsley East constituency – nearly 1 in 10 of all households.

The energy market is dominated by the ‘Bix Six’ gas and electricity providers and consumers often find themselves paying over the odds for energy or being stuck on tariffs that do not accurately reflect how much energy they use. There have also been no significant reductions in household bills despite wholesale costs being at record lows.

Just last month, the Competition and Markets Authority found that energy companies had overcharged customers a staggering £1.2 billion and that dual fuel customers could save an average of £160 per year by switching to a cheaper deal.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is unacceptable that thousands of families in my constituency will be worrying about the cost of heating their homes this winter.

“The energy market is broken and it’s ordinary people who are paying the price. Labour has called for a price freeze whilst the market is fixed and the Government needs to get a grip of this problem and take real action to tackle fuel poverty.”



Michael expresses concern over increased use of agency nurses

21 August 2015

As reported in this week's Barnsley Chronicle, Michael has raised concern over figures that reveal Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is paying for more agency nurses to fill staffing gaps. This follows the release of figures, obtained following a Freedom of Information request, that show Barnsley Hospital employed 246 agency nurses at a cost of £497,417 in 2014-15, compared to just 65 at a cost of £67,383 in 2010-11.

Commenting Michael said:

"These figures paint a revealing picture of the state of the NHS since the government's NHS reorganisation has come into effect.

"Nurse training places were cut by more than 13 per cent between 2010 to 2011 and 2012 to 2013, which has resulted in hospitals being forced to reply on more expensive agency nurses to maintain safe staffing levels.

"The government promised that we could trust them on the NHS but agency staffing costs have gone up and up on their watch because nurse training places have been cut.

"Over reliance on agency staff is not just wasteful of NHS finances and often more expensive but it can also damage staff morale too, Nurses who’ve had a pay freeze for years will find it galling that the bill for agency staff is going through the roof."


Michael calls for greater superfast broadband coverage in Barnsley

21 August 2015

The Barnsley Chronicle reports that Michael has written to the Department for Culture Media and Sport to highlight the need to ensure that South Yorkshire is able to offer the best possible broadband connectivity to support business growth, expansion and to drive inward investment.

In a joint statement, Michael and his parliamentary colleagues Dan Jarvis, Angela Smith and John Healey state:

"We want South Yorkshire to be one of the best connected regions in the UK, and rolling out superfast broadband is a priority for making this happen.

"But this needs to be done properly and the benefits need to be spread across the regional economy so that local businesses can be fully connected.

"More than half of the Enterprise Zone losing out on this opportunity is not good enough."



Michael congratulates Barnsley schools on GCSE results but warns of regional divide

20 August 2015

As pupils across Barnsley pick up their GCSE results from exams sat earlier this year, Michael has congratulated them on their personal achievement.  

Barnsley's overall GCSE attainment has risen and the percentage of students achieving top grades A* and A has increased, bucking national trends.

The proportion of students attaining five or more A* - C grades, including maths and English, has increased in Barnsley by 1 per cent on last year’s results.

The increase in top grades achieved and the progress made in English attainment highlights that in some aspects Barnsley is performing better than the national picture however GCSE pass rates at A* - C within the Yorkshire and Humber region remain below the national average.

Commenting, Michael said:

“I would like to congratulate all those pupils in Barnsley who have collected their GCSE results.  These results are the culmination of years of their hard work. 

I would also like to pay tribute to teaching staff and parents for the crucial role they have played.

I am however concerned that GCSE pass rates at A* - C within the Yorkshire and Humber remain below the national average.   The Government is simply not doing enough to challenge the clear regional divide in school standards.”




Passengers hit by rail fare rises of 25 per cent in Barnsley East

19 August 2015

The announcement that rail fares will rise again in January 2016 means that passengers in Barnsley East have been hit by a cost increase of 25 per cent since 2010.

The new fare rises will come into effect on January 2nd 2016. Figures released this week show that the cost of an annual season ticket from Elsecar to Chesterfield has risen by £324 or 25% since 2010.

Earlier this year, David Cameron said that higher rail fares were necessary to fund improvement projects, which were promised in the Conservative manifesto. Key rail investment projects were then put on hold just weeks after the general election.

Overall passenger satisfaction has declined since 2010 and in some areas commuters have faced ‘stealth fare rises’ of up to 162 per cent.

Commenting, Michael said:

“This is yet more evidence of the Tory rip-off railways. Rail fares have now risen almost three times faster than wages over the last five years. It is clear that passengers are being ripped off – forced to pay ever higher prices to travel on trains that are increasingly overcrowded and unreliable.

“Out of touch Ministers may say that this is a fair deal for passengers but this is a world away from the services people in Barnsley East have to put up with. Instead of talking about ‘fair fares for comfortable commuting,’ Ministers should instead reform the railways, deliver better value for money and give passengers a real voice.”


'Killing Cecil highlights hunting for sport'

14 August 2015

In his regular column for the Barnsley Chronicle, Michael reveals that more that 300 constituentes wrote to him to keep the fox hunting ban and that the recent death of Cecil the lion in Africa has clearly put hunting for 'sport' and animal welfare in the limelight.


You can read the column in full here.



Michael congratulates Acorn Brewery on silver medal success

14 August 2015

As reported in today's Barnsley Chronicle and on Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has congratulated Acorn Brewery of Wombwell, Barnsley, on achieving a silver medal for its classic Barnsley Bitter at the Great British Beer Festival Champion Beer of Britain Awards.

The award recognises the local brewery’s produce as outstanding in the national contest which received applications from all over the country. The recognition comes after a string of successes for Acorn, including international success at a Barcelona trade fair earlier this year.

The festival, which has been organised by the Campaign for Real Ale, is currently taking place in London.

Commenting, Michael said:

“It is great news that such a brilliant local business is competing and winning in one of the biggest national competitions in the sector.

“Acorn Brewery is fantastically run and has gone from strength to strength in recent years. They are a real credit to Barnsley.”


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